O’Brien urges Council to resist service cutbacks following Minister Hogan’s plans

24th October, 2012

Joe O’Brien the Green Party representative for Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Lusk and Rural Fingal, is urging Fingal County Council to resist calls for reductions in council staff following the publication of the government’s plans for reform local government.Following the publication of ‘Putting People First’ by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, Mr O’Brien stated the following:

I agree with the plans to reduce the number of Councillors nationally and with the plans to abolish Town Councils however I would be strenuously opposed to any cutbacks that impact on service provision. ‘Putting People First’ is a very disingenuous title and piece of media spin by the Minister on what is a report that is more about cutbacks than it is about true reform. Core staff that is doing the real work of the Council will lose their jobs and important council services will be reduced if this plan is implemented – that is certainly not putting people first. We are already seeing the disastrous results of a reduced council budget with measures such as Fingal’s grass cutting policy. We are facing into a winter where Council services will be even under more pressure and if we have another bad winter the state of Fingal’s roads and footpaths are going to get even worse.

I have written to the County Manager asking him to outline what he expects the impact of Minister’s plan’s will be on the service provision of the Council and how many redundancies he may consider pursuing.

Sadly this report is a huge lost opportunity to really reform local government and bring it closer to the people. It is a core Green principle that decisions should be made at the lowest effective level and unfortunately this plan does nothing to really bring power closer to the people – it in fact centralises power even more. The only vision behind this report was the image of an unhappy troika which seems to be the most important thing to avoid.

It also fails in relation to much needed planning reform. The Green Party’s strong stance on the corrupt planning process was vindicated by the findings of the Mahon Tribunal but Minister Hogan has decided to ignore many of the Tribunal’s recommendations much to the delight of the likes of Bertie Ahern, no doubt. Such corruption of course involved local politicians here in Fingal so it is something that we feel was particularly important to address.