FG proposal on local authority functions would halt the spread of economic recovery – IMPACT

Peter Nolan, National Secretary, IMPACT
Peter Nolan, National Secretary, IMPACT

IMPACT trade union has criticised Fine Gael’s proposal to remove responsibility for collecting commercial rates from local authorities and to hand over the role to the Revenue Commissioners. The proposal is included under Fine Gael’s public sector reform proposals in the party’s manifesto.

IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan said the proposal represents a further attempt to diminish local public services. “This proposal amounts to the planned erosion of local democracy, and follows a pattern that has seen valued public services taken from local authorities and relocated centrally.

“Fine Gael has said it wants to ‘keep the recovery going’. However, the continuing erosion of local authority functions and services means that the economic recovery – outside of the large urban centres – is being actively inhibited. This latest proposal by Fine Gael would magnify this limiting effect,” he said.

Mr Nolan said that the removal of more services from local authorities would further dismantle local government. “Fine Gael’s coalition partner has already conceded that the abolition of town councils was a mistake, and Labour has now proposed the creation of a new system of urban government to fill the vacuum in local leadership.

“We’ve seen the provision of water services and the issuing of driver licences taken out of local authority control. This is in addition to proposals to merge library, fire and veterinary services in a number of counties throughout the country, proposals that aren’t even driven by cost considerations.

“All of this is on top of the huge loss of employment in local government as a result of the recruitment moratorium between 2008 and 2012, which saw a reduction of 28 per cent in local authority employment, more than any other section of the public sector.

“If local government continues to be picked apart, rural communities and smaller towns will be denied the opportunity to have a say in how their services are delivered, as well as being denied the fruits of economic recovery,” he said.