Attwood takes action on Council positons

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Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced action to ensure power sharing arrangements in local councils.

Alex Attwood said: “The recent failures to agree power sharing arrangements in a small number of local councils is unacceptable. As Minister for Local Government, I have decided to take action.

“First, I have written to the leaders of the political parties. I have pointed out that the Executive and Ministers from five parties have agreed that, in the future, Council positions shall in law be allocated under D’ Hondt (or another mechanism) to guarantee power sharing and equality. Given that the Executive and Ministers accept this is the future, party leaders have a responsibility to ensure their own parties accept it now.

“Second, the new law guaranteeing Council power sharing was to be operational for 2015. Given recent events, I plan to have the new law in place earlier. I trust the Executive and Assembly will back this proposal, so that before 2015 legal guarantees on power sharing will be in place.

“Third, unusual though it is, I have taken legal advice as DOE Minister, on lodging a complaint with the Equality Commission on the recent decision of a number of Councils. Each Council in NI has adopted an official public equality scheme. A complaint would invite the Equality Commission to assess if an equality scheme has been breached and what to do about it.”