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
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.
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
The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government launched his reform proposals to generally underwhelming degrees of debate on the 12th October 2012 and a year later the Oireachtas is considering these reforms with the Local Government Bill 2013. (See here)
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
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
Eoin O’Malley, 3 September 2010
The Poolbeg controversy rumbles on with claims that Dublin’s local authorities have a get out clause which will allow them break their contract with Covanta; a contract which many have argued is uncompetitive. Whether this is true or not could be given to the courts to decide, but in claiming that the councils must proceed with the contract, Dublin City Council commit some basic errors in decision making Continue reading
The Irish Times reports that Fianna Fail is completing a submission to feed into the Government’s promised White Paper on local government reform. The report indicates that there is some disagreement among the Coalition partners as to the importance of mayors with Fianna Fail preferring less executive powers. There is also some discussion on amalgamating local councils to create some metropolitan councils. There is no mention, however, of real local government reform which many believe is necessary condition for change in Irish political culture. The report does not appear to be online so it may be that there are more radial proposals than those highlighted here.