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Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:00 pm on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 12:00 pm, 22nd November 2016

I am not going to speak for the SDLP. I am certainly not going to speak for the DUP either this morning. I am going to take and bank the positive comments at the start of that statement about the elements of this that you like.

I am with you in terms of regeneration powers for councils. At the same time, and I know you will see this as well, I am buoyed by the attitude of councils, which, as you know, do feel hamstrung. You heard Gerry Millar, of Belfast City Council, saying in a radio piece last week that additional regeneration powers would help them to do more.

I do not see their hands being completely tied. I see them still trying to do things. I admire the leadership of John Kelpie of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Suzanne Wylie at Belfast City Council and their colleagues in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council or from other areas who have been in touch with me.

I hope that this will empower them while we wait, as Trevor Lunn said, for Government — while we wait for Godot. At the same time, it will empower the councils to partner us in the time ahead, and it will empower businesses. The Member will know that, despite the challenges, the BIDS went ahead: the Cathedral Quarter voted for a BID, as did Belfast One. As you know, they have much more ambitious plans and hopes for the devolution of power to cities, but they did not sit on their hands. I hope that he will support us in moving positively ahead while we await further improvements.