Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Public Accounts Committee

2020 Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General
Chapter 3 - Central Government Funding of Local Authorities

9:30 am

Photo of James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I have to interrupt Mr. Doyle because I am against the clock. The Department sat on the Moorhead report for a long time. I know it required a decision to be taken, which was done. I am in no doubt about the enormous workload that is on county councils. I am concerned about the model we have, where people are essentially in a full-time job where they have that full-time responsibility of analysing and scrutinising all of the work that has to be done within a local authority, which is enormous in some areas. I was a member of Cork County Council, which is one of the largest in the country in terms of its budget. I have a concern about the fact there are 54 members on that local authority and that the time commitments different individuals can give differ.

It would be healthier for local governments in Ireland if we had a full-time set position and policy was laid down by the Department or some analysis was done in that regard. The Moorhead report clearly showed the enormous work burden on members of local authorities in this country. I am not questioning that for one moment. I am questioning the model we have in this country, which we practically inherited from the United Kingdom after independence. It is not fit for purpose anymore. It is not the best way to go in order to ensure proper oversight of local governments in this country. Members of this committee will know how challenging it is for us to ask questions of local authorities because they are not very co-operative in many cases. I will not speak about any individual case.

I wish to move forward and ask about the requirement for local authorities to provide financial statements. There are many differences when it comes to auditing. Why is there not a requirement for local authorities' financial statements to be accompanied by a statement of internal control such as is required by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's 2016 code of practice for the governance of State bodies?


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