“Rival parties in Northern Ireland reached an agreement on Tuesday over an austerity budget dispute with Britain and legacy issues from decades of Catholic-Protestant strife. The agreement averted a collapse of the power-sharing government established 16 years ago.
A failure would have made Britain solely responsible for running Northern Ireland, raising the risk of a throwback to the days of violent enmity between the predominantly Roman Catholic nationalists, who want to merge with Ireland, and the mainly Protestant unionists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain.
First Minister Peter Robinson of the majority Democratic Unionist Party described the agreement as “very significant.”
A package of loans and financial assistance worth about $3.2 billion offered by Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain helped break the impasse.
The British aid will enable Northern Ireland to avert some of the steep welfare reductions imposed elsewhere in Britain. It could also clear the way for Northern Ireland to reduce its corporate tax rate, now 21 percent, to the same as Ireland’s, 12.5 percent.
A more competitive tax rate could bolster Northern Ireland’s economy by encouraging businesses to establish themselves there.”