Councils that fail to share power between unionists and nationalists could come under legal pressure to do so sooner than expected, it has emerged.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said he had requested legal advice on the actions of councils that did not observe power-sharing arrangements.
The move comes after a number of local authorities hit the headlines, including criticisms from Sinn Fein in Craigavon and the Alliance party in Castlereagh after they failed to secure top political posts, though unionists defended the electoral processes.
Mr Attwood said power-sharing arrangements similar to those in Stormont operated in most local councils, but he was considering fast-tracking legislation already being planned on the issue.
"Could I welcome the fact that that is the arrangement in Belfast city council, [but] it's clearly not the arrangement in other councils," he told the Assembly. "They are very small, but that is not the arrangement of other councils where there is a sharing of political office between political traditions.
"And because of the recent publicity visited upon some decisions made in one or two councils around the North, I want to confirm I am taking legal advice in respect of the actions of those councils where the principles of power-sharing, equality and political accommodation, on the face of it, have been compromised.
"I will look at bringing forward earlier into the legislative timeframe the new standards in respect of governance and ethical behaviour in councils, so that that might be in place prior to 2015.
"And that if there are other ways that I can intervene in order to exhort, encourage or compel councils to live up to the standards of partnership that this chamber in many instances, but not in all, lives up to, then I will look at that as well."
The comments came as Mr Attwood detailed plans for the new boundaries which are set to come into place when the existing 26 councils are reduced to 11 local authorities.
During the Assembly debate a number of MLAs raised concerns at a loss of local identity by the planned merging of areas under the blueprint. The plans were defended by the DUP and Sinn Fein which have brokered a deal on the 11 council model. A majority of MLAs voted in favour of the boundaries after a lengthy debate at the Assembly.