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New Councils will accommodate cross-border community planning‏

31 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay, has welcomed the announcement that new Councils in the North will be able to implement community planning on a cross border basis with County Councils in the South.

The Environment Minister Arlene Foster confirmed this today in response to a question from Mr McKay.

Mr McKay said:

"The inclusion of a community planning process in the new Councils was a key objective of Sinn Féin in the RPA and it is obviously very much to be welcomed that the Minister is moving forward with this proposal. Councils will now be required to consult all its constituents about issues that affect their lives and give members of the public a say in how their area is developed.

"People living on and close to the border have suffered economically and socially as a result of partition and the fact that community planning will be allowed to take place on a cross-border basis between the new councils in the 6 Counties and the County Councils in the 26 Counties not only represents progress it represents common sense.

"The new models of local government will be designed mindful of the need to ensure effective and inclusive local democracy, to protect the rights of minorities, to prevent any direct or indirect discrimination and to promote the need of equality of opportunity - These are not my words but the words of the DUP Minister of the Environment, and it clearly shows how far the DUP has moved as a result of engagement with Sinn Féin.

"It is a radical departure from the experience that nationalists have had of Councils which currently have no equality safeguards. It also shows that we are delivering in terms of how we want the new face of local government to be." ENDS

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