Feb 10, 2024 | Featured Articles

A major new research report, which outlines the evolving role of councillors in Ireland, has revealed that councillors aspire for Ireland’s local government system to resemble that of other EU member states, advocating for more decision-making competencies to be devolved at local government level in areas such as housing, policing, and transport.

The report ‘The 21st Century Councillor in Irish Local Government’ was published by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) at Maynooth University on behalf of the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG). It provides a comprehensive exploration of the issues and trends influencing the work of local public representatives, and the complexity of their roles, across Ireland’s 31 local authorities.

The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien has said that it will be of significant practical help and guidance to all involved in local government. “Our local councillors are the frontline of our democracy and the work they do in serving their communities is not underestimated,” he noted, as he launched the report in the Mansion House in Dublin on 31 January. The Minister added that the AILG’s research project makes an important contribution to the discussion on the future of local government and the role of councillor.

Pictured at the launch of the report (l-r): AILG Director Tommy Moylan, Minister of State for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’ Brien, TD, and AILG Executive member and former President Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick.

The President of the AILG, Cllr Gail Dunne, said: “This research highlights the indispensable role councillors play as the voice of the citizen. As a national representative body for councillors, the report’s findings will help us to inform and strengthen AILG’s Learning and Training Development Programme and support councillor well-being. It is vital that we equip our members with the knowledge and insights necessary to excel in their roles now and into the future.

“The publication of this new research will contribute significantly to the ongoing positive dialogue about meaningful reforms in Ireland’s local government system. It also highlights AILG’s vision for our local government system…putting elected councillors back at the heart of democracy.”

Pictured (l-r): Prof Rachel Msetfi, Vice-President for Research and Innovation; Dr Brendan O’ Keefe, Senior Research Associate, ICLRD; Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD; Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell TD; Mary Kennedy, RTE broadcaster; AILG Executive member, Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick; and Caroline Creamer, Director of the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) at Maynooth University.

Further re-iterating the timeliness of this report, Caroline Creamer of the Maynooth University research team said: “This report presents data from the most extensive survey that has ever been undertaken among the elected members of Ireland’s local authorities.  At its heart is the councillors’ voice – speaking to their achievements, anxieties and aspirations in what is a changing landscape of local democracy in Ireland.

“It provides valuable insights and signposts to ongoing and emerging challenges and opportunities.  As the demands of the wider local government system become greater and more complex, the role of the 21st Century Councillor too becomes more multifaceted, challenging and time-consuming. This has significant implications for retention and recruitment, for whether it is appropriate to continue to designate it as a part-time role, and for the knowledge and up-skilling required to do the job effectively.”

The key recommendations published in the report include carrying out a national awareness campaign to highlight councillors’ crucial work, enhance municipal district and local electoral area functions, address training needs, ensure family-friendly workplaces, and leverage the evidence in the report for systemic local government reform.

Click here to download the full research report

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@AILGIRE @MaynoothUni @ICLRD_Org @DeptHousingIRL @DarraghOBrienTD @kodonnellLK @noonan_malcolm #21stcenturycouncillor #localgov #localvote24 #research #councillor

Delighted to have Minister @DarraghOBrienTD @kodonnellLK and @noonan_malcolm attend the launch of our new research report "The 21st Century Councillor In Irish Local Government" which underscores the indispensable role that #councillors play at the heart of local government

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'YOUR COUNCIL' CAMPAIGNS TO HIGHLIGHT ROLE OF COUNCILS AND COUNCILLORS https://www.councilreview.ie/campaign-to-highlight-major-role-of-councils-councillors/
@DeptHousingIRL @kodonnellLK @WaterfordCounci @waterfordcc @WaterfordGrnWay @VisitWaterford @AILGIRE @LGMAIreland

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