Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government and Laois/Offaly TD , Brian Stanley, met with the party’s National Councillors’ Forum in Leinster House last week.
Speaking after the meeting Dep Stanley said, “Local government is in need of radical reform. Sinn Féin councillors have been to the fore in demanding that reform. Minister Hogan’s proposals are a wasted opportunity.
“Sinn Féin support strong city, county and local district councils with devolved powers that are democratic, accountable and deliver local services in an efficient cost effective way. We support a single mandate for councillors. We fully acknowledge the important role town and borough councils continue to play in local government. Current local government structures should be maintained until the government commit to reform, based on strong local government, with real decision making powers devolved from central government and adequately funded through progressive taxation and rates.”
He continued, “Unfortunately too much power has been centralised in Customs House or in the hands of management. Maintaining structures that have no real power is counterproductive to our strategy of devolving power to our communities. We believe power must be devolved from central government to local authorities and the balance of power shifted from city and county managers to elected councillors.
“The government’s local authority reforms are a smoke screen for collapsing local authorities, cutting number and funding. We propose that the ratio should be one councillor for every 3936 of the population. This is in line with the on-going reform in the North of Ireland. This would give the state a total number of 1165 councillors, a reduction of 462, but an increase of 215 councillors on Hogan’s proposals.
Sinn Féin is confident that we can deliver proper reform of local government North and South of the border,” he concluded.