Article 28A of the Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hEireann) recognises the role of local government in providing democratic representation of local communities. This recognition endorses the democratic representative role of local government and guarantees local elections at least every five years.
Local government not only represents the people in the local communities, but also perform a number of important functions. Local government has therefore both a representational and an operational role, with responsibility for a range of services. It operates through a network of directly elected local authorities which provide, among other things, a forum for the democratic representation of local communities, giving expression to local identity, identifying local concerns and setting local priorities.
To carry out their functions, local authorities are entrusted with certain powers.
The primary legislation applying to local authorities is the Local Government Act 2001.
Local government reform
In October 2012 the Government published Putting People First- Action Programme for Effective Local Government (pdf) which sets out Government policy for reforms across all the main areas of local government. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 amended the 2001 Act. With effect from June 2014, the town and borough councils were replaced by a comprehensive system of municipal districts and a number of local authorities were merged. Further information on local government reform is available on the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government website.