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Charity leaders warn against Stormont political vacuum

A prolonged political vacuum following the Assembly elections will cause immense damage to all, charity leaders have warned.

Vital policy initiatives are on hold, a budget for running public services has not been agreed and Northern Ireland is not being effectively represented in Brexit negotiations, the Chief Officers 3rd Sector said.

The organisation represents the heads of 500 charities and community groups and said the imposition of direct rule or government by civil servants if powersharing cannot be restored following the March 2 poll would create a democratic deficit.

Chief executive Nora Smith said: "We work in partnership with government to deliver for the public good and will continue to do so.

"However, a prolonged vacuum will result in unaccountable government with no policy momentum on reduced budgets.

"There is not a single citizen in Northern Ireland who will benefit from that."

Members of her representative organisation lead organisations that employ tens of thousands of people across Northern Ireland, many delivering contracts on behalf of government to carry out vital work to support the most vulnerable.

She said the consequences of the collapse of powersharing were grave and it was vital effective government was restored as soon as possible.

Ms Smith warned new legislation, policy initiatives and planned reforms risked grinding to a halt

She claimed budget cuts threatened the future of many organisations and will leave those most at risk without vital services.

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