Varadkar rules out reinstatement of town councils

Restoration of councils would ‘cost about €40 million a year.’

Plan for directly elected mayors for Dublin, Cork ‘and perhaps other counties’ nearing completion.

Sligo News File

The Dail has been told that the Government does not have any plan to restore town councils.

Leinster House

Responding to questions, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the reinstatement of town councils would cost “approximately €40 million a year…, and we do not believe that is how ratepayers and people who pay the local property tax would like to see their rates and local property tax money spent.”

He said Minister of State, Deputy Phelan is currently proposing that town districts and borough districts would essentially function as area committees do now but could have the ceremonial functions that previously town councils and borough councils had.

“This would be a kind of restoration of their ceremonial functions.”

He said Phelan was also carrying out “a separate piece of work, which is nearing completion, on directly elected mayors for Dublin, Cork and perhaps other counties and the relationship between chief executive officers and county cathaoirligh.”

Some 80 town councils were abolished in 2014 as part of local government reform under the Fine Gael/Labour government.

The Coalition also reduced the of councillors by more than 40% in the Local Government Bill published by Phil Hogan, the then Minister for the Environment.

Three years later, Fianna Fail moved a Bill aimed at restoring the abolished councils. They described the scrapping of the councils as a “slash and burn approach to local democracy” that had deprived urban areas of a voice.