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Local government Bill changes

Media excluded from LCDCs

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan recommitted and amended the government’s Local government reform Bill 2013 in the Seanad before returning to the Dail (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 15th January 2014, 38-55; Dail Eireann, Debates, 22nd January 2014, 443-458; 491-557 ). The purpose of the first government amendment was to exclude the media and others from meetings of the new Local Community Development Committees  (LCDCs) because they would involve confidential and commercially sensitive matters.  The amendment was opposed but passed 29-14 without discussion.  The minister objected to a number of opposition amendments concerning the representation of voluntary and community organizations and for consultation with non-governmental organizations and social partners, arguing that there was already provision for consultation.  He said he did not want a situation in which people, often from the community sector, sat on committees but did not engage with those who put them there.  These amendments were lost.  

 

Youth organizations were added as representatives of community interests.  The minister added that just because a group was not named in a schedule did not mean that it was excluded.  We could not put every representative group on these committees, he said, but we would do our best to set guidelines.  Catherine Murphy (ind, Kildare N) spoke of correspondence she had received from the Community Workers Cooperative, National Women’s Council, Migrant Rights Centre, Pavee Point and One Parent Exchange Network.  The minister told her that he was trying to bring the voluntary and community sector into line with the democratic structures at local government level: for the first time, the voluntary and community sector would now have a statutory remit with local government.  This legislation was not about vested interests.