Long says Secretary of State’s unwillingness to take decisions now completely untenable

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said the Secretary of State needs to act now to end the ongoing political impasse after the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal over planning permission for an incinerator in Co Antrim.

Planning permission for the proposed facility in Mallusk had been approved by the Department for Infrastructure last year but in May, the High Court said civil servants had unlawfully authorised the decision.

Mrs Long said today’s decision meant the absence of locally accountable Ministers meant local politics was at breaking point.

“Alliance supported local residents in their objections about the suitability of Mallusk to host this incinerator, so this ruling is a welcome one,” said Mrs Long.

“However, today’s decision has much wider implications, confirming the original court ruling that civil servants are unable to take major actions in the absence of the devolved institutions. That status quo is clearly not sustainable and means a number of key projects and decisions cannot be advanced until the Executive is restored or other mechanisms are introduced.

“The potential impact on infrastructure and the economy is grim. I wrote to the Secretary of State in the wake of the original decision and again last week, demanding she act swiftly to restart talks to restore devolution and to make interim arrangements to allow important decisions to proceed.

“She needs to act now and do everything in her power to end the ongoing impasse. Her unwillingness to take any decisions has been apparent for some time but is now completely untenable.

“She has a duty to convene all-party talks with an independent mediator immediately so we can go back to allowing Northern Ireland to function on a sustainable basis and to take the necessary steps required in the interim to protect our public services and economy from any further damage.”

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