Mayo 2020: Large protests led by local county councillors and TDs have marched in Castlebar and Westport after it emerged that the County Council may have to raise a local council tax to fund local services. The row emerged after the directly elected Mayor of Mayo pointed out that under the 2017 Local Government Act, which devolved block grants to the County Council for health, education, policing and housing amongst others, if the the people of Mayo want to spend more on public services than the grants allow, then they have to be willing to fund it themselves.
“This is not rocket science.” The mayor said. “Mayo gets the same block grant per head of population as Dublin, and we decide how it is spent in Mayo. It’s true we have wider areas to cover, but we also have lower costs than Dublin. A nurse in Dublin gets paid more than a nurse in Mayo because his living costs are higher. If we want more services than other counties, we have to pay for them ourselves. We have spent years complaining about being told what to do by Dublin. Now, we are masters of our own destiny, something that some councillors seem to want to run a mile from. They’re into my office every day looking for additional spending on this GAA club or that road, but when I ask them to discuss how we pay for all this, they’re on the streets protesting against the county council that they are elected members of. Well, this isn’t the old days of the county manager. We run this county, the council and me, and it’s time they grew a pair.”
Councillor Olly Slipper (FG) condemned the mayor for “not standing up for Mayo”. “It’s a disgrace that the people of Mayo are expected to pay taxes for the services in Mayo. A disgrace! It is obvious that Mayo is a special case and should get extra funding from taxpayers in other counties, something that I think they’d be delighted to do. The mayor should be up in Dublin lobbying for other counties to pay a special Mayo tax to fund extra services in Mayo. We have a right to fairness!”