All Things Local Government Ireland – Are council animal control teams the modern-day St Patrick?

Welcome to All Things Ireland and dive into the week of local government!

Dive into all things local government this week in Ireland.

While Saturday Night Live’s epitomised the need for international sanctions on Irish-American jokes, this edition of All Things Ireland takes a special look at what councils are doing across Ireland to celebrate St Patricks Day, as well as the usual reports and updates on all things local government in Ireland.

Updates from LGIU Ireland

This week’s policy briefing:

Briefing – Overview of recent housing market indicators. The objective of this briefing is to provide a succinct summary of relevant statistics relating to key indicators in the housing market in Ireland. It brings together data from various sources in relation to the most recent period for which data is available, with a comparison with the corresponding previous period.

Article – See Her Elected and the campaign for equality in 2024 local elections and beyond. As part of LGIU’s coverage for International Women’s Day, Dr Michelle Maher, Programme Manager of See Her Elected, discusses how they are working to increase women’s participation in local government, especially ahead of the 2024 local elections.

Publication – In conversation with Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council. As part of LGIU’s series on local government leadership, Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council discusses how Limerick is navigating the challenges and opportunities of local government in 2023.

Housing and planning

The state of the private rental market: Accommodation availability

Accommodation availability and affordability are the main overarching issues in the private rental market, the first of which is considered in this briefing, which reviews how the market has evolved, factors underlying factors, and questions regarding future prospects. The related issue of rents and affordability will be considered shortly in a further briefing.

  • Meath County Council has released 20 homes for sale under affordable dwelling purchase agreements under the Affordable Housing Act 2021 and associated Affordable Housing Regulations with Meath County Council in return taking a percentage equity interest in the home.
  • 11 historic towns will share €1.3m funding under the 2023 Historic Towns Initiative (HTI).
  • Three conversations: Castleisland, Co Kerry, Ballina, Co Mayo, Bantry, Co Cork, Monaghan, Co. Monaghan (this project received approval for a two-year project in 2022). Plans to aid heritage-led regeneration, Macroom; Co Cork, Duleek; Co Meath, Ramelton, Co Donegal, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ballymote, Co Sligo, Carlow, Co Carlow, Drogheda, Co Louth.
  • To understand the significance of this funding, check out this report from the Irish Examiner on the funding for Bantry in West Cork and Castleisland in Kerry which are set to receive over half a million in funding as part of the focus on heritage-led regeneration aiming to create “town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit” (Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan).
  • Cork City Council has granted planning permission for the redevelopment of Crawford Art Gallery, a project led by award-winning Grafton Architects. It is being delivered by the Office of Public Works and Crawford Art Gallery.
  • Sinn Féin report that “at least 17 local authorities have no emergency accommodation capacity remaining”, including Dublin City CouncilGalway City Council and Limerick City and County Council. 
  • This week, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien announced additional measures to increase the supply of social homes to coincide with the phasing out of the winter eviction ban.

Key updates in Irish local authorities

A shared approach to digitising Local Government?

Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council shares the details of a recent Build to Share (Bts) project which aims to establish an approach to the development of digital systems.

NASA, weather stations, schools and climate action: Innovation at Fingal County Council

To explore how Fingal County Council’s innovation fund works, LGIU Ireland spoke to Executive Engineer, Kevin Vallely, whose funding through the CE Innovation Fund facilitated the award-winning – Weather Stations for Schools project.

What is happiness? Looking at the UK’s happiest region – Northern Ireland

Given that NI is not alone in these islands in benefiting from beautiful landscapes, this LGIU blog post looks at some of the possible drivers to understand what makes NI the happiest place to live in the UK.

  • Limerick is set to host a major film conference after it was announced this week that Cineposium conference would be set for Limerick amid an Irish trade mission push which aims to showcase Ireland as a global production hub for the film and arts industry.
  • Coincidentally, the construction of a €200m Opera centre development in Limerick is set to get underway by Limerick Twenty Thirty.
  • Dublin City Council launched its shopfront improvement scheme on Capel Street encouraging “greening” and the Irish Times reports that “the local authority will support 50% of the cost of a ground-floor shopfront refurbishment up to a maximum allowable contribution of €3,000 per applicant.”
  • Two new search dogs have been added to the Civil Defence K9 Victim Recovery Unit on top of the four search dog teams based in Dublin, Meath, and Tipperary.
  • Creeslough Together Initiative (CTI) is set to receive funding of €500,000 to support the recovery of, and sustained growth of the Creeslough community over the next three years.
  • Donegal County Council launched a new European project in An Grianan Hotel as lead partner in the Atlantic Area Trail Gazers Project which includes trails in eight spectacular locations from Donegal to Portugal.
  • In Mayo County Council, Castlebar’s Lime e-bike scheme saw over 100 bikes introduced over six months ago which have now totalled 18,657km!
  • Leitrim County Council is open to expressions of interest in the freehold purchase of the historic Town Hall in Carrick-on- Shannon, constructed in 1830.
  • From the Galway City Tribune, Dublin Road Bus Connects scheme will be made to An Bord Pleanála in the Autumn.
  • Supported by IDA Ireland and the Irish Government, Aztec Group is building its team in Ireland with the establishment of a hub in Co. Kilkenny’s historic Marble City with 30 new jobs lined up.
  • Finally, Donegal County Council’s heritage officer, Joseph Gallagher, announced Glenties courthouse is set to be leased to the Brian Friel Trust.

Conference alert!

The Irish Regions European Office (IREO), in conjunction with the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland and the Irish Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions are hosting a conference on “How local authorities can engage in European Programmes” in Dublin, on April 19th 2023.

A look at St Patrick's day across Ireland's Councils

Budget 2023: Facing the challenges of an unstable world

This LGIU summary on the 2023 Budget in Ireland is provided to both our Irish readership and international readers interested in Ireland and the way the country seems to be relatively less impacted by much of the instability of international conditions at the moment.

  • Encompassing Downpatrick, the resting place of St Patrick, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is hosting a full events programme in both Newry and Downpatrick, with Downpatrick even hosting a Shamrock Express Experience is offering steam train rides in Downpatrick and County Down Railway!
  • In Fingal County Council, parades across the county involved over 200 different groups.
  • Organised by the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and Kerry County Council, Killarney is set for “one of the biggest St Patrick’s day spectacles that the town has seen in many years.”.
  • While Louth County Council elected representatives set off to New York to represent the “wee county” abroad ahead of President Biden’s visit next month, Louth County Council “Urban Green” is set to host a parade in Dundalk that features many local community and business organisations and showcases the very best that Dundalk has to offer.
  • Similarly, local politicians in  Cork County Council and Mayo County Council have packed their bags and headed to the US as part of the nationwide effort to promote Ireland on the global stage.

Infrastructure and transport

Road maintenance (regional and local roads) in Irish local authorities

This is part of our series of briefings dealing with the Local Government Audit Service (LGAS) Value for Money (VFM) Reports. In particular, will zone in on the LGAS’s latest VFM report that was produced in January 2022 entitled, an overview of Road Maintenance (Regional and Local Roads) in Local Authorities.

  • Cabinet approval now means the DART+ South West rail project can enter the planning system and extend DART trains from Dublin city centre to Hazelhatch and Celbridge train station in Co. Kildare, as part of a wider expansion of DART services in the coming years. Subject to planning permission and final funding arrangements, construction works for DART + South West could commence in 2025.
  • A EY report commissioned by the National Transport Authority muddies the water over what impact free public travel would have in Ireland. While public transport use would increase by 22%, this increase “is driven by a reduction in walking by 7%, a reduction in cycling by 13% but only a reduction of 1% in car trips, and an increase in total overall trips” (Quotes in the Irish Examiner).
  • Western Development Commission launches new Report on travel trends in 35 rural towns. With a 300-strong index from 30 different indicators, the best overall score for a town was 195 (65% of the maximum) while the lowest score for a town was 107 (36% of the max). You can find the full report here.
  • Rte reports on Limerick City and County Council’s plans to update offices at “county hall in Dooradoyle and at Merchant’s Quay in Limerick to improve the energy performance and fire protection of both buildings.”

Northern Ireland

How are Australian Councils leading the way on Deposit Return Schemes?

Driving a circular economy approach to soft plastic recycling- This blog uncovers how the City of Greater Bendigo’s new partnership with Close the Loop implements a circular economy for recyclable materials.

  • Global political leaders past and present will arrive in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement with Queens University hosting the Dynamics of Peace event on the 17th-19th of April 2023.
  • Belfast City Council is now seeking to establish a long-term arrangement with an investor/development partner to bring forward sustainable, residential-led regeneration with placemaking, people and connectivity at its heart.
  • Finally, Deloitte’s Regional Crane Survey highlights the role of universities and student accommodation in driving forward Belfast’s construction, with 23 major schemes under construction or completed in Belfast in 2022.

Environment and climate action

What’s on in the local government around the world?

In light of Ireland’s recent focus on directly elected Mayors in Dublin’s Citizen Assembly, this week we look at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi where repeated failures to elect a Mayor over a year-long tussle between the two parties over the administration of the national capital shows the risks posed by hyper-competitive politics (read more from the Times of India here).

  • New statutory guidelines to assist local authorities in preparing local authority climate action plans launched this week to “provide robust guidance to local authorities in preparing their plans” and to “ensure a coherent and consistent approach while not being overly prescriptive.”.
  • Detailed steps for responding to the climate crisis are now available in the Annex of Actions to the Climate Action Plan 2023. Including the MetroLink and Dart+ for 2024 almost 450 actions will see actions across areas such as a number of climate areas.
  • Finally, following 20 years of fieldwork, the Plants Atlas 2020 shows how in Ireland the number of native species is just under half due to habitat loss and degradation continuing to cause biodiversity loss.

Local government learnings from Scotland

So many of the challenges faced by local governments are shared with their colleagues across countries and across continents. To promote the sharing of local government best practices and innovation, this week we look at two new policy areas in Scotland:

Up to standard? The condition of social housing

One of our new policy briefings for the UK looks at the condition of social housing across the four areas of decent homes, damp and mould, fire safety and energy efficiency. Along with data showing the condition of homes, it flags up what more can be done, with examples of work undertaken by local authorities.

What is a Green Freeport?

Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport and Forth Green Freeport have been selected by the Scottish and UK governments to become Scotland’s first Green Freeports. (Read more about the Green Freeport requirements here).

Meeting the challenges of an ageing society

With Councils and the NHS facing major financial challenges, this briefing also highlights the tension between ‘free at the point of delivery’ public services and the dominance in the government of public choice models of service delivery.

You can find all this and more in our new All Things Scotland edition here.

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