THE Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, is 'making a hames' of local government, according to a Fingal county councillor who has called for the minister to abandon his 'piecemeal approach' to reforming the sector and put local government on a 'strong and viable economic footing'.
Cllr Tom Kelleher (Lab) said everyone agreed local government needed reform, but this was 'possibly the worst time in the history of the State' to try to do it. He said that at the moment Minister Hogan's plans for the sector were 'going absolutely nowhere'. 'Instead of clarifying how services are funded he has absolutely muddied the waters,' he said. Cllr Kelleher said that in the rest of Europe people pay for a service and they get it but in Ireland 'what is happening at the moment is that we are being charged for services that are declining'. He said the minister was 'making a complete hames of it' and was 'wrecking local government'. The Labour councillors said that Minister Hogan had been a 'complete failure as a Minister for Local Government'. Cllr Peter Coyle (Lab) agreed and said the household charge was 'far from a local tax'. Because of what he called 'national equalisation', the funds raised from the charge were distributed nationally and not locally where the charges were raised. He said a householder paying the charge in Fingal was as likely to see his or her money used to build community facilities in Mayo than locally. Cllr Ciaran Byrne (Lab) attached blame to TDs for the decline in funding for local government. He said that since the ending of the dual mandate that TDs had less interest in local government and had failed to protect local services.