Local Government (No. 2) Bill, 2000: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

Suppose a manager, who was not the greatest county manager to grace the local government system, applies for a three year extension, is the Minister of State saying there is no provision for refusing that extension?

The extension is an automatic right if the manager wishes to take it up but the existing law continues in operation. If the members of the council believe the manager is not a fit person to continue as manager, they have the right to remove him from office.

There is a subtle difference in that. The Minister of State said there were about seven or so managers who were close to the wire in regard to the seven years and that, naturally, they will be very pleased about the enactment of this legislation. What is his assessment of the level of satisfaction among assistant city or county managers or new directors of services, as they will be, who may consider that their ambitions to become county managers will, in some cases, be put back for three years as a result of the enactment of this legislation? Has any consideration been given to the implications of that or is there likely to be any industrial relations fall-out from such an enactment?

I understand one contract will expire this year and five will expire next year. We have had no indications of any industrial relations problems arising from the proposed decision. Anybody aspiring to promotion would be happier now with the system in place than with the old system which prevailed whereby once a manager was appointed, he was there until the age of 65. Greater opportunities are constantly arising for the younger ambitious staff members to achieve promotion and to put themselves forward for the managerial posts because of the short contract period compared to what was there before. In my time on the council, the manager was one of the original managers who had been appointed in 1943 and he was still manager in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Mr. Hayes

As regards prescribed notification, the manager will give notification to the chairman of the council. The Minister of State said if it is the view of a council that the person is not fit to continue, it can refuse to apppoint him or her for the following three year tenure.

No, I did not say that.

Mr. Hayes

The Minister of State might clarify that point. For example, if a resolution comes to the members from a manager seeking to continue his or her tenure for another three years, is it automatic that the three year period is in place?

Yes. The manager has a right to apply for an extension. If he or she does so within the prescribed regulations it is automatic. I was pointing out that the other right continues to exist whereby members can remove the manager by a majority vote if they deem him or her to be unfit. I do not think this right has ever been exercised. This has nothing to do with this Bill which gives an automatic right to an extension of tenure.

Mr. Hayes

If members are not satisfied with the performance of the manager over a five year period, they could not oust him or her, even if he or she is seeking a three year extension to his or her tenure.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I concur with the Minister of State's tribute to the late Dr. Tom Barrington for his outstanding work over the years in encouraging and recommending reform of local government. Anyone who had the privilege of being tutored by him, either in formal sessions or private discussions, will recall the passion he had for the local government system.

I also acknowledge the significant contribution of Deputy Hayes during his tenure as spokesperson on housing. I will miss him from the exchanges with the Minister of State and wish him well in his new portfolio.

Mr. Hayes

I appreciate the kind comments of the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, and Deputy Gilmore on my passing from the housing portfolio to taking up the cudgels of Northern Ireland. It has taken over 75 years to find peace in Northern Ireland and I hope my brief encounter will not lead to any adverse effects in the coming months. I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure as spokesperson on housing and my regular jousts with the Minister of State during Question Time. He is a picture of calmness and if I am as calm and fit at his age I will be very happy.

It is nice to hear the tributes to the late Dr. Tom Barrington. However, we would not be here tonight if the then Government had accepted the recommendations in his report in 1991 that the contract should be for a ten year period.

I wish to be associated with the tributes to the late Dr. Tom Barrington.

Question put and agreed to.