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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 19 Mar 1941

Vol. 25 No. 7

Cork City Management (Amendment) Bill, 1940—Committee and Subsequent Stages.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendment No. 1 not moved.
Sections 4 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

To delete the section.

Section 11 amalgamates the offices of city manager and town clerk, and the Corporation of Cork are not at all satisfied that this should be so. They regard this section as turning the post of manager into a complete Pooh-Bah for holding all the offices. While, admittedly, sub-section (4) of this section makes provision that this section does not come into operation while the existing town clerk is in office, they maintain that at no future date should such an arrangement be entered into. They regard the position of town clerk as a highly important link between the corporation and the public and between the corporation and the manager. He is a liaison officer.

Incidentally, the people also think that the office of town clerk should be amalgamated with that of the chief rate collector or controller of rates. The rate collecting figures in Cork for the past 12 months have been extremely good under the system in operation at present. Ninety-six per cent. of the rates were collected, and collected at a cost of 1 per cent. Those figures speak for themselves. If the Minister were to accept this amendment he would be meeting the wishes, not only of the Cork Corporation, but of the citizens of Cork generally and, after all, they are the people most affected by this Bill.

I wish to support this amendment. The principle has been established already in the case of Dublin and in the case of other counties. At the same time, I think that the principle is not a good one and that there is sufficient work for a manager in connection with his own duties without taking on the secretarial work as well. I believe that a town clerk ought not to be left in a subsidiary position. The manager takes over practically all the duties of the council as executive authority, and I think the administrative side of the work should be left in the hands of the town clerk. I know that the principle has been adopted already in connection with previous Bills but, even so, I think we ought to accept this amendment and leave Cork in a position which can be re-examined in future years with a view to seeing whether legislation might be necessary, if it were considered feasible to make a change.

Of course the change is not to be made at the moment, but it might be made. It is a much better principle that there should be town clerks both in Dublin and Cork. I do not wish to go any further into the matter, although I know that a great many things could be said in favour of the amendment—a great many more than I am prepared to say—and I think the Minister ought to accept it and to leave the position in Cork as it is at present.

Before this Bill was drafted, the heads of it were submitted to the Cork Corporation. After it was drafted, it was submitted again, and, finally, when some points were raised, they made several recommendations and suggestions at that time. Later, when some Deputies in the other House suggested further amendments, we submitted it again to Cork Corporation, and I think the Bill embodies the views of the Cork Corporation put forward to us. We met them on every matter that was raised by them. They had this matter before them that the offices should be separate and they made no recommendation about it, but representations were made that the present occupant of the position would suffer in some way if we made the provision operate now. To meet that point of view we have provided that the present occupant of the position shall not be disturbed during his lifetime, or during the time he normally occupies the position. I do not know if there are much merits in having the positions separate. You have in Cork City, as in Dublin City, an accountant as well as a town clerk. The town clerk stands more or less between the council and the city manager. You have in Dublin City the position of the town clerk and city manager. It is a responsible position. You have the same in Limerick and in Waterford, and no difficulty has arisen. It does not follow that the rates would be collected more cheaply or better by a town clerk who was rate collector. If it does anything, it tends to divide responsibility which I think is not good.

I do not want at this stage to accept the amendment. One thing that influences me to some extent is that I want to get this Bill through by 1st April, and if you send it back to the Dáil that will be difficult. I have followed out very carefully every recommendation made by the corporation, and I have accepted nearly every recommendation they made. Where we have not done that, we have come to agreement. There is no reason for the amendment, I think, because the principle has been in operation in all the cities where the plan has been in operation.

I will withdraw the amendment. I might point out that the reason, I understand, that the Minister got no recommendation from the corporation on this section was because they felt that it might be regarded as taking too personal an interest in the officials that are named in these sections.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 11 to 29, inclusive, put and agreed to.
Schedules and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question:—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put, and agreed to.
Question:—"That the Bill do now pass"—put, and agreed to.