Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway Eugene Murphy has introduced the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Dáil this afternoon. The aim of the legislation is to ensure local communities have the final say in any proposals for a county boundary change that affects them. The Bill places a requirement on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to hold a plebiscite on any proposal for a redrawing of a county boundary. The change to the local authority boundary can only take place where it is approved by a majority in the affected area.
Deputy Murphy explained, “Many communities across the country have been affected by arbitrary changes to county boundaries. At a stroke of a pen, bureaucrats are changing the identity of a community without their agreement. Whether it’s Monksland in Roscommon or townlands in south Kilkenny, the deeply held sense of attachment and belonging to a county is threatened by a decision in Customs House. This Bill is all about local democracy. It will ensure that local people have the ultimate say on whether or not their county status is changed.
“These decisions directly impact on people’s sense of place, which has been shaped over centuries. Forcing communities into something they don’t want will only deepen cynicism about politics and alienate citizens from the decision making processes which affect them.
“This Bill will empower local communities to make the choice themselves by weighing up local identity and economic needs. Local Authority boundary changes cannot be about bureaucratic map making or land grabs by adjacent counties. Communities have to be fully engaged in the process and have the final say on something that impacts on them. This Fianna Fáil Bill will help to achieve that”, concluded Deputy Murphy.