Mullingar Town Council impending abolition raises members’ ire

A local councillor has criticised the Government’s policy of continued recentralisation and called it an “absolute joke”.

“We have the most centralised government in Europe. First there was SUSI [the student grant scheme], then the medical cards, and now they’re taking the water away. This is something that gets up my nose,” said Cllr Mick Dollard.

He was speaking in support of his own motion that the town council calls on Government “to bring forward meaningful proposals for real local government in Ireland” at this week’s meeting of Mullingar Town Council.

“We don’t have local government any more, only local authorities, and it’s something that gets up my nose. There’s been lots of talk about property tax and the household charge, and we now find out that they’re going to fund this new utility Irish Water. I thought it was going to be spent on the people from where it was collected,” he continued.

Cllr Dollard, a poll-topper with 30 years of experience of local government, was getting in his criticism of the planned demise of the town council, and the paring back of the county council after the local elections in May.

“All we have is tokenism and populism, and it’s all about pandering to a certain section of society which sees politicians as pariahs. If [local] public representatives had more power people would respect them more. I believe TDs and senators spend too much time on local issues which is our job,” he went on.

“This recent attempt to reform local government is an absolute joke. There are a lot of people out there who are very unhappy,”he said, before being cross-party supported by Cllrs Aidan Davitt and Ruth Illingworth.

“There’s been one common theme through all this, and it was a total power grab to try and get rid of the Senate,” said Cllr Davitt.

“I know Fine Gael and Labour have had hard decisions to make but Phil Hogan could’ve left local decision makers,” said Cllr Davitt.

“We now have less local democracy than we did a century ago under British rule, and I believe less representation will lead to greater voter apathy like it happened in Britain. We are lacking real local government in this country,” said Cllr Illingworth.

“In Westmeath there wasn’t one Labour public representative who went out and canvassed for the abolition of the Senate. It just shows you how far removed these people in Leinster House are from normal people,” added Cllr Dollard.

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