A Fianna Fáil Senator is calling for the reintroduction of town councils in light of a system of local government which he said has far fewer powers than most other countries, and fewer politicians per capita than all other EU member states.

Senator Malcolm Byrne said Ireland "effectively has a system of local administration".

"If we believe in local democracy and local government we have to move away from a system of local administration, which we effectively have," he said.

In 2014, 80 town councils were abolished as part of local government reform, reducing the number of councillors by more than 40%.

Following their abolition, councillors sat on new Municipal District County Councils.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Senator Byrne said Ireland's current system means that at national parliament level, in the Oireachtas, people spend a lot more time on local issues rather than focusing on national legislation.

"The issue here is around how can we ensure in Ireland that we have real local democracy, that local governments and local councillors take decisions on a range of issues that impact in their communities."

He said many other countries have local government that greater input into areas such as the provision of housing, care for older people, social care, policing, education and health services.

In Ireland, he said, the trends over the last 50 years has been increasing centralisation.

"The powers have been taken from local government in the areas of health and education most recently and notably in the question of water services."

He said in a lot of cases, quangos tend not to be accountable in the same way that local councillors can be held to account.

Mr Byrne called for debate on the most appropriate level at which decision making should take place, and levels of representation.

"Our national parliament, our national legislature should be focused more on national and indeed on European and global issues.

"We need to devolve more power to local government.

"We also have now per capita far fewer councillors than in any other EU Member States.

"If you're not happy with your elected representatives as an election, you can vote them out.

"But there's also the opportunity at local council level, councillors can hold the chief executive and others to account.

"I think there's a real opportunity as well with the plans for a directly elected mayor for the city and county of Limerick to give real power to that office that can make a difference in that community, and that could be a template for other communities.

"But our question here has to be about if we believe in local democracy and local government, we have to move away from a system of local administration which we effectively have at present."