Local government reform

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.

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2 thoughts on “Local government reform

  1. The Indo also report on this today
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/ff-goes-to-town-with-plan-to-sack-councillors-2194168.html
    While I welcome reform in local government it needs to be unveiled as part of a wider package of political reform. These changes on their own will not be sufficient to improve our political system. But then the question is, improve it to what?
    As Eoin O’Malley has mentioned in a previous comment those advocating reform need to indicate the model of government they prefer. The proposals of Fine Gael and Labour are not detailed enough to indicate what their ideas are of an alternative model. However, they do represent starting points. Maybe we will see more detail in their respective election manifestos?
    At the same time, where does Fianna Fáil stand on the area of political reform? Apart from Noel Dempsey wanting a mixed-member electoral system and this submission on local government, we have yet to hear this party’s other proposals.
    There is an interesting article in the guardian today on the economic situation here
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/26/ireland-economic-collapse
    The author quotes a government source describing it as ‘a liberated government with nothing to lose taking genuinely tough decisions’.
    That’s an interesting angle. If, as seems quite likely according to the opinion polls, Fianna Fáil will not be in government after the next election, what does it have to lose? The biggest thing usually holding governments back is the electoral cycle, but this may not be the case for the current government.
    My advice to them then would be to seize the initiative and begin reform. All those with ideas in the party on how the political system should operate now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these ideas come to fruition. Given the party’s longevity in government and it (or at least its leader) being the author of the last major piece of reform in this country (the 1937 constitution), Fianna Fáil has a responsibility to tell the people its opinion on political reform. Many of the proposed reforms discussed on this blog and in other arenas don’t need constitutional referendums. Parliamentary legislation will suffice. Will Fianna Fáil please stand up?

  2. @Liam
    I like very much your notion of the current government going out in a blaze of reforming glory, but I fear….

    As we know — not least from rational choice theory — the party that, overtime, gains the most (time in power) from existing institutions is the one least likely to engage seriously in reform. FF has everything to gain from sitting on its hands and waiting for the electoral cycle winds to blow more favourably in its direction again. Even if/when the party loses the next election, the party knows it will only be a matter of time before power beckons again.

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