Three Key Issues Relating to Local Government Reform in Ireland


Dr Proinnsias Breathnach, NUI Maynooth

Chris van Egeraat and Seán Ó Ríordáin have made far too much of the Local Government Bill, which is a very weak and ineffectual piece of legislation derived, in turn, from the foregoing Action Programme for Effective Local Government, an appallingly inept document which goes nowhere near doing what it says on the tin.  To discuss the Local Government Bill on its own terms is to allow ourselves to become enmeshed in minor issues of the kind which have dominated the so-called “debate” on local government reform in Ireland over the last 50 years.  This plays right into the hands of those powerful and entrenched forces which are profoundly opposed to meaningful reform in this area. Continue reading

Democracy in the planning process


Dr. Deiric Ó Broin, NorDubCo

I present the third opinion piece in context of the debate on Local Government Reform, organised by the Regional Studies Association – Irish Branch.

The package of proposals contained in the Local Government Bill, 2013, the Report of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee and the Final Report of the Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group, taken in conjunction with the introduction of the Residential Property Tax and the incorporation of enterprise development bodies in local government represent the most significant set of local government reforms articulated by an Irish government since the introduction of the city/county manager system.

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Enabling Community-Led Local Development


Brendan O’Keeffe (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick)

A reformed local government system in Ireland has a key role to play in promoting territorial development and competitiveness.  Earlier this year, Ireland’s LEADER Partnerships undertook extensive and in-depth consultation with citizens in several counties.  As a result, and following liaison with the European Commission, OECD and academic experts, they advanced a policy document that detailed how both local government and local development in Ireland should be strengthened and mutually re-enforcing.  This policy position paper has been endorsed by several public representatives and was formally launched by Ireland South MEP, Phil Prendergast in June. Continue reading

We must move from regarding State as enemy and oppressor

Last week The Irish Times
published the late Peter Mair’s excellent speech at MacGill this year (about 30 minutes in).

Mair argued that the problem in Ireland is that we don’t respect our State. We have never respected our State. We have never had a sense of belonging for our State. If anything we have viewed the State as the enemy, as an oppressor, as something not to be trusted but to be taken advantage of.
“That’s the culture of the cute hoors, the strokes, you get away with it and getting away with it against the State is getting away with something which is not us and doesn’t belong to us but belongs somewhere out there and it is not ours”
Interestingly, Mair had a number of solutions. Perhaps controversially in his sights was the electoral system or what he called amoral localism – which is that you do anything you can to benefit your locality and your constituency and your district, and your TD will do anything he can to benefit your locality and your district and your constituency and, in a sense, damn everything else
The result he says is that we have been so busy as citizens in ensuring the representation of our own interests and those of our constituencies that we have lost sight of the broader, collective interest, ….. We exert great control over our TDs [but] have never sought to exert any control over our governments. This is not a new argument for readers of this blog but his solutions are worth considering.
1.Reform the electoral system
2. Change the Dáil. End the quiescence
3. Give real power to local government.

The Government’s Reform Measures to Date: A Good Start but (Much) More to Do

Post by David Farrell (July 11 2011)

A re-reading of the Coalition Government’s Programme for Government is timely. It’s worth taking stock of the political reform proposals that have been implemented, those that are on going, and those that are (firmly) promised. There has been some undoubted progress, but a lot – a lot – still needs to be done. Continue reading

What did TDs do and who did they represent in the previous Dáil?

Just a quick post to provide some findings from the survey of members  (follow link for complete details) in the previous Dáil discussed on last night’s Frontline. Basically, there are no such things as social/political ‘facts’. But when it comes to the ‘role of a TD’ debate – it’s nice to have some evidential basis for discussion (which was lacking in much of last night’s debate).

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How can we stop our politicians kissing chickens?

David Farrell (February 20, 2011)

Early in the campaign I happened on a radio story in which the intrepid reporter was following a sitting TD on his election canvass. Everywhere the politician went he met with a positive reaction from his constituents. The basis of the whole story was that this was a politician in tune with his electorate, a popular constituency worker. As I switched off he was visiting a farm and kissing a chicken. No, this is not a typo; it wasn’t the proverbial child being kissed – the candidate kissed a chicken. Continue reading

Reformcard first scores

From Jane Suiter

Reformcard – the political reform scorecard developed for election 2011 – has scored all the political parties. We evaluated each Parties’ proposals in five categories of political reform – Oireachtas reform, Electoral reform, Open Government reform, Public Sector reform and Local Government reform.  Details on each are set out below. Continue reading