Ó Domhnaill Challenges Government on Plans to Abolish Letterkenny Town Council

Letterkenny Proven to be one of most successful Town Councils in Country

 

 

Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has called on the Government to refrain from the planned abolition of Letterkenny Town Council.

 

The Donegal Senator raised the matter on the adjournment debate in Seanad Éireann last night.

 

Addressing the Seanad Ó Domhnaill said; “Letterkenny is recognised under Government Policy as a growth centre and a Gateway Town under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). Gateway Towns such as Letterkenny need a dedicated Local Government Structure in order to drive the strategy and assist regions like the North Wests to develop.”

 

“Letterkenny has a population of over 20,000 people. The Government’s plan to remove the level of democracy closest to the people represents another outrageous attack on democracy and Local Communities.”

 

“Fianna Fáil is totally opposed to Government plans to abolish Town Councils. The plans are draconian and are being rushed through. I firmly believe that proven, successful, efficient and effective Town Councils should be retained. There are currently 75 Town Councils and 5 Borough Councils in the State. 51 of these Councils operate in Towns with a population greater than 5,000. I believe all such existing Town Councils should also be retained.”

 

“Letterkenny Town Council is one of the most successful Local Government Structures in the Country. It has played a pivotal role in the Socio Economic development of the Town and has an annual budget of up to €9 million. There will be absolutely no cost saving to the taxpayer if Letterkenny Town Council is abolished, in fact, I have argued that its abolition will actually cost more money.”

 

“The elected members of Letterkenny Town Council together with the Staff continue to serve the people of town exceptionally, well working with some 90 Resident Associations, together with Community & Sporting Groups/Clubs and the Tidy Towns Committee. Fianna Fáil members on the town council, Councillors Ciaran Brogan, Dessie Larkin, Victor Fisher and Lisa Culbert all believe this move is an affront to democracy and the will of the people.

 

“I firmly believe the future development of Donegal is at risk if the Government railroad Letterkenny Town Council out of existence through the Local Government Reform Legislation.”

 

“At this stage Minister I plead with you to refrain from abolishing proven and successful Local Government models. Your plans make absolutely no sense.”

 

Responding the Minister of State at the Department of Environment Jan O Sullivan said;

“As members area aware; the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government published in October 2012, sets out Government decisions for a range of measures to reform and strengthen Local Government structures, functions, funding, governance and operation arrangements. Chapter 6 of the Action Programme sets out policy decisions to replace town Councils with a new comprehensive model of municipal governance based around principal towns designed to strengthen local government within counties and to address weakness and anomalies in the current system.”

 

“Instead of talking about ‘abolition’, it should be recognised that a new model of municipal governance is being introduced in which municipal districts will cover the entire territory of each county, reflecting European norms, removing outdated boundaries and ending the anomaly of small towns having municipal status and dual representation, while some larger centres and rural areas lack any sub-county governance. The effect will be to enhance significantly both democratic leadership and accountability on one hand, and operational efficiency on the other, within a far more cohesive and integrated system and one that reflects the realities of the 21st century rather than the 19th.”

 

“An important benefit of the new system will be a more appropriate assignment of local authority functions. The performance of different functions by members at county and district levels will result in greater effectiveness than the current parallel town and county system, which involves a significant element of duplication of functions. The division of functions between county and district levels will be determined on the basis of what is most relevant to each level. Local matters will be dealt with at municipal district level, while those of wider strategic application will be decided at county level, without duplication between county and district jurisdictions.”

 

“Work on the implementation of the reform agenda is processing rapidly and we will be moving shortly to the next phase with the publication of the necessary legislation to provide for the new arrangements, thus paving the way to deliver the benefits outlined in the action programme, such as-

  • Greater operational efficiency and representational effectiveness;
  • Getting more from the local government system;
  • Improving the range and quality of local government services for citizens and communities;
  • Maximising value-for-money for taxpayers; and;
  • Ensuring that local government can make a really strong contribution to national recovery

 

In conclusion Ó Domhnaill warned the Minister that failure to given consideration to protecting existing Town Councils like Letterkenny will have grave and long lasting negative consequences.

 

Fianna Fáil will fight you every step of the way on this issue in both Houses of the Oireachtas when the Local Government reform Legislation is debated. We will be rejecting any move to abolish effective Town Councils. I plead with you to do the right thing, listen to Local Communities and don’t proceed with a Policy of trying to fix something that is not broken.”

 

 

 

Note to Editor – Wording of the Adjournment Motion

 

“To call on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to refrain from the proposed abolition of Town Councils, particularly effective and successful Town Council’s such as Letterkenny in County Donegal.”

 

Posted: Oct 9, 2013     |     Categories: Uncategorized