Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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Ireland

Ireland is a unitary state composed of two levels of local government: the first tier is composed of municipal districts, cities and counties, and the second tier is composed of regions.

Data: 2016
Local level: 31 cities and counties and 95 municipal districts
City and county councils: 26 county councils, 3 city councils, 2 city and county councils

Local authorities (county and city councils) operate under the supervision of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The city council or county council is elected by direct universal suffrage every five years, via proportional representation. The number of councillors varies and is set by national legislation. There are 949 elected members in the Irish local government system (2016). Local elections take place every five years (the last one was in May 2014). The city or county council is assisted by local policy committees, made up of both local elected council members and representatives from local interest groups.

The council exercises what are known as reserved functions, which include the adoption of local main policies. These include major policy documents, council plans and strategies, as well as local laws and the annual budget. The city or county council also oversees the administration of these policies.

The chief executive, formerly known as the city or county manager, heads the administration, generally for a period of seven years, and has a number of responsibilities related to the internal management of the local authority and to the implementation of policy. In particular, he/she exercises and oversees executive functions such as staff management, public agreements, revenue collection, planning permissions and housing allocations.

The mayor or chairperson of the council is the ceremonial head of the local authority. He/she is elected each year by and among council members. The mayor or chairperson presides over council meetings and represents the city or county.

Competences

• Economic Development
• Planning city development
• Road infrastructure
• Environmental Services
• Housing
• Fire services and civil defence
• Community development
• Libraries
• Local arts, culture and leisure facilities
• Coordination of public services across different agencies operating locally

Administrative local level: 95 municipal districts

The Local Government Reform Act gave legal affect to the replacement of 80 town councils with the designation of 95 municipal districts. The Act integrated town and county governance with municipal districts acting as decision-making entities rather than corporate structures.

Municipal districts are designed to enhance democratic governance, subsidiarity and accountability and are intended to improve operational efficiency and value for money, with a single county-wide executive (the executive of the city/county council) and operational structure.

As each county council comprises a number of municipal districts, councillors are elected simultaneously in local electoral areas to both a municipal district and county council, with members in common in the plenary council.

The elected members focus on operational issues at municipal district level and strategic issues at plenary council level. There is no duplication or overlapping of functions of members between county and municipal district jurisdictions; matters decided at district level are not dealt with at county level.

Competences

• Policy and regulatory functions in areas e.g. planning, housing, roads, environment
• Representational and oversight functions
• Civic and ceremonial roles
• Citizen/community engagement and leadership
Regional level: 3 regions
Under the Local Government Reform Act (2014) eight regional authorities were dissolved and replaced with a 3-regions structure. Regional assemblies have the functions of both the former regional authorities
and regional assemblies, with significant enhancement of some powers.

Competences

• Adoption of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies
• Spatial and Economic Strategies
• Management of EU structural funds (ERDF) and ad hoc EU-funded projects

CEMR in Ireland

Local Government Management Agency
Chief Executive Officer Designate: Joe NUGENT
Local Government Management Agency
Local Government House, 35-39 Ushers Quay, Dublin 8
Tel.: +353 1 643 8400
Fax: +353 1 643 8401
E-mail: info@lgma.ie
Web: www.lgma.ie
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