Federation comments after dismissal of Arc21 judgment appeal

Commenting after the Department for Infrastructure’s appeal against the Arc21 judgment was dismissed at the High Court today, Construction Employers Federation Assistant Director David Fry said...

“Today’s judgment has huge implications for a number of major infrastructure projects that were either due to proceed imminently or are in the planning process. Indeed, in commenting that, “It follows from our analysis of the constitutional position of civil servants that any decision which as a matter of convention or otherwise would normally go before the Minister for approval lies beyond the competence of a senior civil servant in the absence of a Minister”, the judgment asks serious questions about a significant part of the public sector construction programme and its ongoing deliverability.

“When speaking to business group representatives last week the Secretary of State said that the Government, in advance of the decision in this appeal, were looking at a variety of different options that would look to ensure the continued good governance of Northern Ireland should the appeal fail. Given this verdict, it is now time that those options are made public and we hope that the Secretary of State will have given significant consideration to the proposals that the business community made to her on 29 May.

“Given how dependent the local construction industry remains on public sector expenditure, and given how little leeway this judgment appears to give civil servants in the ongoing impasse, we are at serious risk of doing nothing more than playing around with people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“The construction firms we represent are fed up with the lack of leadership and abdication of responsibility that the last 18 months has seen. We stand on the brink of a complete paralysis in decision making and it is simply not acceptable to just allow this to roll on in perpetuity. As we have said on countless previous times, our preference is the establishment of a Northern Ireland Executive. However, failing that, we need to move to a position where the functions of government can be exercised in a way that any other part of these islands would expect as a matter of course.”