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The Local Government Act, 2001 (No. 37 of 2001) was enacted by the Oireachtas of Ireland on 21 July 2001. Most of the provisions of the Act came into operation on 1 January 2002. The act was a restatement and amendment of previous legislation, which was centred on the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. The 2001 act remains in force, although significantly amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
According to the explanatory memorandum issued before the passing of the Act, its purposes were to:
- enhance the role of the elected member,
- support community involvement with local authorities in a more participative local democracy,
- modernise local government legislation, and provide the framework for new financial management systems and other procedures to promote efficiency and effectiveness,
- underpin generally the programme of local government renewal.
Local government areas
The Act established local government areas based on those already created by previous legislation. The types of areas listed in the Act are:
Counties: Identical to the administrative counties established by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 and modified by later legislation. The opportunity was taken to rename Tipperary (North Riding) and Tipperary (South Riding) as North Tipperary and South Tipperary respectively.
Cities: These were the County boroughs created by the 1898 Act and later legislation, renamed. All the county boroughs except Galway had previously had the courtesy title of city by charter or letters patent.
Boroughs: The five existing non-county boroughs continued in existence. In addition it was recognised that Kilkenny could continue to be called a city, in spite of being governed by a borough council and not being a former county borough.
Membership of councils
One of the most controversial aspects of the Act was the abolition of the so-called "dual mandate". This meant that members of the Oireachtas (Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann) could no longer be candidates for local authority elections. This was taken out of the original act after protests from Fianna Fáil backbenchers who were also councillors. It was introduced in a 2003 amendment after a compensation package was agreed.
Inspired by the office of Mayor of London created in 2000, Chapter 3 of Part 5 of the 2001 act as passed provided for a directly-elected chairperson (mayor or cathaoirleach) of each county and city council. This was to take effect from the 2004 local elections. However, a 2003 amendment repealed the provision before it was implemented.
Local Government Commission
Part 11 of the Act mandated the establishment of a permanent Local Government Commission to propose changes to local authority areas, local electoral areas, or local authority powers. This part never came into force and was repealed by the 2014 act. The previous practice of ad-hoc committees for boundary reviews continued after 2001 and was formalised by the 2014 act.
- "Local Government Bill, 2000". Legislative Observatory: Bills 1992–2014. Oireachtas. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- "Local Government Act, 2001 (as enacted)". Irish Statute Book. 21 July 2001. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- "Local Government Act 2001 (as amended to 1 January 2016)" (PDF). Revised Acts with Annotations. Law Reform Commission. 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- Murphy, John A (14 July 2002). "No political will to rock the cosy boat that is the Seanad". Sunday Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
The councillor lobby which stymied Noel Dempsey's plans to end the dual mandate
- "§2 Amendment of Principal Act — insertion of new section 13A". Local Government (No. 2) Act 2003. Irish Statute Book. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
- Geaney, Louise (2 June 2003). "Local government needs independent 'fiscal autonomy'". Irish Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
The Local Government Bill 2000 proposed to abolish the dual mandate but the Act dropped the idea, only for it to be re-introduced — with a handy €12,800 sweetener — in 2003.
- Wallace, Danny (10 July 2001). "Local Government Bill, 2000: Second Stage". Seanad Éireann debates. Oireachtas. Vol.167 No.14 p.7 c.1339. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
From 2004, the cathaoirleach of counties and cities will be elected by direct vote of the people and will hold office for the life of the council.
- Cullen, Martin (26 February 2003). "Local Government Bill 2003: Second Stage". Seanad Éireann debates. Oireachtas. Vol.171 No.12 p.7 c.937. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
the Bill repeals legislative provisions currently in place which provide for the introduction of direct election of cathaoirligh of county–city councils in 2004. The Bill provides, therefore, that in 2004 the cathaoirleach will be chosen by the newly elected councillors from among their number as in the past.
- "Local Government (No. 2) Act 2003, Section 7". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Mooney, Derek. "The Dublin Mayor Nightmare". Broadsheet.ie. John Ryan. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- "Local Government Act 2001: Amendments, Commencement, SIs made under the Act". Irish Statute Book. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.