THE Mayor of Letterkenny yesterday described plans to axe town councils as ‘a hugely retrograde step’. Cllr Gerry McMonagle, was speaking after further details emerged over radical plans by the government to abolish every town council in the country and also some county councils to save money.
If the plans went ahead town councils in Letterkenny, Buncrana, Bundoran and Ballyshannon would be scrapped.
More than 700 councillors across the country would lose their positions under radical proposals. There are over 80 town councils across the country ranging in membership from 9 to 11. Under the proposals town council would be merged into county councils to cut tens of millions of euro from the local government bill. This would mean a transfer of all powers and the loss of jobs.
Reacting to the news yesterday, Sinn Féin Mayor McMonagle said such a move would be ‘hugely detrimental to Letterkenny’.
“The town has progressed well under the current system in terms of infrastructure and the facilities we provide for people. This would not be the case in a countywide structure,” he said.
“You just have to look at towns across the country that don’t have local councils to see the difference in service provision. There is a clear focus and strategy with a town council that would not be the case in a county situation where services would be channelled across Donegal,” he added.
Cllr McMonagle said he would be raising his concerns directly with the Minister for Environment, Mr Phil Hogan next week.
“I will be representing Letterkenny Town Council along with Councillor Tom Crossan at the AMAI (Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland) conference in Cavan next weekend and we will be raising this directly with the minister,” he said.
“I have to say his remarks recently on this issue are not clear. In the one hand he is talking about recognising and supporting town councils and grass roots but on the other we have these reports to abolish them altogether,” he added.
The plans are sure to face stiff opposition across the country and the government parties will come under stiff pressure as they would lose many town councillors.