Time for meaningful local government

 

Sir, – Cllr Dermot Lacey is right to call for a fundamental review of local government finance and to be applauded for not going down the populist road of Sinn Féin and others in voting for reductions in local property tax (Letters, November 14th).

Such a review should address the other problem in Irish local government of too much power resting with local officials. In four years as a county councillor in England, I was involved in annual budget debates where we had the power to direct priorities and the means through council tax to fund them or explain why we wouldn’t on the doorsteps.

Your front page quoted Owen Keegan – the unelected chief executive of Dublin City Council – proposing rent increases for social housing of €160 a year (“Council chief warns of increased charges for Dubliners”, News, November 12th).

Budget priorities are political decisions which must only be taken by elected representatives who are answerable to the electorate.

The officials should be there to cost the political priorities and assist the budget formation – not to frighten the citizens with regressive price rises.

Anything else is an affront to democracy and reduces councillors to local advocates “begging” for favours for their patch from local officers.

Ireland is badly served by the current system. – Yours, etc,

KENNETH HARPER,

Burtonport,

Co Donegal.