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EDITIONS
Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Dismay at plans to suspend assembly
Northern Ireland Executive members
The power sharing executive was formed under the Agreement
The expected suspension of the Stormont Assembly will have an impact on the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland, a number of interest groups have said.

Many of those directly affected by the work of the departments have spoken of their disappointment at an expected return to direct rule.

John Gilliland, the president of the Ulster Farmers' Union, said many people in the farming community would be sad to see SDLP Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers leave office.

"Mrs Rodgers saved the island from a catastrophe when foot-and-mouth disease broke out last year," he said.

John Gilliland: President of the Ulster Farmers' Union
John Gilliland: "We need people who know what is going on to make important decisions"

"This industry is going through financial hell at the moment and we need people who know what is going on to make important decisions."

Jason McGowan, University of Ulster Students' Union President, said many of his fellow students would be "very disappointed" by the loss of the SDLP Employment and Learning Minister, Carmel Hanna.

"We have made a lot of progress in the last few years on issues such as student safety and student finances but if the assembly collapses, it will set back a lot of the plans we had based on lobbying the departmental committee," he said.

Education

Alan Sheeran of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education said the sector as a whole had benefited massively from the work of Sinn Fein Education Minister Martin McGuinness.

"All kinds of things are thrown into doubt now like the future of the 11-plus, which Mr McGuinness was determined to abolish, and the programme for government. It is a real shame to lose such local dynamism."


It was good to have a local minister in charge of a local department

Steven Patterson Sustrans

Roisin McDonough, the chief executive of the Arts Council, said it was imperative to the future of the arts to have a "dedicated champion at a local level, allied to local accountability".

Ms McDonough said massive benefits had flowed from the UUP Culture Minister Michael McGimpsey's department, in that it had brought forward locally tailored programmes to advance the arts.

Steven Patterson, the national manager of Sustrans, a charity which works toward a national cycle network, said he would be disappointed to see DUP Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson leave office.

"It was good to have a local minister in charge of a local department and he seemed to have a good handle on his brief. I just hope that any alternative will show as much dedication," he said.

Local focus

Nigel Smyth, the Director of the Confederation of British Industry, said the Northern Ireland business community was already lagging behind those elsewhere, but the loss of UUP Enterprise Minister Reg Empey would be a further blow.


Nurses throughout Northern Ireland will view with concern the possibility of any disruption that impacts upon healthcare delivery

Dr John Knape Royal College of Nursing

"We were starting to get a bit of momentum behind some of the issues important to business such as rating policies, modernising planning and infrastructure improvements," he said.

David Erwin, the chief executive of the Ulster Wildlife Trust, said UUP Environment Minister Dermot Nesbitt and the Assembly's Environment Committee had greatly advanced the environmental cause in the province.

"There is a great deal of uncertainty and fear that issues like the waste management strategy and the coastal forum will now fall by the wayside."

Dr John Knape of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said Sinn Fein Health Minister Bairbre de Brun's department had made "real progress" in tackling the substantial problems facing the service.

"Nurses throughout Northern Ireland will view with concern the possibility of any disruption to the political process that impacts upon healthcare delivery," he said.

Laurence Moffat, Campaign Officer at Shelter Northern Ireland, a charity for the homeless, said the removal of DUP Social Development Minister Nigel Dodds could mean a lot of progress on housing legislation was lost.

"When legislation goes through the Assembly and its committees, it is scrutinised on a line-to-line basis before being passed, which improves it," he said.

"However, if it goes through Westminster, we lose that local interest and accountability."

Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

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See also:

10 Oct 02 | N Ireland
08 Oct 02 | N Ireland
07 Oct 02 | N Ireland
09 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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