As reported in the Leitrim Observer two weeks ago, Leitrim County Council will be reduced to 18 members after the Government launched what it termed the most fundamental overhaul of the Local Government sector in over 100 years on Tuesday afternoon.
Although the specifics have yet to be released, the Leitrim Observer has learned the the county will be divided into three electoral areas with the abolition of the Dromahair and Manorhamilton areas and the establishment of a single electoral area running from Tullaghan to just north of Drumshanbo.
Under the proposed changes in the “Putting People First” programme, the number of councillors will also be reduced from 22 to 18 and there will also be significant changes to the make-up of the existing Carrick-on-Shannon and Ballinamore Electoral Areas.
Nationallly, the number of Councillors will be reduced by 42% from 1,627 to no more than 950 while there will be a reduction in the number of local authorities from 114 to 31 City and County Councils with integrated areas called ‘Municipal Districts’, which the Government estimates will bring in overall savings of €420 million.
Minister Hogan also announced plans to significantly reduce the overall maximum expenditure in respect of attendance by councillors at conferences.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, said “This Government was elected with a strong mandate to deliver on radical reform for our economy, public services and our politics. If we are to drive the necessary reform across the public service then that process must begin with the political system itself.
“In order to bring Local Government into the 21st Century we are introducing one of the most radical, ambitious and far-reaching governance reform plans ever put forward by an Irish Government.
“The reduction in the number of councillors, the merger of certain county councils and the replacement of town councils with Municipal Districts is a necessary reform designed to increase the efficiency of local Government and will ensure that taxpayers money is translated into the services people expect and deserve in their local areas.”
Tanaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore, TD, said “Reforming local Government is about solving problems and providing services that have a direct and immediate impact on all our lives.
“We need local Government to be more democratic and more responsive and we need that reform to happen while at the same time keeping what works in the existing system and at a time of reducing budgets.
“Today, we are embarking on a path to far-reaching reform that will result in a system that is fairer, better and fit for purpose in a modern democracy.”
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan TD said “The most fundamental reorganisation of local government structures in over a 100 years will be undertaken over the next two years, the structural reforms alone will deliver €45 million in savings.
“Local Government does not enjoy universal confidence. Putting People First will address the weaknesses in the system and introduce new measures that will re-build public confidence and trust.”
“Many Ministers before me have launched policy documents, white papers or programmes for local government reform. Some of these led to important changes in particular aspects of the local government system. But others had little impact.
“I will play my part by ensuring that this programme is backed by action which will help shape a much more positive and productive future for local government in Ireland. Putting People First represents the most fundamental set of reforms in local government in the history of the State.
“I am committed to building a stronger and more cohesive system of local government to serve the community at local level, and to make a stronger contribution to meeting national challenges,” concluded Minister Hogan.