Business big on powers for civil servants but light on MLA pay

The move by Ms Bradley, right, will help encourage development and pave the way for new investment by firms such as PA Consulting which announced 400 new jobs for Belfast earlier this week business leaders claimed
The move by Ms Bradley, right, will help encourage development and pave the way for new investment by firms such as PA Consulting which announced 400 new jobs for Belfast earlier this week business leaders claimed

The introduction of legislation aimed at getting Northern Ireland working, rather than the move to cut MLA salaries, was the focus of most business reaction to Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s announcement on Thursday.

After almost 600 days without government and after repeated calls for action, Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the move was overdue.

“NI 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.”

Key infrastructure projects were being held back awaiting final ministerial approval, she added.

Those, in turn, were linked to “inward investors interested in establishing operations in Belfast and elsewhere” generating quality jobs and pump money into the local economy through attractive salaries.

“Failure to move these projects forward will have an adverse effect on the local economy and hold back much needed investment,” she said.

Speaking after a joint Parliamentary reception attended by Ms Bradley, the CEOs of Retail NI, Hospitality Ulster and Manufacturing NI, Glyn Roberts, Colin Neill and Stephen Kelly said they hoped important infrastructre projects could now move forward.

“In our New Deal for Northern Ireland that we launched at Parliament yesterday, we called for rapid decisions to be made to support our economy in these challenging times.”

Acting regional director of the Royal Institiute of Chartered Surveyors, Susan Mason, said restoration of devolved govermentb remained the preferred option.

“However, in the absence of negotiations to restore an Assembly and Executive, RICS has called for the UK government to intervene to ensure critical decisions on infrastructure are taken and projects advanced in a timely manner. Today’s announcement is therefore good news for Northern Ireland.”

Zara Duffy, head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland, said: “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.”