Deadlock at Stormont 'is damaging to construction'
A lack of devolved government in Northern Ireland is contributing to an "alarming" 6.5% fall in construction output for the industry here, it's been claimed.
The Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin also said industry output in the first quarter of the year was down by 6.5% on the end of 2017, and 6% year on year.
The sharp decreases follow 12 months of consistent construction output.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said the fall at the start of the year was down to a 12% fall in repair and maintenance work, while new work fell by 6.7%.
There was also a slump in other work of 9%, a fall in infrastructure work of 7.5%, and a drop in housing work of 3%.
During 2017, there was £590.1m of new public sector work, compared to £641.8m in 2016.
John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, said: "This alarming publication is yet more evidence, as if it were needed, of an industry suffering as a direct consequence of Northern Ireland's political impasse.
"The lack of leadership and abdication of responsibility that the past 18 months has seen is now clearly impacting on the levels of public sector work coming to the market, as well as the confidence of the private sector with regard to investing in new development."
But Robert Gibson, audit and assurance director at business advisory firm Grant Thornton, said the figures could represent a short-term setback rather than a long-term trend.
He said work levels in 2017 were "some of the highest recorded in the past five years".