Renua senator Paul Bradford said the restoration of town councils is a red-line issue for the party in any post-election negotiations.
Mr Bradford, the husband of party leader Lucinda Creighton, described the abolition of 80 town councils, a move carried out under former minister for the environment Phil Hogan, as one of the most regressive measures of the Coalition.
“In the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen the voice of citizens in small Irish towns was stilled,” said Mr Bradford. “Our belief in the primacy of people in government and in a real politics of openness and transparency will inform our position on this issue.”
He said while this might seem a minor issue in Dublin, “in rural Ireland it is a matter of real importance and a source of real anger”.
Returning power and control to local communities over their own lives is a red-line principle for Renua, Mr Bradford said. The restoration of town councils is viewed by the party as playing a central role in plans to re-energise local government.
Mr Bradford said town councils will be given designated powers which will allow them represent the concerns of local people.
“Our changes to local government will assist in developing the concept of people having ownership of the communities where they live,” he said.
“Town councils will be elected by a ballot of the relevant town or area and would not involve remuneration. This council will have a statutory input into all local government responsibilities.”