Thursday, 5 November 2020

Questions (116, 117)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

116. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if guidelines have been issued to date to local authorities in relation to council meetings convened in a virtual space or on an online platform; if there are plans to issue guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34288/20]

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Ruairí Ó Murchú

Question:

117. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the details of training or plans for training in relation to the use of virtual space or online platforms for councillors and local authority staff conducting council-related business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34289/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.

On 20 October 2020, I signed the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (Section 29) (Local Authorities) (Designation) Order 2020 (S.I. No. 445 of 2020). This Order designates local authorities under Section 29 of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, allowing for council meetings and meetings of local authority committees to be held remotely.

Having consulted with councillor representative organisations, the County and City Management Assocition (CCMA) and other stakeholders in recent weeks, my Department issued a circular on 30 October 2020 setting out guidelines for supplementary Standing Orders regulating the proceedings of remote meetings of the Council. These are intended as a useful guide to elected councils in formulating their own supplementary standing orders for remote meetings.

Since 2010 every local authority is required to adopt an annual Training and Development Programme for elected members, the objective of which is to support in a structured way the development needs of elected members. Under section 142(5)(A) of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, an annual training budget is provided to cover necessary relevant training for members on the basis that attendance at training events is of benefit both to individual councillors and the people they represent. A decision in relation to attendance at a training event is a reserved function of the elected Council.

It is a matter for the local authority to assess the training needs of its staff and meets those needs insofar as possible within available resources.