William Eichler 13 January 2020

NI council chiefs call for investment to ‘unlock potential of local government'

Local authority leaders in Northern Ireland have welcomed the draft deal which is set to restore the executive at Stormont and have called for more devolution to the local level.

Over the weekend, the five main parties in Northern Ireland’s parliament agreed a deal that would see a new power sharing government formed after the last one collapsed in 2017 due to a green energy scandal.

The finance minister, Conor Murphy, has said that now the devolved government has returned, it is time for the British and Irish governments to deliver ‘the promised financial package’.

Mr Murphy has reportedly estimated that the devolved administration needs more than £1.5bn in funding from London and Dublin.

The British and Irish prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar, are visiting Belfast today to mark the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Local Government Association chief executive Derek McCallan welcomed the draft deal, but stressed the importance of devolution to local authorities.

‘I am very pleased that the British and Irish governments have tabled a draft deal on restoring the NI Executive. I hope that an agreement can be reached quickly to get the Stormont institutions back up and running immediately,’ he said.

‘For three years, our eleven local councils have been the only functioning form of democratically elected government in Northern Ireland. Local government has been a vital democratic anchor during this period and ensured the provision of crucial public services for local citizens.’

‘It’s time to bridge the democratic deficit and unlock the potential of local government in Northern Ireland by investing in our local councils,’ Mr McCallan continued.

‘An executive commitment to a Devolution Bill and greater financial powers and resources will drive a transformation in Northern Ireland’s democratic governance and help create a more sustainable democracy, environment and economy for Northern Ireland.’?

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