By Kieran O’Mahony
THE decision to abolish town councils was harsh and now leaves a void, according to a local Fianna Fail councillor.
Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony raised a motion at this week’s Cork Council meeting, calling for the re-establishment of town councils and the re-examination of the ‘Putting People First’ policy.
‘It’s a huge loss and though we had little powers, we were the initial point of contact for people in towns and we were always about in the town. There’s certainly a vacuum and it’s only now that it’s hitting home that the town councils are gone,’ said Cllr Murphy O’Mahony, speaking to The Southern Star.
‘The position of the town mayor is also a loss and people are coming up to me saying they miss it and people thought it wouldn’t have happened. In any instance, people should have got the chance to vote on it, like they did with proposals for the Seanad. I do think there is a need for the bottom tier to be re-instated.’
Town councils were abolished in June last year and a new sub-county local government structure, in the form of municipal districts, was established in its place.
Cllr Murphy O’Mahony said that while reform for town councils was necessary, in some areas like boundary changes, it still gave each town a sense of identity.
‘Even with little powers it was helpful and a point of contact and direction for people in the town. Even Brendan Howlin said the abolition was the greatest mistake made.’
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Rachel McCarthy also supported Cllr Murphy O’Mahony’s motion.
‘I was a member of Bandon Town Council for five years and while I saw chance for reform, we’re not any better off now and the fact is that people miss the town councils,’ said Cllr McCarthy.
Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Hayes also supported the call for the re-establishment of town councils and said that municipal districts aren’t working.
However, Cllr Kay Dawson said she didn’t support the motion and felt that municipal districts work very well and that there is a much fairer playing field now, as her own town of Mitchelstown did not have a town council.