26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: PS will manage crisis ‘as best we can’

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The head of Northern Ireland’s Public Service has said the bureaucracy is in a very difficult position with real challenges ahead in the absence of a functioning Government in the Province.

Jayne Brady said decisions should be made by elected representatives, not Public Servants “but we will do what we can with the powers we have”.

“We will follow the rule of law, the legal indications from Executive Bills and the Budget Bills and we will move them forward,” Ms Brady (pictured) said.

Northern Ireland has been without a Government since February after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to return to the power-sharing Executive with Sinn Féin due to concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated between the United Kingdom Government and the European Union.

Following the departure of caretaker Ministers on 28 October, the Province is in the hands of the Permanent Secretaries of nine Government Departments.

Among the many things that remain unanswered are discussions around possible cuts in the Provincial Budget and whether health workers will get a pay rise.

Ms Brady said those and other issues would be open for negotiation “and it is clear some things will have to give”.

“We are in the middle of a crisis, dealing with a very difficult financial position at the moment,” Ms Brady said.

“Future financial decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, but none of them will be easy.”

She said the Province’s Budget was significantly constrained.

“It is not my position to appoint any responsibility or blame for previous overspending — I don’t think it’s going to help anyone at home if I’m sitting being frustrated; what I have to be is hopeful and energetic,” Ms Brady said.

Belfast, 1 December 2022

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