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LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT, 2001
Local Authority Membership
Eligibility for local authority membership.
12. —Subject to section 14 and to the disqualifications set out in section 13 and to the provisions of section 19 relating to co-option, a person is eligible for election or co-option to, and membership of, a local authority, if he or she is a citizen of Ireland or is ordinarily resident in the State and has or will attain the age of 18 years—
(a) on or before polling day at a local election, or
(b) if there is no poll, the latest day for receiving nominations at the election, or on or before the day of co-option to a local authority.
Disqualifications from local authority membership.
13. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person is disqualified from being elected or co-opted to, or from being a member of a local authority if he or she—
(a) is a member of the Commission of the European Community, or
(b) is a representative in the European Parliament, or
(c) is a Judge, Advocate General or Registrar of the Court of Justice of the European Community, or
(d) is a member of the Court of Auditors of the European Community, or
(e) is a Minister of the Government or a Minister of State or the chairman of Dáil Éireann (An Ceann Comhairle), or the chairman of Seanad Éireann, or
(f) is appointed under the Constitution as a Judge or as the Comptroller and Auditor General, or
(g) is a member of the Garda Síochána or a wholetime member of the Defence Forces as defined in section 11(4)(b) of the Electoral Act, 1992 , or
(h) is a civil servant who is not by terms of employment expressly permitted to be a member of a local authority, or
(i) is a person employed by a local authority and is not the holder of a class, description or grade of employment designated by order under section 161 (1)(b) or deemed to have been made under that section, or
(j) is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for any term exceeding 6 months imposed by a court of competent jurisdiction in the State, or
(k) fails to pay any sum or any portion of any sum charged or surcharged, by an auditor of the accounts of any local authority, upon or against that person, or
(l) fails to comply with a final judgement, order or decree of a court of competent jurisdiction, for payment of money due to any local authority, or
(m) is convicted of, or has had a conviction confirmed on appeal for, an offence relating to any of the following:
(i) fraudulent or dishonest dealings affecting a local authority;
(ii) corrupt practice;
(iii) acting when disqualified.
(2) (a) A disqualification arising under subsection (1)(k) commences—
(i) where no appeal is taken, on the expiration of the time limit for an appeal, or
(ii) where an appeal is taken to the Minister or the High Court, on the expiration of one month from the date of an order confirming the charge or surcharge,
and the disqualification shall be for 5 years from the date of its commencement.
(b) A disqualification arising under subsection (1)(l) comes into effect on the seventh day after the last day for compliance with the relevant final judgement, order or decree and the disqualification shall be for 5 years from such last day.
(c) A disqualification arising under subsection (1)(m) commences—
(i) where no appeal is taken against the conviction, when the time limit for taking an appeal has passed, or
(ii) where an appeal is taken against the conviction and the appeal is disallowed, one month from the determination of the appeal,
and the disqualification shall be for 5 years from the date of conviction or determination of the appeal, as the case may be.
(3) Nothing in this section operates to prejudice any disqualification referred to in section 182 or in section 20 of the Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Act, 1999 , or in any other enactment.
Prohibition on multiple membership of local authorities.
14. —(1) A person shall not hold membership simultaneously of—
(a) more than one local authority of the same class, or
(b) a city council and town council.
(2) For the purposes of this section, local authorities shall be deemed to consist of the following 2 classes:
(a) county councils and city councils;
(b) town councils.
Offence to act when disqualified.
15. —(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he or she knowingly acts as a member of a local authority when disqualified, or knowingly votes when prohibited by or under any enactment.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,500 for each such offence.
(3) An offence under this section may be prosecuted by a local government elector or a local authority.
(4) This section is without prejudice to any other disqualification or penalty arising out of the actions of the person concerned.
Cesser of membership.
16. —(1) A person ceases to be a member of a local authority and a casual vacancy arises in its membership immediately upon he or she becoming disqualified from membership of a local authority under section 13 or 182, or under section 20 of the Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Act, 1999 .
(2) When a person ceases to be a member of a local authority under this section he or she also ceases to be a member of any body to which he or she—
(a) was elected, nominated or appointed by a local authority, or
(b) is a member by virtue of being a member of a local authority.
(3) Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) shall be read so as to affect the validity of anything previously done by the person while a member of the local authority or of the body concerned.
(4) A person to whom a disqualification referred to in subsection (1) applies is so disqualified from being or becoming a member of any committee, joint committee or joint body.
Term of office.
17. —(1) In this section—
“incoming members” has the meaning given in subsection (3)(b);
“ordinary day of retirement”, in relation to the outgoing members of a local authority, means the seventh day—
(a) after the polling day at the election of the incoming members of the local authority, or
(b) where the poll for any local electoral area of the local authority or for any polling station at the election of incoming members of the local authority is for any reason countermanded, interrupted or adjourned, after the day on which the poll is completed or the fresh poll is held.
(2) Subject to this Act, the members of a local authority hold office until the next ordinary day of retirement and retire together on that day as provided for by this section.
(3) On the ordinary day of retirement—
(a) each of the outgoing members of the local authority retires, and
(b) each person elected at the election comes into office as a member of the local authority (in this section collectively referred to as the “incoming members”).
(4) The term of office of a member of a local authority continues until the next ordinary day of retirement of members of the local authority, unless such member sooner dies, resigns, becomes disqualified, is removed from office or otherwise ceases to be a member of the local authority.
Resignation from membership.
18. —(1) A member of a local authority may resign from membership by notice in writing signed by him or her and delivered to the principal offices of the local authority.
(2) A person ceases to be a member of the local authority—
(a) on the date specified in the notice as the resignation date, or
(b) where no date is specified, on receipt of the notice,
and accordingly a casual vacancy occurs in the membership of the local authority.
(3) A person who resigns from membership of a local authority under this section also ceases on such resignation to be a member of any body—
(a) to which he or she was elected, nominated or appointed by the local authority, or
(b) of which he or she is a member by virtue of being a member of the local authority.
(4) (a) A person shall be deemed to have resigned from membership of a local authority where the person is absent from attendance at any meeting of the authority for a continuous period of 6 consecutive months (“the relevant period”) from the date (“the relevant date”) of his or her last attendance at a meeting of the authority.
(b) paragraph (a) does not apply where the absence was—
(i) due to illness, or
(ii) in good faith for another reason,
and which, in either case, is accepted by the local authority and approved by resolution under this paragraph before the end of the relevant period, in which case the period shall stand extended to 12 months from the relevant date.
(c) Where a resolution is passed under paragraph (b) and the continuous period of absence continues uninterrupted—
(i) due to illness, or
(ii) in good faith for another reason,
and, in either case, is accepted by the local authority and approved by resolution under this paragraph before the expiry of the relevant period as extended under paragraph (b), then the period shall stand extended to 18 months from the relevant date.
(d) A casual vacancy under this subsection occurs on the next day after—
(i) in the case of paragraph (a), the end of the relevant period,
(ii) in the case of paragraph (b), the end of the relevant period as extended under that paragraph, or
(iii) in the case of paragraph (c), the end of the relevant period as extended to 18 months under that paragraph.
(5) Attendance as a member at a meeting of any committee or joint committee or joint body of the authority shall be deemed for the purposes of subsection (4) to be attendance at a meeting of the authority.
19. —(1) A casual vacancy in the membership of a local authority occurs—
(a) where section 16 (1) applies,
(b) upon the death or resignation (including deemed resignation by virtue of section 18 (4)) of a member of a local authority,
(c) in such circumstances as are set out in Articles 25, 28 and 124 of the Local Elections Regulations, 1995 (S.I. No. 297 of 1995),
(d) in such circumstances as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Minister under section 27 , or
(e) in such circumstances as are referred to in section 15(1) of the Local Elections (Petitions and Disqualifications) Act, 1974 .
(2) It is the duty of the meetings administrator to notify the members of the local authority in writing on becoming aware that a casual vacancy has or may have occurred.
(3) (a) A casual vacancy shall be filled by the co-option by the local authority of a person to fill the vacancy and except where paragraph (c) or (d) or (e) of subsection (1) apply, subject to such person being nominated by the same registered political party who nominated for election or co-option the member who caused the casual vacancy.
(b) Where the person causing the casual vacancy was a non-party candidate at his or her election to the local authority, the vacancy shall be filled by the co-option by the local authority of a person to fill the vacancy (except where paragraph (c) or (d) or (e) of subsection (1) apply) in accordance with such requirements and procedures as may be set out in its standing orders.
(c) A local authority shall in making standing orders consider the inclusion of provisions for the purposes of paragraph (b).
(4) (a) A co-option shall be made, after due notice, at the next meeting of the local authority after the expiration of 14 days from the occurrence of the vacancy or as soon after the expiration of the 14 days as circumstances permit.
(b) In this subsection “due notice” means not less than 3 clear days' notice given in writing to every member of the local authority.
(5) A person is not to be proposed at a meeting of the local authority for co-option without his or her prior written consent.
(6) A person co-opted to fill a casual vacancy shall be a member of the local authority until the next ordinary day of retirement of members of that local authority unless he or she sooner ceases to be a member.
Savers (Part 3).
20. —(1) The acts, decisions and proceedings of a local authority shall not be invalidated only because of a vacancy or vacancies in its membership or of the disqualification or want of qualification of any of its members.
(2) Subsection (1) is without prejudice to the requirements of paragraph 11 of Schedule 10 in respect of the quorum for a meeting of a local authority.
(3) Any person who immediately before the establishment day is a member of a local authority shall, on and from such day, continue as such member subject to and in accordance with this Act.
(4) A person to whom subsection (3) applies and who is an alderman shall continue to bear that title until the next ordinary day of retirement after the commencement of this provision, or until his or her otherwise ceasing to be a member of the local authority, whichever is the earlier.
Number of members of local authorities, etc.
21. —(1) Subject to section 22 and without prejudice to section 40 (7), each county council and city council consists of the number of members specified in Parts 1 and 2, respectively, of Schedule 7 opposite the reference to the county council or city council concerned.
(2) (a) The number of members of a town council referred to in Part 3 of Schedule 7 is 12.
(b) Subject to section 22 (5), the number of members of any other town council is 9.
(3) Without prejudice to paragraph 11 of Schedule 10, where a provision of this Act provides that at least a specified proportion of the total number of members of a local authority is necessary in relation to the doing of any particular act, then in a case where such proportion consists of a whole number and a remainder, the whole number shall of itself be sufficient.
Alteration of number of members of local authority.
22. —(1) (a) A county council or a city council may by resolution adopt a proposal (in this section referred to as a “proposal”) for the alteration of the number of members of that council.
(b) A proposal under paragraph (a) and a public notice under paragraph (d) shall specify the current number of members of the authority and the number by which it is proposed to be altered and whether by way of increase or decrease.
(c) It is necessary for the adoption of a proposal under paragraph (a) that at least one-half of the total number of members of the authority vote in favour of the resolution.
(d) Before adopting a proposal the local authority shall invite submissions on it from the public by way of a public notice and the authority shall consider any submissions received.
(e) Following the adoption of a resolution under this subsection a local authority may make application to the Minister for an alteration in the number of members.
(2) Where an application has been duly made to the Minister under subsection (1), the Minister may by order alter the number of members of the county council or city council concerned, whether or not to the extent proposed.
(3) (a) Before deciding whether to make an order under subsection (2), the Minister shall request the Local Government Commission to prepare a report with respect to the application and Part 11 applies to such a request and report.
(b) The Local Government Commission may recommend an alteration otherwise than in accordance with the application to the Minister or that no alteration be made.
(c) A report prepared under paragraph (a) shall include such recommendations as the Local Government Commission may consider appropriate in relation to the alteration of local electoral areas under section 23 and the number of members assigned to each of them.
(4) An order under subsection (2) shall not apply to any local elections which occur within 6 months of the making of the order but shall apply to any subsequent local elections.
(5) (a) A town council to which section 21 (2)(b) applies may by resolution adopt a proposal for the alteration to 12 of the number of members of that council where the population of the town concerned exceeds 15,000 as shown in the most recent census.
(b) Subsections (1) to (4) shall apply with any necessary modifications for the purposes of this subsection.
(6) An application under this section shall not be made to the Minister within 5 years of the decision by the Minister on any previous application by the local authority concerned.