Longford / Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke
Longford / Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke believes the reintroduction of urban councils would benefit towns like Longford.
Deputy Clarke commented, “Many Borough and Town Councils which were abolished in 2014 by Fine Gael and Labour should be reintroduced.
"Towns like Longford could benefit massively from a more localised approach. The introduction of Municipal Areas was not met with adequate funding.
"The current model simply is not working and as such the needs of communities are not being met. Sinn Féin believe in devolving power to local communities and the reintroduction of urban councils which would help to address the current disconnect between local government and local communities.”
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has also called for Longford County Council to be reformed and given a greater share of Government spending.
The Midlands Northwest MEP has highlighted the low level of local Government spending in Ireland compared to other EU Member States, and argues that this needs to change.
MEP MacManus said, “As a former Councillor for 20 years I recognise the importance of local authorities and regard them as key stakeholders in the constituency. Since becoming an MEP I have engaged with County and City Councils on an ongoing basis in order to gain a better understanding of the different challenges faced by local authorities and the key issues facing each county and region.
“The most common issue raised is the lack of funding for local authorities. Many struggle financially and find themselves with a significant level of debt. This has a detrimental effect on services provided by the Council as they attempt to balance the books by reducing spending. As a result roads and paths are neglected, the ability to get to grips on social housing needs and the private rental sector are seriously undermined and local amenities often cannot be delivered."
The Midlands Northwest MEP compared Ireland’s poor performance to other European member states.
“Ireland is lags well behind our European counterparts in this regard. Out of the 27 EU Member States, Ireland is third from bottom when it comes to local government spending as a percentage of overall Government spending. Less than 10% of Irish government finances are allocated to local Councils, far less than half of the EU average of 22.5%.. This needs to change and local authorities such as Longford County Council must be adequately funded through progressive taxation.”
He added, “However, greater funding must be accompanied by reform of local government if it is to represent value for money. Too much power has been centralised, and real power and decision making should be placed in the hands of local authorities, particularly in the areas of housing, transport infrastructural needs including urban and rural public transport as well as in areas such as climate action and waste management. We also need to see the balance of power shifted from city and county managers to elected councillors, who are accountable to the people.”
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