Scrapping the Galway City Council and allowing the Galway County Council take over its powers would “destroy the marketing power” the city has in “attracting inward investment” and hurt its “tourist pulling power”.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish in his submission to the Galway Local Government Review Committee. Among the possible outcomes from the committee’s investigations is the possibility of unifying the city and county councils.
The committee, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, is also examining whether or not to alter the city boundary - a prospect that met with much criticism from county councillors at last week’s council meeting.
Dep Grealish described a single local authority for Galway as “a bad idea for the city” that would also be “detrimental to the interests of the people of the county”. “If we make it one local authority for the whole of the city and county,” he said, “Galway city will lose much of its standing and will not have the tourist pulling power it has now as the ‘City of the Tribes’.”
He also warned that any such move could hurt the city’s ability to attract inward investment. “When you have visiting dignitaries and international companies coming, one of the functions always of the Mayor of the City is to meet these delegations and to sell our city to them,” said Dep Grealish. “If you have just one local authority, you will no longer have a mayor for the city.”
Galway is the second largest county in Ireland, and such a large and diverse area with “different needs” requires the presence of two local authorities, Dep Grealish argues in his submission to the committee. “Galway county stretches 100 miles from east to west, from Ballinasloe and Portumna to Clifden, with a population of more than 175,000,” he said. “That is a substantial administrative area, as is the city of Galway, with a population of about 80,000.”
He also pointed out that 77 per cent of people in the county live in rural areas - double the State average of 38 per cent. “Their needs and interests are very different to those of the city,” said Dep Grealish.
The Carnmore based TD said there should be “no change in the administration of the city”, and that the Galway City Council must “retain its role in the urban area and Galway County Council continue its duties as the administrative authority for the rest of the county”.