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LCDP: Local government Bill second stage

The Local government Bill, 2013, which provides inter alia for the alignment of the Local Community Development Programme (LCDP) with local government, was introduced in the Dail by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan (Dail Eireann, Debates, 22nd October 2013, 76-91; 23rd October 2013, 395-406; 447-486).  Much of the debate focussed on other areas of changes in local government in the 65-section Bill, such as the abolition of 80 town councils, rates and housing. 

 

Dara Calleary (FF, Mayo) attacked  what he called the hijacking of local development, which would do considerable damage and the staff would now become local authority employees.  Noel Harrington (FG, Cork SW) though questioned why rural development must be vested in companies, but if we were serious about giving political accountability and responsibility to people nearest the ground, it made sense for that to be in the local authority structure.  They were not being wiped out but would report to an elected body, which was welcome. Finian McGrath (ind, Dublin NC) welcomed the provision for community and local development.

 

Sean Kyne (FG, Galway) spoke of the concerns that had arisen over re-alignment ‘although these have settled somewhat’.  Communities feared that realignment would disempower them and this was a genuine concern as those bodies provided a good service: it was important that the bottom-up approach continue.  Billy Timmins (ind, Wicklow) said he had mixed views on the local community development committee: it was important that councillors be the driving force behind everything.  Damien English (FG, Meath W) believed that the establishment of local community development committees would make local government a one-stop-shop for all funding sources, which was to be welcomed and would lead to a more joined up and strategic approach.

 

Asked by Joan Collins (PBP, Dublin SC) would he meet the staff of the LCDP partnership companies to discuss their status under the new arrangements, the minister, Phil Hogan, told her that his department had met with SIPTU (Dail Eireann, Debates, 23rd October 2013, 411; 421-2).  The position was that his department had no role in staffing or employment matters, which were up to each individual company.  Departments were not shadow employers.  The minister informed John Browne (FF, Wexford) of the representation of the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) of 50 local companies, on the alignment working group, which he had met on several occasions.  Staff of the partnerships should contact ILDN to find out what is going on and concluded that ‘no one had said that these staff will be employees of the local authorities’.   Asked about the process of consultation by Jonathan O’Brien (SF, Cork NC), the minister, Phil Hogan told the Dail that community representatives on the local community development committees would be drawn mainly from local voluntary and community fora (Dail Eireann, Debates, 23rd October 2013, 527-8).  The alignment steering group had undertaken consultation with key stakeholders such as local development companies, local authorities, voluntary and community fora, volunteer centres, service users and representative bodies for voluntary and community organizations.  The alignment working group had engaged with the voluntary and community sector as well as with other important stakeholders in considering how best to progress the alignment recommendations.

 

Asked about the RAPID programme, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan told Derek Nolan (Lab, Galway W) that €2m had been provided this year to meet contractual requirements and that future support for RAPID areas would be overseen by the new local community development committees (Dail Eireann, Debates 15th October 2013, 225-6).  Asked about RAPID later by Brendan Smith (FF, Cavan-Monaghan), the minister told him that the €2m was for contractual requirements, with the capital allocation €1.9m. The LCDP and RAPID would in future be overseen by the new local community development committees (Dail Eireann, Debates, 23rd October 2013, 535-6).