Report recommends cutting 650 councillors

83 councils would be scrapped under plan presented to Minister for Environment

The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013 which was presented to the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan today sets also out new larger electoral areas for next year’s council elections Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013 which was presented to the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan today sets also out new larger electoral areas for next year’s council elections Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Fri, May 31, 2013, 17:07

The number of local authorities will be reduced from 114 to 31 and the number of councillors cut by more than 650 on the recommendation of an independent report.

The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013 which was presented to the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan today sets also out new larger electoral areas for next year’s council elections.

The report was described by Mr Hogan as “the most radical shake-up of local government in the history of the state.” He said he had accepted its recommendations in full and would be making the necessary local electoral area orders so that they would apply in next year’s local election.

The total number of councillors will be cut from 1,627 to 949 with the elimination of the smaller town councils and all of their 750 members. The number of councillors in growing urban areas will be increased.

The Committee’s terms of reference specified local electoral areas with a minimum of six seats and a maximum of ten. This compares to a maximum of seven seats and a minimum of three in the current system.

Cork city council and its 31 seats were excluded from the terms of reference of the Committee.

The Committee has divided up the rest of the country into 131 electoral areas with 918 councillors. Unlike previous reviews this one is based on a ratio of councillors to population which means an increase in seats for urban areas and a reduction in more mural counties.

Six-seaters will be the most common type of electoral area with 66 of them electing 396 councillors. There will be 23 seven-seaters with 161 councillors, 23 eight-seaters with 184 councillors, 13 nine-seaters with 177 councillors and six ten-seaters with 60.

Dublin City Council will see an increase from 52 councillors to 63 with Cork County Council going up from 48 to 55. Dun Laoghaire, Fingal and Dublin South go up to 40 members from between 24 to 28.

Councils in the commuter belt surrounding Dublin will also see an increase. Kildare increases from 25 to 40 while Meath is up from 29 to 40. Wicklow goes from 24 to 32 while Louth is up from 26 to 29.

Some large counties on the west coast also benefit. Donegal goes from 29 to 37, Galway from 30 to 39 and Kerry from 27 to 33.

Mergers in other parts of the country sees Limerick going up to 40 seats, a combined Tipperary also 40 and Waterford with 32. Galway city increases from 15 to 18 seats.

By contrast a range of other counties see a significant reduction in tandem with the elimination of town councils.

A swathe of counties in the border midlands region like Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Longford and Roscommon have been cut to 18 councillors while Laois and Offaly have been cut to 19 each.

Mr Hogan said that while people might focus on the reduction in the number of council seats and local authorities the key element of the report was the development of a far more integrated approach between county and municipal government to better serve the needs of all citizens.

“This radical structural reform will provide a sound platform for the wider development and strengthening of the local government system in the future,” he said.

The Committee was chaired by Gerry Kearney, former Secretary General in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The other members were Joe Beirne, former Director of Services, Mayo County Council, Professor Gary Murphy, Head of the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University, Peter McCann, former Principal Officer in the Department of the Environment and Marian Vickers, Chief Executive, Northside Partnership Dublin.