Like my colleagues, I call for a debate on a report published only two hours ago. This is quickly becoming one of the most undemocratic countries in Europe. As my colleagues have pointed out, we have the lowest level of public representation per head of population at local level among the EU 15 member states. Up until yesterday in Ireland there was one public representative per 2,600 people; in France there is one public representative for every 118 persons. Our level of public representation will now be worse than that in our near neighbour, the United Kingdom, by some 2,000 people per public representative. Added to the fact that this House and the Dáil are responsible for debating only 2% of all the legislation and laws made in this country every year, a matter on which I have spoken previously, this shows how large the democratic deficit is getting. I suggest the report, Putting People First, published by the Minister today will put people last because there will be fewer public representatives scrutinising the policies and proposals brought forward.
Unelected officials will control policies at local level. They already control them at national level as the Oireachtas debates only 2% of all laws made. People are not best served by our democracy because their wishes are not being fulfilled and those they elect are not able to represent them effectively.
Fundamental change is needed. I ask the Leader to organise an immediate debate on the report, which will increase the democratic deficit by pushing Ireland to the bottom of the European league table in respect of public representation.