Reply Rates from Ministers to Council Issues ‘Unacceptable’

by Mark O'Brien
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Government Ministers have yet to respond to half of the letters sent on the back of motions by South Dublin County Council.

A freedom of information request by Cllr Ed O’Brien (FF) has revealed that the number of letters issued to ministers following motions at council meetings from the period September 2016 to December 2017 was 87 but the council has only received 43 replies to date.

Fianna Fail TD for Dublin Mid-West John Curran has said that replies from Government Ministers to issues raised directly by South Dublin County Council have been long overdue.

Deputy Curran was speaking in the Dail during questions on Promised Legislation; where he raised this issue with the Taoiseach and the Minister responsible for Local Government, Eoghan Murphy.

He said: “The programme for Government refers to greater openness and improved accountability.

“It was recently brought to my attention that the response from Ministers and their departments on issues raised directly by South Dublin County Council has been very poor.”

Deputy Curran said that it was “unacceptable and very disappointing” that Ministers and their Departments were taking so long to respond to local authorities.

“As a significant number of replies have not been issued and because transparency is very important when it comes to the work of local authorities and ensuring that the questions they put to Departments are answered efficiently, I am calling on the Taoiseach and Minister to arrange with colleagues to deal with this effectively,” he said.

“It is not just one Minister, but many who are failing to reply to written questions put to them.

“I am sure that if it applies to South Dublin County Council, it also applies to other local authorities across the country.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said: “The role of the Minister in relation to local authorities is primarily to ensure an appropriate framework of policy and legislation in relation to the local government system, including its structures, functions, human resources, financing and broad oversight.

“The Minister has no function with regard to engagement between other Departments and local authorities.”

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