New Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke (FF ), has called for the re-establishment of town councils in localities with a population in excess of 15,000 people.
Mayor O’Rourke made the call at Monday’s meeting of the Municipal District this week, after being awarded the gold chain for the coming 12 months.
Town councils operated in Ireland up until June 2014, when a Fine Gael-led Government abolished them through the Local Government Reform Act.
“A strong regret I have is the demise of the status of this local authority from that of the past,” Mayor O’Rourke said. “The sledgehammer approach to local authority reform by Phil Hogan in 2014 saw Athlone hit the hardest of all towns in the country. We have seen our autonomy and our authority eroded significantly by the effective centralisation of power from Athlone back to Mullingar.”
Mayor O’Rourke says that across the entire country Athlone was the biggest loser in terms of those 2014 reforms. He added that senior government figures in recent years have expressed regret that all town councils were lost, many of them now concede that it was a big mistake.
“I as mayor would like to call on the new Minister for Local Government and the new Taoiseach to undertake a review of the situation and give fresh consideration to the proposal of reinstating town councils to towns with a population in excess of 15,000,” he said.