That would be the result of the recommendation in the consultation paper announced by NI Minister Paul Goggins, MP, to change the current ‘co-option by unanimous agreement’ method in Councils to one of filling casual vacancies by party nomination – as the NI Assembly now does. [Westminster excepted] Consultation paper here [pdf file]. Consultation period – 12 weeks [until 15th January 2010]. In addition, “In the event that DoE(NI) introduces a severance scheme [for councillors] well in advance of a May 2011 election”, the consultation paper proposes introducing a special provision to either “Allow the current co-option rules to apply but carry vacancies until the next election if any co-option fails” or “Carry all vacancies until the next election ”. The new councillors’ severance scheme is currently in consultation mode itself.