Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Northern Ireland councils warned off meeting in secret

Mark H Durkan is overseeing the merger
Mark H Durkan is overseeing the merger

The Stormont minister in charge of the local government shake-up has warned the new councils against meeting "in secret".

However, Mark H Durkan, who is overseeing the merger of the current 26 authorities into 11 new bodies by May, confirmed the legislation going through the Assembly allows for cabinet-style governance in town halls.

He was responding to a question from Traditional Unionist leader Jim Allister, who said: "The minister's Bill anticipates that there may be control in a council by a cabinet system. Would that cabinet meet in secret?"

The Environment Minister replied: "The provision does indeed exist for a council to establish a committee-style form of governance.

"It is certainly my vision that there will be no secret meetings unless there are details of a commercially or personally sensitive nature. All council business, where possible, should be open.

"That should extend to the cabinet of any council should it choose to go with the cabinet system."

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