Functions of local authorities


Local authorities are responsible for the provision of an extensive range of public services in your area. In addition, local authorities promote the interests of your local community, including the social, economic, environmental, recreational, cultural, community or general development of your area.

Responsibilities of local authorities

These are typically broken down into the following broad categories:

  • Housing
  • Planning
  • Roads
  • Development incentives and controls
  • Environmental protection including rivers, lakes, air and noise
  • Recreation facilities and amenities

In addition to the functions outlined above, a fundamental role of democratically elected local government is the representation of local communities, voicing local concerns and responding to local needs.

Local authorities and housing

Local authorities provide and maintain housing in their area. They assess the housing needs for the area and build, buy and lease dwellings. They also provide loans for the repair and improvement of dwellings within the area.

Local authorities and recreation facilities and amenities

Local authorities provide amenities, facilities and services related to artistic and cultural activities, sports and games, general recreational and leisure activities, libraries, civic improvements such as monuments, environmental and heritage protection and the public use of amenities.

Local authorities and planning

Your local authority is the planning authority. It decides whether to grant or refuse planning permission for building and development in your area. It also creates a Development Plan every 6 years, which sets out its planning policies.

Local authorities and essential services

Local authorities provide essential services such as roads and bridges, fire services and drainage. Irish Water is responsible for water and wastewater services.

Local authorities also control dangerous places and buildings, abattoirs and knackeries and provide and maintain graveyards and burial grounds.

Local authorities and environmental protection

The local authority has an important function in relation to pollution control and animal control. It issues licenses for waste disposal and for emissions into the air from plants. It collects or arranges for the collection of domestic and other waste and it monitors the environment for signs of pollution. It also issues licenses for keeping dogs and licenses for horses within its area.

The local authority grants licenses to street traders to allow them to sell goods on the street and to casual traders to allow them to sell goods at casual trading areas designated by the city, county, town or borough council.

Page edited: 28 March 2019