Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bringing back executives to boost Northern Ireland’s potential: Department of State

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As I write this, I was hopeful that Northern Ireland would just see its devolved government start up again at Stormont. Sadly, heading into 2024, Northern Ireland will be without a fully functioning executive for 23 months.

You’ve gone a little under two years without the local elected politicians you voted for working for you. It means hundreds of decisions and opportunities are not taken up by the people you voted for and the problems facing our public services remain unsolved.

Earlier this month, the UK Government held intense talks with political parties to reach agreement on how to restore Northern Ireland’s administration to stable financial footing and ensure public services are responsive to people’s needs. I have put a fair and generous package on the table worth over £3 billion.

This is a package that provides solutions to a number of key issues raised by the parties, including a new method for determining the amount Northern Ireland receives from the UK Government. Hundreds of millions of pounds of support for public sector pay. More than £1 billion will be spent to stabilize public services in Northern Ireland.

It is disappointing that the talks ended without the return of Northern Ireland’s devolved government, but this funding will be taken up by the returning Executive from day one and truly builds a sustainable footing for a bright future for Northern Ireland. Dew. .

Some people currently have a deadline of January 18th. The fact is that this is the day I am once again legally obliged to hold a new election in Stormont, and it is no longer possible to legally form an Executive. I am carefully considering all options, but as I want Stormont to return as soon as possible, I am not treating this day as a target and am working tirelessly with all stakeholders to find a way forward. I intend to cooperate.

January 18th is also the day thousands of public sector workers go on strike over pay. A returned Executive will be able to stop these attacks and the disruption they cause to people across Northern Ireland. By returning to work, they will free up £584 million set aside by the UK government to pay for public sector salaries.

The people of Northern Ireland expect and deserve a return to decentralized government as soon as possible, using the fiscal policy we have proposed. But we cannot and will not sit back and let public services and public finances deteriorate further in the absence of a UK government. That is why, as we did last year, we are preparing a pragmatic and rational approach to supporting the Northern Ireland Civil Service to stabilize finances and services through a sustainable budget, should the Executive not reappoint themselves. That’s what I’m doing.

But it is clear that there must be limits to how far the British government can go without an executive branch. That is, the fiscal policy we have proposed requires decisions about how to improve and modernize public services, and those decisions must be made by locally elected politicians with that mandate. It’s from. Local politicians should not be the only ones spending money from the UK government. They have to make active and sometimes difficult decisions about where their priorities lie. Because they know the positions and needs of their constituents better than anyone else.

As Secretary of State, my focus has been on getting Stormont back on its feet and running it, and upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its aspects. I will never deny these efforts. I am confident that the support that the UK Government will provide to the next Chief Executive will enable the devolved institutions to be set up for success, not failure.

It is now time for the people of Northern Ireland to once again see the people they elect make decisions on the issues that matter most to them.

2024 is the year when Northern Ireland’s full potential will be unleashed – and for that to happen Stormont must return.

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