Belfast Telegraph

Professor’s warning underscores the need for political movement

By David Gordon

Eileen Evason has certainly earned the right to be taken very seriously. She's an acknowledged expert in the infuriatingly complex world of social security benefits.

Broadcasters have long been grateful for her ability to explain and advise in plain English. It's also not much of a stretch to describe her as the woman who saved Stormont. The working group she led found a way through the welfare reform crisis that had almost wrecked devolution not that many months ago.

Read More: Eileen Evason: To protect the most vulnerable, we need Stormont Executive in action again

Stormont blame game rumbles on as hopes fade for an end to the deadlock

Two points from Professor Evason's Belfast Telegraph article today stand out.

First and foremost is the warning on the potential impact of not resolving the current power sharing stalemate.

She highlights the limited shelf life of Stormont's £500m welfare reform mitigations package, with a review due in 2018/19.

That won't be long coming round and the article states that "it is difficult to see how progress can be made without resolution of the current political impasse".

If there's Tory direct rule, what chance of Northern Ireland landing an updated special deal, with benefits and protections more generous than those received across the water?

And that's the other key point from Professor Evason.

She points out that "what we have, limited as it is, is far in advance of what has been secured by other devolved governments."

It's worth remembering that as the Stormont talks grind on and on.

There's a lot at stake.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph