Ford: Review is re-partition of NI

David Ford was rather forceful in his argument that this simply a sop to Sinn Fein, the only party that was in favour of the 7 council model:From David Ford

“This was supposed to be a well-thought out, strategic review of public administration for a generation. In fact, competing interests were battling over this announcement until almost the last minute. It does not make sense for either major regional services like health or for local accountability.

“The result is a set of proposals which are simply unsustainable, which effectively re-partition this region, and which are a blatant political buy-off of Sinn Féin. I would have thought the future governance of all the citizens of Northern Ireland was too important for perverse political stunts, but it appears not.

“Seven councils with limited powers are simply unworkable. Far from reducing bureaucracy, the result will be yet another layer of ‘quangos’. They will have to make up for the lack of relationship between a limited number of democratic representatives and their constituents by introducing still more faceless administrators. This is precisely the reverse of the purpose of this review.

“These arrangements will also see the repartition of Northern Ireland, into three green councils in the west and three orange councils in the least. This places a sizeable proportion of the population in areas over which they can never hope to have a fair degree of influence.

“This is a blatant buy-off of Sinn Féin, the only local party to support the seven-council model. Even most of its representatives have admitted on record, through NILGA and elsewhere, that these proposals cannot be sustained. This sort of ‘tribal hand-out’ mentality will be damaging for everyone in the long term, as it serves only to drive people further apart, increasing feelings of fear and alienation among new minority communities.

“Most of the powers being given to Councils would in fact be perfectly applicable to a 15 Council model. This would make Councils much more representative of meaningful local communities and would bring community planning, which is an essential part of any modernisation, much closer to the people.

  • idunnomeself

    what’s this ‘re-partition’ nonsense they’re all babbling about?

    It’s really annoying me that people are taking our votes for granted today. fighting over who will run what council as though they have a divine right to our votes.

    Feel like you might be marginalised?

    Get more people to vote for you..

    Also the research on this ‘local identity’ thing showed that hardly anyone identified with their local councils. Everyone wants 7 except for councillors who will lose their fifedoms.

    (and remember that the end of dual mandates will take the edge of the halving of local councillor numbers- not that most of us will notice the half of them going anyway)

  • smcgiff

    ‘three orange councils in the least.’ – Freudian slip, Mick?

    I’ve sympathy with David’s view on this. In the ideal world 7 councils would be fine, but NI is too polarised to partition into such huge areas.

    This can only be a push factor for internal migration to balkanise NI further.

  • Adrian

    If the DUP and allies don’t like then they know what to do. Get up the road to Stormont and demand that the Assembky is called into session. Once the executive is up and running they can waste their money any way they like. But so long as they intend to play their “not an inch” games then they are are going to get shafted.

    More power to Hain’s elbow. Of course the probalem will be that nobody will bother to report this as a consequence of no devolution. The passive agressive stance taken up by so many local politicians is obviously better than the active agressive one we had to endure, but it is still not the same as taking some responsibility and trying to live like a grown up.

  • Conor

    i think its all a bloody joke this 7 council crap. whats wrong with the way it is now? im from Derry and all i can say is that Derry City Council is fine, why go messing around with the whole set up? i agree with adrian, the Assembly should be up and running and the only party stopping this is the DUP. Holding the process up while going and calling for every tom dick and harry to resign, making a song and dance about being made peers in the House of Lords and even in family feuding now. lets stp for a moment and actually look at the situation we’re in. we have elections and parties get their share of the vote, but for what? this land is a political disgrace. we dont even have a Government. what a shame.

  • Scotsman

    I totally disagree with this thesis. 3 green and 3 orange councils merely reflects the “facts on the ground.” Having 100 local councils wouldn’t change that reality.

    Hain is attempting to cut the costs of providing government in NI. It is up to individual councils to communicate effectively with their communities.

    For the proposed savings to be achieved, there really ought to be redundancies. I say that without relish. Normally in the public sector, people are retained on protected existing salaries, even if their role changes. In the extreme case of NI, this should be kept to a minimum.

    The interesting aspect of larger authorities is that it might set councillors from the same party against each other- a re-run of the Omagh hospital debate. At least this will be healthier than blaming Stormont/Westminster.

    In Scotland, Highland Council covers 3 times the land area of the whole of Northern Ireland, but they seem to manage OK for its 210,000 population.

    Seven councils is perfectly viable and sensible.

  • barnshee

    For the proposed savings to be achieved, there really ought to be redundancies

    Not ought THERE MUST BE REDUNDANCIES

  • barnshee

    “The result is a set of proposals which are simply unsustainable, which effectively re-partition this region

    Brilliant –now make de facto de jure

  • Donnie

    Does anyone have a link were I can get a gander at how the NI turkey has been carved up?

    Ta.

  • Fraggle

    The BBC website has a good map.

  • stu

    I agree that the boundry lines are insane. If I wanted to strategically impede Belfast’s growth as a metropolitan district, I’d come up with something similar.

    The 3 green/3 orange plus Belfast model is sad, just like the D’Hondt system in the Assembly. Enough of the words cross-community and equality. Enough of the one of ours, one of theirs mindset. Get the best people, get them to do the job, get the job done. This is not rocket science. Neither is drawing a line around the outskirts of Belfast and her communter belt.

    How is administering the outer East from Downpatrick (I assume that’s where they’ll base the council) efficient? Does the rest of County Down deserve to get stuck with the Robinsons?

  • stu

    That should read ‘commuter belt’.

  • Conor

    would people please stop referring to this idea of ‘repartition’. wheres the ‘re’ coming from??? when has northern Ireland ever been ‘partitioned’?! never! therefore it cannot be ‘re’ partitioned. jesus.

  • Brian Boru

    “Does the rest of County Down deserve to get stuck with the Robinsons? ”

    God forbid.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Conor

    “would people please stop referring to this idea of ‘repartition’. wheres the ‘re’ coming from??? when has northern Ireland ever been ‘partitioned’?! never! therefore it cannot be ‘re’ partitioned. jesus.”

    Er, actually Conor, you’re mistaken. The state of Northern Ireland exists because the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone were partitioned off from the rest of Ireland. Northern Ireland’s very existence began when it was partitioned. It is, in fact, an enclave created by a partition. It all happened around 1921 I believe. I could swear I read that somewhere.

    Ring any bells, no?

  • EWI

    The state of Northern Ireland exists because the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone were partitioned off from the rest of Ireland.

    Yes, the original gerrymandering, even before Derry.

  • irishman

    All priceless stuff.

    I correctly predicted on this site only a week ago that we would be presented with a 7 council option, with Belfast remaining unchanged.

    I know that the boundary commission will be appointed to look into boundaries, but it is unlikely that dramatic changes will be made- after all, the co-terminosity argument/ levelling of rates base would be adversely affected by the proposal of a Metropolitan Belfast council.

    I have to laugh at the unionist concern for a ‘sectarianism’ of local government. They simply can not tolerate a nationalist majority in any area, so the idea that over 1/2 the state (in a geographic sense) being visibly governed by nationalist majorities is to much to bear. However, what is being missed by the media is that this was already the case, were you to simply add together the 10 councils currently controlled by nationalists under existing boundaries.

    The Alliance must take the biscuit for MOPEry, however. Ford’s concern is more to do with the fact that his party would virtually disappear in a scenario of larger councils with smaller numbers of overall councillors.

    Quite where the SDLP fit in is beyond me. Nationalists will be very satisfied with the idea of the proposed changes coming into fruition: parity in terms of control of councils coupled with power-sharing mechanisms and safeguards for minorities to prevent the development of another Lisburn/ Ballymena- just what are the SDLP at? No wonder their slipping off the radar…..

  • Red Branch33

    Maybe Peter Permatan Hain should ask Maurice Mills and Paul Berry to help rename the councils: Sodom and Gomorrah anyone?

  • Conor

    billy,

    fuck off ok. you know what i meant. yes, the island was partitioned but within n.ireland, there was no seperate partition. no ‘re’ partition is going to happen. there would be ‘re’ partition if the whole island was to be divided AGAIN.

  • Daugavas

    “Does the rest of County Down deserve to get stuck with the Robinsons?”

    An end to dual mandates will mean the Robinsons will be too busy in the assembly to bother with councils any more.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Conor

    Right, let’s say a big chunk of NI in which nationalists constitute a majority was ceded to the Republic. (For surely this is what we mean by repartition?) Say the three new western council areas. Right, say they’re all now in the Republic, from Magilligan Point round to Annalong.

    Surely this constitutes a repartitioning of Ireland?

    Of course Northern Ireland has never been internally partitioned – as I said, Northern Ireland itself is the product of a partition.

    Your point is entirely predicated on the principle that in 1921 Northern Ireland somehow divorced itself from geographic reality and returned its historical clock to zero – a principle which underpins much of unionist thinking and one which is based essentially on a fallacy and a fantasy.

  • Conor

    billy

    ‘Right, let’s say a big chunk of NI in which nationalists constitute a majority was ceded to the Republic. (For surely this is what we mean by repartition?) Say the three new western council areas. Right, say they’re all now in the Republic, from Magilligan Point round to Annalong.

    Surely this constitutes a repartitioning of Ireland?’

    yes of course but who said that was going to happen? the council districts are being altered. no one is joining the Republic.

  • abucs

    Well,

    another instance of how the DUP policy of ‘we will not share power / talk / participate / engage etc etc’ has shown to make their situation worse rather than better. Are they the only ones who don’t see that they are just making political unionism irrelevant. It will be interesting to see if the majority of unionists keep voting for this ‘no surrender’ crap.

    And apparently the BIG, HUGE, SHOWSTOPPING issue of decommissioning is now not an issue anymore.

    The DUP better start swallowing some pride and get in the game or they will be left with no friends and a small ring of land around Belfast with a dissatisfied minority.

  • mossy

    The 7 council system should work fine. Public opinion is for it. It is amazing how much waste is generated in the over governed statelet.