Morris Rejects Optimistic Tipperary Council Merger Report

Cllr Séamie Morris of Sinn Féin has rejected the upbeat conclusions of the report on the merger of North and South Tipperary Councils released by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA). He argues that the report fails to reflect the reality on the ground, or to account for the loss of services experienced by the public.

Cllr Morris said: “I was not one bit surprised to hear that the IPA report on the merger all but ignored the negative points of the recent Tipperary council merger. We are being fed stories, where the truth is spun 360 degrees and negatives are listed as positives.”

I was one of the Tipperary councillors that met with the IPA after the merger, and no councillor in the room with me had a positive view of it. It has caused difficulties for the people of Tipperary.”

When Tipperary lost all of its town and borough councils, a huge reduction in funding for Tipperary services followed. While 41 million was received in local government funding in 2011, that dropped to just 23 million in 2015. That’s the real story of the amalgamation. The reduction of almost 18 million for Tipperary means we now have a huge lack of funding for our local services.”

Tipperary has lost local offices in Borrisokane, Cahir, Cashel, Newport, and Templemore. There is less service for the people in these areas because they are now isolated from access to council offices. The merger also means that because there are fewer councillors, some areas of Tipperary have no representation at all. The lack of councillors means there are even more chances for TDs to claim credit for what is achieved by the councillors who do remain.”

Full council meetings have now become a joke, with some councillors not even taking off their coats, showing how interested they are in proceedings. Though it’s hard to blame them as councillors are expected to read and absorb huge reports, emailed to them barely a few days before meetings. That’s hardly conducive to a productive council meeting. I have also sought that every second meeting should be held in the afternoon, to no avail.”

The first 6 to 9 months of the merger were the worst, with staff and councillors not knowing who was responsible for what. That meant that most councillors ignored the council switchboard and went back to contacting local staff directly.”

Significantly, the merger has also destroyed the bottom up approach to democracy. Future elections will see fewer workers in full-time employment putting their name on the ballot paper. That’s because employers just won’t give permission for employees to attend up to 40 meetings a year, as needed now. Whole sections of society are now disenfranchised from local politics.”

I am adamant that what has happened in Tipperary should not be used as a template for merging other councils, as it is a disaster for service users and for local democracy in the county.”


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