Funding fears expressed over council merger

Trinity College's Professor Eoin O'Sullivan, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group.

Fears have been expressed that the proposed amalgamation of the two local authorities in Galway will result in funding from central government going into a “black hole” in the city, with relatively very little being released into rural parts of the county.

The concerns were expressed at a ‘behind closed doors’ meeting held in the Harbour Hotel this week between county councillors and the Expert Advisory Group charged with assessing the proposals and making recommendations to Government.

There has already been a recommendation to amalgamate both the City and County Councils into one body that will be known as the Greater Galway Authority – however, the vast majority of elected representatives in both authorities are vehemently opposed to this move.

On Wednesday, members of Galway County Council were invited to a meeting by the Expert Advisory Group to express their views on the merger. The meeting was closed to the media, but following opposition to this by the councillors present, the Galway City Tribune was permitted to remain in the room.

The meeting was organised to hear the views of the councillors “on how best to meet the needs of the citizens of Galway, in our city, our towns and the county”. Similar meetings are being organised to hear the views of city councillors and the Oireachtas members.

The Expert Advisory Group, which was appointed to consider the merger of both authorities, have recommended that the establishment of a Greater Galway Authority is “technically and administratively feasible”.

However, they concede that there will be no cost saving in such a move, as both authorities are already under-resourced. There are also no details of how many councillors would be elected to this new authority (there are currently a total of 57 councillors between the City and County Councils).

The members of the County Council at the meeting were largely opposed to the move and many believed that the city would “swallow up” the vast majority of the overall budget.

Oranmore Electoral Area councillor, Jim Cuddy, said that such a move would result in job creation initiatives all going to the city to the detriment of towns like Tuam, Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Gort and Clifden.
To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.