Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has said the restoration of Town Councils would give towns such as Ballinasloe a real voice at local level and help empower local communities. Deputy Murphy was speaking on the Local Government (Restoration of Town Councils) Bill 2018 in the Dáil on Wednesday.
“This bill reflects a key part of the Fianna Fáil general election manifesto commitment to re-establish town councils across Ireland on a fair and equitable basis. The bill establishes a Commission under the Local Government Act to review the geographical distribution of proposed town councils and most importantly their powers and finances. This aims to provide a sound, fair basis to further legislate to re- introduce a Town Council layer of local government. This bill marks a decisive shift towards empowering local communities and enabling towns across Ireland to have a strong voice to fight their corner.
“It has been stated here time and again that many of the urban councils were the strong voice of the people. I take the town of Ballinasloe in my constituency as an example. There is no doubt that the town of Ballinasloe with a population of 7,000 has suffered significantly because of the loss of that town council.
“Town councils gave a strong voice to their local communities. Time and again today, we have heard how that voice was important in things such as Tidy Towns and promoting employment and all that was good in those towns. I hope that this decision will be reversed as quickly as possible and town councils will be restored to their rightful position. That will mean a lot to those towns and invigorate them, giving them a real voice at local level, one that should never have been taken away.
“Fianna Fáil agrees with the core philosophical argument in the bill and will support it at second stage. We will work with all parties to revitalise local democracy.
“The FG/Lab government launched an unprecedented attack on the structures of local government by abolishing all 80 town councils in Ireland removing some 744 Town and borough councillors. This created a democratic deficit at the heart of Irish life.
“Our bill commits to a strict time frame for the commission to complete its work and lay a report before the Oireachtas. This will ensure that the new structures are put in place and voted upon by people in May 2019 in tandem with the next local and European elections”, concluded Deputy Murphy.