Phil Hogan: Local government has not served us well and it's time for real reform
The Local Government Bill 2013, which is before the Dail, implements the reforms in the Action Programme for Effective Local Government, Putting People First, which wants to position local government as the main vehicle for the delivery of local services.
The bill addresses fundamental weaknesses and brings renewal across the entire local government system: structures, functions, funding, governance and operational arrangements. This short piece concentrates on structural reform, which has gained much media attention due partly to a campaign by some local politicians to save their seats in the guise of defending local democracy.
The hollowness of the 'democracy' slogan is exposed by the fact that the 744 town councillors, who make up 46pc of all councillors, represent only 14pc of the population, an undemocratic imbalance that is aggravated by the fact that the 14pc have double votes and two sets of councillors.