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 Header Item Local Government Reform Bill 2013: From the Seanad (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014: Messages from Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 827 No. 2

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Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I thank the Deputies for their contributions to the debate. At the beginning of Second Stage, I indicated that I was prepared to listen carefully to the discussions in this House and that where Members had practical experience of what we were trying to do I would take many of their views into account. We have taken many of the issues into account. I thank Deputies Cowen, Stanley and Murphy, who have taken a particular interest in these matters during the debates and responded very constructively in respect of what we are trying to achieve. I thank them for their co-operation.

I thank my officials, led by Mr. Denis Conlan and Mr. Michael Murphy, and all the officials in the local government division for ensuring that much of the painstaking work that has taken place for a number of years would culminate in this Bill. We do not always agree on the detail in this House but I hope the spirit of constructiveness has resulted in a much better Bill than the one that was initiated.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I join the Minister in paying tribute to and thanking the staff of the Department for their work in putting this Bill before the House and their work thereon as it passed through the Houses. I thank them for acquiescing to the wishes of Members and the Minister. I thank the Minister for the manner in which he conducted affairs during the passage of the Bill through the Houses. Many amendments have been made, not only in response to our requests but also to those of the various representative bodies outside the House. I compliment the Minister on his forbearance in regard to these issues.

As I said on Second Stage, we do not necessarily agree with the thrust of the Bill. While it is well intended, we would have proceeded very differently. We are fearful of the impact of the legislation on local democracy. That is a matter for another day, and it was for another day. We have put on record our opposition to the legislation in that context. That said, we recognise the mandate of the Government and its ability to pass legislation. With that in mind, we have sought to be as constructive, fair and reasonable as possible in seeking to put forward the views of those we represent. We sought to make the legislation as friendly as possible to the representatives who will be expected to implement it and work within its confines.

I wish the legislation well and hope, contrary to many opinions, that it is constructive, not only for those who will work with it but also for the staff in local authorities, who face a big challenge with the amalgamations. Ultimately, I hope the legislation will be of benefit to the people we represent - namely, the people who wish to avail of the services of local authorities. I look forward to a review of the legislation by a committee and Parliament over the coming years. I am particularly conscious of the oversight role of the Department in reviewing the performance of the legislation against its intention. I commend everybody associated with the Bill and hope it is successful. While I do not necessarily agree with its content, I will be the first to admit it if I am proven wrong and it is a success for the Government.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy I am representing Deputy Stanley, who had to attend a committee meeting. He asked me to represent him here. I know of his interest in this legislation.

I, too, was impressed by the number of amendments to the initial legislation that were accepted and I have no doubt that they will improve the quality of the Bill. We continue to have very serious misgivings not only about the thrust of the Bill but also the thinking behind it. Effectively, it means we are moving local elected representatives further from the people they represent. The same is happening with the bigger national and European electoral areas. It is all a process of moving people further from those who represent them. We will be vigilant in analysing the progress of this Bill but we recognise the great deal of hard work that has gone into it.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I was not involved on Committee Stage; I am not a member of the committee. I am not denying the hard work of the Department and Minister, as referred to by colleagues. However, I fundamentally disagree with the Bill because, as Deputy Colreavy stated, it is creating a bigger divide between the people and public representatives. In our case, south and north Tipperary are being bulldozed together. As I stated, the costs will be huge. The Minister cannot answer my question on this. We will see the result in time to come.

The legislation is putting people last and getting rid of elected town councils. In Tipperary, they have served for centuries. Councillors have been voluntary in the main and would work voluntarily again if they were left to it. The legislation errs in that it is not putting people first; it is putting people last. I believe it will be challenged in another forum. Perhaps that is why the date for the local elections has not yet been fixed. While reference is made to 23 May, we will see whether that stands. I wonder why all the authorities were allowed to pass their estimates for a full year if they are to be terminated well before the first half of the year. I cannot wish the legislation well because I believe it is founded on a false premise and neglects the views of local authorities. I do not know why the local authorities' representative organisations did not stand against the Bill. Sin scéal eile. The legislation is putting people last and the Government will find that out when it goes back to meet the people in 2016 or another time.

  Seanad amendments reported.

Message from Select Committee

Acting Chairman (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has completed its consideration of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013 and has made amendments thereto.

Estimates for Public Services 2014: Messages from Select Committees

Acting Chairman (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Select Sub-Committee on Education and Skills has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for public services for the service of the year ending on 31 December 2014: Vote 26.

  The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for public services for the service of the year ending on 31 December 2014: Votes 27 and 28.

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