Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Monday, 14 January 2013

Urgent oral question

The social development minister defended making his announcement that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive would be dismantled in a written statement, on 14 January 2013.

Nelson McCausland was responding to an urgent oral question by the SDLP's Mark Durkan asking him why he had not made such an "important announcement" in the Assembly.

The minister said he wanted to come to the Assembly when he had more information to supply.

"It has always been my intention to come to the chamber to give oral statements once the process is advanced and there is something more substantive to discuss," he said.

"This is not about cutting jobs or saving money. It is about getting the right structure for social housing in Northern Ireland as we move forward."

Social Development Committee chairman Alex Maskey said he believed the announcement should have made in the Assembly in a "transparent way" and said this would have avoided speculation.

Mr McCausland confirmed on 9 January 2013 he was to scrap the body which has existed for 40 years.

He has previously said NIHE was no longer sustainable or made the best use of public money.

The minister proposed major reforms, including a new regional housing body.

NIHE is one of Northern Ireland's largest public bodies, with almost 3,000 staff and 90,000 homes.

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