[Sinn Fein]

4th April 2003

Morgan welcomes ending of dual mandate but calls on Minister to reinstate the provision of directly elected Mayors

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government Arthur Morgan TD speaking during the debate on the reform of Local Government in the Dáil this morning said that he "welcomed wholeheartedly the ending of the dual mandate" and urged the Minister to reinstate the provision for the direct election of Mayors and Chairpersons at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Morgan said: "I look forward to the independent review of local Government that the Minister signalled would take place shortly. I hope the review is imaginative and creative because it is long overdue.

"I welcome wholeheartedly the ending of the dual mandate which I hope marks the dawn of a new ear for local government. One person cannot carry out the functions of two separate elected bodies effectively. I would urge that the provision for the direct election of Mayors and Chairpersons be reinstated at the earliest opportunity.

"There is an overuse of centralised power, which is unfair. It corrupts local authorities, not in the financial sense, but by forcing them to implement all sorts of planning levies and parking fees. For example, in my own county a planning levy of •3,300 is imposed on a young couple applying for permission to build their first house. How can that be fair, particularly in the context of the ending of the first time buyer s grant in the budget- It is a gross imposition on the very people local government should support.

"In ending the dual mandate we must also ensure that city and county managers are not given additional power. We should use the opportunity provided by this Bill to replace city and county managers with representatives who are directly elected by the citizens and voters of a city or county.

"I would be favourably disposed to supporting the Bill if the Minister made these changes.

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