Press Release

Minister O´Malley opens Local Authority Members Association 21st Annual Conference

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, opened the Local Authority Members 21st Annual Conference in the West County Hotel, Ennis, Co. Clare today Thursday, 15th April, 2004.

The Minister said “since this Government first came to office in 1997 general purpose grants have been increased by about 120% and grants for non national roads have more than doubled. And all of us, regardless of political persuasion, must be pleased with that.”

The financial standing of local authorities has undergone a transformation in recent years. The Local Government Fund, which was set up in 1999 has provided a ring fenced source of funding for local authorities. This has enabled successive Ministers to provide increasing central funding for local government.

The combined effects of these benevolent trends have enabled local government to reorganise themselves to focus on the needs of their customers and expand and improve the range of services they provide. A crucial part of this reorganisation has been to bring local authority members and other community representatives to the heart of strategic decision making in the sector.

Minister O´Malley said “as a former Councillor with Limerick County Council I know how hard councillors work for their communities and I recognise the complex range of issues of which you are now expected to tackle. I appreciate your attendance at this conference and training seminars which are held from time to time, which contribute to making councillors even more professional in their duties.”

The Minister also commented on the recent reform of the health services and said “major change can be painful for any organisation but the drive to put the patient in the centre of service planning/service delivery cannot be compromised. Nor can the taxpayer´s entitlement to get value for money be compromised. These imperatives must stay in the forefront of our minds as we go through this period of change and reform. At the end of the day, we want to see a responsive, adaptable health system which meets the needs of the population effectively and at affordable cost.”