Thursday, 13 December 2018
Local Government Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I accept the point about being forewarned but I have discussed this with Deputy Naughten on several occasions. We are absolutely committed to doing this and doing it quickly - Deputy Ó Broin also said it to the Minister - so that it would be early January. We cannot accept something that we disagree with or that we think will not work as it is intended to work. The Minister of State, Deputy Phelan, has also said there were elements of the Bill he has come around to, especially with regard to the local area plan and the issue of the unelected individuals who would sit on the committee. It is our job to interrogate such aspects. It is not our job to just accept things on blind faith or, because it is needed urgently, to just take whatever is on offer.
From a Fianna Fáil perspective we will absolutely start working with this once there is a Bill prepared if that is the first week in January - as the Minister of State has referred to. We have spent hours and hours at the committee on this, along with Deputy Casey and others. The Minister of State also made himself available outside of the committee where we discussed it further. No one here is taking this lightly or just kicking the matter to touch. It does not just relate to Athlone, Kilkenny, Carlow or Waterford. If we get the structure right I would see it being used in other districts and other areas in the State. It is fundamentally important. It would be a very good reform and we want it to happen. We will not be delaying it and we certainly will not be found wanting in bringing forward alternative solutions. We have not wasted the last week because a lot of what is required to fix and improve this proposal has been debated and discussed. We got a lot of agreement, which was good. This is what we should be doing and I saw more of that at the housing committee with the Minister and his officials, where we worked in a collaborative and respectful way to bring this forward and to get a better proposal. I would hope that we will have it in early January. Fianna Fáil will not be found wanting on this.