‘Referendum may be needed to axe councils’

Cllr Tom Wood believes that any proposal for the abolition of town councils should be put before the people in the form of a referendum and he has written to the Attorney General seeking clarification on the matter.

Cllr Tom Wood believes that any proposal for the abolition of town councils should be put before the people in the form of a referendum and he has written to the Attorney General seeking clarification on the matter.

The Cashel councillor contends that the success of a Constitutional Referendum held in 1999 which gave recognition to Local Government for the first time in Bunreacht Na hEireann and was supported by over 77% of the electorate, eliminated the possibility of town or borough councils being eliminated simply at the whim of the Oireachtas.

Article 28a, states that the State recognises the role of Local Government in providing a forum for the democratic representation of Local Communities, in exercising and performing at local level powers and functions conferred by law and in promoting by its initiatives the interests of local communities.

“Since 1997, Ireland is also a signatory to the European Charter of Local Self Government which recognises Local Government as an important instrument of local democracy.

“A town council gives democratic representation to local communities and its closeness to the people is its strength,” he says.

The Cllr Wood also questions the thinking behind the Governments decision to sweep away a complete layer of local government under the guise of reform and contends that savings, if any, will be minimal.

“Many TDs take a salary and allowances worth 200% more per annum than the annual total claimed by the nine Cashel Town Councillors while just a handful of top earners in our financial institutions are paid in excess of the combined total income of all the public representatives in the eighty Town and Borough Councils now under the axe,” he concludes.