Local government and local democracy

A local voice

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – Tom Flynn (Letters, April 17th) refers to the removal of an essential layer of local management of local affairs since the 2014 abolition of town councils.

I find a prime example of this to be in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. For the past several years I have left an array of messages on the Waterford County Council’s “Contact Us” screen page. These involved requests for repair work on damaged footpaths in Dungarvan. The council, based in Waterford City, has yet to respond with a date that repair work will begin. The work should have been done years ago.

The footpaths are now the hazardous scene of potholes, loose slabs, wide cracks and uneven surfaces.

No local voice means no local control. – Yours, etc,




Co Waterford.

Sir, – One meaningful way to respond in practice to points on the strength of local government alluded to by Paul Gillespie (“Overworked, older and mostly male: Ireland has Europe’s weakest local government”, Opinion & Analysis, April 13th) in a Dublin context would be for the replacement of area committees with a municipal district structure to occur, as is evident in urban areas throughout the rest of the country. Such a structure is seen as a serious local forum where substantive local resolutions can be passed more meaningfully by councillors.

Following a recent revision for example by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council of its area committee structure (where for example 20 councillors from the Stillorgan, Dundrum and Glencullen-Sandyford electoral wards, representing a population of approximately 100,000, meet to deliberate over local concerns within the Dundrum Area Committee of the council in a more scrutinised local manner compared to full county council meetings in Dún Laoghaire), the council executive will be insisting more in future that for motions involving substantial funding allocation to be considered more binding, such resolutions should be passed at full county council meetings.

This presents a major challenge as there is a persistently high backlog of county council meeting motions, whereas the turnaround time for motions raised at area committee meetings is typically very prompt.

A special county council meeting was called in January to in part deal with the extensive motions backlog but only a handful of motions were deliberated upon.

Stillorgan, Dundrum and Glencullen-Sandyford electoral wards, in reference to the case in point above, should be encapsulated within a new municipal district structure, instead of an area committee structure.

I would vouch that such a transformation into a municipal district structure would be more fit-for-purpose to meet the ongoing needs of residents, giving their elected councillors more power to rapidly respond to local requirements on their behalf and oversee corresponding local funding allocation requests to a more efficient degree. – Yours, etc,


Fine Gael,

(Former Chairperson

of the Dundrum Area

Committee 2018-19),

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Offices,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.