Belfast City Deal: Karen Bradley signs heads of terms – BBC News

Belfast City Deal: Karen Bradley signs heads of terms - BBC News

No-deal Brexit would require direct rule in Northern Ireland

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA, said public sector employees in the province could not be expected to make increasingly political decisions with major security and economic implications if the UK crashed out of Europe.

His words follow Theresa Mays comments on Monday, when she told the House of Commons that some direct application of powers might have to be imposed on Northern Ireland in a no-deal scenario.

Mr Devine added: At a time of considerable uncertainty, were proud to be bringing this level of investment to Belfast, which will result in the creation of over 700 full-time jobs when construction begins and over 35 full-time roles when the plant is operational.

Read more Penman, whose members include dozens of permanent secretaries across Whitehall and Belfast, said: The prime minister has confirmed what should have been patently obvious to any politician in Northern Ireland. A no-deal Brexit will require decision-making of such magnitude that only an elected politician should be responsible.

Ciaran Devine, director of Belfast Power, said: This is a critical time for Northern Irelands electricity industry, and the power station will play a central role in ensuring we have enough electricity to meet demand over the coming years.

In the absence of a functioning government in Belfast, ministers in Westminster will need to intervene if the UK crashes out of the EU with no-deal. Civil servants, who have been left without political direction for more than two years now, could not and should not be expected to take decisions with such profound economic and security implications.

After the suspension of Stormont more than two years ago, mandarins in the region say they fear they are being asked to make decisions that were once made by members of the assembly.

Kilroots owners failed to win an all-Ireland contract to supply consumers and had been facing closure but was awarded a new short-term deal last year following negotiations.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, this could mean taking decisions about the border that could endanger fellow officials, police and border guards, informed sources have told the Guardian.

This is good news as we continue the journey towards decarbonisation, and will ensure competitive costs, which will benefit consumers.

Responding to a question about whether direct rule would be needed under a no-deal scenario, May said: If there is no Stormont government, if powers are needed and ministerial direction is needed which is not available to civil servants currently, it would require some direct application of powers here from Westminster.

Stormonts current stalemate began in January 2017, when the power-sharing partnership of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) and Sinn Féin fell apart. The final row between them was over a botched green energy scheme, the renewable heat incentive.

Using state-of-the-art Siemens technology, it will be the most efficient of its kind anywhere in the UK and Ireland.

Northern Ireland was ruled directly from Westminster between 1972, when the Northern Ireland parliament was prorogued, and 1999, when the new power-sharing assembly was established.

The project also represents a significant shift towards low-carbon electricity generation in Northern Ireland.

Many direct powers have returned to Westminster since the suspension of the assembly, including giving Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, the power to appoint an attorney general and powers to appoint the heads of local quangos.

Officials at the Infrastructure Department have issued a notice of opinion to approve, Mr Devine said.

Ministers and civil servants in the region have privately conceded that there would be concerns about the reaction from Sinn Féin, the SDLP and dissident paramilitaries were direct rule officially announced.

Michelle ONeill, Sinn Féins vice-president, said earlier this month there would be grave consequences if the British government imposed direct rule from London.

Up to 700 jobs could be created after a massive £300m gas-fired Belfast power plant was given the green light, it has emerged.

Belfast Power wants to built the huge plant at Belfast Harbour, which could produce up to half of Northern Irelands electricity at peak times.

Now, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has issued a notice of opinion to approve the major development. The firm behind the scheme says 700 jobs could be supported during the build, with 35 full-time roles once its operational.

Its the second major scheme to be given the go-ahead by Stormont, despite no ministers being in place. Just last week, Translink was given approval for its ambitious £208m Belfast Transport Hub.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has also given approval to a new £15m cruise ship terminal at Belfast Harbour, aimed at boosting the citys connectivity with ships and attractiveness as a destination.

Ciaran Devine, director of Belfast Power Limited said the power station project approval comes at a “critical time for Northern Irelands electricity industry, and the power station will play a central role in ensuring we have enough electricity to meet demand over the coming years”.

“The project also represents a significant shift towards low-carbon electricity generation in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“This is good news as we continue towards decarbonisation and it will ensure competitive costs, benefiting customers.”

In a previous interview with the Belfast Telegraph, co-founder Ciaran Devine said it could power up to 50% of Northern Irelands homes and businesses at peak time.

Ciaran and his brother Stephen have already built an £83m biomass-fuelled power station in Londonderry, under their firm Evermore.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed both approvals and said the “permanent secretary for the Department for Infrastructure must be commended again for making these two further decisions”.

“At over £300m, the Belfast Power Station project is of significant strategic importance, not only for Northern Irelands electricity infrastructure, but also for the economy in terms of the amount of jobs that will be created during its construction and again while operational,” she said.

Mr Devine says that “at a time of considerable uncertainty, were proud to be bringing this level of investment to Belfast, which will result in the creation of over 700 full-time jobs when construction begins and over 35 full-time roles when the plant is operational”.

He added: “DfI has been thoroughly professional in its approach to the application since it was submitted in April 2017.”

The company will now participate in a capacity auction to be conducted by the Utility Regulator, he said.

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