Northern Ireland

Stormont considers coronavirus council changes

Belfast City Hall Image copyright Liam McBurney/pa media

Stormont's Department for Communities (DfC) is considering changing how local councils in Northern Ireland work during the Covid-19 outbreak.

It comes after the Coronavirus Act 2020 was given Royal Assent.

Under the new legislation, DfC could make a number of changes to how councils operate.

Meetings in Northern Ireland could take place remotely, while further provision could include restricting public access to council business.

Section 78 of the new law deals with local authority meetings.

A DfC spokesperson said they are currently "giving consideration to what may need to be included in regulations under section 78".

The requirement to hold council meetings, their timing and frequency, where they take place and the ways in which people attend are all under consideration, the department said.

Public access to meetings and to documents relating to council meetings are also provided for under the new law.

“The regulations can also include provision to enable meetings to be held remotely so that not all persons attending a meeting need to be together in the same place," the spokesperson added.

The DfC spokesperson said the new legislation is time limited and expires on 7 May.

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