Seanad debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

10:30 am

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Fine Gael)

I welcome the Minister of State to the House and congratulate him on the great work being done on councillors' pay and the work of councils. Much more remains to be done, however. I could not do justice to this subject in the time I have, so I do not know what to say really. I congratulate the authors of this motion. Every Member of this House has spoken at some stage or other about the pay and conditions of local councillors.

Nobody knows this better than the Minister of State. He was a member of Westmeath County Council for many years, but he is now seeing the other side of the situation as the Minister of State with special responsibility for this area. He has studied the Moorhead report in great detail. That report was obviously written by somebody who was not a councillor or a public representative, and that is quite easy to see in the report. At the same time, however, the report gives us something to work on. I welcome having had the opportunity to have said a few words on the Moorhead report previously. I reiterate what previous speakers have said about the pay of councillors. Everybody realises they should be paid and should be paid immediately, and that they deserve to be paid because they are getting a pittance now.

I have seen over many years the erosion of the powers of members of local authorities. I refer to the different powers councillors had 40 years ago and the changes in what councillors do today compared with back then. There has been a huge change. Councillors now have much less in the way of powers than 40 years ago. The Minister of State is the man to lead the charge in this area, to bring back powers to local authorities and to make them more efficient. I refer to running them like a business. I remember when I was a member of Castlebar Town Council, I proposed the local authority members visit Bradford in England.There were several documentaries on how the town council ran its business. It operated like a business. When a member of the public went in, he or she got an answer there and then. That is the way all local authorities should work. I think the Minister of State is a man to do that. Knowing him, I think that he will put the train in motion to do that.

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