Local Government (Dublin) Bill 1993: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am very disappointed to see so many Members leaving the Chamber but I am sure they have other business to which to attend.

In Kildare we are being asked to provide a service that is used mainly by those who live outside the county and we are expected to foot the bill for that service. That cannot be tolerated and it is unfair to expect any local authority to take on that task. I ask the Minister for the Environment to address this matter.

Anyone who travels through Kildare will know that major road works are in operation there at present. The Leixlip-Maynooth-Kilcock bypass is proceeding and the Newbridge bypass was opened earlier this year. The Kildare bypass will be opened also in the not too distant future. However, in regard to the stretch of road from Kilcock to Kinnegad, we are paying for the services of the engineers who will plan the road that will bypass Kinnegad and no compensation is available to Kildare County Council for that.

We are dealing with a Bill which proposes to establish three new county councils in Dublin and I hope those councils will learn from some of the difficulties we are experiencing and that there will be greater co-operation between neighbouring authorities. It is only common sense that Dublin County Council, with approximately 78 members, should be broken up. With such a large number it can be quite difficult for members to have a meaningful discussion.

Would that co-operation extend to landfill sites?

I will deal with that shortly.

A toxic waste dump?

If we are to make the system work the Minister's proposal is necessary. The issue of waste disposal has created difficulties throughout the country and the problem in relation to the Kill dump is of greater significance than any of the others. The attempt by Dublin to dump its dirt in Kildare was a despicable act.

So much for co-operation, it has disappeared already.

It has been met with the greatest resistance from elected representatives and the people of Kildare.

That was short lived co-operation.

The issue is similar to that of housing itinerants, we want them housed but not in our backyards. For a variety of reasons, some of which I have mentioned, the site in Kill was totally unsuitable.

Perhaps the Deputy might consider concluding his contribution. He has approximately one minute remaining.

We have heard enough.

I am disappointed to hear that my time is exhausted as I have many more points to make.

Acting Chairman

Deputy Leonard shared his time with you and with Deputy Briscoe. You have 40 seconds remaining.

The debate on this issue is not over yet. We may have been easily beaten in Croke Park when we saw the blue jersey but it will be a different match on this occasion. The people of Dublin should not underestimate the determination of the people of Kill and Kildare.

The Deputy should move an amendment on Committee Stage and tell them to keep their own garbage.

I wish to participate in this debate for several reasons. I welcome the Bill and I am glad to say that when I had responsibility in this area in the 1980s it was decided to reorganise local authorities. The earlier part of the reorganisation took place in various towns around the country but the proposals which are now before us were also included in that reorganisation.

The initiative for that reorganisation emanated mainly from those who were demanding more local democracy in the various towns in the county of Dublin which were only represented by county council members on Dublin County Council. We all recall the strong demands from people living in areas like Tallaght which had a population, as we were told on that occasion, larger than the city of Limerick. They were demanding their own local authority where their voices could be heard.

The reorganisation of Dublin County Council, which now has more than 75 members, required that something be done about the unwieldy council which presently represents that area. Dividing the council into three local councils would approximate to the numbers which represent county councils in rural constituencies and counties. Therefore, it would appear that the demand is not as great now, judging by the comments of some of the local authority members in this county and city.

The Taoiseach at the time, the former Deputy, Garret FitzGerald, was very much involved in the drawing up of the constituencies and I hope that the members of his party will recall that he had quite a large input into decisions concerning the size of the various boundaries, including streams and roads etc., which should be included in the plan. Indeed, he was very conscious of the names that should be given to these new councils. At the time it was easy to come up with names such as Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal but I am unhappy with the name that is to be given to south-west Dublin. There are very obvious landmarks in that area after which that local authority could be named. I am sure it will be brought to a conclusion very shortly.

I have a particular interest in this debate since I represent County Wicklow which borders the Dublin County Council area. I am glad I also represent part of County Kildare, which abuts the western part of the functional area of one of the new local authorities to be established under the provisions of this Bill. Indeed, the decisions implicit in the provisions of this Bill do not stop at the borders of Dublin but will have an effect on a much larger area. They will have their effect on the counties surrounding Dublin. In my short contribution I shall be endeavouring to examine the effect that reorganisation can have on counties like mine and the part of Kildare I represent also.

For some time past there has been some controversy between the counties of Wicklow and Dublin with regard to the supply of water to Dublin from Wicklow and also from some parts of County Kildare. We know that the facilities created for the supply of water to Dublin were initiated by Dublin Corporation many decades ago and that the amount of water extracted from the Roundwood and Blessington reservoirs was very little in those earlier years, when the 1927 Act, I think it was, was enacted to flood the area around Blessington, creating a reservoir there. We know now that the volume of water being extracted from that area is huge. But it must be said that the rateable valuation of those reservoirs has barely kept pace with inflation. This means that the revenue yield to Wicklow County Council through the payment of rates, which is the only way that local authority can reap any return rather than any gallonage levy, is minimal. The result is that Wicklow County Council imposes practically the highest service charges in Leinster. I assume that once the estimates have been struck in the next week or two, some problems will arise in that respect. Assuming they are struck, thereafter water rates on each household in Wicklow will amount to £60. A person living in Blessington who had to pay that rate could see their neighbours in Brittas in County Dublin, a short distance away, not having to pay any water or service charge whatsoever. When the new structures have been put in place I predict there will be a demand for the raising of funds for that local authority, who will have to give consideration to whether they want to have service charges included.

In the general scheme of things I hope that my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Deputy Stagg, will examine this unfair method of raising funds for local authorities through the imposition of such service charges. While those charges were introduced by another colleague of mine, the Tánaiste, in 1983 when I was responsible for the introduction of the appropriate Bill, they were meant to be additional funding for each local authority if that was their wish. It was left to each individual local authority to decide whether they wished to impose such service charges to fund necessary facilities in their respective areas. We know now that that additional funding has since disappeared. We are now aware that, with the limitation on rateable valuations and the reduction in the rates support grant, more and more counties are dependent on service charges.

This has led to an anomalous position. For example, in Dublin, where there is a huge commercial and industrial rate base, in that part of the county represented by these new local authorities, one can afford to impose no service charge or a very low level of service charge. In Wicklow the commercial and industrial rate base is very small, so that the amount raised by, say, a 1 per cent increase in rateable valuation will amount to approximately £35,000 compared with a yield in the region of £60,000 to £70,000 occasioned by a 1 per cent increase in Dublin.

Deputy Power, who spoke before me, mentioned the difficulties created for County Kildare where the local authority must provide facilities for the population overflow from Dublin, particularly the provision of housing, whether private or local authority, and where no rates are levied from which the local authority can fund amenities. Yet they must provide increased services for that overflow of population from the city and county of Dublin. This leads to increased demand for facilities and services generally, such as the provision of roads, public libraries, water services and so on. This means that the pressure on local authorities is much greater in counties adjoining Dublin city and county whereas the relevant rateable valuations for the purpose of collecting funding have not increased correspondingly.

The problems of local authorities will be reflected in the creation of these three new authorities in Dublin when there will be a variation in the level of rates between theirs and those being levied in other counties, rendering places either more or less attractive in which to build, create employment and so on. We in Wicklow County Council expect our rates to rise to practically the second highest nationally, or at least in the Leinster area, thereby rendering our county less attractive to commercial activity in that our commercial and industrial rates will have to be greatly increased because our county does not contain the large industrial complexes that contribute so much to rates in the Dublin area.

In County Wicklow we must also provide leisure facilities. It is the most beautiful county in Ireland and is located next to Dublin, from which thousands of people commute, particularly at weekends in the summer, and even throughout the year. This means we must provide and maintain those roads being used regularly at weekends, as well as providing toilets and other amenities for leisure purposes. This is becoming an ever increasing burden on our local rates.

When these three new local authorities have been established Wicklow County Council will certainly have to consult with them. For example, we have to provide car parks all over the county and maintain places of national interest like Glendalough in order to cater for the increased volume of traffic and commuters arriving there each weekend. There are places like Brittas Bay which attract many thousands of people in the summer. Many years ago we built a car park there funded jointly by Dublin Corporation and Wicklow County Council. That is one example of commendable co-operation; unfortunately, it has not been extended in any other area of our county.

In the future, with places of interest such as the interpretative centre at Luggala and attractions like those being created in Wicklow town, with the refurbishment of the jail and the interpretative centre there, there will be even more commuters from Dublin and other places at weekends. However, such commuters do not generate any real funds for the county since people usually bring along sandwiches and do not avail of our hotels for overnight stays. Nonetheless, there is a huge movement of traffic in and out of the county.

The creation of these three new local authorities will have quite an effect in that there will be enormous variations not only within County Dublin and Dublin Corporation but also within adjoining counties. It will be essential for the Department of the Environment to examine these effects, and not merely within County Dublin. We must remember it will take some time to resolve all of the problems of the transfer of assets between one local authority area and another, but their establishment will also create difficulties for neighbouring local authorities.

We must remember also the revaluations that take place every five years. For example, because Dublin consumers are not using the degree of power which was intended by the ESB when the Turlough Hill generating station was built, Wicklow County Council lose out. The Valuation Office have reduced the rateable valuation on the power station with the result that £116,000 less in rates is paid to Wicklow County Council. That is something over which Wicklow County Council cannot have control. I imagine there is not a great deal of control from Dublin either. The property was built in Wicklow for the balancing of ESB usage in the city of Dublin where the take-up is not what was expected. The ratepayers who have their businesses and their industrial activity in Wicklow are the people who will suffer as a result of the change. They will have to pay an additional 3.5 per cent increase in rates to make allowances for the reduction that the ESB will be granted from the Valuation Office. That will be a huge imposition: it will mean either cutting back on the marginal services in Wicklow or increasing service charges or rates inordinately on the people of Wicklow.

Apart from the impact the new councils in Dublin will have on the citizens of the city and county, this reorganisation will have its effect, too, on bordering counties such as Wicklow, Kildare and Meath. I hope the Minister will take note of whatever representations may be made to him in that regard from these other counties.

As I said at the outset I welcome the Bill because it brings local democracy nearer to many of the citizens of County Dublin. The views of local authorities adjoining Dublin County Council will have to be heeded when we highlight the difficulties a metropolis such as Dublin has on adjoining counties and the problems that are likely to arise from the reorganisation, and the division of assets.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this important legislation particularly as it affects the local authority with which I have been involved since 1974, when I was first elected to Dublin County Council. Admittedly, I had to remove myself from that scene between the years 1982 and 1991 because of ministerial duties. In 1974 Dublin County Council comprised some 24 or 26 members whereas today it has a membership of 78. First there was an increase from 24 to 36 members and then a sudden increase to 78. I witnessed great changes in Dublin county during those years.

It is sad to reflect on what local government has become. Central government must take responsibility for the current state of local democracy, if there is such a thing any more. Those involved in central government seem fearful of restoring to local authorities some of the power they used to have and that is reflected in the availability of candidates for local government elections. People who might otherwise be interested believe that, as members of local authorities, they would be so circumscribed as not to be able to make much of a contribution. None of the parties had any difficulty in finding candidates to go forward for local government elections. There was always a large number of independent candidates, too, who would stand for local government elections.

Since the abolition of rates in 1977, local government has become a talking shop. You cannot have power without responsibility. We are expecting local representatives to take decisions when, with the exception of service charges, they have no control over the amount of money they have to spend or how it is raised. That will never work. I am not saying you should impose local taxes on top of the present tax system.

The reality is that if we were to reform dramatically our central tax system and allow local government to charge its people for the services it wants to provide, we might restore some respect for local government. Local government has become so centralised now that it is difficult for them to blow their nose without getting the permission of the Department of the Environment. For a country with a population of 3.5 million people I find it extraordinary that we have such a complicated system, such bureaucracy, with local government not knowing what it is trying to achieve.

I have always thought of one small local authority, namely Killarney UDC, as an example of what could be done. This is an impression as distinct from in-depth knowledge. I always got the impression that Killarney UDC involved themselves totally in the development of tourism in the Killarney area. People involved in the tourism industry were elected to that authority and they have been very successful. This shows the potential that exists in local government if it is used properly and allowed develop. What local people can do for their community and their area is extraordinary.

I see a difference now in comparison with the time when we had responsibility for raising our own resources, when if I went to a public meeting and was asked by a group of residents if, for instance, we would purchase a certain piece of land for open space or whatever, I would say that the request could be considered but in the context of the Estimates. You then got from the management the cost of whatever development was being sought by residents and compared that with what it would mean in terms of a rate, a penny in the £1, a halfpenny in the £1 or whatever it might be. You were able to make your case to the residents and tell them that you had to fight for the money when it came to the Estimates, that first, you had to convince members from other parts of the county either to support you in bringing about an increase in the rate or omit something else in order to achieve what the residents wanted.

People understood then that they did not get anything without paying for it and when they got it, they valued it. Nowadays it is a question of putting down yet another motion, writing to the Department and then sending a deputation to the Minister. It is a load of codology. It is not doing anything for local government, it is not developing local government as it should develop, it is not building communities, it is not instilling a sense of responsibility in communities and in the people who are elected to local authorities. As a result of all this there is frustration among the public who cannot understand why, instead of filling potholes properly, the local authority merely dumps in temporary filling which is washed away by the next shower of rain. When you make inquiries you are told that there is not enough money to do a permanent job. What a waste of money and what an example we are showing to the electorate in terms of the way we manage resources and our own business. The person in the street says: "Look at this for more waste of money while they are telling us to tighten our belts and that they will increase our taxes". Because you are told that everything you ask for cannot be done due to a shortage of money, you do not know what work can be done. Whoever audits properly the way the money we have is spent? It is never done. Inefficiency is rampant in many areas. If elected members feel they are part and parcel of the system and are allowed have control in the spending of resources, they will play an important part in local government. Above all this would encourage more people to stand for elections to local authorities which is a major problem at present.

What is happening to national lottery funds is a disgrace. When I was in Government I was involved in the setting up of the national lottery which was designed specifically to provide funds for sport and recreation. Lottery funds are now being spent on many projects yet no money goes to local authorities to develop community facilities. What funding do those who are involved in running football clubs, youth clubs and other facilities in the community get? They do not get any funding. The average grant paid to clubs by the County Dublin Vocational Education Committee under the sport and recreation subhead was £143. In Ballybrack in my constituency where there is high unemployment, many unemployed men spend some part of each day helping out in the local football club. The club, of which I am President, costs about £14,000 a year to run between transport, insurance and miscellaneous expenses. Do Members realise that those involved in running the club go from house to house on five consecutive Fridays to collect £1 because people do not have the money to pay £5 to go to a Joe Dolan fund-raising gig on a Friday night? That shows the level of local commitment. The State's level of contribution is £143. There are 17 teams, each with 14 players, catering for the many young children ranging in age from seven and eight to 17 and 18 in that club. These youngsters are being provided with facilities that keep them off the streets. Discipline and a sense of comradeship and community spirit is instilled into them. This keeps them out of Loughan House and Trinity House, where it costs the State £60,000 per year to maintain a young person. Yet all the State can provide for community groups is £143 per annum. Millions of pounds of national lottery funds are spent annually but central Government is afraid to give local authorities the power to distribute the available resources. Should not a percentage of national lottery funds under the sport and recreation subhead be given automatically to local authorities to be allocated in the interests of the community?

I remember, as no doubt does my colleague Deputy Jim Mitchell who was also in local government in 1974, when Dublin County Council provided substantial community grants for building recreational centres and other community activity. Local authorities could not give a community group £5 today towards the cost of building a community centre. At one time, Dublin County Council could give grants of £50,000 to build a community centre. The council had a properly managed scheme to help communities.

In many respects I am delighted Dublin County Council which has become so controversial is being divided into three local authorities. This should bring the local authority to the people. Is there any point in dividing up the local authority if the new bodies will not have the power to take the initiative and build communities? Local government is not only about collecting the rubbish, sweeping the roads and cutting the grass, it should be about developing community spirit and initiating programmes. It should have the trained staff to initiate developments as distinct from administrative staff. That is the potential of local government. However, the structure of promotions in local authorities is through the administrative channels. One becomes a principal officer after going through the clerical grades. Local authorities need development staff and they need to recruit people from tourism and industry because they have the expertise in development and in industry.

I remember when Dublin County Council bought land in Sanydford, which is now the Sandyford Industrial Estate, one of the greatest developments in south County Dublin. The county council did not wait for the private sector to develop it. The land was bought for about £2,000 per acre and we ended up selling sites in the industrial estate at £200,000 an acre. The profits, however, went back into the local authority's funds for further development. There is no reason that should not continue.

Will the local authorities get involved in such developments again? There is not the same level of drive as there was 18 or 19 years ago. We are supposed to have made progress but as far as I can see local government has regressed. The Minister should try to persuade his colleagues in Government to allocate a substantial portion of the national lottery funding to his Department so that it can be dispersed to the local authorities to be spent at their discretion under various subheads. Local government should be involved in the development of facilities in the community.

Controversy over rezoning has been raging in County Dublin. It is a statutory function of the local authority to review its development plan on a five year basis. County Dublin was destroyed by a policy in the 1970s to develop three new towns and people from the city centre were literally dumped in areas of County Dublin that did not have facilities. This was based on so-called professional advice from planners from other countries. A great deal is said about taking professional advice but it is my belief that elected members who communicate with their electorate regularly should have a major input in planning. I make no apologies for that. That is what they are elected to do. The most expensive residential areas in Dublin, where the property values are highest, are around established towns and villages. Property values in Malahide on the north side are high because people like living in the village/town atmosphere. Those areas were not created by professional planners. In Dalkey and Dún Laoghaire property values are very high and those areas too were established not by professionals but by ordinary people using common sense.

People have used the County Dublin development plan for political reasons and have managed to persuade the public and some people in the media that there is a massive scandal going on. I reject that. I have never heard of anyone being offered or receiving bribes. I have just seen people trying to do their best.

In the context of this Bill Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will be established and Dún Laoghaire Corporation will be incorporated into it. Dún Laoghaire Corporation has not got one square inch of land for development. The piece of Dublin County Council which will go into Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is very much developed. Unless the new Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council builds in the Dublin mountains it will have no land in five or ten years' time. When people are talking about zoning they should remember that we are talking about five to ten years ahead. Young married couples seeking to buy a house will not be able to buy a house for £50,000 or £55,000 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in five or ten years' time. Practically no land was rezoned in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area in the context of this development plan, with the exception of the Monarch Properties proposal, which at four houses to the acre, was a crazy decision — no good to young married couples and a bad use of land. A development plan is supposed to plan ahead. If we want to provide for the future we have to zone land. There is no point in the Minister allocating funds to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in the future if it has no land on which to build, whether for local authority housing or for first time house buyers. We have now managed to convince people that rezoning is all wrong, but if we do not rezone land for development how can we have development? Will the critics tell me what we in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will do in the next five to ten years if the little bit of land that is left is not zoned for housing?

This Bill allows for the abolition of Dún Laoghaire Corporation, which has been established for very many years. It is a sad occurrence, but I hope it is in the interests of progress. I pay tribute to those who worked in Dún Laoghaire Corporation down through the years and the people who gave their time voluntarily as elected members. I hope those of us who will be in the new county council will continue to work for the people we are trying to serve.

The Minister should find a different name from Dublin South for the new county council as it means nothing to the people of Clondalkin or Tallaght.

They are free to choose.

I am delighted to hear that.

I welcome the Bill the intention of which is to improve the system of local government in those areas. The Minister in his speech referred to the 1991 census and to the population of 547,000 in the Dublin County Council area. The Minister said that at the start of the century nearly all the county was essentially rural and that throughout the century the population in the Dublin area has more than doubled, with growth being especially marked over the years between 1930 and the early 1980s, involving an increase of more than 0.5 million and that the growth in overall population had been accompanied by a redistribution on a massive scale, with population loss at the centre and population gain in the surrounding county. The Minister referred to many proposals for the reorganisation of local government structures in the Dublin area to adapt to the changing social, economic and population patterns. It was natural for the city to spread outwards and for suburbs to develop when the motor car became part and parcel of everyday life and people were able to commute easily between the city and the county.

Deputy Kavanagh in his contribution said that as Minister in 1986 he started the ball rolling on this new administrative structure. What consideration has been given to issuing a White Paper on the needs of the capital city to prepare it for the 21st century? What work has been done to assess the effect the changes proposed in this Bill will have on Dublin city?

Speakers in this debate have focused on their own constituencies or on their own councils. I am honoured and proud to be a member of Dublin City Council since 1985.

It is very troublesome.

It is not that troublesome. "Jim will fix it" is always around to heckle me, but I participate to the best of my ability in the interests of the constituents I represent. The members and officers of Dublin City Council have worked with vision in the best interests of the city in relation to its needs and demands for the years ahead. Many of the speakers from the county council area criticised Dublin City Council and the corporation for their activities over the last number of years. I totally reject Deputy Rabbitte's reference to the failure of Dublin Corporation to manage and maintain their housing estates. Deputy Rabbitte said that there was no democratic accountability in Dublin Corporation and he referred to a legacy of neglect. It was wrong of Deputy Rabbitte to come in with such hard hitting lines. His assertions are without foundation.

As Deputy Mitchell is aware, we in the city council have worked in the best interests of the city. We have not had the long meetings the county council have had. The reason for those lengthy meetings was that members were abusing their power as members of the council by moving section 4 motions while other matters on the agenda were not reached. It is important to put on record what happened at those county council meetings, that members have abused their powers and that legislation had to be introduced to address such abuse. It is regrettable that the members of the county council who permitted that to happen have come into the House and criticised members of the city council and Dublin Corporation. The efficacy and commitment of city council members is second to none. It is our premier council and carries out its business in that manner.

The introduction of this Bill has caused much concern among members of Dublin City Council. We held a special meeting requesting a report on the impact of this Bill on the council in relation to for example, the transfer of houses and housing land. The council had the foresight to purchase and develop land banks and houses as necessary down through the years and it was customary to extend the boundary for accommodation of our housing units. The fact that some 7,500 of the houses we own are still tenancy dwellings, which represents 40 per cent of Dublin Corporation housing, will have a serious effect on Dublin Corporation's housing stock. I appreciate that they are local authority houses and will remain in the ownership of a local authority. I have no difficulty in that regard, but what will be the position of people on the Dublin Corporation housing list because of their city council address and those on the county council housing list because of their county council address? This matter is of major concern to the city council and must be addressed.

Land was acquired by the corporation to enable it fulfil its statutory requirement in relation to housing, including the making available of sites to small builders for development of auxiliary services such as amenity facilities, shopping centres, industrial use and so on. It was acquired to facilitate the county council in cases where it did not have the necessary funds to acquire land and in cases where lands were jointly purchased with the county council to bring land into public ownership before prices escalated. Much of the land to which I referred was purchased in the sixties and seventies.

Dublin Corporation owns approximately 1,850 acres of land in County Dublin. That is an enormous amount of land and will have a great impact on Dublin Corporation's future development. The previous speaker spoke about the need for a development officer in local authority structures. To an extent we have had development officers and have taken steps for future development. That should be recognised. We should not demoralise people who had the necessary foresight by bringing a Bill before the Dáil and in one stroke of a pen transferring all their efforts of the past number of years to new local authorities.

The city manager submitted a four page response to the city council on the effects of this legislation on the city council and I will forward that report to the Minister for his consideration. In summary, the city manager stated that the existing legislation should be amended to allow the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, to apply to the disposal of lands under the legislation, or that section 35 and the Third Schedule be deleted, or that the provisions of section 35 and the Third Schedule be amended to exclude all references to the transfer of land and houses sold or in the course of being sold. I ask the Minister to take those points on board.

I have before me also a letter which the Lord Mayor circulated to members of Dublin Corporation who are Members of this House in which he indicates the importance to Dublin City Council of amending the legislation. His letter highlights that if the legislation is not amended it will have a detrimental effect on our housing stock and land banks for future housing projects for our citizens.

Overall, the change in administration is welcome but it will have a serious effect on the city council. Some of our managers who have come up through the system and provide effective in their role as assistant city managers have been appointed managers in the new local authorities. Basically, those managers cut their teeth in Dublin City Council. I congratulate the three managers, Davy Byrne, John Fitzgerald and Kevin O'Sullivan, and wish them success in their endeavours. They are excellent managers and have now been absorbed from the corporation management structure. Many other officers of Dublin Corporation will be transferred also. Len O'Reilly of the planning department, Dan O'Connor of the engineering department and Christy Boylan, who has responsibility for our parks, are among the many officers who will be transferred.

Such transfers will have adverse effects on the management structure of Dublin Corporation. Many of our senior managers in Dublin Corporation have applied for positions in the new councils and have been successful, leaving a vacuum in the corporation that must be filled. That will have implications for the team spirit developed in Dublin Corporation down through the years. I pay tribute to all officials of Dublin Corporation who have worked as a great team in the development of this city. It is regrettable that the city is in the heart of the greater Dublin area. We are being suffocated because the land banks and housing stocks are being taken from us; there are difficulties in respect of our water supply, our waste management policy and traffic control. Many speakers referred to those difficulties.

Will the Minister clarify whether it will be possible to change the city boundaries if there is a need for an extension and the effect this will have on the new authorities? Does he share the view that there will be a need for flexibility in coming years? There is a need for us to plan for the 21st century.

As the Minister said, from the 1930s to the 1980s people moved out of the city to live in the suburbs. While some have settled in well others for family, work and other reasons would like to move back. We should recognise that the city acts as the pulse, that there is movement towards the city and that we have to plan for this.

I wish to highlight the need for a port access route. As a representative for the north side of the city, I have been inundated with queries from residents who are concerned at the number of large commercial vehicles using routes which were not constructed to take this traffic. In addition, they have to contend with the problem of rat running through residential estates. There is therefore an urgent need to construct the northern leg of the port access and eastern relief route. I hope the Department of the Environment will support this proposal.

I thank Deputy Callely for sharing his time with me. One may be curious to know why I am speaking on this Bill which deals with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin County Councils——

He came to conquer, not to pray.

I enjoy my stay in one of these boroughs when I travel from the west for a few days each week. I also wish the members and the administrations of these new county councils every success.

In County Sligo we find it difficult to raise funds and we will shortly hold our annual meeting to discuss the estimates. The only way we can raise funds to provide services is by way of service charges. With the exception of Dún Laoghaire, people living in the capital city do not have to pay these charges. The reason is that the owners of large commercial premises pay large amounts in rates.

Sligo Corporation find it easier than Sligo County Council to raise funds due to the large number of commercial premises in the town.

We are more efficient in Dublin also.

In the Sligo County Council area there are three small towns, Tubbercurry, Ballymote and Collooney, and a number of small villages, the residents of which pay service charges — domestic rates were abolished in 1977. We have privatised our refuse collection service which has proved a tremendous success. As a result every person living in a rural area can now avail of this service. However, those supplied with a water and sewerage service have to pay heavy service charges.

The Minister should consider the possibility of making Cohesion Funds available under the National Development Plan to ensure that there is a sewerage scheme in every small village. I am referring to villages of 20 to 25 houses. If such schemes are provided these villages will develop.

A previous speaker referred to the allocations made from the national lottery. In this regard we would welcome any allocation for sport and recreational facilities. In the past these allocations were made to the local authorities who then decided on the way in which they should be divided up. This money was put to good use. While the decision to allocate funds to GAA and soccer clubs was heavily criticised the decision which gave rise to most criticism was the one to allocate funds to golf clubs.

In County Sligo.

In this regard a golf club in Tubbercurry was allocated £30,000 from the national lottery. Those involved, including myself, raised £200,000 by selling tickets to purchase the land and develop a nine hole golf course for the people of Tubbercurry.

The local government (Tubbercurry) Bill.

I was not very much involved, unlike others, but the local people collected the money to provide this facility in the town.

Which club got £1 million?

They received £30,000 from the national lottery.

(Wexford): A pittance.

They availed of the social employment scheme to carry out the construction work and, as far as I am concerned, this is the best facility in the area.

What is the membership fee?

The Deputy is an honorary member.

Deputy Brennan to continue without interruption.

We play in Dublin.

Could Deputy Brennan secure membership for Deputy Mitchell?

I would love to continue——

Will the Deputy now conclude?

The Deputy raised £200,000 and he is entitled to membership.

We are not happy with the amount of money allocated for the 1,500 miles of county roads in Sligo. As it costs a substantial amount of money to maintain these roads I hope funds will be made available under the National Development Plan. I thank Deputy Callely for sharing his time with me but it is a pity he heckled me.

Now we will have "Jim will fix it".

It is a privilege to follow two eminent Members of the House, Deputies Callely and Brennan.

The Deputy's remarks are very much appreciated.

It is interesting that Deputy Brennan, while speaking on a Bill which deals specifically with County Dublin, did not miss the opportunity to promote the interests of County Sligo but I suppose that is the reason he has been so successful and is continually elected to this House. I should point out to him, however, that while he can secure national lottery funding for golf courses in County Sligo — his former colleague, Mr. Ray MacSharry, secured even larger sums — he did not answer my question as to what the membership fee at Tubbercurry Golf Club is. I can assure him that whatever it is a great deal lower than the fees payable at golf clubs in Dublin.

The green fees are £6.

This Bill gives us an opportunity to highlight some of the problems and challenges being faced in Dublin. It is not unfair to say that the Bill has been presented by a Minister who is not from Dublin. This is evident when one looks at the Bill.


None of the Ministers in the Department has the same understanding of the nuances of the issues in Dublin county and city that Members of this House on the Dublin County and City Councils have. It is not an unfair criticism to say that progress in relation to local government matters in Dublin has only come about when there was a Dublin Minister in the Custom House. For example, the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, was passed under the Mr. John Boland, and the benefits of that Act are still being experienced to this day in the city with the renewal of the city centre in particular.

A Dublin identity is very important to the people of Dublin, but this Bill makes no provision for that. It proposes to set up three county councils, two of which will have no reference to Dublin in their title. Half in jest but whole in earnest, I ask if we are going to have a Fingal team or a Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown team playing in the all-Ireland final? There is a need to see Dublin as a whole, not just for administrative and co-ordination purposes but because Dublin needs to be seen as a place that people can identify with. Therefore, I propose that the title of each county council should include the name of Dublin, just as in London there is the London Borough of Chelsea or the London Borough of Lambeth. I know there is a provision in the Bill that the new councils should name themselves. However, this House should lay down that the name should start with the "Dublin county of"— for example, the "Dublin County of Fingal" or the "Dublin County of Dún Laoghaire". I agree strongly with the point made by so many others that calling "South Dublin" the area that was to have been called "Belgard" is ridiculous. South Dublin, to most people, is the area largely covered by the proposed Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. In that regard, although I believe the name "Dún Laoghaire" should be in the title, I do not think the name "Rathdown" should, because Rathdown is a small appendage to Dún Laoghaire whereas the new county council covers a much wider area going as far as Rathfarnham.

The idea of a Dublin identity is very important to the people of this city and it is totally ignored in this Bill. It is a Philistine Bill in that respect; it does not understand the spirit of Dublin and the identity of Dublin and there must be provisions which take account of that in the titles of the three county councils. Dún Laoghaire should be called the "Dublin County of Dún Laoghaire" and Fingal should be the "Dublin County of Fingal." Quite honestly, I think "Dublin County of Belgard" would be a much better title than "South Dublin". I do not know what is wrong with the title "Belgard", because Belgard Castle and Belgard Road are right in the heart of the proposed county. It should not be left to the county councils to pick any name they like. We could end up with the county councils deciding to call themselves by some of these fancy names, such as "Westington" or "West Hampton". Many of the street names or estate names are totally English names, ignoring the ancient place names of an area. For that reason, the naming should not be totally left to the county councils.

There is no provision in this Bill for any regional co-ordination of a substantial nature. I know it is envisaged that there will be some sort of loose regional authority for Dublin, but Dublin needs much more than that. For instance, one cannot have four unattached development plans and each county council or the city council merely exhorted to have regard to the plans of the others. Each county council will want to maximise development in its own area. In a situation where we have had two authorities up to now, Dublin City Council and Dublin County Council, this has led to Dublin county, planning for all these new towns and massive population explosion, drawing people out of the city, leaving a derelict rundown inner city. We have schools in the city almost totally underpopulated or closing down while new schools and new classrooms are needed out in the county. To that list can be added post offices, sewerage services, water services, Garda stations, bus services, health centres, etc. We have them massively underutilised in the city while there is a huge new demand for them in the county.

Now the city council has the ambition to double the population of the inner city in the next ten years, it having been halved in the last ten years. In other words, the city council wants to restore the population in the city within ten years to what it was ten years ago in recognition that we want a living city and that the services are all there. However, this will not happen if we do no more than urge each of the new county councils to have regard to the plans of the others. We need much more than a loose regional authority. We need a greater Dublin council of one sort or another. The duties of such a council are clear and relate to things like roads and transport. The abolition of the Dublin Transport Authority, set up by me as Minister for Transport, was a major mistake. There is a need for a transport authority and it should be part of the local government structure because transport cannot be divorced from other planning matters. I would see a greater Dublin council having responsibility for transport, planning and co-ordination. It should also be that authority's job to make sure that there is no conflict between the objectives of the different development plans. It would have an overall strategic planning role and, possibly, the responsibility for approving the development plans of each local council.

At this moment we have one city and county librarian who runs both services with parallel staffs, but at least there is co-ordination. When this Bill is implemented there will be four county librarians and no co-ordination, which does not make sense.

A nightmare scenario in housing is proposed in this Bill. The responsibility for housing should be taken away from the four councils and a new housing agency created under the greater Dublin Council that I propose. A new housing agency is necessary because it would be untenable to have people trapped within the boundaries of these new authorities and unable, without enormous difficulty, to transfer to other county areas. It is almost impossible at the moment to transfer between corporation houses and county council houses even though many of the corporation houses might be across the road from the county council houses. We need a housing agency not just for co-ordination purposes but to ensure that housing is fairly accessible to people living within the four authority areas. Otherwise, there would be huge problems — for example, it would be much easier to get a house if one lived in Fingal than it would be if one lived in Dún Laoghaire.

Huge anomalies would be obviated by the creation of a housing agency. The creation of such an agency under a greater Dublin council would also present the opportunity to reinvigorate the whole area of housing management, maintenance and control.

Let nobody be under any illusion about the fact that there are enormous difficulties in Dublin at the moment. There is wholly inadequate provision for the maintenance, refurbishment and day to day management of local authority estates. As a matter of urgency local managers must be employed on site to coordinate all statutory services in housing estates. Statutory and financial provisions must be made in that regard. The Minister has told us repeatedly that the manner in which maintenance is presently provided for local authority houses is very costly and that is a product of the structural problem. Those issues would be addressed and dealt with by a new agency under the greater Dublin council. I hope the Minister will take those matters on board.

Other services must be provided on a regional basis — for example, waste disposal and water and sewerage supply. I do not envisage that the greater Dublin council would be undemocratic. It could be elected from existing councils. I would not favour a second election. One representative from each council could be elected to the greater Dublin council and additional representatives could be elected to ensure that representation on it was proportionate. I urge a stronger greater Dublin council than a loose regional authority, which I believe may be envisaged. One cannot be sure what is envisaged in that regard because it is not covered in detail in the Bill.

The boundaries that have been decided are reasonable, but the boundary between Dún Laoghaire and South Dublin is not appropriate. It runs through the middle of Marely Grange parish and covers part of Rathfarnham parish. I lived in Marley Grange parish for 15 years until a few years ago and I now live nearby. The proposed boundary is an absurdity. It might have been acceptable when there were two committees of the county council, because the same county council would have covered the parish. The boundary cuts through a housing estate. The boundary line should be changed to the road immediately to the west of Nutgrove Shopping Centre; that would involve a minimum transfer of a population between the two councils and disruption. Otherwise the boundary would create an anomaly. The boundary would run through the middle of a parish, which is a cohensive unit with many of the children of the parish attending the same school and many of its parishioners attending the same church and so on. The proposed boundary is not logical as it would split the parish into two county council areas. There is no easy solution, but the change I suggest would result in most of the parish being included in the South Dublin area and in little disruption to the local population.

I want to refer to the proposed development plans for County Dublin, the perceived scandal that exists there and the adverse comments and reports that have been made in regard to it. Who may alter the development plan if councillors, the people's elected representatives, are not empowered to do so? Will that power fall to unelected officials who are not answerable to the public? Will councillors be able to alter only those changes proposed by officials? That would be a ludicrous position. Councillors elected to represent the public would not be able to represent their public interest. Urgent protection is needed for all concerned. I would favour the introduction of sections in the Bill before it passes Committee and Report Stages which would provide that any change in the development plan could be proposed only by a councillor elected from the concerned area and that councillors from other electoral areas could not propose changes in a development plan for that area. The majority required to vote on changes in the development plan should be higher than a simple majority, perhaps a majority of the council should be required or 60 per cent of the council. Those two measures would protect conscientious hard-working councillors from insinuations that they may be involved in any wrongdoing.

The new council should confirm Dublin County Council development plans that have been completed or are nearing completion and take account of the provisions I suggested. Development matters should be left as the responsibility of councils. There is a dangerous drift towards the idea that decisions in respect of rezoning should no longer be made by elected representatives. That would result in unelected officials being responsible for planning decisions but they would not be answerable to the public. Such a measure would rob people of their say in local planning matters. Officials would be less prone to pressure in respect of wrong decisions than councillors who are answerable to the electorate.

Local government in Dublin is the least localised in the country. The provision in the Bill to provide for the appointment of more councillors, 78 among the three councils, is a step in the right direction. The three councils cover an area with a population comparable to that of Dublin city. Dublin city has 52 councillors for a population of more than 0.5 million. There is only one councillor per 10,000 people. That does not reflect local government. The large area of Ballyfermot, with a population of more than 10,000, should have an urban district council; but because of the present system it is only part of a much larger electoral area. More councillors should be elected to Dublin City Council. Proportionately, the same numbers of councillors should be elected to Dublin city as to the county. I look forward to next year's urban elections and I hope the Minister will make some provision for a more localised suburban council for an area such as Ballyfermot.

Priority should be given to the refurbishment of some housing estates, particularly flat complexes. Some people must live in an environment which is productive of social problems and alienation. The Minister must consider funding such work. Refurbishment work, such as the replacement of windows, must be considered. In some houses the windows cannot be opened and this would be very dangerous in the case of a fire. Consideration should be given to providing a grant scheme for such work in cases where people cannot afford to wait the five to seven years for their windows to be replaced. I hope the absence of a Dublin Minister or Minister of State from the Custom House will not militate against the urgent needs of the Dublin area.

Debate adjourned.