Phil Hogan has admitted his plans to reform local government in Ireland will probably mean significant cuts to the number of councils. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Councils face cull as Hogan reveals plans for local government reform

Phil Hogan says his reforms will see local services managed locally – with the number of councils being pulled back.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Phil Hogan has admitted that his plans for reforming local government services will probably mean a significant number of councils will be scrapped entirely.

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Donegal, Hogan said he was tabled ambitious proposals for radical reform of council structures and operations, which were currently being tested “up, down and sideways”.

The minister said the programme of reforms – to be called ‘Putting People First’ – would introduce “significant changes to regional, county, city and town governance”.

And he admitted: “It’s extremely likely that I will be cutting the number of councillors and the number of authorities.”

Hogan has already confirmed plans to merge the separate county councils for North and South Tipperary, and has also steered legislation to see the separate county and city councils in Limerick merged. Both pairs of councils will merge in 2014.

The minister has also previously hinted that the separate county and city councils in Waterford could be up for merger – a situation which would only leave three distinct city councils, in Dublin, Cork and Galway, remaining.

Hogan’s latest reforms could mean that some of these councils could also be culled – though the reforms are more likely to see cuts in the number of Town Councils, of which there are 75.

There are also five borough councils – in Kilkenny, Sligo, Drogeda, Clonmel and Wexford – which have identical power to town councils.

In his remarks in Donegal, Hogan said the performance of councils would would be more closely measured in future, while councils would also be encouraged to avoid bureaucratic language and to publish more literature written in layman’s terms.

The overall thrust of the reforms would be to ensure that responsibility for the provision for local services lay with local bodies.

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