Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway Eugene Murphy TD said the move by his party to introduce the Local Government (Amendment) Bill in the Dáil recently has put pressure on Communications Minister Denis Naughten and Local Government Minister Simon Coveney to ensure that no county boundaries are changes without the approval of local communities.
“Following the introduction of my Local Government (Amendment) Bill, Minister Naughten announced that the Department of Local Government is planning on examining the possibility of legally enshrining county boundaries by bringing forward legislation to set them on a statutory footing. It’s clear that the Fianna Fáil Bill has heaped on the pressure on Ministers Naughten and Coveney to find a solution to this contentious issue”, explained Deputy Murphy.
“Up until now, Minister Naughten has failed to adequately deal with the boundary issue, but it appears that the publication of our Bill has brought the concerns that people in Monksland and other areas, which could be in line for boundary changes, to the fore. However, the Minister doesn’t need to draft new legislation – he could simply vote in favour of our Bill.
“The Fianna Fáil Bill gives communities, such as Monksland, the final say in any proposals for a county boundary change that affects them by placing a requirement on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to hold a plebiscite. Changes to the boundary can only be made when it is approved by the majority of people in the affected area.
“I hope that this latest announcement by Ministers Naughten and Coveney to legally enshrine county boundaries is not simply empty rhetoric being peddled by a Minster in the midst of a leadership contest.
“My Bill, which has already been introduced, 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.