“this Assembly expresses serious concern..”

It’s a debate that was first proposed by the Business Committee back on 23 May, for the previous incarnation of the assembly. But it never reached the Order Paper due to the Secretary of State for Wales etc’s veto. Sinn Féin are now in the chamber, and Peter Hain has finally relented – yesterday the parties debated the Review of Public Administration. In particular, the motion put was

That this Assembly expresses serious concern about the potential of a seven council model to centralise services, remove jobs and resources from many areas and to underpin sectarianism and community division; and further calls on the Secretary of State to shelve present plans for super councils and allow the decision on future council arrangements to be taken by a restored Northern Ireland Assembly.

There was an amendment proposed by Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey

Mr Maskey: I beg to move the following amendment: Leave out all after the first “Assembly” and insert:

“affirms its support for the Review of Public Administration and the new arrangements for strong and effective local government, within a seven council model, underpinned by power sharing, equality and social inclusion.”

You can read the full debate here

In the end the amendment was defeated by 44 votes to 16, and the original motion agreed.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Assembly divided: Ayes 16; Noes 44.

Ayes

Francis Brolly, Willie Clarke, Geraldine Dougan, Davy Hyland, Alex Maskey, Fra McCann, Raymond McCartney, Barry McElduff, Philip McGuigan, Conor Murphy, John O’Dowd, Pat O’Rawe, Tom O’Reilly, Sue Ramsey, Caitriona Ruane, Kathy Stanton.

Tellers for the Ayes: Barry McElduff and Conor Murphy

Noes

Billy Armstrong, Alex Attwood, Roy Beggs, Paul Berry, Mary Bradley, P J Bradley, Thomas Burns, Wilson Clyde, Fred Cobain, Michael Copeland, Robert Coulter, Leslie Cree, John Dallat, Diane Dodds, Mark Durkan, Alex Easton, Reg Empey, David Ford, Arlene Foster, Tommy Gallagher, Samuel Gardiner, William Hay, Derek Hussey, Dolores Kelly, Danny Kennedy, Patricia Lewsley, Alban Maginness, Nelson McCausland, David McClarty, Alasdair McDonnell, Alan McFarland, Michael McGimpsey, Patsy McGlone, Stephen Moutray, Sean Neeson, Robin Newton, Edwin Poots, Margaret Ritchie, Ken Robinson, Mark Robinson, Jim Shannon, Mervyn Storey, Peter Weir, Jim Wilson.

Tellers for the Noes: Billy Armstrong and Thomas Burns

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved:

That this Assembly expresses serious concern about the potential of a seven council model to centralise services, remove jobs and resources from many areas and to underpin sectarianism and community division; and further calls on the Secretary of State to shelve present plans for super councils and allow the decision on future council arrangements to be taken by a restored Northern Ireland Assembly.

Adjourned at 4.39 pm.

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  • Aaron McDaid

    Are these motions subject to the community designations? i.e. a question can’t be agreed to by the Assembly unless the relevant proportions of each community agree to?

  • The Enquirer

    You’re all looking in the wrong direction on this one. Fighting over the Councils is only a smokescreen to divert attention away from the really nasty issue of Health and Education reform…

    None of us should be hoodwinked that the seven “super-council” model will actually save any money. In Northern Ireland, local authorities take up 4% of public expenditure. So for every £100 of your lovely sterling that is spent on governance in general, only four quid goes towards Councils.

    Councils, at best, are an electoral embarassment in Northern Ireland. And after RPA, they will continue to be nothing more than that…(especially if you people keep voting them in…)

    Actually if it does go to seven councils, that amount will only rise to about eight percent, when the new issues of roads, rural development, community planning and housing (among others) comes into it.

    No, no, no, stop watching the Councils – have a look at how the money is being sloshed health and education… *that* is the interesting manoevure.

    Time for some FOI requests….do I need to be any more direct on this…or should I actually tell you the questions to ask…?