History of Kilkenny County Council
Most commentators agree that the passing of the Local Government Act 1898 marked the beginning of the system of local government that we have today.
Although the Act was passed in August 1898, the first elections were not held in Kilkenny until Thursday 6th April 1899. Subsequent minutes of the Council refer to a bill of £1,268 as
the cost of election and by all reports the elections passed off without any notable incidents.
The historic first meeting of Kilkenny County Council took place on Saturday 22nd April 1899 in the Courthouse, Kilkenny. The very first resolution passed expressed the demand for Home Rule.
At that time the duties of the Council were considerably fewer than they are now. The Rural District Councils were responsible for housing, sanitary and local roads in their areas, while in their role as Boards of Guardians they were responsible for what we would now call health services.
This left the County Council with financial affairs, appointments of various committees, maintenance of courthouses and minor services such as food and drug sampling, malicious injuries and other minor services. During the 1960's a range of new services came into the fold - library, fire-fighting, vocational & agricultural services, industrial & commercial issues, and harbour boards.
In 1970 the Health Board came into being, taking away responsibility for this service from Kilkenny County Council. It was considered a coup however that the SEHB located in Kilkenny city.
The Environment became the focus of attention in the 1970s. Most of the activities carried out by the Council in this regard are the product of legislation passed in the last 30 years, notably the Water Pollution Act 1977 and the Air Pollution Act 1987.
The Environment brief has broadened considerably in recent years and the Council now takes a central role in the provision of public amenities, parks and recreational activities.
In 1989, the Council appointed an Arts Officer. Through the establishment of this post many local artistic events have been organised.
Around this time the privatisation of some services (such as refuse collection) became a trend and it is expected that this will continue.
In 2000, as part of a government initiative called "Better Local Government - A Programme for Change", which aims to restore decision-making for local authorities to local level, a new structure was introduced to Kilkenny County Council.
This new structure includes five Strategic Policy Committees.
These Strategic Policy Committees (or SPCs as they are more commonly known) will play a very important role in decision-making in Kilkenny County Council. Each SPC has a broad representation from across all sectors of Kilkenny and will meet regularly to input into the formulation, development and review of policy within Kilkenny County Council. This means that a much broader range of local interests will be contributing to the decisions that are made by Kilkenny County Council.
Today the Council's activities continue to expand and broaden in line with the growth and evolution of our county.
Acknowledgement: The information for the history section above was obtained from "Kilkenny County Council, a Century of Local Government", by Mr. Tom Boyle.