29/06/2004

Put people first says Minister

Minister responsible for the Review of Public Administration (RPA), Ian Pearson has said that the public sector must put the needs of the people of Northern Ireland first if high quality public services are to be delivered across the province.

His comments were contained in a speech delivered at the ‘The Future of Public Administration in Northern Ireland’ conference in the Stormont Hotel today.

Addressing delegates from across the public, business, voluntary and community sectors, Mr Pearson said: “The ability to deliver high quality public services must be the top priority for any new system of public administration in Northern Ireland.

"The Review of Public Administration is about finding new ways of adding value to the lives of the people of Northern Ireland, particularly those who are most vulnerable in our society.”

The consultation on the Review of Public Administration ended on the

February 27, with over 170 responses received. The key messages from the consultation were:
  • A significant reduction in the numbers of public bodies, embracing Health, Education, Executive agencies and Non Departmental Public bodies.
  • A reduction in the number of Councils, from 26 to less than 10, with more powers and boundaries fully aligned with other service providers.
  • Robust governance arrangements with statutory checks and balances, to ensure transparent decision-making, fairness and the protection of minority interests.
  • Arrangements at local level to ensure maintenance of local identity and community input to decision-making.
Mr Pearson continued: “I want to remove waste and reduce bureaucracy and to redirect the resources released into front line services, but I am sensitive that the scale of these reforms can cause much anxiety to people working right across the public sector.

“Over the coming months, I want to build on the constructive dialogue already begun with the Northern Ireland Congress of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, as key stakeholders in this major reform and to work with them in taking the Review forward."

Responses to the Review of Public Administration are published, along with a summary of the key themes, on the RPA website www.rpani.gov.uk.

(MB)

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