Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Séamus Healy have thrown their support behind a campaign led by former Mayor of Clonmel Niall Dennehy to mount a legal challenge against the abolition of borough and town councils.
An organisation set up by former Fianna Fáil Cllr Mr Dennehy, Former Local Authority Members Éire (FLAME), announced last week it was looking for partner organisations to seek a judicial review of the legislation enacted to end the councils which are due to go out of existence after the May local elections.
A public awareness meeting and press conference held in Clonmel’s town hall was attended by a number of local authority members, including current Mayor of Clonmel Pat English, as well as independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Séamus Healy.
“FLAME intends to ensure,” Niall Dennehy said, “that the abolition of borough and local councils will climb higher up the national agenda”.
He described the abolition of borough and town councils - including those in Clonmel, Tipperary town, Carrick-on-Suir and Cashel - as “the tragedy that’s befallen local government”.
He expressed disappointment with the decision by the Association of Municial Authorities of Ireland, whose membership comprises councillors from towns across the country, not to proceed with a legal challenge.
Now FLAME has issued an appeal for other interested organisations to join their attempt to start legal action against the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
Mattie McGrath said they were aware that this was an 11th-hour bid,
“Some effort must be made before the erosion of meaningful local representation is complete”.
He said that while environment minister Phil Hogan had named the local authority reform programme “putting people first,” he himself would describe it as “putting people last”.
Séamus Healy said that the reform act was unconstitutional. “Local democracy is being taken away”