Templemore town councillor Jim O’Shea has called on the Government to ensure that proposals to increase the role of local people in local government are included in reform legislation to be published next month, and has also warned that the power of local people to decide how their communities are developed and funded are threatened under the Government’s current reforms.
Cllr O’Shea was responding to the establishment by the Minister for Environment and Local Government, Phil Hogan, of an expert working group to examine how to increase citizen participation in local government.
“I welcome the recognition that local government reform must allow for greater involvement by the people who live, work and contribute to their communities.
“This is something I hear on doorsteps all the time.
“However, I have strong concerns that this will not happen.
“The current reforms are taking power away from local communities, with few signs decision making powers will ever be given back to local people.
“The fact that there is no role for elected representatives, who are democratically elected to represent their communities, on this expert group is further evidence that Minister Hogan and his officials are refusing to listen to those who have being elected by the public to be their voice on matters that concern them,” warned Cllr O’Shea.
“By May 2014, all 90 town councils across Ireland will have been abolished by Minister Hogan.
“These town councils, such as Templemore Town Council, currently enjoy a right to raise and then spend monies raised within their towns, such as through commercial rates or parking charges.
“Under the current local government reform proposals there is no commitment from Government that these towns will retain the right to spend their monies,” he said.
“The right of local communities to decide how to spend local monies to better their own areas is fundamental. It is what people want.
“If this right is taken away, local government will become nothing more than a toothless, talking shop,” added Cllr O’Shea.