Tue 9th Oct 2018
September 2018: Movement…at last
In the same week that the new Glider buses curved into action on the streets of Belfast… there was also movement by the Secretary of State.
Karen Bradley announced that she is bringing forward legislation to allow civil servants to make decisions in the absence of devolution.
Northern Ireland has been without an Executive since January 2017 after a disagreement between the two main political parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, resulted in the collapse of devolved government…and the region has been in limbo ever since…with major decisions to boost the economy on hold.
Currently there are £0.5bn of infrastructure projects in Belfast Harbour being held back awaiting final ministerial approval.
These schemes include a major waterfront grade A office building, a new CCGT power station and a Cruise Ship terminal. These projects would not only provide much needed construction work but more importantly would generate economic growth and long term jobs.
Failure to move these forward would have an adverse effect on the local economy and hold back much needed investment.
There are inward investors interested in establishing operations in Belfast and elsewhere which would generate hunderds of quality jobs and pump money into the local economy through attractive salaries for staff.
Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal ruling on the Arc 21 planning decision which prevented senior civil servants making strategic planning decisions, normally made by a Minister, was a further blow to any prospect of headway.
However, Karen Bradley is to be congratulated on her decision to allow senior civil servants to give the green light on key decisions which are to the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.
In her statement, Karen Bradley said that with new powers coming back from Brussels and flowing to Stormont, Northern Ireland needed an Executive in place to use those powers to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.
While there is no sign of the restoration of the Executive, at least Karen Bradley’s announcement should start the wheels in motion for big decisions, especially around infrastructure, to be made, which will allow Northern Ireland to prosper.