Saturday 24 February 2018

Eamon Ryan: Local power? This is all about centralising it

MINISTER Phil Hogan claims he wants to strengthen local government, but his reform plans will do the opposite. He is centralising power away from regional assemblies, which will have little or no decision-making responsibility. Those assemblies should be planning and co-ordinating our transport, water and waste infrastructure, but in reality the National Transport Authority, the new National Water Company and the National Waste Planning Co-ordinating Group will call the shots.

The democratic structure of these new assemblies is flawed. The Government has ignored one of the key recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal, to have direct elections to such authorities. Instead, we will have a system where two councillors from each county in the region will be appointed to the assembly. Under current political circumstances this will guarantee Fine Gael 50pc of the representation and give them an effective hold on what they do.

The Mahon Tribunal insisted we needed greater accountability and transparency, but Fine Gael and Labour are delivering the same shadowy planning world that got us into trouble in the first place.

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