That’s Sean Farren’s take on it. “The protections [against discrimination] promised may well prevent any significant abuse. But these protections will not be able to prevent councils acquiring a particular character more closely associated with the identity of the majority and, therefore, creating a situation less welcoming to the minority. This cannot be good for community relations and could well accelerate demographic movement which would in turn lead to fewer rather more mixed community areas”.He goes on to dispute Hain’s claim early in his speech that these reforms would provide for a shared future:
“All parties are agreed that the number of councils needs to be reduced. It was, after all, the Executive which established the review of public administration. The exact number of councils needs to be further debated between the parties. But the final number should balance the overriding need for better community relations with demands for efficiencies and effectiveness of service delivery”.
And the former Finance Minister, disputes the NIO claims that the new situation will bring about fiscal benefits, virtually accusing Hain and his team of spinning other figures to justify the arrangements:
”At this point the NIO has not shown where efficiency gains are to be achieved. Indeed since the main services of health and education are not presently delivered by local councils, suggesting that the latter is where such efficiencies are to be gained is a red herring. Councils now control only 4% of public expenditure and can hardly be accused of major inefficiencies.