Independent Media Centre Ireland

Local government needs to be reformed before the Local Elections of 2009

category mayo | politics / elections | opinion/analysis author Monday August 21, 2006 15:23author by Cllr Keith Martin - Westport Town Council

Councils in danger of becoming irrelevant in 21st Century

We need to dump the officials and bring councillors into power in local government

It is imperative that Local Government in Ireland is reformed immediately. Our current system is so beset by bureaucracy, officialdom, government interference and lack of democracy that is in grave danger of becoming irrelevant in the 21st century.

Currently our local government system is overridden by powerful career bureaucrats with little day to day imput from elected representatives. While councillors are supposed to set policy for the council the list of powers at the disposal of councillors makes up about a page of paper. The powers of officials are detailed under the Local Government Acts as all other powers not listed for councillors. This is an outrageous situation.

In no democratic system in the world would such powers be handed over to unelected and unaccountable officials. Local government employees are not responsible to councillors or open to censure by councillors. Instead they answer to the County Manager who answers to the Minister for Local Government.

Better Local Government, the last reform programme of the local government system, was a farce which removed even more powers from councillors under the guise of improving democracy. Instead of Directly Elected Mayors and empowered councillors we were saddled with SPC talking shops and even more levels of bureaucracy.

In this dynamic new world economy we need strong local government to act in our best interests, we need a strong voice to make ourselves heard in Dublin and Strasbourg and strong local leadership to fight for our needs at local, national and even international level.

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