Thursday, 13 December 2018
Local Government Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I know; I will not get involved in that one.
The Minister of State has clarified the issue on the compensation package in place between Cork City Council and Cork County Council. Cork is the biggest county in Ireland. As a result of Cork's geographic size, there was good reason to have two administrative bodies. As the Minister of State is aware, the exact opposite view was taken on the second biggest county in Ireland, namely, Galway. Unfortunately, or perhaps quite smartly, the Long Title of the Bill includes reference to the chief executive of Galway. This meant that amendments, including amendment No. 34, could not be debated on Report Stage. There is significant concern that while there is clarity on the compensation package for Cork City Council and Cork County Council, this is not the case regarding Galway, where there are significant financial concerns which have been highlighted to the Minister of State. This issue has been ongoing for a number of years. If it is moved to a unified local authority without addressing the fundamental issues of representation - remember this is the second biggest county in Ireland - and more importantly the issue of funding, this project will come a cropper. While the legislation outlines in great detail the provisions for Cork, it does not address the issues relating to Galway. However, there is a definitive provision to the effect that there will be a single unified local authority because there will be a single chief executive to operate that. That was the concern raised in the context of amendment No. 34. It is important that the local authorities have clarification on access to resources which are critical for the functioning of both local authorities and a future single local authority in County Galway.