Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – The Local Government System

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Local Administration by blopote on August 14, 2008

In Ireland, the provision of public services locally is quite complex with a broad range of organisations and bodies working on behalf of the general public.  Each in the main operates in accordance with their own mandate and functions.  Some of these services are provided under the guidance of the local government system, others by central government and its agencies (the state agencies ) and more under the guidance of local development agencies.

Local Government in Ireland has a twofold role – representational and operational.

  • The Irish Constitution (Article 28A of Bunreacht na hEireann) recognises the role of local government in providing democratic representation of local communities thereby giving expression to local identity, identifying local concerns and setting local priorities.  This recognition endorses the democratic representative role of local government and guarantees local elections in Ireland at least every five years.
  • Local Government not only represents the people in the local communities, it also performs a number of important functions /services. The principle services provided by local government are infrastructural. Functions include housing, planning, roads, water supply and sewerage, development incentives and controls, environmental protection including rivers, lakes, air and noise, recreation facilities and amenities and agriculture, education, health and welfare. While these services are infrastructural in nature, in recent years there has been a growing realisation of the impact these services have on the living conditions and on the social integration of local communities. Consequently a number of County and City Councils have established units (Social Inclusion Units) to specifically address the social impact of their services.

Local Government organsiations (Local Authorities) were renamed in the Local Government Act 2001.  There are now called County Councils and City Councils (formerly County Borough Corporations). There are also town authorities known as Borough Councils and Town Councils (formerly called Borough Corporations, Urban District Councils and Town Commissioners).

In total there are 34 Local Authorities in Ireland – 29 County Councils, 5 City Councils in the principal cities across the country (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick).  There are also 5 Borough Councils and 75 Town Councils.  There is at least one County Council for each county. Dublin County has 3 Councils including South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council. Tipperary County has 2 Councils; North and South Tipperary.  The number of Councillors that can be elected to each County Council depends on the size of the county’s population. For example, Cork County Council has 48 members and Carlow County Council has only 21.  The County Council has jurisdiction or control throughout its administrative area. Within the County Council administrative area there may be a Borough or Town Council area. The County Council may carry out the functions of the Borough/Town Council within its area either jointly or separately with the Borough/Town Councils.   The County Council is chaired by a Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) who generally holds the position for a term of one year. The Borough Council is chaired by a Mayor – again the term of office is generally for a period of one year.   County and Borough Councils are democratically elected on a 5 yearly basis.   As well as the County Council, each county has a County Manager. The County Manager is the manager for each of the elected Councils in a specific county. The county manager is an executive member of the respective Council and holds the position for a term up to 7 years.
http://www.citizensinformation.ie/categories/government-in-ireland/local-and-regional-government

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