Hundreds of Elected Representatives and delegates from across Ireland visited Sligo last week to attend the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) National Autumn Seminar, entitled “The Future of Local Government in Ireland”.
The Sligo Park Hotel was the setting for the event, which took place on Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th of September. The National event brought together esteemed city and county councillors, government officials, and international and national experts to discuss and evaluate the future of local government in Ireland.
Opening proceedings on Wednesday evening, President Cllr. Pat Fitzpatrick said;
“A strong democratic local government system is vital to promote the welfare and good government of the people of Ireland. In many respects the position of local government is weaker here in Ireland than in most other European countries. We have a more limited set of functions, represent a smaller share of the public commitment, and can only marginally influence the size of their resources.
“Our National Training Seminar will concentrate on evaluating our current system of local government in Ireland and what steps need to be taken at local and national level to bring our local government system closer to European norms. Currently This will be a very important discussion in light of next year’s local elections and the new 5-year council term that will commence from June 2024.”
Addresses were also given by Cllr. Gerard Mullaney, Cathaoirleach of Sligo Co. Co, and Cllr. Declan Bree, Mayor of the Borough District of Sligo Municipal District who gave one of the most honest assessments of the continued attacks that local democracy has been subjected to over the last few decades.
The Association also welcomed the announcement from Wednesday Keynote speaker Minister Kieran O’ Donnell of the introduction of a new €2,500 security allowance for Councillors. The Wednesday evening concluded with a small ceremony by the AILG to acknowledge and mark the achievement of our successful Councillor Graduates who have completed their Level 7 certificate course on climate action and local government with UCC which is in its second year and co-sponsored by AILG.
An action packed Thursday lineup began with the morning session led by academia and Irish and international local government experts, which provided an outside perspective on the future of Irish Local Government. The panel included Dr. Gary Murphy – Professor of Politics, School of Law and Government, DCU, Dr. Seán O’Riordáin – Chairman, Public Policy Advisors Network, Dr. Bríd Quinn, academic and formerly, a member of the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick and Dr. Anders Lidström, a Member of the Congress of Local & Regional Authorities of Europe Monitoring Group that surveilled the application of the European Charter of Local Self Government in Ireland earlier this year.
An honest discussion on the future of Local Government in Ireland continued on Thursday afternoon when Journalist and broadcaster Sean O’ Rourke moderated a Panel and Audience discussion with Oireachtas Spokespersons to gain a political insight on the issue. There was robust engagement and discussion between Councillors in the room and the panel which comprised of Senator Lisa Chambers, Joe O’ Reilly, Victor Boyhan, Marie Sherlock, and Deputy Martin Kenny TD with apologies offered for Deputy Cian O’Callaghan, Local Government and Housing Spokesperson for the Social Democrats and from Deputy Steven Matthews, Green Party Local Government Spokesperson due to a clash with their pre Dáil party think-ins.
The Autumn Training Seminar then came to a successful conclusion on Thursday evening which finished with a keynote address from President Cllr. Pat Fitzpatrick and Minister Jack Chambers TD, Minister for Transport and Road Safety.