Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:15 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 11:15 am, 5th May 2020

I thank the Member for her question. The reality is that social distancing will be with us for a long time and we need to create space for people to socially distance and keep safe.

I want, as I said about the work of the champion, to link with a lot of the work that has already taken place, so I am keen to have a discussion with Minister Hargey, for example, on public realm works that her Department is carrying out to see whether we can make the widening of footpaths a key element. That has to be the approach.

The Member is right that we have had to curtail severely a number of services that the Department provides. Grass cutting, for example, has been severely curtailed, as have a number of other services, because of budgetary pressures. We recognise the importance of these issues, and we try to do what we can. However, as always, we have to operate within financial restraints, and that is as frustrating for me as it is, I am sure, for the Member.