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Mattie McGrath joins councillors in High Court bid to halt election


Mattie McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke

Mattie McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke

Mattie McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke

INDEPENDENT TD Mattie McGrath and a group of local councillors are taking a High Court case to stop the local elections from being held on May 23, the Irish Independent has learned.

The group are taking the case because they are claiming the Government's abolition of town councils across the country was illegal, and should have required a referendum.

Papers were lodged in the High Court on Monday, and summons were presented yesterday to the three named defendants – the Chief State's Solicitor, the Attorney General and Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr McGrath (right) presented the papers to Mr Hogan yesterday at lunchtime in the members' bar in Dail Eireann. Mr Hogan accepted the papers. The plenary summons, seen by this newspaper, states that the case is being taken by the group of councillors calling themselves the Former Local Authority Members Eire.

The papers were lodged by Cavan-based solicitors, Ronan O'Brien and Company.

It claims that the Local Government Reform Act 2014 is "null and void, as it was not voted on", which is, they say, "contrary to Article 15.11.1 of the Constitution".

They also claim that the same Local Government Act is "repugnant to the Constitution and Article 28.a" and that it is "repugnant to the European Charter on Local Self-Government". The summons also states that the Local Government Act "does not authorise or empower the minister to abolish any town/borough Councils or Waterford City Council and Limerick City Council".

The Local Government Reform Act was signed into law on January 27 last.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr McGrath said the case was being taken because the Government acted totally contrary to the Constitution by abolishing the town councils without referring the matter to the people by way of referendum.

"I am supporting this case because we feel the elections on May 23 can't go ahead on this basis. The papers were lodged on Monday and the summons were handed in today. We are just hoping now we can get an early day for the hearing in the High Court," he said.

Limerick City Council has already held its final meeting after 817 years, ahead of being merged with the county council on June 1.

The merger of the two councils will follow the planned local elections, forming a single local authority for the Limerick region.

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Limerick City's local government was established in 1197 – the time of Genghis Khan and the Holy Roman Empire – and was originally called Limerick Corporation. It received its charter from King John I of England, well known as the antagonist in the tales of Robin Hood.

The council took a brief hiatus between 1651 and 1656, after the city surrendered to Oliver Cromwell and a military governor was installed.