Restoring town councils like in Ballinasloe would empower local communities to make decisions about the future it’s been claimed
That’s the view of Galway-Roscommon TD Eugene Murphy, who said that removing those most local layer of government has had a serious detriment on local democracy.
“It has been stated here time and again that many of the urban councils were the strong voice of the people.”
“There is no doubt that the town of Ballinasloe with a population of 7,000 has suffered significantly because of the loss of that town council.”
Deputy Murphy said that he was certain that giving Town Councils power over their own finances would empower local communities.
“Time and again today, we have heard how that voice was important in things such as Tidy Towns and promoting employment and all that was good in those towns.”
The Fianna Fáil TD was speaking about his party’s Local Government (Restoration of Town Councils) Bill.
The Bill would establish a commission to review the potential geographical distribution of town councils, as well as what powers and finances they would have.
Deputy Murphy accused the Fine Gael government of launching and “unprecedented attack” on local government by abolishing 80 town councils around Ireland.
Ireland’s town councils were abolished in 2013 by then Environment Minister Phil Hogan.
Labor Leader Brendan Howlin, whose party was in a coalition with Fine Gael at the time, has since admitted that abolishing town councils was a mistake.
The Labour Party has also introduced measures in the Dáil to restore town councils, but they have made little progress.
The consolidation of local authorities has continued, with Galway city and county councils set to be merged into a single group by 2021.
According to Deputy Murphy, this would not cause any clash of timeframe with the restoration of town councils across Galway.
“Our bill commits to a strict time frame for the commission to complete its work and lay a report before the Oireachtas.”
“This will ensure that the new structures are put in place and voted upon by people in May 2019 in tandem with the next local and European elections.”