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Review of Public Administration must not allow Unionist abuse of power

5 May, 2004


Sinn Fein South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that the review of public administration must deliver real accountability, responsiveness to local need and flexibility, quality services and value for money and most importantly must not allow unionist abuse power.

Mr Maskey said:

"The Review of Public Administration will undoubtedly lead to massive changes in the way government operates. Sinn Fein have long argued that in particular the numbers of Health Boards and Trusts needs to be reduced to both reduce costs and streamline decision making.

"It must end the culture of quangoism and deliver real accountability through local elected representatives and community participation in making decisions that affect all of us. The review must deliver real accountability, responsiveness to local need and flexibility, quality services and value for money.

"We need to stream line local government while at the same time having a balance that ensures that changes do not create unwieldy super-councils that are not representative of the communities they serve.

"While recognising that there will be a reduction in the number of councils it is imperative that any changes to not undermine political representation.

"While we are happy to see services currently run by quangos coming under the democratic control of elected councils, we would only agree to the expansion of council powers if we were certain that there was no chance of them being abused. This is a major issue given the continued abuse of majority power in some unionist-controlled councils such as Lisburn Council where nationalists are excluded from all positions within the council. Local Assembly control and very tight equality legislation are essential prerequisites for any changes in council powers.

"It must be remembered that substantial powers were removed from councils because unionists were guilty of gross discrimination and in many councils today unionists continue to misuse power." ENDS

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