Well we are here today to bring into being one of the most ‘radical’ changes we have seen in Local Government since the foundation of the State, The Minister has brought forward and set out a wide range of actions, to deliver reform across key areas of local government in order to address weaknesses, to enhance effectiveness and accountability, and to improve performance across the entire system. This Bill gives legislative effect to those proposals and I am privileged to be elected into this position (by Councillors) and given the opportunity to contribute to this important debate, on behalf of the people of Ireland for an enhanced Local Government.
This Bill provides for the transfer of water services functions which are currently the responsibility of the 34 water services authorities to Irish Water. This is the second part of the legislation required to implement the Government’s policy for the reform of water services in Ireland which includes the introduction of domestic water charges. The Government considers that the introduction of charges is necessary for a rational use of water and to ensure the delivery of high-quality and efficient water services in the future. It also considers that usage-based charges are the fairest. The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary of the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigned it with the necessary powers to implement the domestic meter installation programme. I am pleased to welcome this Bill before the House as it will complete the final part of the water reform legislation as has been the objective of the Government since before taking up office in 2011.
I am pleased to welcome the debate on the Electoral, Local Government and Planning and Development Bill. This Bill allows for the establishment of a committee to examine European Parliament constituencies and makes changes to the current nomination requirements for non-Irish or UK nationals standing in European parliament elections here and requires political parties to disclose certain donations.
Under the provisions of the Bill Ireland is to lose one of its 12 European Parliament seats- a committee will be establish how the new constituencies for European Parliament elections will take shape. At present, they are quite large. MEPs in the north-west constituency must take into account people living in Kilrush and Moville. It is an enormous area. The areas from Dingle to Tramore in the south and Wexford to Dundalk in the east are also very large. Each constituency, including Dublin, has three seats. If one is to move to have 11 MEPs, there needs to be a major change and my suspicion is that we will have even larger constituencies.