Local diversity: a cause for suspicion? Autonomy and cultural provision in Irish local government – a case study of Cork City Council

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Ronayne, William Mary
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University College Cork
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Local self-government – the “right and the ability of local authorities, within the limits of the law, to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population” (European Charter of Local Self-government) - is important because local government touches the lives and livelihoods of every citizen, in Ireland and elsewhere. To be meaningful and effective, local self-government requires a high degree of local autonomy and of subsidiarity, in terms both of legislation and financial provision. While it is generally accepted that the degree of local autonomy in Ireland is low by European standards, heretofore little research has been carried out on this important topic. No research has been carried out on its impact on cultural services. The gap in research and knowledge is addressed in this thesis. The literature on local government, with special reference to subsidiarity and the theory of local government, is reviewed. The recent evolution and current situation of Irish local government is discussed, with a particular focus on the question of local autonomy, and on cultural services. New research is brought to bear on the topic. The objective framework developed by Ladner, Keuffer, and Baldersheim (2016) is used to measure autonomy in Irish local government according to 11 variables; this demonstrates that Ireland ranks second lowest of 39 European countries surveyed. A series of structured interviews with practitioners in local cultural services is evaluated. The research shows that autonomy is crucial for local democracy, but that the level of autonomy in Irish local government is low. Local government in Ireland is less effective than it should be, and frequently does not meet the needs of local communities. Finally, suggestions are made for further research.
Local government , Local autonomy , Subsidiarity , Ireland , European countries
Ronayne, W. M. 2021. Local diversity: a cause for suspicion? Autonomy and cultural provision in Irish local government – a case study of Cork City Council. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.