7th June 1999
Voters lose out at failure to reform Local government
Sinn Fein Dublin EU Candidate, Seán Crowe, speaking at the launch of the party's Local Government Manifesto said that ``we do not have local democracy in this county, instead we have an outmoded system of local administration with an elected tier with little or now real power.''
Mr. Crowe said:
``Local government in this state is based on the framework laid down 100 years ago. It was inadequate then and it has deteriorated over time. The City and County Managers Acts give virtually dictatorial powers to unelected officials in every county and borough. Successive governments removed more powers from local councils while establishing numerous statutory agencies which took over or duplicated many of the functions of local government. It was not the councillors who lost out but the people who elected them.
``Sinn Fein is calling for a root and branch reform of this system. Local authorities must be given the powers to retain locally and spend locally a proportion of income tax. Local government must be financed and empowered in the context of fundamental tax reform, including a specific tax on the financial sector. Our proposals on local government are radicial and courageous. They grasp the political nettle from which other parties flinch. They are vital if we are to establish real local democracy.
Sinn Fein is proposing
- All-Ireland local government structures.
- Constitutional provisions to be made guaranteeing the rights and powers of local government structures and arguing that this should ultimately happen on an all-Ireland basis. In this context we support the proposed insertion of a section in the Constitution on local government.
- A system of financing local government that has its own revenue raising powers. Currently in the 26 Counties less than 10% of total spending comes under the remit of local government. The EU average is between 30% and 40%.
- A system of local government that allows for directly elected regional, county, district and community councils.
- Substantial devolution of powers and finances from central government. This would mean agencies like the IDA, IDB, Enterprise Ireland, Health Boards, Road Authorities etc would come under the control of regional government, with substantial input from the other local government structures. It is proposed that such bodies be democratically constructed by local government.
Sinn Fein has a vision for local government in Ireland. We want to see the people of Ireland in control of local government. We want to see them running their local health services, organising regional enterprise, builiding their own houses and planning their own local economies. In short we want to put people first, give them power over their local communities. We want to give them control of the resources to develop and grow those communities. We want to do this throughout Ireland.
We can stamp out discrimination and corruption. We can role back the influences of central government. We can deliver local democracy.
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