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Order signed to allow council meetings take place remotely

Published on Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020
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Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has today (20th October 2020) signed an order which will allow county and city councillors to hold meetings and vote remotely.

The Minister signed a separate order for regional assemblies which means they can also convene remote meetings.

Working alongside his colleagues Ministers Burke and Noonan, the order was drafted so as to ensure that any decisions made at such meetings shall be considered the same as decisions made by elected members in a physical location.

Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “It’s important that the work of our elected local authority members can continue as normal despite the greater restrictions which have been imposed on the country. It’s also vitally important that their health and well-being is protected.

“It will be a matter for the members of each elected council and regional assembly to decide if they wish to hold remote meetings and if so how they will go about doing so. This will be particularly welcome for those who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Minister of State with special responsibility for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke TD said, “I am working with councillors and local authorities on guidelines for standing orders for remote meetings which will issue in the coming days.

“I would like to commend the Local Authorities who moved to adapt quickly, many of them swapping their council chambers for auditoriums and sports clubs. They have been holding non-statutory meetings and briefing sessions since the pandemic began and this experience will have allowed members to familiarise themselves with the technology and processes needed to ensure remote meetings are held in an efficient and effective manner.

Minister of State with special responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan said, “So far, feedback from councillors and local authorities is that physical meetings in some format remain the preference. This order means that a kind of hybrid approach to council meetings – part physical and part remote – can take place. It will be a matter for each elected council and regional assembly to decide if or how it wishes to avail of these orders,” he concluded.