In May of last year the 80 town councils, including Westport, Castlebar and Ballina, were replaced by 137 municipal districts, with the membership and configuration determined at council level. The independent financial revenue-raising powers of town councils were lost and district councils are instead handed down annual financial allocations, irrespective of the amounts of money raised in each district.
Speaking about the abolition of the town councils at the recent Labour Party Conference Minister Howlin told delegates “If you ask me what is the one thing I regret most about the last four years it was that decision and I personally say I took my eye off the ball."
Mr Hogan’s successor in the Department of the Environment, Minister Alan Kelly, also indicated at the party’s weekend conference that he is unhappy with the changes telling a policy seminar that he was working on measures to rectify the situation.
Mr Martin was a vocal opponent of the abolitions, both within the Labour Party and the Council chamber, and was part of a special cross-party delegation from Westport Town Council to Strasbourg to the 25th Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to lobby for the retention of town councils.