SDLP Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon MLA is to hold a series of meetings with British Government Ministers to warn against by-passing devolution.
The move comes after the British Government announced that the “levelling up fund” would be administered by Departments in London, bypassing NI Ministers and the Executive. Alarmingly, the decisions on what will and won’t be funded will be taken by the Chancellor and Secretaries of State.
Minister Nichola Mallon is making direct representations in meetings with NIO Minister of State Robin Walker (Mon 8/3) Department for Transport Secretary of State Grant Shapps (Tues 9/3) and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis (Wed 10/3)
In the meetings, Minister Mallon has called for investment in greener infrastructure and slammed the British Government on their plans to bypass Stormont.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA said:
“The British Government needs to step up, stop providing warm words and start delivering tangible support for citizens in Northern Ireland. For over a year now we have been promised that infrastructure would be “turbo-charged", that we would see a “green revolution” and that the Prime Minister was going to “level-up”. Yet we are still waiting. This week I have been meeting with British Ministers to warn that Northern Ireland can’t wait any longer, we need to seize our chance for change now and to do that we need investment.
“I am sending a clear message that the British Government can’t just decide to have London imposed decision making. It is unacceptable that any funding for Northern Ireland is decided in London by Ministers not elected by and not accountable to citizens in Northern Ireland.
“I also made it clear that to truly transform lives here, to tackle the climate crisis and grow our economy we have to work in partnership. That means working together, collaboratively across these islands to enhance our infrastructure and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. But working together means respecting the mandates that parties here have been given. It means honouring the promises of New Decade, New Approach. It means delivering together on the promises that we made to citizens here, building confidence, trust and importantly delivering opportunities for our communities.
“But for this to happen, there needs to be a change of approach from the British Government. Devolution must be respected and decisions for local people must be made by local ministers. The British Government might think they can hood-wink some parties but as an SDLP Minister at the Executive table I will be demanding respect for devolution, respect for locally accountable decision making and most importantly respect for our citizens who have invested in ministers here, not in London, to make decisions over their futures.”