The Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland held its annual conference last week in the pleasant seaside spot at Inchydoney, the multi-million tax relief hotel and health resort near Clonakilty in Cork. Pat Rabitte was amongst the many councillors who signed in, and then perhaps withdrew to the health facilities in the hotel.
The conference took some 80 motions, many of which were concerned with the changes in local government proposed by Minister Dempsey. ``These changes'', says local Sinn Féin councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, ``represent a serious threat to local democracy and the powers, if not the very existence, of UDCs and Town Commissions''.
Ó Súilleabháin raised, through his own council's resolution, a particular example of the anomalies which exist between county and town councils. Although the department funds the initial capital costs of sewerage treatment, the local UDC has the responsibility of footing the bill for the running costs, amounting to some £300,000. This cost represents a major and unpredictable burden on the rates, which should be taken on by government, he said.
The Clonakilty councillor also spoke of the conflicts of responsibility in areas such as roads, waste, water, not to mention housing and education. The AMAI unanimously adopted a resolution from Naas UDC calling on the Minister to amend the proposed local government legislation to grant all town councils the responsibilities and power for all services under their geographical jurisdiction and to make the necessary finance available to fulfil these responsibilities.