Leaders from the business community have expressed their disappointment at the collapse of the latest round of the talks process.
As the political fallout from the collapse continued, spokemen for two of the leading sectors, Glyn Roberts of Retail NI and Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said the latest missed opportunity was a serious blow and called for alternatives to be explored immediately.
‘The time has come for vital decisions to be made on a budget, infrastructure, business rates and many other important challenges facing the economy,” the men said in a joint statement.
“We need a government and ministers in place. Both our organisations have always strongly preferred devolved ministers –but it is now time for a Plan B”
Hopes raised over the past week had been dashed, increasing the political instability that was bad for business and the economy, the statement said.
“Our members deserve better than ‘care and maintenance’ administration and emergency budgets.
“Despite the grim political news this week, we hope that a way can be found that will restore devolution in the near future.
The professional body for Chartered Accountants expressed the frustration of the business community.
Zara Duffy, head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland, which represents over 4,600 local Chartered Accountants said:
“It is frustrating that we have now been without a functioning Executive and Legislative Assembly for thirteen months.
Members were disappointed not only at the failure of politicians to find a way to work together, she said, but also by the knock-on effects that the deadlock is having in terms of investment, decision-making and Northern Ireland’s reputation around the world.
“The failure to reach agreement is creating an instability which is now affecting jobs, essential services and the quality of life for people in Northern Ireland.
“The UK will leave the EU in just over a year, and we expect Northern Ireland to be more adversely affected by this than the rest of the UK.
“This is already creating a great deal of uncertainty around future business relationships and trading realities.
“Unfortunately the democratic deficit that exists without a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly only intensifies this uncertainty.”