Fianna Fáil has published extensive proposals on empowering communities through radical reform of local government.
The policy provides an alternative to the Government’s plan of abolishing town councils and reducing local representation. Fianna Fáil’s proposals centre on the need to strengthen local government as a core part of wider transformation the political system.
Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen explained, “We believe that the Irish political system needs to be reformed from the bottom up. Dismantling town councils, undermining local democracy and moving communities further away from the political process, as this government proposes to do, is not the answer. Instead, we need to enhance local democracy, empower communities and radically improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability of local government. That is what the Fianna Fáil policy proposes to do.”
The Fianna Fáil proposals include:
- Directly Elected Mayors across every city in the country and subsequently every local county;
- Executive powers for Directly Elected Mayors, who will act as champions for their area across the country;
- A new Cabinet-style system to replace council policy groups offering greater accountability & a greater role in shaping local policy;
- New voluntary Community Councils to represent areas with no Town Councils;
- The retention of Town Councils and enhancement of Councils in towns with a population of over 7,500;
- Local referendums on major local issues, such as Local Area Plans;
- New anti-corruption plans, including enhanced auditing system, complete transparency on planning issues, mandatory declaration of interest & a greater role for SIPO in local government;
- Enhanced supports for local businesses, including new competitive funding pot for enterprise initiatives and new local credit facilities for SMEs.
Deputy Cowen continued, “We have grave concerns about Minister Phil Hogan’s Local Government Bill 2013, which is due to be debated in the Dáil this week. The Government needs to learn from the Seanad Referendum, when people right across the country made it very clear that they want to see real and meaningful political reform. As legislators, we have an opportunity now to enhance community engagement in the political process and kick-start real political reform by creating a system of local government that is accountable, efficient, fair and effective.”