Leading article

Stormont's problems keep on building

THIS week's talks at Stormont have been given at least the appearance of fresh momentum in response to the public outrage at the crisis in health and social services, with poor general election results concentrating the minds of Sinn Féin and the DUP in particular.

A damning audit office report has further emphasised the scale of the challenges facing any new Stormont Executive.

Auditor General Kieran Donnelly's report into how flagship infrastructure projects are delivered - consistently late and overbudget - provides another insight into the dysfunction within government, both in former executives and civil service departments.

The RHI inquiry, whose report is eagerly awaited, has already lifted the lid in forensic detail on the ineptitude from ministers, spads and officials which blighted the delivery of a relatively simple project.

The audit office report suggests RHI may not have been a one-off. Mr Donnelly looked at 11 major capital projects which have not been efficiently delivered.

They include the A5 upgrade - it has overrun by 10 years and £300 million - and Ulster University's new Belfast campus, which is more than £100m over-budget. A new Casement Park stadium was due to have opened three years ago, but work hasn't even started.

With understatement, Mr Donnelly said his findings indicated a "change of approach" was needed.

Any new executive must heed his words.

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Leading article