Town Councils in the Republic of Ireland
In Ireland, a Town Council is part of the second (or lower) tier of local government. Operating in smaller towns and cities, they exercise limited functions which are subsidiary to those of the their relevant county council. The term was introduced into local government in Ireland by the Local Government Act 2001. From 1 January 2002 the existing Urban District Councils and boards of Town commissioners were renamed as Town councils. Additionally, the city of Kilkenny, along with the four towns of (Sligo, Drogheda, Clonmel, and Wexford) were reduced in status to the level of Town Council. In recognition of the previous history, the towns were permitted to use the title of "Borough Council" instead of "Town Council". There are 75 other town councils in addition to these five borough councils. Outside the towns, the county councils are solely responsible for local services.
On 16 October 2012, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government published Putting People First, an "action plan for effective local government". Under the proposed changes all town councils will be abolished in 2014.
Establishing and dissolving town councils
Under Section 185 of the 2001 Act, new Town Councils can be established in any town with a population of at least 7,500. The application must be made by at least 100 local government electors, or 10% of the electors of the proposed town, whichever is the greater. After a period of public consultation the application is considered by the County Council for the area in which the town is situated. The County Council's recommendation is referred to the Local Government Commission. If the Commission approves the establishment of a Town Council, an order signed by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government will formally create the new council.
Under Section 187 of the same act, a Town Council can apply to the Minister to be dissolved.
Elections are held to Town Councils every five years. Towns are not subdivided for local elections, being treated as a single constituency. Councillors are elected by the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. The towns of Bray, Dundalk and Tralee have twelve elected members, all other towns have nine. A Town Council with nine members can apply for the number to be increased to twelve if the population is greater than 15,000 at the previous census.
Titles of chairpersons
The chairperson and deputy of a Town Council are designated as Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach respectively. However, Schedule 8 of the Local Government Act 2001 allows alternative titles for the individuals elected to chair Town Councils, namely:
- In the Irish language Méara Bhaile ....... and Leas-Mhéara Bhaile ....... followed by the name of the town in Irish
- In the English language Mayor of the Town of ....... and Deputy Mayor of the Town of ....... followed by the name of the town in English
- "Putting People First". Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.