Report: Democracy Works If You Let It

Fórsa trade union launched ‘MORE POWER TO YOU’ – The campaign for stronger local government and better local services on Wednesday, 27th March.

The campaign is a collaboration between Fórsa, SIPTU and CONNECT trade unions, and seeks to start a conversation on the future of local government in the run up to May’s local elections.

The research paper, Democracy Works If You Let It by Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University (pictured), finds that only 8% of Irish public spending occurs at local government level, compared to an EU23 average of over 23%, and that a quarter of the Irish spend is not fully under local authority control. And it says that, with just one city or county council for every 148,507 people, Ireland has far fewer local municipalities than similar-sized European countries.

The study says Irish local authorities perform fewer functions than municipalities across Europe, with their roles largely confined to physical infrastructure and environmental and recreational services. Democracy Works If You Let It claims this impacts negatively on local employment, service quality, value-for-money, environmental protection, and local jobs and economic development. It has also contributed to declining local election voter turnout.