Minister intent on addressing deficiencies in local government with reform package to be announced in coming months
Speaking on the Local Authority Public Administration Bill 2011 this morning (Friday) in the Dáil, Fine Gael Deputy for Meath East, Regina Doherty, said the Bill, introduced by Fianna Fáil, amounted to little more than public criticism of local authority workers and did little to address the issues facing local authorities.
“Fianna Fáil’s attempt at local government reform clearly involves a lot of finger pointing in the direction of local authority workers, whose aim it is to deliver for their communities with, in some cases, seriously depleted resources, and little in the way of workable solutions to maximise resources.
“Instead of seeking to address the issues facing local authorities and offering constructive suggestions, Fianna Fáil Deputies have today engaged in an unabashed attack on local authority workers who are attempting to do more with less.
“In the case of Meath County Council, which is the most under resourced Council in the country per capita, public servants are successfully punching above their weight in terms of service provision and delivering for the people of Meath. This situation is being replicated right across the country.
“Local authority workers are under considerable pressure which the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, is intent on addressing through his radical local government reform package to be announced in a matter of months.
“Attempting to paint over the cracks in the way proposed by Fianna Fáil is less than helpful. We need to be inventive and look for reforms through the increased use of technology and shared services so that resources are freed up and workers are allowed to do the job they are paid to do. Furthermore, devolving more power to local authorities will give them control over how and where resources are utilised, allowing them to be used to maximum effect.
“Local government reform is key to unlocking the full potential of all of our local authorities. Supporting local authority staff and boosting morale goes a long way too. After their spectacular mismanagement of our economy over the last decade, Fianna Fáil’s attack on public servants, in place of any practical or helpful proposals, is disingenuous and insulting.”