Labour TD Ciarán Lynch takes another swipe at Alan Kelly over Cork council merger

Senior Labour TD Ciarán Lynch has taken another apparent swipe at his party colleague Alan Kelly, saying the Department of Environment, over which Mr Kelly is minister, has done more to reduce the power of local government “than the British administration ever did in 800 years”.

Earlier this week, Mr Lynch, who is chairman of the Oireachtas banking inquiry, accused Mr Kelly of rushing to accept the majority findings of the Cork Local Government Review group, which recommended the merging of Cork city and county councils. He also said the local government review was hijacked by Mr Kelly’s department.

Last night, at the launch of the Labour Party’s 1916 centenary commemoration exhibition, Mr Lynch said the Department of the Environment had done more to reduce the power of local Government than the British administration ever did in 800 years.

“The legacy of local Government that was left here after the country gained independence has actually been furthered undermined by the Department of Environment over this duration,” said Mr Lynch.

“In the last five years, the priority issues that were obviously driven by them were the reduction of the number of politicians, the reduction of the number of councillors, and the abolition of town councils, all of which, I believe, will prove to be bad decisions in the long term.”

Mr Lynch said that the recommendations in the majority report of the merger review group is a reflection of the Department of the Environment’s agenda. He said the majority report “reflects a particular ideology which is that reduction equals reform which has never proven to be the case”, while a minority report on the issue, which recommends a boundary extension, “is based on evidential research carried out internationally that shows the optimum size of cities and how they best reform”.

At the same launch, Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton refused to be drawn into the row between her two senior party colleagues or to voice her preference on which approach is best. She said the matter had not come before Government yet but “I think the clear preference for the Labour Party is for local government to be as local as possible”.

Ms Burton was more forthright on what she saw as Sinn Féin attempting to “rewrite history to its own ends” in relation to the 1916 commemorations.

She told the gathering: “We have already witnessed some efforts by Sinn Féin to appropriate the events of the revolutionary period and I expect we will see more of that. This is a deliberate distortion of history — Sinn Féin had precious little to do with the events of 1916. They are seeking to hijack the history of the country so as to explain away the IRA’s campaign of sectarian violence and the subsequent criminality it spawned.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Ms Burton’s remarks “encapsulate her schizophrenic approach to the 1916 centenary” and her “attitude is marked by a shallow and wholly self-serving approach to Irish history”..

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