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Reforms defended by Hogan

ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan complained to European monitoring officials about their damning report on his reforms of local government.

A draft report from the Council of Europe said the Government was unwilling to give more powers to councils and that the system remained "excessively centralised". It said Mr Hogan's reform plans did not appear to offer "many concrete steps" to change this.

But the Irish Independent has now learned that Mr Hogan personally met the representatives of the council in his department last week to complain about their draft report.

He told them that massive transfer of powers to city and county councils could not happen overnight.

Mr Hogan and his officials will now be waiting to see if the Council of Europe's experts revise their conclusions in their final report – which is expected to be published in October.

But Sinn Fein's local government spokesman, Brian Stanley, said the council's draft report had exposed Mr Hogan's reform plans.

He added: "His proposals will only further centralise power in the department's headquarters in the Customs House."

Irish Independent