While the courts ruled that there is no legal liability in terms of equal pay for PSNI, DoJ and PSNI staff, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton acknowledged his moral obligation to explore the different avenues of assistance that his department might be able to provide. That was the assurance given by the Minister during today’s Question Time. Discussions with the Department of Justice are ongoing in an attempt to find “any possible solutions to the issue that could be considered by the Northern Ireland Executive”.
Retired civil servants received more encouraging news on equal pay issues when the Minister revealed that his Department is currently negotiating settlement terms and payment processes with NIPSA and the 1200 affected former staff should be contacted very soon as he is “keen to progress this as soon as possible”.
There was also good news for the local construction industry as Mr Hamilton declared that there is “no doubt that our economy is beginning to show signs of recovery” and we are beginning to emerge from the “deepest and most protracted recession in living memory”. The total volume of construction in Northern Ireland increased by 2.4% in the third quarter of 2013/2014 compared to the previous quarter. His department has helped aid the recovery by continuing to invest in infrastructure right across the country, by streamlining procurement processes and through investment in public sector construction. The Minister is “confident for the future outlook of the industry”.
Following the regular period of oral questions there was fifteen minutes of topical questions in which Mr Hamilton answered Members’ questions on topics such as the impact of Welfare Reform on the local economy and the agri-food loan scheme.