Three trade unions, Fórsa, SIPTU and CONNECT are joining forces to call for reform of services ahead of the local elections in May.
The unions want all political parties to pledge to change and improve funding for waste, water, housing and energy services.
The three organisations launched a report today on local government and its future.
“Local government can be an important source of economic development and local jobs, while local authorities across Europe are playing a leading role in transitioning to low-carbon renewable energy.” #MorePowerToYou pic.twitter.com/CXbuDvP0NK— Fórsa Trade Union (@forsa_union_ie) March 27, 2019
The research paper, Democracy Works If You Let It by Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University, finds that only 8% of Irish public spending occurs at local government level, compared to an EU23 average of over 23%, and that a quarter of the Irish spend is not fully under local authority control.
“Local government can be an important source of economic development and local jobs, while local authorities across Europe are playing a leading role in transitioning to low-carbon renewable energy. We need to rebuild Irish local democracy and citizen participation to build strong local economies based on good jobs and decent incomes, and to address climate change," Dr Murphy said at this morning's launch.
The study says Irish local authorities perform fewer functions than municipalities across Europe, with their roles largely confined to physical infrastructure and environmental and recreational services.
Democracy Works If You Let It claims this impacts negatively on local employment, service quality, value-for-money, environmental protection, and local jobs and economic development.
It has also contributed to declining local election voter turnout.
“All over Europe, privatised local services are being brought back under direct local authority provision because publicly-provided services are usually better quality, better value for money, and more environmentally sustainable," said Adrian Kane, SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser.