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SUSTAINABLE COUNCILS IN POLITICAL PARTNERSHIP WITH STORMONT CAN DRIVE RECOVERY

Reconvened Northern Ireland Partnership Panel

After four years, the first meeting of the reconvened Northern Ireland Partnership Panel was held virtually yesterday (16th September 2020). This body develops policies and actions between Stormont and the 11 councils on matters of common concern.

Chaired by the Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, the meeting of local government representatives from NILGA, Councils and Executive Ministers focused on the immediate health and economic issues faced by the public. Members also discussed several areas requiring joint working by NILGA and the Executive Departments.

Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA said:

“During recent months, working collaboratively and in partnership has played a crucial role in ensuring the wellbeing and safety of our citizens.

“It was important to restart the Partnership Panel to further build positive working relationships and while today’s meeting was the first for several years, it was a well received and much welcomed event by both local government and central government members.

“Discussions were focused and helpful in guiding us to where we need to put our future effort. I believe that with continued collaboration we should see further opportunities and positive outcomes that will help us tackle challenges for our economy and society as we head toward a post Covid-19 era.”

NILGA President, Councillor Matt Garrett (Belfast City Council), commented

“Reiterating our thanks to the Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín for her leadership in reconvening the Ministerial – Council Panel, we welcome today’s meeting as a practical first step. Central and local government joint work saved lives and protected livelihoods earlier this year as the pandemic hit hard. We must maintain and enhance this work and as such councils must gain the resources to locally plan & deliver economic and community initiatives on top of sustaining vital services for our citizens.    

“We all recognise that finance to support our communities is finite, so we need to combine our thinking and be more creative about getting the right resources, to the right people, at the right time, to better serve our communities and support our local economies.  

“Councils as hubs of their communities have been recognised across the board for their integral role in the current crisis. As NILGA President, I would assert that it’s time this recognition becomes long term in terms of our sustainability, roles, resources and responsibilities. The funding model for councils needs to be radically changed and investment is needed right now. That’s a joint challenge. We are up for it. And the Community will be better for it.

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