In this post I will be discussing local Irish government - how to get nominated and elected, partisan politics at local level, strengths and weaknesses, income and expenditure.
Nomination at Local Government
Should you wish to put yourself forward, you can be nominated for local government 4 weeks before the polling day. You can nominate yourself or be nominated by a registered local government elector. There are certain criteria you must meet.
Potential nominees must be an Irish resident and at least 18 years of age. Irish citizenship is not required. People with certain titles do not qualify for nomination – MEPs, Ministers of state/government, Ceann Comhairle, Gardai, and civil servants. There are a few more here.
For application, you must fill out a nomination form which can be gotten from a local authority returning officer. If you are associated with a political party, you must include a Cert of Party Affiliation with the form.
The returning officer decides if your application is valid within one hour of handing it in. Your application can be disqualified if the form is not properly filled out and signed.
Prison sentences and criminal convictions can be held against you and result in disqualification.
Election at Local Government
Local elections are held every 5 years in Ireland, in May or June. Communities elect councilors to represent them in local authorities. The number of councilors elected varies from area to area. Secret ballots are available at polling day. Polling days last between 7am and 10:30pm. The proportional representation system is used in the voting process, single transferable vote. Further nitty gritty can be found here
Rules apply just like the nomination period. You must be living in the local electoral area. You must also be on the Registry of Electors to be eligible to vote. A form can be filled out and handed in to the local Garda station to be stamped and verified.
Campaigners cannot put up signs in support of their party, unless they have the permission of landowners. Once an election is over, signs must be removed after a week or a fine will be issued.
Partisan Politics at local level
Partisan politics is preference towards the politics of one’s own party over that of opposing parties. It is reluctance to compromise on one’s own views in response to other points of view. A preoccupation with your own values.
At local level, parties like Fine Gael have been accused of engaging in partisan politics, refusing to work alongside rival parties to help the country through the economic downturn in 2010. They would not compromise on matters such as public service pensions. In their defense, they stated they didn’t want to be part of plans they did not agree to.
This is detrimental to the welfare of the country if parties cannot come to constructive agreements . It is a shame to see potentially good programmes and proposals on budgeting etc. not come to pass because of stubbornness from certain parties.
Ireland was without a government for two months last year because of slow negotiations from parties.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Local Government
Local governments can be very accessible, with local TDs on hand to listen to the community’s concerns and needs. If you feel the area needs a new skate park for the kids, or something more serious, TDs are your men. How accessible they are depends on the TD’s willingness to engage in the community. A good TD will respond and listen. As they represent their constituency, it is their duty to act in the interest of that constituency.
Local governments get things done, or so they should. They can act on behalf of communities to bring about positive change. Councils can give planning permission for new housing projects, roofs over heads. They can combat littering through advertising campaigns, protecting the local environment. Just recently, the National Broadband Plan was announced to deliver high speed broadband to rural areas.
Local governments can sometimes act against the will and interest of communities. For example, granting planning permission to burn waste at a plant. This occurred in Limerick where there were protests over toxic waste being burnt, an environmental concern.
They may also be out of touch with the needs of communities, prioritizing spending on other areas instead. Think thousands of euro invested in roads, but not enough on education. They may reach budgeting issues because of this, overspending.
A clip detailing local Irish authorities:
Money that goes in to local government is generated through sources such as community funds, grants, and goods and services.
Community funds are in aid of programmes that develop the community. Donations can come from local business or voluntary groups.
State grants are geared towards schemes for road maintenance and higher education. These are paid for by government departments.
Goods and services e.g water charges, housing rents, tolls and parking charges all paid by the public.
Government spending focuses on development of public services, like libraries and community centers.
A lot of money goes into housing and building property too.
It also goes toward maintaining roads, beaches, parks and tourism. Land was recently bought in Loughshinny by Fingal County Council.