A former Executive Minister has branded plans to forge a new body from the Community Relations Council and Equality Commission as "folly".
Their merger is a central plank of First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness's proposals for 'building a united community'.
Ex-Environment Minister Alex Attwood claimed that the Equality Commission has "lost its way".
He also predicted that legislation to underpin creation of the new Equality and Good Relations Commission would not emerge in the current Assembly term.
"We have to acknowledge both how our politics has degraded itself and how things are deteriorating," the SDLP MLA said. "A transfer of functions from the Community Relations Council to the proposed organisation is folly.
"Why would you want to pile a new function into a body that is not fulfilling its function in the way that I think that it should?"
The Equality Commission hit back, saying: "Our contribution can perhaps be seen most clearly in the shared and integrated workplaces here today."