Monday 20 November 2017

Reform of local government

Madam -- Fred Molloy (Sunday Independent, April 29, 2012) asks how local councils could provide services in the Fifties with no charge, and are now charging for all sorts of services.

Of course he is wrong about that. Local charges in the form of domestic rates existed right up to 1978 and provided local authorities with a ring-fenced income to provide services. The abolition of that somewhat unfair system without any compensating replacement has quite simply seen local government starved of funding. This intensified during the so-called Celtic Tiger years, when central government reduced the funding which should have been made available. Billions of euro were wrongly withheld from councils across Ireland -- but particularly in Dublin -- during that period. In short, money due to local government was stolen from councils and expended by central government for its purposes.

We need to have an honest debate about how we fund local government. That must be the starting point of real reform.

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