Putting [the same] People First?

Dr. Patrick Collins, Department of Geography, NUIG and Aisling Murtagh, The Whitaker Institiute, NUIG 

It has been termed the most fundamental overhaul of local government in the last 100 years, but will the proposed regional restructuring as laid out by Minister Phil Hogan bring about a change in the entrenched thinking of Irish planning, regardless of scalar scope? Will the devolution of power to a sub national level bring about a fundamental change in how we view economic development in this country? Are the managers of the newly formed regional authorities going to be any different in viewing indigenous entrepreneurship with mistrust and will they continue to entrust the future of the Irish economy on an exogenous-led development model? Continue reading

Participatory budgeting – one way of Putting People First

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Dr. Clodagh Harris, Department of Government, UCC

The Action programme for Effective Local Government ‘Putting People First’ (2012) proposes the creation of new municipal districts with local policy/regulatory roles. It also refers to increasing citizen engagement with reference to new forms of public engagement (p.159) such as Participatory Budgeting (PB). Continue reading

Working with Multiple Boundaries: Variable Geometries within the proposed Eastern and Midlands Region

Dr. Cormac Walsh, University of Hamburg, Institute for Geography

The reform of regional governance boundaries announced by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in October 2012 will have potentially far-reaching implications for the Dublin city-region and its wider rural hinterland. Putting People First postpones a decision on the reorganisation of local authority structures until the aftermath of the 2014 local government elections (Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, 2012, p. 12). This situation has created a high degree of uncertainty over the future of local government in the Dublin region. The creation of an Eastern and Midlands Region creates one large region encompassing the Dublin Metropolitan Area, Continue reading

Three Key Issues Relating to Local Government Reform in Ireland

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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

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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.

Continue reading

Enabling Community-Led Local Development

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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

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

The parties need to “think local” if reform is to work

Guest post by Johnny Fallon (loaded by David Farrell, February 8 2011)

With the reform debate now all thrashed out by the parties I don’t think any of them has hit the spot for me. But rather than sit on the fence I will, as usual, pop my head up for some abuse. If I was asked to reform politics this is where I would have started.

• One of the main problems within the Irish system is that we do not have a properly functioning local government system.
• There is a lack of trust on the part of national government when it comes to delegating responsibility to councils
• There is a lack of responsibility among local councils and a lack of accountability.
• The number of councils for such a small population is far too expensive.
• There is a lack of co-ordinated planning and economies of scale
• Regional Authorities have no function in the public mind
• TD’s are seen as more powerful than a Council and therefore approached. Continue reading