NI Parties Criticise Bill For Decision-Making Process

Northern Ireland political leaders have criticised the government's draft proposal to give local civil servants enhanced powers.

The comments follow fresh talks to unlock the decision-making impasse in Northern Ireland on Monday 08 October, in which a draft bill was tabled.

There has been no functioning executive at Stormont since January 2017. Following a landmark court ruling earlier this year regarding a waste incinerator in County Antrim, government officials have been unable to take major decisions without ministerial oversight.

The new draft bill aims to allow senior civil servants to exercise departmental functions as long as they are acting in the public interest.

On Monday, Sinn Fein, the DUP, SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance parties all had separate talks with Ms Bradley.

During the course of the meetings, Ms Bradley assured politicians she would seek clarification on the decision-making situation.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds expressed his concern over the proposed legislation.

He said: "We don't believe that it is in the right place yet.

"It does not provide sufficient certainty about decision-making.

"We have left the Secretary of State with a list of concerns that she needs to address before this legislation is tabled."
News Image
Mr Dodds said that a situation in which decisions are deferred or not taken, or the wrong decisions are made, is unacceptable.

Sinn Fein's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said she understands the need for decision-making, but that it has to under "strict guidance and limited circumstances".

Mrs O'Neill also criticised Ms Bradley for showing a lack of fresh thinking with regards to the Stormont impasse.

She said: "Today was a bit of a groundhog day and we did not hear anything new from Karen Bradley that would give us any kind of hope that her Government has any interest in prioritising the needs of the people here."

The SDLP and Alliance parties both made calls for an independent facilitator to bring a fresh perspective to the situation, as previous talks processes have repeatedly failed.

"We have a lack of energy in terms of any meaningful process in terms of the restoration of devolution," said Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry.

"We have been pushing for weeks and indeed months for an independent facilitator to be appointed to try to kick start some form of process" in order to hit the ground running, Mr Farry explained.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood reiterated that notion. He said: "The two governments have a responsibility now to step in, to take decisions, to get the hard issues off the table and get us back to work.

"In the absence of that, there needs to be a talks process convened with an independent chair."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 April 2018
DUP Leader Appears Before RHI Inquiry For Second Day
DUP leader and former First Minister, Arlene Foster, is due to appear before the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) inquiry for a second day of evidence giving. Mrs Foster led the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) which set up the green energy scheme in 2012, signing off on the incentive project as Minister.
09 April 2018
SDLP Leader Stands In Solidarity With Sinn Féin's Kevin Campbell
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has condemned an arson attack at the home of Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell. Mr Campbell's Renault Modus was burnt out in an arson attack as it was parked in the driveway of his home in Creggan in the early hours of Sunday, 03 April.
02 March 2018
Social Media Post About DUP Leader 'Disrespectful And Grossly Offensive'
The SDLP have been criticised for sharing a "disrespectful and grossly offensive" post about DUP leader Arlene Foster on social media.
24 October 2017
Former Loyalist Leader Glenn Barr Dies, Aged 75
Former UDA commander Glenn Barr has died, aged 75. Mr Barr became leader of the Ulster Workers Strike in the 1970s which brought down the Sunningdale power-sharing executive. He also visited Libya for discussions with Colonel Gaddafi as part of a UDA delegation.
02 October 2017
Green Party Elects New Deputy Leader
The Green Party has elected a new deputy leader. Tanya Jones will take over from Claire Bailey after she stepped aside from the role. Ms Jones is a writer, former solicitor and well known anti-fracking activist. Tanya is chair of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone Green Party and lives with her family in Enniskillen.
31 July 2018
Karen Bradley Urged To End 'Toxic Pact' With DUP
The British Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, has been urged to "set aside her party's 'toxic' pact with the DUP in order to restore the power-sharing institutions". Sinn Féin MP, Elisha McCallion, made the call after she met with Ms Bradley in L'Derry on Monday.
29 August 2014
Former US Senator In Belfast To Meet Stormont Parties
Representatives of the Stormont Executive parties are to meet today with former US Senator Gary Hart. Mr Hart is in Northern Ireland on a fact-finding mission, understood to be undertaken on behalf of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Hart arrived in Belfast from Dublin where he met party leaders, and before that he was in London.
23 April 2010
Fire Service Clear Border Bomb Area
Firemen have saved many people from injuries by evacuating people from the scene of a terrorist bomb at a PSNI station. However, the explosion still left two people hurt by the blast, in Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh at 11.25pm.
08 November 2004
Ahern calls on parties not to delay political process
Following behind-the-scenes talks between both governments, the DUP and Sinn Féin, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described reports of possible IRA decommissioning by the end of the year as "very near the mark".
13 February 2004
Software industry 'complacent' says university
Northern Ireland’s software industry needs to shake off complacency and increase its entrepreneurial activity if it is to compete successfully in the global economy, according to a report published by University of Ulster researchers today.
23 October 2001
Trimble accepts commencement of IRA decommissioning
Following the IRA statement on decommissioning made on Tuesday and a meeting with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), the Ulster Unionists have accepted that the IRA has commenced decommissioning.
02 July 2001
IN their latest report the Independent International Decommissioning Commission has said that there has been no decommissioning by any of the main paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
18 June 2015
Proposal To Fly Union Flag At Stormont All Year Turned Down
A proposal by the DUP to fly the Union flag every day at Stormont has been turned down. DUP MLA Paula Bradley expressed her "disappointment" at the decision and said that some MLAs who claim to be unionist voted against the proposal.
22 June 2010
Border CIT Robbers Are Hunted
Police along the border are hunting armed robbers who stole a cash box from a security guard yesterday. The SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA, Dominic Bradley condemned the armed robbers who stole cash in transit (CIT) at Meigh in South Armagh on Monday afternoon.
07 January 2008
Victims' Group Meets NIO Secretary
The official Consultative Group on the Past is meeting NIO Secretary, Shaun Woodward today ahead of hosting its first public discussion forum in Belfast.