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19/10/2018

Bill clarifying decision-making powers of NI civil servants published

Words: Roger Milne
Karen Bradley / Shutterstock_747553993

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has introduced legislation to help restore devolved government in Northern Ireland that crucially clarifies the decision-making powers of civil servants in the absence of ministers at Stormont.

This has been a particular issue for planning, where decisions on a number of key infrastructure projects have been left in limbo for 20 months.

The Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Bill contains provisions to give greater certainty to enable Northern Ireland departments to continue to take decisions in Northern Ireland “in the public interest”.

The guidance does not identify or direct specific decisions but sets out principles to be taken into account when deciding whether or not it is in the public interest to exercise a function.

Bradley insisted: “It is imperative that Northern Ireland departments have clarity, so that decisions can be taken in the public interest to maintain delivery of Northern Ireland’s public services in the absence of ministers, and the draft guidance we have published alongside the bill will support civil servants in carrying out their duties.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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