Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he was stunned to hear the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin publicly describe the abolition of over 80 Town Councils as his single greatest policy regret in over four years of Government. Deputy McGrath made his comments following the remarkable admission by Minister Howlin at the Labour Party conference, comments which were then backed by the current Labour Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly:
“These statements which seem to have been passed over without remark at the national level have exposed a chasm of political indifference at the heart of Government concerning the threat to democratic structures in this State.
Where have the Ministers voices been during this past year and indeed before that when Town Councillors and many others were warning them of the dire impact which the abolition’s would have in terms of facilitating local representation?
It is absurd for this matter to continually go undebated and for it to be relegated to the margins of our political conversation.
I have fully supported the work of Former Local Authority Members Eire (FLAME) who at the time of the so called Local Government Reform Act challenged the constitutionality of the decision to axe the Councils.
I still support that action and would now call on both Ministers to indicate theirs in light of the comments made at the weekend.
Failure to raise this critical matter at the highest levels will clearly demonstrate that the sentiments of Ministers Howlin and Kelly are just one more instance of the pretend concern this Government has when it comes to the erosion of local democracy in this Country.
Minister Howlin admits he took his eye of the ball when all this occurred; well now is the time for him to get back in to the game and fight for the re-emergence of those Town Councils which were so arrogantly dismissed by former Minister Phil Hogan, who in his usual sledgehammer approach left us with havoc at the local level,” concluded Deputy McGrath.