The people of Nenagh may be asked to vote on whether or not they want to keep the town council if the Department agrees to hold a plebiscite. Nenagh, along with eight other towns throughout Tipperary, is to lose its council under local government reform following next year’s local elections.
It will be replaced by a municipal district council that will cover from Portumna bridge to Ballina bridge and across to Newport.
“The people have spoken on the Seanad. They should have an opportunity to do so on this. The people don’t know about this,” said Cllr Seamus Morris, who had a motion before the council calling for a plebiscite. He described the Seanad referendum as “the biggest joke” that cost the taxpayer E15m.
“A lot of what this council can do will be lost,” he pointed out. “If people have an opportunity to vote, it might lead the charge around the country against abolition.”
The Sinn Fein councillor said the new system would hit the council’s ability to fund the local St Patrick’s Day parade and other events such as the Spleodar festival.
The commercial rate will now be set by the amalgamated North and South Tipperary county councils, and Cllr Morris also said abolition raised questions about how the town’s commercial rates will be spent.
“South Tipperary will have more members on the new council and will be able to out-vote us,” he warned.
He had no problem with amalgamation, but felt the town councils should have been left in place.
“When we tell the people what they are losing they will reject the closure of the councils,” he said. “We need to take leadership.”
Fine Gael’s Cllr Tom Moylan supported a plebiscite, but warned that they would need to ask the right question and get all their facts and information in the public domain first.
He described the Seanad referendum campaign calling on people to vote to get rid of politicians as a “crude advertising campaign. We are involved in something we should be proud of.”
However, his party colleague, Cllr Conor Delaney, said people were not knocking down the door to keep the local council.
“I don’t think people are in denial, but maybe they won’t know what they’ll miss until it is gone,” he said.
Town manager Marcus O’Connor pointed out that there may be a question over their legal right to hold a plebiscite and he had a “serious doubt” if they did have that power, but he would write to the Department.
However, he asked: “At the end of the day, will it affect the decision in the Dail?”