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Decisions on Northern Ireland must be made in London, says DUP's Foster

Arlene Foster has called for decisions about Northern Ireland's political future to be made in London, after a key legal ruling limiting the decision-making power of local civil servants.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal turned down a bid to overturn a ruling that a Stormont department was wrong to sign-off on a £240m waste disposal facility at Hightown Quarry in Mallusk.

In May, the High Court ruled that senior officials within the Department for Infrastructure did not have the legal authority to grant planning permission.

Speaking on Friday, Mrs Foster said: "[Friday's] Court of Appeal judgement brings a sharp focus on the impact in Northern Ireland of no local Ministerial decision-making.

"It is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.  Key public services such as schools, hospitals and roads are being unfairly impacted. Four out of the five main parties would form an Executive today.  In the absence of an Executive, decisions must be made in London."

Mrs Foster said she told Prime Minister May on Monday it was time to take action on Northern Ireland's governance.

"I welcomed the commitment from the Prime Minister that she is exploring a number of options," she said.

"On the back of this judgement, we will again be pressing the Government to take decisions."

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Incinerator plans for Mallusk in Belfast

Sinn Fein MLA Declan Kearney said he welcomed the Court of Appeal's decision.

He said: “I very much welcome that as it again signals the importance of re-establishing the power-sharing institutions in a way that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.

“That means dealing with the equality and rights issues at the heart of the crisis and both governments fulfilling their responsibility as co guarantors of the GFA when the British Irish Governmental Conference finally meets later this month.”

Since the collapse of Stormont in January 2017, the absence of ministerial decision-making power has left sectors and services across Northern Ireland in limbo and uncertain of future funding.

In March the UK government tabled a £12 billion Westminster spending plan for the region.

The budget includes £410 million of the £1 billion investment package secured by the DUP as part of its confidence and supply (C&S) agreement with the minority Conservative administration.

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