Zara Duffy, Head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland, welcomed the Secretary of State’s announcement that she will bring forward legislation to allow Northern IrelandGovernment Departments to make decisions while the Northern Ireland Executive is suspended.
She said: “We welcome the decision to allow civil servants to make decisions in the public interest during this extended period of political uncertainty. We hope that this will lead to key projects being fulfilled and have a positive effect on the economy, jobs and infrastructure in Northern Ireland.
“This new arrangement is a modest substitute for the return of elected representatives at Stormont, particularly considering the need for a local voice in Brexit preparations, but we hope the Secretary of State’s schedule of meetings with the local parties will lead to a restoration of the Executive sooner rather than later. The democratic deficit at Stormont has gone on too long.”
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), said: “Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the Secretary of State’s announcement that she will bring forward legislation to allow the Northern Ireland Civil Service to make decisions in the absence of devolution.
“Northern Ireland Chamber has been asking the Secretary of State to put in place special legislative measures to allow civil servants to take important decisions for some time now. Therefore today’s announcement is warmly welcomed and should allow Civil Servants to proceed with vital decisions which are to the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.
“There are a number of key infrastructure projects being held back awaiting final ministerial approval. Linked to these are inward investors interested in establishing operations in Belfast and elsewhere which would generate hundreds of quality jobs and pump money into the local economy through attractive salaries for staff. Failure to move these projects forward will have an adverse effect on the local economy and hold back much needed investment.
“Also, in addition to the larger infrastructure projects which require urgent attention, Civil Servants must move forward quickly in terms of making their own routine spend – this is vital in creating work for many of our members and their supply chains who rely on work generated by the Public Sector.”