Stormont: construction firms demand action from returning government

Northern Irish construction firms have welcomed the imminent return to functioning government in the country and demanded a range of measures to boost the industry.

Reports suggest power-sharing could return to Stormont this week after a two-year boycott by the Democratic Unionist Party over Brexit arrangements.

Mark Spence, chief executive of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), a trade body that represents 800 building firms in Northern Ireland, said the move would open up opportunities to increase building activity in the country.

“The prospective restoration of the executive and assembly will be welcomed by all in Northern Ireland’s construction industry,” he said.

“Between now and the next scheduled assembly election in 2027, there is an opportunity to fundamentally reform many of our key economic enablers, which have been subject to years of drift and delay.

“That opportunity can, though, only be realised if our executive works collaboratively, finally taking Northern Ireland away from the years of silo-structured government that have consistently held back progress.”

CEF, which represents around 70 per cent of construction in Northern Ireland, has set out a 10-point plan for stimulating the country’s construction sector. The list includes planning reform, fresh housing targets and the creation of an independent infrastructure commission.

Other measures proposed by CEF include mutualisation of NI Water and the NI Housing Executive, the establishment of a construction-focused procurement-engagement body, and support for a new construction-skills forum to boost the talent pipeline.

CEF said a “significant” package of policies was required to move towards net zero, including an “ambitious” housing retrofit strategy, and called for a multi-year capital budget to be put in place, as well as further private investment to be encouraged.

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