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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 23 July, 2014

Committee set up to help with local government reforms

The reforms will see changes to local government, including the merger of some city and county councils.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER PHIL HOGAN has established a Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee, which is the next step in reforming government structures.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  said that the committee “is an important next step in implementing the Action Programme for Effective Local Government and in reforming local government structures”.

The review will have a specific goal of achieving a much better balance and consistency in representational ratios, while taking particular account of factors such as the location of towns in the new municipal governance arrangement. The terms of reference for the review also ensure that there will be adequate representational and governance provision in lower population counties.

He said the committee must have regard to the Action Programme for Effective Local Government and in particular the proposals for a new municipal district structure for local government in counties outside Dublin.

Members

The members of the committee were named as:

  • Gerry Kearney, former Secretary General in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, who will act as chairman
  • Joe Beirne, former Director of Services, Mayo County Council
  • Professor Gary Murphy, Head of the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University
  • Peter McCann, former Principal Officer in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
  • Marian Vickers, Chief Executive, Northside Partnership Dublin.

Recommendations

In October, Minister Hogan’s reforms were announced. They included cutting the number of councils operating in Ireland from 114 to 31. According to Hogan, the plans will save the State €420 million over four years. They met with mixed responses from various bodies.

The proposals will see town councils replaced by municipal districts, and the recommendations on local electoral areas will provide the basis for the configuration of these districts. The committee will also make recommendations around the merger of the councils of Limerick City and Limerick County, North Tipperary and South Tipperary and Waterford City and Waterford County.

The committee is to review and make recommendations on the division of each council area, other than Cork City, into local electoral areas, and to make recommendations on the number of members of each council to be assigned to each local electoral area.

Under the reforms the number of councillors representing a local electoral area should typically be 7 and not more than 10 or less than 6. Within any city or county the variance in representation of each local electoral area from the average for the city or county should, as far as practicable, be within a range of +/- 10 per cent.

The number of members in Dublin City Council is to be fixed at 63, and in Cork County Council it is to be fixed at 55 . Subject to a minimum total of 18 and a maximum total of 40 members of every other council:

  • There should be one member for every 4,830 population in each council area
  • In addition, and subject to a maximum of four additional members per council except where councils are merging:
  • (A) In counties where there are existing town councils there should be four additional members per Borough Council and one additional member per Town Council, and
  • (B)In cases where the city and county councils are being merged, i.e. Limerick and Waterford, there should be five additional members.

Read: Mixed response to Hogan’s plans for local council cull>

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