The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness today addressed the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) Annual Conference in Derry.
Delegates from local and central government, as well as voluntary, community, private sector and academic partners gathered for discussions which centred on the conference theme ‘Growing Enterprise, Strengthening Communities – Local Councils delivering in the Digital Age.’
Speaking at the conference, Martin McGuinness said: “Investing £1billion annually in the community makes local government major players in our social, economic and political development. The Executive is committed to working closely with local government and together we can grow the economy and strengthen communities.
“In the weeks and months ahead, the Executive will continue to work collectively with local government and wider society to agree and publish a Programme for Government that is realistic, affordable but above all, will make a positive difference and tackle the issues that have impacted on people and families for generations.
“We are taking a different approach this time for our Programme for Government by putting to the fore public wellbeing as a basis for identifying actions that will enable us to bring about positive long-term impacts. At its heart, is a commitment to work across Government and in partnership with wider society to deliver on a shared vision of improved wellbeing for all, achieved through a firm focus on tackling disadvantage and driving economic growth.
“The consultation process will inform the development of the Executive’s budget over the course of this mandate and provide a mechanism for ensuring funds are directed to where they can contribute most.”
Commenting on the role of local government, the deputy First Minister said “Operating at the heart of communities, local government is best placed to both assess and respond to local need and opportunity. The Executive is fully committed to working in partnership with local government to ensure we can maximise resources available to grow our economy and strengthen communities.
“I commend NILGA who consistently provide an informed and strong voice when dealing with central government and other organisations. Together central and local government must be agile and responsive to the environment within which we operate but never lose sight of the need to deliver for the people we are here to serve.”