Fingal Labour Group calls for online council voting in Covid-19 emergency
– COUNCILS SHOULD BE FREE TO MAKE DECISIONS ONLINE DURING CRISIS
Press Statement by Cllr John Walsh on behalf of Fingal Labour Group
Cllr John Walsh (on behalf of the Labour Group on Fingal County Council) called on the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD, to prepare legislation to allow Councils throughout the country to meet and make all decisions online for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
Cllr. Walsh said:
“The Department of Housing has advised that legally binding decisions may not be made in online meetings and that the Local Government requires ‘meetings convened for a statutory purpose under that Act to be convened in a physical place’. The requirement to convene face to face meetings in a physical location, even with limited numbers and social distancing, is ludicrous and potentially dangerous in the current extraordinary situation. Minister Murphy should act immediately to draft legislation allowing Councils to function and make decisions online for the duration of the current crisis.
“Our first concern is to ensure that local authorities can meet safely and in line with Government guidelines. But it’s also crucial that democracy is not deferred by the pandemic – councils have to be allowed to fulfil their statutory obligations and continue with the democratic process, at a time when any re-opening is constrained by the very real threat of COVID-19.’
John Walsh added: “It is an outdated requirement which belongs to a bygone era that all business has to be decided face to face regardless of the public health context. Minister Murphy could take the lead in solving this problem by arranging for the drafting of legislation which could then be adopted quickly by the Oireachtas on the formation of a new Government. Such legislation would be very straightforward and could simply allow for business to be completed online in a public health emergency and subject to a sunset clause.’
Press statement issued on behalf of the Labour Group on Fingal County Council – Cllr James Humphreys, Cllr Brian McDonagh, Cllr Robert O’Donoghue, Cllr Mary McCamley, Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh, Cllr John Walsh