'I THINK a Kilkenny man should be given a hurley not a hatchet.'
They were the words of Cllr Michael Abbey as he expressed his dismay at the announcement that Carlow Town Council is to be abolished under new proposals by Minister Phil Hogan, called 'Putting People First'.
He added, ' There is an emotional attachment that comes with the council. One thing about ' Putting People First' is that I could not get any clarity from it. It is not a great day for local democracy.'
Some of the changes include Local authority managers to be replaced by chief executives. They will be responsible to the elected members in the same way as the chief executive of a company is to a board of directors. The Government's document also says that the role and functions of elected councils will be widened, with a greater involvement in economic development and enterprise support.
Town Councils will be replaced by new Municipal Districts, which will cover the entire county, being based on the main towns and their hinterlands.
Town Cathaoirleach Eileen Brophy stated, 'It is a shame that the Council has worked so hard and now will be entirely changed.'
Cllr Des Hurley said, 'We all knew that reform of local government was coming but I am surprised at how it happened. A year ago, the Minister was here and said Carlow Town Council would not be abolished and so I am shocked and saddened.'
Cllr Anne Ahern said, 'Everything the Minister has done, has been badly planned or not planned at all. We would be very foolish to think that members of the Dáil will be worried about us. It will only secure their positions. Part of politics has always seen decisions being made because of party politics. We see it in the County Council and it can be good or bad. But we have never done that in the Town Council. We have made an honest effort of putting the town first and now we are being punished. Am I surprised? No.' Cllr Walter Lacey made the point, 'Carlow was the first council to be set up in formation as a council. Councillors will come and go, but this will have an adverse impact on the town.'
The council agreed to have a private meeting as to how to address the issue. Some proposals include writing to the Minister and inviting him to Carlow to discuss the proposals and writing to other town councils to support a lobbying campaign
Cllr Lacey had the final words on the debate by saying, 'It is a death knell for Carlow Town Council and Carlow Town. People should be concerned, not about me or the other councillors, but about Carlow.'