[UK] Power Sharing Returns To Northern Ireland

In January 2017, devolution in Northern Ireland collapsed when Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness recognised as deputy first minister.  This was concerning a “cash for ash” scandal that surrounded Democratic Unionist Party first minister Arlene Foster’s role in the management and handling of a renewable heat incentive scheme.

Since this time, this part of the UK has been without a devolved government, scandalous in itself considering the devolved powers that the Executive has; both for individuals living in this part of the UK and payroll and HR professionals 

Successive Secretaries of State have tried to restore devolution and have postponed calling fresh Assembly elections in the form of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019.  The latest amendment to this set a deadline date of the 13th of January 2020 as the final date when the government had to be formed and functioning.

On the 11th of January 2020, devolution was restored after Sinn Féin signed up to a deal to restore mandatory power sharing with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).  Arlene Foster returns to the role of first minister as leader of the largest party.  Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill assumes the role of deputy first minister.

Global Payroll Association Comment

Regardless of whether an individual held unionist, nationalist (or neither) beliefs, the fact that one part of the UK has been administered with limited powers by civil servants for 3 years has been shameful.  Budgets have been set by Westminster to allow Northern Ireland to set basic things like rates, however this is not the way that devolution is supposed to work.  The UK government should never have allowed this situation.

We welcome the restoration of the Executive, albeit that there are still strong differences between the parties in the power sharing agreement.  It is in the interests of the whole of the UK, individuals and payroll and HR professionals.