Northern Ireland nears 1,000 days without ministers in charge
As Northern Ireland approaches 1,000 days since the collapse of the power-sharing executive, a new report finds important areas of domestic reform – such as public service reform, legislation on domestic violence and compensation for victims of historical abuse – have stalled.
Published recently (24 September 2019), Governing without ministers looks at how Northern Ireland has functioned since 2017 and its reliance on civil servants to make critical decisions, and finds that the current situation should be unacceptable and is unsustainable.
The lack of ministers and a sitting Assembly has created an “accountability gap” alongside the rising list of issues civil servants cannot address as they are forced to work to out-of-date policy directions from their former ministers.
The lack of an executive has been particularly noticeable on Brexit. Despite being more acutely affected than any other part of the UK, the report says Northern Ireland has lacked proper political representation in the process.
So far UK ministers have held out against introducing direct rule. Such a move would be highly controversial, but the authors argue that a no-deal Brexit will force Westminster to make decisions that Northern Ireland civil servants cannot.
The report also makes recommendations for how a future executive could be supported once restored. These include developing new buttressing institutions to aid effective long-term decision making, developing more external policy capacity in Northern Ireland and improving Northern Ireland literacy in Westminster and Whitehall.
Jess Sargeant, Institute for Government, researcher, recently said:
“The lack of a functioning Northern Ireland government is having a real effect on citizens. The of the lack of new policy on public services reform will mean that the consequence of decision making during the period will be felt well into the future. Bigger picture, power-sharing was designed to foster co-operation in a divided society – without it there is a long-term risk of a deterioration of community relations.”
Jill Rutter, Institute for Government programme director, recently said:
“Two decades of peace have allowed Whitehall and Westminster to overlook Northern Ireland, but leaving part of the UK ungoverned for so long is a gross dereliction of duty to the citizens. Northern Ireland not only needs devolved government restored – it needs changes to make it easier for ministers to tackle difficult decisions and ensure Northern Ireland is not just governed locally, but governed well.”
Notes to editor
- Full report can be found on our website.
- The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
- For more information, including data to reproduce any charts, please contact email@example.com / 0785 031 3791.
Devolution to UK nations
Governing without ministers
Governing without ministers – report launch
Latest News from
New Local - Evidence proves the value of community power – now it’s time for political action02/03/2021 12:35:00
Giving people power over their places and services produces huge benefits, new research shows, and should be reflected in new legislation.
Raise some taxes now alongside bold stimulus package for ‘balanced recovery’, says IPPR02/03/2021 11:35:00
Think tank says reforms to four key taxes would lay foundation for a fairer and stronger post-pandemic economy
Axe 20 taxes and go for growth, says new IEA research02/03/2021 10:35:00
A new briefing paper from Institute of Economic Affairs, authored by Sam Collins and Alexander Hammond, suggests a radical simplification of our tax code.
IFG - Devolved nations given £19bn extra funding to tackle coronavirus since March 202002/03/2021 09:35:00
A new Institute for Government report shows that since March 2020 an extra £19 billion has been sent from the UK Treasury to the three devolved nations to tackle Covid.
It is time to scrap stamp duty altogether, says IEA expert25/02/2021 11:35:00
Julian Jessop Economics Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented on reports that the Chancellor will extend the stamp duty holiday until June
IFS - Nurses more likely to leave NHS hospitals where costs of living have increased quickly25/02/2021 10:35:00
Improving the retention of NHS staff has been a long-term policy challenge, and will be of even greater importance in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a free society there should be “no right not to be offended”, says IEA expert25/02/2021 09:35:00
Marc Glendening, Head of Cultural Affairs at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented on Merseyside Police’s decision to apologise for claiming “being offensive is an offence” as part of a campaign to encourage people to report hate crime
“Boris Johnson’s sluggish timetable will do unnecessary damage to businesses and livelihoods”, says IEA expert23/02/2021 11:35:00
Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, responded to Boris Johnson’s roadmap to lift lockdown measures in England
King's Fund - New report calls on London’s health and care leaders to ignite efforts to tackle health inequalities23/02/2021 10:35:00
Yesterday’s report from The King’s Fund, Integrated care systems in London: Challenges and opportunities ahead, finds that health and care organisations across London have worked together more closely than ever before to improve and join up services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.