Magazine article Public Finance

Hain Outlines Creation of NI 'Super-Councils'

Magazine article Public Finance

Hain Outlines Creation of NI 'Super-Councils'

Article excerpt

Government plans to replace Northern Ireland's 26 district councils with seven super-councils' have been attacked by local parties for reinforcing sectarian divisions.

The reform, announced by Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain and his ministers on November 22, would result in three nationalist-dominated councils in the west of the province and three unionist-dominated councils in the east, with only Belfast having a balance of power, the critics claimed.

David Ford, leader of the cross-community Alliance party, said it amounts to re-partition. He added: 'The government is behavingasifthe only party that matters is Sinn Fein."

However, former Belfast mayor Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein pointed out that the new councils would have to abide by equality legislation.

In a wide-ranging cutback of the public sector, education and health bodies will be abolished and many functions fulfilled by quangos will be handed over to the new councils.

Announcing the outcome of a three-year review of public administration, Hain said: 'For a place the size of Northern Ireland - 5,400 square miles with a population of 1.7 million people we are both over-governed and over-administered. …

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