Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Regional Authorities.

Nuala Fennell

Ceist:

14 Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

Alan M. Dukes

Ceist:

27 Mr. Dukes asked the Minister for the Environment if he proposes to use the same regions for local government purposes as are currently used for health purposes; and if not the reason therefor.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

41 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

Joseph Doyle

Ceist:

46 Mr. Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

55 Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment if he proposes to use the same regions for local government purposes as are currently used for health purposes; and if not the reason therefor.

Mary Flaherty

Ceist:

59 Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

Joseph Doyle

Ceist:

68 Mr. Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment if he proposes to use the same regions for local government purposes as are currently used for health purposes; and if not the reason therefor.

Michael D'Arcy

Ceist:

71 Mr. D'Arcy asked the Minister for the Environment if he proposes to use the same regions for local government purposes as are currently used for health purposes; and if not the reason therefor.

John Bruton

Ceist:

76 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

Frank Crowley

Ceist:

86 Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

William Cotter

Ceist:

89 Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities; and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

John V. Farrelly

Ceist:

95 Mr. Farrelly asked the Minister for the Environment the nature of the preparatory work which is now being undertaken towards the establishment of regional authorities, and if he will give details of the regions to be covered by each authority.

John Bruton

Ceist:

196 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment if he proposes to use the same regions for local government purposes as are currently used for health purposes; and if not, the reason therefor.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 27, 41, 46, 55, 59, 68, 71, 76, 86, 89, 95 and 196 together.

Following consultations with relevant interests, detailed proposals on the establishment, constitution and operation of regional authorities under section 43 of the Local Government Act, 1991, are being finalised in my Department and I intend to submit these to the Government very shortly. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further on particular aspects before the matter is considered by the Government.

Can we take it that the Minister will be making some public announcement before the summer recess?

Very definitely.

When the regional authorities are set up, will they have real power and the right to access Brussels directly, by-passing the heavy hand of the Department of Finance? Will they be regional authorities, not just on paper but in reality, with the right to petition and submit proposals directly to Brussels in an attempt to obtain the benefits of regional development?

I have no intention of establishing talking shops. I want them to be vibrant and vital. When we come to the question of developing plans for the next operational programmes the focus will be very much on the regions. Wider issues raised by the Deputy will be a matter for the Government to decide. I see these authorities with teeth.

I hope it will not be the charade of the last time.

Is it intended that the people who will make up these authorities will be directly elected by popular vote or will they be drawn from representatives already elected, say, to county structures?

The provisions in the 1991 Local Government Act provide for the nomination or selection of members to these regional authorities from the locally elected membership of the county and borough councils.

Would the Minister not agree that the reorganisation of local government, on which there is a document in the Department dating back to 1985, will depend on the proper financing of local authorities? Without proper financing all the plans for devolution of functions, changes of boundaries and reorganisation of areas will have little or no effect. Local authorities are starved at present of the finances to do their business.

In the context of devolution and the provision of new structures, it is hard to envisage dealing completely and finally with these two aspects without ultimately coming to the resolution of problems as to how local authorities are to be financed. If the Deputy has any interesting proposals in that regard I will be very glad to hear them.

The Minister should put me on his review committee. Perhaps I could speed it up a little.