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Council of Europe report criticises power of local government in Ireland

The European Council report says that Ireland has improved, but needs to devolve more power to local authorities.

Dublin City Council offices
Dublin City Council offices
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND DOES NOT have enough constitutional protection for local government.

That is the opinion of two special rapporteurs to the Council of Europe, who called on the government to revise legislation in order to devolve more power to local authorities.

The report by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities was yesterday discussed in the Council.

In the report, Congress rapporteurs Andris Jaunsleinis (Latvia) and Merita Jegeni Yildiz (Turkey) welcomed the fact that Ireland has made “substantial changes” since the last monitoring report in 2001.

It also stressed the commitment of the Irish authorities to move from an almost fully centralised system to a certain level of decentralisation, citing the Putting People First action plan, announced last year.

The report says that the constitutional protection of local government is “rather weak”, that local governments “only manage a modest amount of public affairs”, and that the administrative supervision of their activities by the central level remains high.

The report also draws attention to the limited powers of local authorities to levy taxes or to set rates within the limits of the law.

Yilmiz said:

It is recommended to the Irish authorities that they revise their legislation in order to ensure that the subsidiarity principle is better enshrined and protected in the law

Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd was at the session of the Congress and presented the government’s priorities for reform.

“I see the congress report as providing additional underpinning to the reform agenda that we are implementing and I look forward to the continuing support of the Congress in this regard and to the Council of Europe generally,” he explained.

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