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Attack on the poor by Galway City Council is stoppered and kyboshed in the pipeline

category galway | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Tuesday December 04, 2007 20:18author by TJ - Galway Bin Charges Campaign Report this post to the editors

"Attacking the poor ... is not the way to make-up for shortfalls in the city budget"

Yesterday evening, the Galway Bin Charges Campaign comprising outraged members of the public, activists from the SWP, SP, Sinn Fein and Galway Alliance Against War vented their anger outside and inside Galway City Council buildings against a proposal that, if adopted, would amount to a front frontal assault on the city's poor, thankfully, conscience prevailed, as such, GBCC wholeheartedly applaudes the city councillors for successfully defending the full waiver on refuse charges at the Budget 2008 meeting on Monday night.

Dette Mc Loughlin (SWP), spearhead of the campaign group said it was admirable, decent and right that councillors across party divides stood firmly against the proposed attack on the waiver system.
Solidarity from Labour Councillor; Collette Connolly (in orange scarf)
Solidarity from Labour Councillor; Collette Connolly (in orange scarf)

“Our elected representatives realise that it is our duty as a society to provide and protect such essential public services for the needy, even if the city manager and officials at City Hall do not,” she added.

As the budget meeting commenced. Over 20 people marched into the council chamber and held a silent protest by holding placards reading DON’T ATTACK THE POOR…

Said Dette, “The campaign group left the chamber when asked to by the mayor, but we believe that we made our point clearly to all the council members, plus the city management team.”

The City Manager had put forward a policy to get rid of the waiver for the bin lifts, keeping only the waiver for the fixed charged. This regressive step would have targeted the poorest in Galway society: the aged on pensions, the infirm on disability payments, lone parents and unemployed households trying to survive on social welfare payments. The decision to apply a waiver only to the standard fixed charge would have been a step towards the abolition of the waiver altogether.

"Galway Bin Charges Campaign" was initially formed as a broad campaign that together fought against the introduction of the refuse stealth tax, increases in refuse service charges and the pay-by-weight scheme.

Dette summed up "It is important that the council officials know where the people of Galway stand on such issues. Thanks to those people that turned up at the protest, and to all the citizens that contacted City Hall to make protestations about the proposal. Attacking the poor, the same people that were hardest hit over the water scandal, is not the way to make-up for shortfalls in the city budget. The city officials should instead be attacking the government for introducing stealth taxes, and its underfunding of city budgets” she said.

This Angolan woman gave a full and fair ear to these Sinn Fein activists
This Angolan woman gave a full and fair ear to these Sinn Fein activists

I'm here to do a citizen's arrest .. where's the City Manager's office?
I'm here to do a citizen's arrest .. where's the City Manager's office?

Danny (SP)
Danny (SP)

Sinn Fein Councillor; Danny Callanan and Dette
Sinn Fein Councillor; Danny Callanan and Dette

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 08:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done to Galway Bin Charges Campaign and the Councillors that voted to retain the full waiver scheme in Galway.

Here in Sligo we still pay the highest bin charge in the world and no waiver at all. The manner in which Sligo people are discriminated against would make you wonder if we are under a different jurisdiction all together.

author by lulupublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 13:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Won't it make more sense anyway to encourage people to recycle their rubbish, eg, reductions in tax for reduced trash loads? Taxing binloads or collections can lead to fly-tipping.

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 15:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is not discrimination surely - it’s that different local authorities have different polices and different income and expenditure policies. To have one set of charges for all local authorities would imply one local authority for the whole State which would in turn imply the abolition of local Government altogether. If you want lower charges with the existing system you should elect Councillors that will run a tight ship expenditure wise.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 18:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If you want lower charges with the existing system you should elect Councillors that will run a tight ship expenditure wise."

Why not go the whole hog and elect a Council that will spend nothing at all. The stone age beckons!

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 19:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would be an insult to the Stone Age to compare it unfavourably to the extant system of Irish local government what with many of the antics of local counsellors over the years. Instead of complaining about charges check the accounts for the council and the Local Government Audit reports. Elect people who will cut back on waste, junkets and extravagant spending on council offices for just some examples.

author by Jim O'Sullivampublication date Thu Dec 06, 2007 07:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It would be an insult to the Stone Age to compare it unfavourably to the extant system of Irish local government what with many of the antics of local counsellors over the years."

Strange to see you criticise our system of local government as it is a right wing formula designed to keep control out of the hands of local people. The present government that you admire so much has introduced many pieces of legislation which puts full authority into the hands of an unelected county manager for many of the vital functions. It's called Executive Function. Out elected representatives are reduced to mere bystanders on many of these vital issues.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Dec 06, 2007 17:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That is a bit of a red herring. In fact because a local authority cannot be allowed go bankrupt and there is nothing else to stop the Council behaving recklessly by going insolvent (unlike company directors who can be prosecuted for trading recklessly or while insolvent) there is a need for some type of national override. Otherwise the Council would run up very large and unsustainable debts and its creditors would have to be bailed out by the centre if essential services were not to suffer. This has been the position historically – it is not new. In reality what you are demanding is a tax cut for yourself but with no counterpoint savings or replacement revenue based on a rather self centred victimhood.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Thu Dec 06, 2007 18:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That is amazing gobbledigook sceptic and you have surpassed even yourself. Can you tell use when did central government first remove executive powers from local elected representatives and the circumstances? Contrary to what you state, local government once had considerable powers, independent of central government.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Dec 06, 2007 20:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“WOULD MAKE YOU WONDER IF WE ARE UNDER A DIFFERENT JURISDICTION ALL TOGETHER.”
The reality is you are living under a different (local) jurisdiction altogether so variations will be an expected feature.

The system is as set up in the constitution where at least implicitly the local authorities are subordinate to the Oireachtas and the Executive. It is not a question of local democracy being suppressed - it is a question of other national democratic organs being set above them. The legislation flows from that constitutional order and if you disagree with that your problem is with the constitution. Thus for instance the Minister can dissolve a Council that refuses to strike a rate. This power was once used way back in the 1960s when Frank Cluskey was Lord Mayor of Dublin and was on an official trip to the US and found himself fired which caused some embarrassment to him. Local Authorities arguably had more power and autonomy back in the UK days. In reality the abolition of local rates in 1977 removed much of their de facto power. If you really want powerful Local Government you have to have significant fiscal responsibility as well including meaningful local taxes not just a few hundred a year for bin charges. You cannot have one without the other but you want it both ways. No taxation without representation is a worthy demand but what is even worse is representation without taxation. That makes for the type of irresponsible Local Authority decisions that cause the central Government to intervene.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Fri Dec 07, 2007 08:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The reality is you are living under a different (local) jurisdiction altogether so variations will be an expected feature."

All local authorty areas are essentially financed by subvention from central taxation. The crazy situation that has been allowed to develop as central government works through a policy of privatisation and distancing Ministers from responsibilities is that vital services are reasonably priced in some areas while in others citizens are being fleeced.

Example.
Bin collection charges range from €4 to €10 (The higher charges are usually levied by your much loved privatisated operators.) On top of this, in these high charge areas there is no waiver scheme for pensioners and low paid. The effect of this is that a pensioner in an area with no waiver is being discriminated against when compared to his fellow pensioner in an area with a waiver scheme. What's your solution. all pensioners up sticks and move to Dublin?

author by Scepticpublication date Fri Dec 07, 2007 20:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The bulk of local authority financing has been provided by the exchequer for many decades – well before the word “privatisation” was coined. Something that is left for the local decision is the refuse charge. You who protest you are championing local democracy are dissatisfied that a neighbouring council has different arrangements than your own and want this changed from the centre which seems a negation of the local decision principle. If there is local autonomy here is no reason why two differing areas should have the same arrangements. You cannot seem to grasp this. Autonomy = difference. Lack of difference = lack of autonomy. Two counties each having their own local government means ipso facto that there will not be complete geographical equality between the residents of the two counties. There is a huge contradiction at the heart of your protests about lack of equality with Galway. If you are unhappy about arrangements for pensioners in Sligo why not elect a party that might meaningfully address the issue of changes in the budgetary policy for your council.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Sat Dec 08, 2007 08:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

" If there is local autonomy here is no reason why two differing areas should have the same arrangements. You cannot seem to grasp this. Autonomy = difference. Lack of difference = lack of autonomy"

This is breathtaking waffle and I am now certain that Sceptic is a piss taker. The logic of above is that we are not a nation at all. This contention would only make sense if all the taxes raised locally went to the local administration and spent locally. The fact is that the vast bulk of taxes paid go to central government for dispersement. In the example given, citizens of Sligo are actually subsidising their own discrimination.
No wonder the Health Service is in chaos. PD infantile values informing decision making.

author by Scepticpublication date Sat Dec 08, 2007 14:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its not waffle it is elementary principles. I might as well complain that the national tax rates are higher in ROI than in the UK without mentioned that they are different jurisdiction. Anyway rather than complain one can channel one's energy into changing the situation if one is so driven. If, as you seem to be arguing, much of the fiscal raising responsibility and service responsibility is taken from local authorities there will not be much left to justify this extra tier of government. It is inescapable that if you want your own local authority in your local area if have to live with the outcomes that are generated by that set of circumstances and you should address your grievances in local fora. Incidentally Dublin is the only part of the county that generates more revenue than it enjoys – the regions are all net beneficiaries from the Central Fund.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Its not waffle it is elementary principles. I might as well complain that the national tax rates are higher in ROI than in the UK without mentioned that they are different jurisdiction."

Could you run that by us again, only this time try English
.
" It is inescapable that if you want your own local authority in your local area if have to live with the outcomes that are generated by that set of circumstances and you should address your grievances in local fora."

What would central government do?

" Incidentally Dublin is the only part of the county that generates more revenue than it enjoys – the regions are all net beneficiaries from the Central Fund."

What would happen to "Dublin's revenues" if the "regions" did not exist?

PD ideology gone mad!

author by Damienpublication date Mon Dec 10, 2007 22:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jim,

Sceptic has made his points quite clearly, I can't really understand what your problem is.

Essentially what he is saying is that we have a choice of :

- only centralised government
- only local government
- a combination of local and central governement

No prizes for guessing which option prevails at the moment.

Given this degree of local governance, one expects differences in policy across local government boundaries. If there was a homogenous policy, one could conclude that the local governement had done nothing.

Is that really so difficult ?

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Tue Dec 11, 2007 07:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Damien,

"Sceptic has made his points quite clearly, I can't really understand what your problem is."

Sceptic has not made any point clear and your attempt at rationale is also flawed.

"Essentially what he is saying is that we have a choice of :
- only centralised government
- only local government
- a combination of local and central governement
No prizes for guessing which option prevails at the moment."

The problem at present is quite simple: while we may have local governance, we do not have local democratic governance. The exercise of casting a vote does not a democracy deliver. The elected councillors have little or no power, that power now resides with the Executive.

"If there was a homogenous policy, one could conclude that the local governement had done nothing."

What we are talking about here is the imposition of service charges. These are a Tax and if you have a group of people being charged in one part of the country and another not, that is discrimination as between citizens of the same state.

"Given this degree of local governance, one expects differences in policy across local government boundaries. "

There ought not be any substantive difference. Local Authorities should deliver vital services as directed by central government.

Now that's not that difficult, is it?

author by Damienpublication date Tue Dec 11, 2007 19:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well this is where it all hangs on your definition of substantive i.e. where exactly the line between local and central government is drawn.

Are you suggesting a return to the times when county councillers had power that is now confined to the civil servants? Are you really sure that worked ?

author by Ciaranpublication date Wed Dec 12, 2007 09:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let me get this straight Damien, you have no problem with power resting within the remit of an unelected official in the form of the County manager? That is an unexceptable position, especially for a democrat. County councillers are accountable to the electorate, County managers are not.
Are you really sure thats an arangement you are happy with? Bizarre, but of course such right wing political views are not far removed from the hack you've been apologising for.

Sceptic has as usual muddied the waters on this thread as he does on every thread he touches.

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