Sligo Borough Council’s fate could be decided by Environment Minister, Phil Hogan as early as next month,
Mr Hogan is expected to choose the councils for the chop in a radical new plan that will drastically cut the 700 councillors who sit on town and borough councils throughout the land.
But he hasn’t told any of the Sligo councillors yet, as a statement from Sligo County Council yesterday confirmed.
“No information concerning the review has been issued to the Council”, a spokesperson told the Sligo Weekender.
“There has been no dialogue or engagement by the Council with Minister Hogan concerning a review of local authorities”.
It’s thought that Minister Hogan’s move will prompt an outcry especially among Fine Gael and Labour councillors in Sligo who control the County Council and have six of the 12 Borough Council seats.
And Sligo county council Fine Gael chairman Michael Fleming yesterday said he did not believe the Borough Council would be abolished or merged into the County Council.
Mr Fleming said he believed that the numbers on both bodies could be reduced and Sligo and Leitrim county councils could merge at some future date.
However if Sligo Borough Council is on the Minister Hogan’s hit list, due to be published next month, a Council that was first established in 1612 could be scrapped.
It is unlikely that the Minister could take any action until the 2014 local elections which would give Borough Councilors like Fine Gael’s David Cawley, Daniel McGarrigle, Veronica Cawley and Marcella McGarry(Labour) and Sinn Fein’s Arthur Gibbons and Chris McManus an uncertain future.
But it would also give them two years to canvass for election to Sligo County Council and spark intense competition.
Matt Lyons(Fine Gael), Declan Bree (Independent Socialist), Jude Devins(Fianna Fail), Rosaleen O’Grady(Fianna Fail) and Labour’s Jimmy McGarry are not directly affected as they have a dual mandate as county councilors also.
But they too will be submitting to the will of the electorate in just two years time.
The drastic measures were revealed by Environment Minister Phil Hogan at the Irish Planning Institute’s annual conference in Kilkenny over the weekend, with the full plan to be published in June
Town and borough councils will be merged with bigger local authorities, resulting in dozens of council seats being abolished before the 2014 local elections.
The move will prompt a scramble among Sligo councillors to win a party nomination to allow them run in the next election.
In straitened times some see Sligo Borough Council as a totally unnecessary extra burden with equally unnecessary duplication of work.
Others see the Borough as the cash cow that brings in loads of revenue in rates and rent.
Work has already begun on merging local authorities in Limerick and Tipperary, with Mr Hogan saying that smaller councils had to go because they could not deliver services efficiently.
For Sligo this is a very worrying development, as these councils serve a much bigger constituency.
There are currently 29 county councils, five city councils, five borough councils and 75 town councils across the country.
There are also eight regional authorities and two regional assemblies, a total of 124.
If plans go ahead it could mean an end to Sligo’s neighbouring Bundora and Ballyshannon town councils..