Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

MLAs vote to cut NI departments


Assembly members have voted for a reduction in the number of Stormont departments.

The DUP motion had proposed cutting the number of departments from 11 to six or seven.

The party said the move would "reduce duplication and release much-needed cash for frontline services".

The SDLP opposed the motion accusing the DUP of "a power grab," a claim denied by Ian Paisley Jr who said it would mean fewer DUP ministers.

DUP assembly members pointed to a recent decision by the Scottish Government to slash its departments from nine to six.

The motion, which was supported by the Ulster Unionists and the Alliance Party, was easily passed despite opposition from the SDLP.

However, any actual reduction in the number of departments would require cross-community support at the executive.

Sinn Fein members, who abstained during voting, said such a move was "premature before a review was completed".

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