Speaking today during the debate on the Government’s plans to reform local Government, Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane called the proposals short sighted and an attack on local democracy.
Senator Cullinane said:
“While I welcome aspects of this Bill I am disappointed with the overall plan for the future of local government.
“The Bill follows a long line of government efforts to disempower the local and to ensure that power is centralised in Leinster House.
“Successive governments have consistently chipped away at local government by reducing its powers and its budgets with the result that it was severely restricted in its capacity to engage in active governance.
“Sinn Féin on the other hand favours strong local government which we feel is essential for active and participatory democracy in communities across Ireland.
“Housing, transport, the environment, and policing all of these important issues have local specifities that impact directly on communities and towns in quite unique and diverse ways.
“This Bill shows a complete disregard for the peculiarities of place and for the richness and value of local decision making and local politics.
“We should be encouraging people to become more involved in their areas, not disempowering local authorities and the communities they serve.
“Genuine reform of local government would broaden the space of local democracy, not shrink it.
“A properly resourced and relatively independent local government system has the potential to rejuvenate politics.
“Local government is the link between the public sphere and the political sphere. Under-mining one sphere seriously damages the other.
“Clearly Fine Gael and Labour don’t trust people to manage their own cities and towns. This is disgraceful and it displays yet again a total disregard for real political reform.”