Business group offers new approach

A group of Northern Irish business organisations, including Hospitality Ulster and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, is to propose practical solutions that it hopes will ensure important decisions are taken despite the lack of an Assembly at Stormont.

The move comes in the wake of the recent decision by Belfast High Court, which declared that civil servants here did not have the authority to approve the controversial Arc21 incinerator plan.

That decision calls into question the ability of civil servants to make important procurement and tendering decisions and to decide significant planning applications.

The new group, which also includes the CBI and the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes that this puts many new schemes, including the ultra-fast broadband project and the A5 upgrade, at risk and it has suggested that the law could be temporarily amended to allow permanent secretaries to act in the absence of ministers.

Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster says that Northern Ireland cannot simply continue under the situation as it now exist:

“Our members feel the real and tangible cost of no government, which leaves us to operate with outdated legislation as our competitors modernise to meet the demands of a fast-changing market,” he warned. “As hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying businesses, our members deserve the basic right to have a working government in place.”

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