Regeneration Powers: Local Councils

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 2:30 pm, 24th January 2017

T5. Mr Aiken asked the Minister for Communities what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) and the local councils about his decision not to devolve regeneration powers to the councils. (AQT 690/16-21)

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

That is an issue that was raised some time ago. A decision was taken about the regeneration powers with local government, and that has been communicated to local government. It is important that we maximise the opportunities that exist with the powers that reside in my Department and the way in which councils work to work collaboratively. I have made the point that Northern Ireland is a small place, and the public do not differentiate between local government and central government; they ultimately want to see action. There is no reason why central government and local government cannot act collaboratively to maximise that action. I outlined in a previous answer that Portrush is a prime example of central government working with the local authority to deliver something that will be very special for that part of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP

I thank the Minister very much for his words. Since we are heading into a long period of suspension, potentially, and given the current instability and uncertainty about the future of the institutions, does the Minister agree with me that this makes his decision not to devolve the regeneration powers promised to councils under the review of public administration even more absurd?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

No, I do not. I am certainly not one who takes the pessimistic view. I believe that devolution is good for Northern Ireland, and I think that all politicians should go into the election with the mindset of wanting to make this place work, because that is, ultimately, what the people want. Yes, there are difficulties and there are challenges — that is, I think, an understatement — but, nevertheless, I think that it is what the people will expect of us. Therefore, I always take this view: better to be hopeful than negative. We should go into the election with the mindset of getting this place up and running on the other side of the election, and then we can continue to deliver on the issues that affect all our people, irrespective of what community they come from. If we take that approach, that will ultimately be what wins through on the other side of the election. Then we can tackle the big issues and get on with delivering.