Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Local government change must be based on strong equality checks and balances

22 March, 2005

Sinn Féin former mayor of Belfast Council, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that yet again the argument about the number of councils is being used as a smokescreen to distract people from a more important issue, particularly for nationalists and republicans, namely that it is essential for a strong system of equality checks and balances to be in place to ensure that unionists can not abuse power at local government level in the way they have done in the past and in many instances continue to do at present.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Review of Public administration said:

"Yet again there is smokescreen about whether there will be 7, 11 or 15 councils when the real issue of concern, particularly for nationalists is that there must be a strong legislative framework with proper checks and balances to ensure equality. There can be no space for the abuse of power and discrimination that unionists have been guilty of, and are still guilty of today on many of our councils.

"It should not be forgotten that the very reason that we have the current configuration of councils with reduced powers is that unionists were, and in many cases still are, incapable of delivering public services fairly or sharing power equitably.

"Sinn Fein will examine each of these proposals to ensure that equality protections are paramount and we will be testing each option to ensure that none opens the door to the type of political gerrymandering that set back democracy for generations in this part of Ireland." ENDS

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