Examination of Witness

Part of Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 29 Mehefin 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Lilah Howson-Smith:

Sure. I think that the most obvious impact was on public services delivery. You obviously had a situation where the civil service could authorise certain decisions, up to quite a low threshold, and authorise certain amounts of spending, but you basically had a situation where no new policy or structures could be pursued.

The way in which that impacted public services was basically most explicitly on the health service, with incredibly long waiting lists, but the impact also extended into education. We visited a number of schools, both at primary and secondary level, where there was just a sense of overall stasis. I think there was also a kind of frustration more widely about infrastructure issues, even extending to Belfast City Council, who we spoke to; they talked about issues around sewage that just had not been dealt with, because of the absence of Ministers.

So, I think it affected all aspects of life. It was very much the first thing that came up in all our meetings with civil society, business and border organisations throughout our time in Northern Ireland, before power sharing was restored.