Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the system of local government in Ireland is in urgent need of review.
Deputy Pringle was speaking on the Local Government (Mayor of Limerick) Bill 2023, which he said was missed opportunity to empower local authorities.
His remarks came after it was reported that Irish local government has been placed third last out of all EU, OECD and Council of Europe states in terms of organisational autonomy.
Deputy Pringle said, “Not only do our local authorities have issues with representation, with Ireland having fewer elected representatives per population than most other European states, but there are also serious functional and design issues.”
“Due to institutional design, councillors have little to no power at all as they are completely dominated by the executive of the Council, who is appointed by central government. However, it is not good enough to merely give elected members the power of the Council executive while central government continues to dominate local government. We need to significantly expand the remit of our local authorities and this is what this Bill should have looked to do.”
Deputy Pringle continued, “Decisions being made at local level should be made by elected representatives and not government appointed staff. This type of system forces Councillors to act as opposition, rather than decision makers,”.
“This legislation doesn’t scratch the surface of the local government reform that is so badly needed. It is completely unambitious and does not go far enough in addressing major issues with our local authorities,” he said.