Dáil debates bill on local government reform

Friday 12 July 2013 16.00
Phil Hogan said the bill deals with technical issues to help with the process of local government reform
Phil Hogan said the bill deals with technical issues to help with the process of local government reform

The Electoral Local Government Bill 2013 has passed Second Stage and has been passed in the Dáil this afternoon.

The Committee Stage of the bill will be heard next week.

After one of the busiest weeks of the current term, the Dáil has adjourned until next Tuesday.

The bill discussed this afternoon is a diverse one that involves a miscellaneous list of provisions.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said it "is not the most earth shattering bill in the world" as it deals with technical issues that have to be put in place to help with the process of local government reform.

The bill sets out changes to the register of electors in new local authority areas.

It also deals with planning regulations, such as changes to development plans in local authority areas that are proposed to be amalgamated or dissolved.

As was already known, the bill outlines that arising from the accession of Croatia to the European Union, there is a need to adjust the distribution of seats in the European Parliament.

From 2014 to 2019, there will be 11 MEPs elected in Ireland, a reduction from the present 12 members.

A 1942 bill that requires An Post to make copies of referendum bills available for inspection and purchase in post offices in the run up to referendums has effectively become obsolete - with the availability of copies on the internet and the establishment of the Referendum Commission - and it should be repealed.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said that the bill should be opposed.

Fine Gael TD James Bannon referred back to errors in 2007 where it was estimated to be in the region of 200,000 errors in the register.

He said that the electoral register is patently incapable of being updated correctly.

There are 34 local authorities looking after the register, but its care is not within their remit.

He said there must be a system of having a continuous update for the list.

Fine Gael TD David Stanton said the development of community councils in areas where there will no longer be a town council should be encouraged.

The bill also contained legislation on the disclosure of political donations.

Minister Hogan said "we have effectively taken the cheque book" out of politics.