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Local Government Reform

Local Government Reform Act 2014  (No. 1 of 2014)


The Local Government Reform Act 2014 (pdf, 1,349kb) became law on signature by the President on 27 January 2014. The Act makes legal provision for the reforms set out in the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government, Putting People First, which was published in October 2012. Some provisions of the Act came into force immediately on enactment and certain others were commenced by Ministerial Order in the first week of February 2014.

The main changes in local government structures, including a new system of municipal districts, replacing the 80 town councils, will be brought into effect from 1 June 2014, following the local elections on 23 May. In preparation for this the Minister made a set of orders specifying revised local electoral areas in cities and counties and municipal districts in 25 counties giving effect to the recommendations of the independent electoral area boundary committee report published in May 2013.  These areas will provide the basis on which the local elections on 23 May will be held and the electoral registers are now being prepared on that basis.

The electoral areas involve more balanced representation generally, with less variation in ratios of councillors to population across the country, while the anomaly of residents in many towns having double votes and two sets of councillors (town and county) will be ended.  The total number of local electoral areas nationally is 137, while 95 municipal districts have been designated. The municipal district corresponds with the electoral area except in the case of the Dundalk, Kilkenny City, and Mullingar municipal districts, each of which will comprise two electoral areas, and the metropolitan districts of Limerick and Waterford, which will contain 3 electoral areas each.

The municipal districts, which will include towns and their hinterlands, eliminating division caused by outdated town boundaries and the anomaly of some small centres having a Town Council while certain other larger centres have not, are designed to enhance democratic governance, subsidiarity and accountability. The new arrangements are also intended to improve operational efficiency and value for money, with a single county-wide executive and operational structure. The municipal districts will be decision-making entities rather than corporate structures.

In addition to the new municipal district arrangements, the Act provides for a wide range of reforms to local authority functions, structures, funding, performance and governance, which will be brought into effect progressively through a series of further orders over the coming months, including:

  • the formal merger of city/county councils in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford;
  • new regional assemblies, with a more robust role in spatial and economic planning, as well as management of EU funded programmes, to replace the current eight regional authorities and two assemblies;
  • a range of provisions relating to local authority governance and management, focussed particularly on strengthening the role of the elected council;
  • stronger oversight of local authority performance, particularly through a new independent National Oversight and Audit Commission for Local Government (NOAC);
  • provisions relating to community development in the context of local government, involving the establishment of Local Community Development Committees in place of the City and County Development Boards;
  • provision for a plebiscite in 2014 on the issue of an office of directly elected mayor for the Dublin metropolitan area and related local governance arrangements;
  • amendments to a number of legislative codes to take account of the changes in local government legislation and other policy decisions. 


Enquiries about the Act may be made to Veronica Healy, Local Government Development Section at or ext 2388.


Putting People First Action Programme for Local Government (pdf, 8,110kb)



Workforce Planning


Workforce Planning in the Local Government Sector (pdf, 765kb)



Further Information:

Tel: +353 (0)1 888 2388 (Veronica Healy)

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