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Hogan attacking local democracy: Stanley

23 May, 2012 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has today challenged Minster Hogan to stop using the mantra of cost cutting meanwhile his real intention is to attack local democracy and independent agencies.

Speaking during the Dáil debate on the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Deputy Stanley accused Minster Hogan of, “using the current economic downturn as a smoke screen behind which the minister is attacking local democracy and independent agencies including Limerick Regeneration.

“This bill will allow for the establishment of ten joint local authorities across 20 county and city councils, effecting one and a quarter million people, including those in my own constituency of Laois and Offaly.

“Yet there has been virtually no consultation or discussion on these serious proposals. All this done in the name of reform and saving money. Surprisingly there was no Regulatory Impact Analysis carried out on this Bill. As a result there are no figures available in relation to the overall savings which may be made as a result of the specific changes proposed in this Bill. So it is more huffing and puffing from Minister Hogan. All spin and no detail. This has been his hallmark to date.”

Stanley said: “Sinn Féin supports reform. We support radical reform of local government. But reform must be achieved through consultation and agreement. Power must be devolved to local communities not taken away and centralised. Having spoken to councillors in Waterford, Limerick, North Tipperary and South Tipperary, I can honestly say Minister Hogan is simply moving the boundaries, reducing the number of elected councillors and centralising power in the Customs House. This is unacceptable.

“We want to see power being devolved to local level. We believe power and decision making should be vested in the community. This bill does the very opposite. It allows government ministers to make far reaching decisions about agencies, boards and local authorities.

“The government’s claim to be committed to fundamentally reorganising local governance structures allowing greater decision-making to local communities. This bill flies in the face of this commitment. It is a top down approach.

“Decisions made at central government without any consultation or debate. Sinn Fein would propose that there should be a plebiscite on these amalgamations. Put the question to the people Minister, let the people most affected make the decision.

The bill also proposes to dissolve both Limerick Regeneration Boards. Limerick regeneration has been a disaster for the people of Limerick. It has failed to deliver. From the big announcement five years ago we have seen 1000 houses knocked and only 34 built. A disgrace!”

“It is unacceptable that people are forced to live in the conditions that are a reality in Limerick city. Now the fear is that moving the regeneration back into one big local authority as outlined in the bill it will lose its focus. The people of Limerick do not need the regeneration boards to be dissolved they need regeneration to refocus and involve the local community which it has failed to do so far. Limerick needs regeneration to deliver on its promises.
“A swift move into one big Limerick County Council will not deliver for the people of Limerick.”

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