“Government bailout will not solve NI’s financial problems” – Chris Heaton-Harris

“Government bailout will not solve NI’s financial problems” – Chris Heaton-Harris

The Northern Ireland Secretary, in a speech at the British-Irish Association Conference held at Oxford University’s Pembroke College, reaffirmed his dedication to reestablishing the Stormont powersharing institutions.

Without the DUP’s participation, the Stormont Assembly has been effectively dormant for over a year, as its worries over post-Brexit trading arrangements have not been addressed.
There are serious problems in the region, especially with the economy and public services, thus other parties have pushed the DUP to return to Stormont.

For ministers to make the difficult choices required to balance the budget and raise the necessary income, we need the Executive back in place.

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Even though elected ministers have not yet taken office, senior civil workers have kept government departments running.
At the conference, Mr. Heaton-Harris stated that breaking the political deadlock is his number one goal.
He added that the people of Northern Ireland are being hampered by political dysfunction.

The message he had for the party leaders throughout his tenure was straightforward: “you need to get back to Stormont.”It is not lost on me that the Executive’s absence has led to requests for me to step in and make the necessary judgments.

To this day, I have never wavered from my deep belief in devolution, in powersharing, and in the historic (Good Friday) agreement reached 25 years ago.
Attendees at the conference come from all walks of life in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including government, industry, academia, and the arts.

Mr. Heaton-Harris continued, “We enter the autumn in a state of ongoing political stasis, and that is a source of extreme disappointment and frustration to me.”We need the Executive back in place so that ministers can make the difficult choices required to restore fiscal stability and get enough funding.

For the much-needed and long-promised public service restructuring that will provide improved outcomes for Northern Ireland, a robust Programme for Government is required.For this reason, I’ve been pushing for the party heads in Northern Ireland to negotiate a workable and credible Programme for Government with the Northern Ireland Civil Service so that the new Executive can go to work on day one.

A “sticking-plaster” finance solution would do little to address the underlying causes of Northern Ireland’s issues, therefore the situation would only worsen.If the reinstatement of the Executive is delayed, I will keep helping the Northern Ireland Civil Service lead public discussions on how to increase taxes.

On Friday, UK and Irish governments must work in “lock step” to guarantee stability in Northern Ireland in the absence of devolution, as stated by Tanaiste Micheal Martin at the conference.

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