How We Are Governed - Local

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT

National Government has responsibility for the entire country. It is engaged with areas of national importance such as security, the budget, national roads, the education and health system etc.

Local Government is government at local level

The purpose of local government is to ensure that appropriate services are delivered to citizens in their local area

The 2014 Local Government Reform Act sets out the revised roles and functions of Local Government

“The purpose of local government reform is to ensure that local councils deliver better services to their citizens”, Minister Phil Hogan, 2013

Local Communities require such essential services as housing, environmental services and protection, transport and road safety, recreational facilities, community development, citizen engagement, the development of policies, planning and actions which promote the common good of the area .

Background

The first Local Government (Ireland) Act was passed in 1898 as the main basis for local government in the state. Various changes have been made since then. The Local Government Reform Act became law in the signature by the President on January 27 th 2014. The Act makes legal provision of the reforms set out in the Government Action Programme – Putting People First (2013). The main changes in local government structures will come into effect following the Elections on May 23rd 2014.

Electoral Areas

The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013 contains details on the changes to the electoral areas. The number of electoral areas has been reduced to 137 and the number of elected members to local government electoral areas has been changed to 950.

The following Table and Map give details of the new electoral areas:-

 

Results of The Local Government Elections May 2014

List of Elected County Councillors June 2014

Local Government Reform Act - Some Points

Main Changes in Local Government Structures

The main changes in local government structures including a new system of municipal districts (replacing the 80 town councils) will come into effect after the Local Elections on June 1 st 2014 following the Local Elections on May 23 rd 2014. The minister of the Environment has made set of orders specifying local electoral areas in cities, counties and municipal districts. The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report (May 2013) contains details on the new electoral areas. The number of electoral areas is 137.

Municipal Districts The number of municipal districts is 95.

Each municipal district will correspond to the electoral area except:-

  1. Dundalk, Kilkenny City and Mullingar municipal districts each of which will comprise two electoral areas
  2. The metropolitan districts of Waterford and Limerick will contain 3 electoral areas. Districts that currently include a Borough Council will be called a Borough District.

The municipal districts which will include towns and their hinterland are designed to promote greater efficiency in democratic governance, subsidiary and accountability. As each County Council is to comprise a number of municipal districts Councillors will be elected simultaneously in local electoral areas to both a municipal district and county council.

Rebalancing the Powers between Elected Council Members and Council Executives (employees)

In addition to the new municipal districts arrangements the Act also provides a rebalancing of responsibilities between elected members of the Council and the Council executive. The powers of the Council have been strengthened. A new post of chief executive has been established which will replace the former city and county manager. The elected council members have reserved functions.

Reforms to Local Authority Function

The Act also provides for a wide range of reforms to local authority functions, structures, funding, performance and governance, which will be brought into effect progressively through a series of further orders over the coming months, including:

  • the formal merger of city/county councils in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford;
  • new regional assemblies, with a more robust role in spatial and economic planning, as well as management of EU funded programmes, to replace the current eight regional authorities and two assemblies;
  • a range of provisions relating to local authority governance and management, focussed particularly on strengthening the role of the elected council;
  • stronger oversight of local authority performance, particularly through a new independent National Oversight and Audit Commission for Local Government (NOAC);
  • provisions relating to community development in the context of local government, involving the establishment of Local Community Development Committees in place of the City and County Development Boards;
  • provision for a plebiscite in 2014 on the issue of an office of directly elected mayor for the Dublin metropolitan area and related local governance arrangements;
  • amendments to a number of legislative codes to take account of the changes in local government legislation and other policy decisions.

Read more click on Putting People First Action Programme for Effective Local Government

Local Government – County City Councils

The 2014 Local Government Reform Act has strengthened the reserved functions of Local Councils. The Councils will perform a substantial range of reserved functions

The elected members will perform a substantial range of “reserved” functions at district level on a fully devolved basis, including: a local policy/regulatory role in areas such as planning, roads, traffic, housing, environmental services, recreation, amenity and community development; formal civic functions; a general representational and oversight role; and citizen/community engagement. The scope for further devolution of functions to local government will be pursued through ongoing engagement with relevant Government Departments. More far-reaching expansion of the local government remit will be pursued on an ongoing basis as the reforms across the local government system take effect

The Local Government Authority (Council) consists of a) elected members who have reserved powers – for which they alone are responsible and b) employed members – paid staff including a CEO who assist in the carrying out of their role.

Elected Members – Roles and Responsibilities Reserved Functions is this what you mean

  • adopt the annual budget with democratic accountability for all expenditure by local authority
  • appointment, suspension or removal of CEO - oversight and monitoring of work of CEO
  • adoption of integrated local economic and community development plans and service delivery plans
  • greater decision-making role in local enterprise and economic development in local and community development activities
  • substantial range of functions at district level on a fully devolved basis including: a local policy/regulatory role in areas such as planning, roads, traffic, housing, environmental services, recreation, amenity and community development; formal civic functions; a general representational and oversight role; and citizen/community engagement. The scope for further devolution of functions to local government will be pursued through ongoing engagement with relevant Government Departments. More far-reaching expansion of the local government remit will be pursued on an ongoing basis as the reforms across the local government system take effect.
  • Local government will also have a central role in the oversight and planning of local and community development programmes, through arrangements based on the report of a Steering Group on the alignment of the local government and local development sectors.

EIGHT PROGRAMME AREAS for which Local Government are responsible

HOUSING AND BUILDING

 ROAD TRANSPORT AND SAFETY

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

 RECREATION AND AMENITIES

DEVELOPMENT AND INCENTIVE CONTROLS

CITIZENS/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INVOLVING ESTABLISHMENT OF LOCAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES

 MISCELLANEOUS

 

Employed Members – Roles and Responsibilities

They include a CEO and other appropriate staff and are appointed by the Elected Members to whom they are responsible. Their role is to assist the Elected Members in carrying out their role and reserved functions

The When, Who and the How of Local Government Elections

When:
Local Government Elections must be held every 5 years

Who can vote?
Every person over 18 years whose name is included in the electoral register is entitled to vote in the local area in which s/he lives. It is not necessary to be an Irish citizen to vote in a Local Election.

Who can be elected?
Persons over 18 years of age who are registered voters are eligible for election to Local Government except persons who are Government Ministers, Ministers of State, Members of the Gardai and the Defence Forces and certain groups of public employees. The grounds for disqualification include failure to pay money due to a local authority and certain court convictions and prison sentences.

Nomination of Candidates:
Candidates must be nominated one month before polling day.

How:

There are 31 Local Government Authorities in Ireland

In total there are 137 electoral areas in Ireland and each of them elects a number of Councillors. The number of County and City Councillors to be elected in 2014 is 949.

To read more click on Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report (May 2013)

Elected Members – Roles and Responsibilities Reserved Functions is this what you mean

  • adopt the annual budget with democratic accountability for all expenditure by local authority
  • appointment, suspension or removal of CEO - oversight and monitoring of work of CEO
  • adoption of integrated local economic and community development plans and service delivery plans
  • greater decision-making role in local enterprise and economic development in local and community development activities
  • substantial range of functions at district level on a fully devolved basis including: a local policy/regulatory role in areas such as planning, roads, traffic, housing, environmental services, recreation, amenity and community development; formal civic functions; a general representational and oversight role; and citizen/community engagement. The scope for further devolution of functions to local government will be pursued through ongoing engagement with relevant Government Departments. More far-reaching expansion of the local government remit will be pursued on an ongoing basis as the reforms across the local government system take effect.
  • Local government will also have a central role in the oversight and planning of local and community development programmes, through arrangements based on the report of a Steering Group on the alignment of the local government and local development sectors.