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McNamara’s proposed reforms prove unpopular at council

CLARE Labour candidate Michael McNamara came under fire at the February meeting of Shannon Town Council.

Councillor Gerry Flynn put down a motion that “Shannon Town Council write to each candidate contesting the General Election in Clare seeking their commitment if elected, to oppose any proposals to abolish town councils”.
Councillor Flynn said Michael McNamara had expressed a view that local councils need to be abolished and replaced with regional assemblies. “He reiterated in the Phoenix magazine in December his view that town councils should be abolished.”
He said he was surprised that Councillor Patricia McCarthy had endorsed Mr McNamara, who he said had “always advocated protecting this council”.
Responding, Councillor McCarthy claimed she had raised the protection of town councils previously and was firmly of the view that they should be preserved. She also said she had no problem backing the Labour candidate. “I’m absolutely delighted to endorse him, he is one of the best in the field.”
She said there was a need for reform of the political system and said Shannon had benefited from having a town council. “We were so long with no voice in Shannon and people wanted to have elected representatives here because they are closest to them,” she said.
Councillor Greg Duff said that in every town, people want to be able to make representations locally.
Fine Gael Councillor Seán McLoughlin said he had spoken to his party’s candidates in Clare who favoured preserving the town councils. He said that as Mr McNamara had never been a county or town councillor, he mightn’t fully appreciate the role of local politicians.
Summing up, Councillor Gerry Flynn said that Councillor McCarthy was like a “turkey voting for Christmas” by backing Mr McNamara, an accusation Councillor McCarthy rejected.
Speaking to The Clare Champion following the meeting, Mr McNamara said he does favour reform of local political structures.
“The system we have was designed for 100 years ago. Some towns have tiny populations and have some powers while others with greater numbers would have no powers. It’s antiquated and it needs to be reformed,” Mr McNamara said.
He said there is a need to create a system with fewer local politicians, with more powers, while he said that the public feel many of their representatives are of a mixed standard. “In Clare, we have some excellent local politicians and some dire ones and everybody knows it,” he commented.
Mr McNamara said effective local politicians become frustrated with their limited roles, while so little is expected of the lesser ones that they can spend many years on elected bodies without accomplishing anything.
He said if fewer people were given more responsibilities, it would become far clearer who was and wasn’t performing.


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