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Long says Civil Service legislation 'sticking plaster on a broken leg'

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said legislation giving civil servants enhanced powers to take decisions is only "a sticking plaster on a broken leg".

Mrs Long was speaking after Karen Bradley brought the Bill to Westminster which lets civil servants act in a Minister's absence if they are satisfied the decisions are in the 'public interest'. It is expected to become law next week.

"The Civil Service taking decisions is not in any way equivalent to politicians driving change through committees, Departments, the Assembly and the Executive," said Mrs Long.

"While this legislation will effectively allow civil servants to take decisions of an urgent nature, there remain decisions which may not be urgent but are of strategic importance. If delayed, they carry with them significant implications and allow the deepening of the crises emerging across our public services, including our health and education systems. There are also decisions which though not urgent, if delayed, have a lost opportunity cost attached. They are not included in the remit of the legislation the Secretary of State has laid today.

"This Bill allows for urgent intervention, but for Northern Ireland to function properly, we need more than just a sticking plaster on what is a broken leg. The only effective and sustainable solution is for local politicians to step up and do the job they were elected to do.

"Whilst today's bill deals with a specific issue, we need more than patch repairs. We need the Secretary of State to focus her attention on getting meaningful talks underway that will see devolution restored as a matter of urgency."