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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 02:44 GMT 03:44 UK

Aid deal sparks 'bribe' claim
image: [ Brown: preparing to announce the 150m package ]
Brown: preparing to announce the 150m package

The Chancellor Gordon Brown is to announce a 150m package to encourage private investment and create jobs in Northern Ireland.

The BBC's Peter Hunt reports from Belfast (0'46")
Mr Brown will unveil the package on Tuesday when he becomes the first chancellor for 18 years to visit Northern Ireland.

The first 100m is earmarked for transport, schools, industry and tourism.

The remainder will be used for measures helping the long-term unemployed, the sick and disabled.

Uk Unionist Robert McCartney: 'Counter-productive' (0'31")
Ministers are facing allegations that the package is a bribe aimed at securing a yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Northern Ireland peace agreement. Robert McCartney, a UK Unionist MP, said: "I think it is a crass bribe or bung.

"Pro-British people of Northern Ireland will not take kindly to being offered this sort of bribe in return for the cession of their British citizenship."

The Democratic Unionists leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley, called the package "a sham and a farce."

[ image: McCartney:
McCartney: "crass bribe"
He said it was an attempt to persuade the people of Northern Ireland to vote in favour of the peace deal.

But Sean Farrell, the economic spokesman for the nationalist SDLP, said the cash would help Northern Ireland's economy.

He said: "It's the first instalment on the kind of commitments which were made within the Good Friday agreement in order to support economic reconstruction in Northern Ireland."

Mr Brown will tell businessmen and industrialists that peace will breed economic prosperity.

Two of Northern Ireland's most congested roads, including a stretch between Belfast and Londonderry, are likely to be improved with the cash.

Money is also expected to be set aside for to help promote tourism, to create a science park and to strengthen trade and investment links between Northern Ireland and America.

Software, engineering, hospitality and the construction industry are among specific areas being targeted for job creation schemes.

Mr Brown has been working on the package since Labour's General Election victory last year.

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