‘Don’t sign it’ Crossan urges President

Buncrana Councillor Nichola Crossan has urged President Higgins not to sign Local Government Bill into law and has asked for Bill to be referred to Supreme Court

Speaking yesterday in the wake of the Bill being passed in the Dail on Wednesday nightColr Cross sn said its constitutionality is being questioned by the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI) as, he claimed, it fails to adequately protect the right of political representation for local communities

In a letter addressed to the President, the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI), the representative body of Ireland’s Town Councillors, has requested President Higgins refer the Bill to the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality.

Colr Cross an said: “This Bill is taking away power from local communities and failing to protect our citizen’s democratic rights. The Bill does not protect local democracy, but directly contravenes it by abolishing democratic structures such as Town Councils’,

He went on: “The Bill proposes that Buncrana Town Council will now be abolished and submerged into a much larger Municipal District.

“Our community will lose local representation and become more disconnected from politics, as power is centralised and moved further away from the people,”

The veteran Buncrana councillor said the representation of ‘local communities’ is afforded special protection in the Irish Constitution.

“For many local communities this representation is expressed through the Town Council. The Government’s Bill fails to recognise this special position, thus calling into question the Bill’s constitutionality.

Commenting on the decision to appeal directly to President Higgins to refer this Bill to the Supreme Court, AMAI President Councillor John Meehan said: “We do not take this decision to call on President Higgins to intervene lightly. However, we do take our role, as elected representatives, to uphold and protect local democracy very seriously.

“We believe that this Bill is eroding citizen’s democratic rights by centralising power and local decision-making away from local communities to larger, less representative Municipal Districts’.

The Bill was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 22 January

The AMAI have now written to President Higgins and has outlined its concerns that the Bill does not sufficiently protect local communities’ democratic right of electoral and political representative.