[Sinn Fein]

14th May 2003

Government blocks Sinn Fein attempt to empower Local Authorities

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government, Arthur Morgan T.D., speaking at the Report and Final Stages of the Local Government Bill 2003 today, argued for the repeal of legislation which has disempowered local authorities. He called on the Government and opposition parties to support amendments which he had put forward to repeal some of the most controversial and undemocratic legislation affecting Local Government in the State. Deputy Morgan criticised the fact that the debate on the Bill was guillotined before all amendments were discussed. He welcomed the ending of the dual mandate.

Deputy Morgan said

``The debate on this Bill should have been allowed to continue to allow all amendments to be discussed. Conveniently for the Minister the debate ended before the contentious issue of the election of Mayors and Cathaoirligh was discussed. I had put forward amendments that if accepted would have rolled back measures which have in recent years undermined the autonomy of local government in this State and which would have redressed the stripping away of the powers of local government which have made it increasingly weak and powerless. It is shameful that the Government gave so little time to the discussion of amendments which sought to restore the democratic deficit in local government which is currently alienating people from the decision-making bodies.

Deputy Morgan put forward amendments to retain the provision for the direct election of Mayors and Cathaoirligh, to transfer the executive functions of the Manager to the Cathaoirleach or Mayor and to amend Section 4 of the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 whereby the making, review, variation or replacement of a waste management plan would become a decision taken by local authority members and not the city or county manager. The Sinn Fein T.D. also put forward an amendment to repeal Part 21 of the Local Government Act 2001 Act which he argues ``is currently being used by the Minister as a threat to hang over local authorities in order to force them to impose measures such as service charges''. This amendment received cross-party support.

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