Eighty town councils are to be abolished as part of local government reform announced today.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan published the Local Government Bill 2013, saying it is the most radical reform of the sector in more than a century.

Under the bill the number of councillors is to be reduced by more than 40%, resulting in 80 town councils being scrapped, with the number of councillors being reduced from 1,627 to 950.

Six city and county councils in Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford will merge into three new councils.

Following the abolition of the councils, councillors will represent Municipal Districts at County Council level.

It is not clear yet how much it will cost in terms of the gratuities for councillors who will no longer serve.

The Association of Municipal Authorities in Ireland, which represents town councils, is now seeking legal advice about the bill.

The association has written to Mr Hogan to say it has "serious concerns" about the legislation.

A public vote will also be held on whether Dublin should have a directly-elected mayor.

Mr Hogan said councillors will get 20 additional reserve powers under the bill, they will also be able to veto the appointment of a new chief executive of a council, which is currently the county manger post.

But they will not have powers to direct the chief executive in relation to planning matters.

This was a recommendation to the Mahon Tribunal.

The Local Government Bill is expected to come into effect prior to next year's local elections.

It was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday morning.