Thursday, 13 December 2018
Local Government Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I believe we will have the same head of steam, and I think it will be bigger, because we are dealing with those rawest of Irish emotions, hard borders and soft borders, which are topical in other areas currently. At least we will have the opportunity for people to think about it. That is a fair assessment, but I do not believe there will ever be a situation where there would be full agreement.
I put it to Deputy Naughten that it is my intention for this to happen as soon as the Bill is drafted. I have spoken to the Chief Whip a lot over the last few days but the Business Committee decides everything now. I do not detect any political animosity to the provision of the structure. Even in the last round of contributions, there was a lot of agreement, especially on who has the ultimate say on the adoption of plans. That would be from my side. From other Deputies' sides, there was agreement on the issue of equality. That really goes to the heart of ensuring this co-operation works.
I want to place on the record the fact that Carlow town is the only place in Ireland where this kind of co-operation has been going on for decades. Laois County Council pays a contribution to Carlow at the end of each year for services provided by Carlow to Laois. As a result, when it came the boundary reports there were eight submissions. The boundary there is very much a soft border in Graiguecullen, between the Carlow part of Graiguecullen and the Laois bit of Graiguecullen. This is what we want. It is a shame that it has to be put into statute but it has to be, because we know from experience what can happen. Deputy O'Dowd gave the best example of that. If it is not in statute, people will just walk away from it on both sides. All sorts of political pressures build for that to happen. This is why we will come back early in 2019.