Tinkering with local electoral boundaries is only a sideshow to the real issue of reforming the powers of local councils, according to Fianna Fail Local Government Spokesperson Shane Cassells TD.

Deputy Cassells added that local councillors need to be empowered to allow them do the job citizens expect them to do in representing their local communities. Deputy Cassells made the comments after the publication of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report.

Deputy Cassells said, “It’s disappointing that the publication of today’s report was not accompanied by comprehensive proposals to empower local governance.

“The decision by former Minister Phil Hogan to abolish town and municipal councils did enormous damage to our system of local governance. It has led to an over-centralisation of power and has prevented towns from putting forward and implementing their own plans to improve local services and attract inward investment.

“The removal of town councils, which was presented as a cost-saving measure, has led to minuscule savings. It has however caused massive harm to local governance and has given rise to a disconnect between public representatives and the communities they represent. Ireland has a public representation rate of 4,800 : 1, the highest in Europe.

“The Government has committed to reforming local Government to address these concerns. However they have brought forward no meaningful proposals to empower councillors and allow people and communities to take control of their local areas. A report on local Government is due to be published in the coming weeks but all indications are that it will propose little in the way of substantive reforms.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to reforming local Government to empower councillors and the communities that they represent. Budgetary and planning powers should be placed on a statutory footing and town councils should be re-established to allow communities take control of their local areas,” concluded Deputy Cassells.