Friday, June 22, 2012

Hogan’s electoral reform is a threat to democracy – Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has branded electoral reform plans being put together by Minister Phil Hogan as a threat to democracy and has called on local Councillors, especially members of Fine Gael and Labour, to voice their discontent and stop Minister Hogan’s plan. Cllr Kelly said that reform of local government was needed, but it had to be meaningful reform which was executed in the best interest of the public.

Cllr Kelly said;

“Rumours are rife that Minister Phil Hogan is planning to abolish town councils across the state in his plan to bring about a stronger more cohesive local government. Closing local councils obviously will not create stronger local government. It is another misguided step from the man who brought us the household tax. Minister Hogan’s plans are a clear threat to democracy.”

“Sinn Féin agrees that electoral reform is needed, but it must be meaningful reform. It cannot become reform for the sake of reform. The structure of local government must be changed in order to make it more accountable and efficient. Councillors must be given more responsibility. They were elected to serve the people and must be allowed to do that. Currently much of the decision making in local authorities is handled by the county manager. This must change.”

“Ireland needs strong local government, but it must be a local government which serves its purpose. For that reason Sinn Féin would argue that greater power be placed in the hands of local councils. These would include full control over services such as water, refuge collection and public transportation. Many of these services have previously been held by local authorities but were eroded away over time. These powers must be restored.”

“It is wrong to say that Ireland has too many local councils. In fact Ireland has the second lowest proportion of Councillor per head of population in the entire EU. France has a councillor for every 118 people. The ratio is 250 per head of population in Sweden and rises to 350 per head in Germany. The figure in this state is one councillor to every 2,336 people. Clearly we do not have an outrageously high number of councillors as some people have claimed. Getting rid of more local authorities will further increase this ratio and can only be seen as a threat to democracy.”

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