Ireland Democracy, devolution and governance

How Ireland’s local government manifestos compare with the AILG manifesto

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Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

In this think piece, LGIU Ireland Commissioner Dr Seán Ó’Riordáin shares his perspective on the manifestos of various political parties released in the lead-up to the Irish local elections compared to the AILG manifesto.

As I write, I have had the joy of reading a thoroughly practical and considered set of ideas that the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) have produced as part of their manifesto for the local government elections. I say joy for having gone through all the available manifestos of the various political parties, which frankly was a dispiriting task, the AILG provides a reform template that is aligned to the recommendations, where appropriate, of the report of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe as well, clearly, of a considered approach to reform from among its executive committee.

As those of you who read Ciarán Doherty’s extensive review of available manifestos (Part 1 and Part 2), and are now on the LGIU election portal (no small task I will admit!), know “…the current available manifestos make limited reference to the need to reform the system with virtually no acknowledgement of the recommendations of the critical report on the status of Irish Local Government published by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Europe’s leading platform for local government. If there was any serious political prioritisation of local government it might have been an opportunity to take the recommendations of CLRAE and at least make some suggestions about how to go about making the system more resilient and stronger.”

At least it can be said that the AILG has taken on board much of what the Congress recommended and reflects the thinking set out by Ciarán.

The missing point in the local electoral manifestos by the parties is that many of the solutions to bettering public service delivery at the local level are contained in the CLRAE and now AILG recommendations. In the run into a near future general election, perhaps it is time to give active consideration to both, leaving behind the limited ambition of the local election manifestos.

As pointed out time and time again, and now most recently by the AILG, a vibrant, self-sustaining local government system is critical to the delivery of efficient and effective person-centred public services. If moves to reform were to be focused on such considerations, along with a complete review of local government financing, it might become quickly apparent that, as in most of the rest of the Members of the Council of Europe, person-centred services delivered through local government, would be provided in an accountable and generally transparent manner.

Now that is something worth voting for!



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