Brexit: NI civil service ramping up no-deal planning

The Northern Ireland Civil Service is ramping up its planning for a round-the-clock response to a no-deal Brexit.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 7:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:21 am
The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Head of the Civil Service David Sterling is seeking volunteers for co-ordination structures which may operate in response to potential disruption arising from the exit.

They will work in departmental operations centres and a central Northern Ireland hub which may need to be continually staffed.

The hub will co-ordinate Northern Ireland’s response and will be operated jointly between Stormont’s Executive Office and the Government’s Northern Ireland Office.

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Mr Sterling wrote to 23,000 civil servants this week seeking expressions of interest.

He said: “We have been developing plans to ensure that we have the structures and capacity in place to address any difficulties which may emerge when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.”

The process includes designing measures for a no-deal Brexit.

“This would involve comprehensive plans for contingency arrangements to deal with the worst case scenario, where there is sustained and widespread disruption.

“Such plans would require us to establish new temporary structures which we may need to operate on a 24/7 basis.”

He said he did not think a no-deal exit was the most likely outcome or that it would be necessary to ever operate the arrangements.

“This is simply the next step in readying our plans for exit day.

“The fact is, it is not possible to predict what will happen now, and the possibility of some disruption remains, even in the event of an exit governed by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“We must be ready to respond quickly and decisively, whatever the future outcome may be.

“To do this, we must have effective, well-resourced structures ready to move into operation quickly should the need arise.”