Following the hosting of public meetings in Balbriggan (April 15th) and Rush (April 17th)regarding proposed cuts to library services Green Party representative Joe O’Brien has issued the following statement:
The Council has seriously misjudged how important our libraries are to us. All Council functions are very important but clearly the library service is something very close to people’s hearts – people are reacting to the library cuts with similar anger to health or education cuts and for very good reason. During a time of recession in particular our libraries are havens for hope and community spirit – things we should be nurturing.
Before the Balbriggan meeting started a woman came to me and told me that she would no longer be able to access the internet as she could not afford her own laptop and would not be able to visit the library with reduced hours. Again in Rush the human impact has not been considered – the local camera club use the library during hours which are proposed to be cut. What are they to do next. But it is the fact that children are going to be most impacted is what is really igniting people’s passions.
The messages from the meetings were loud and clear – our libraries are most important to two groups of people who we should all be looking after during a recession our young people, our unemployed and our elderly. People are also very confused and angry as to why cuts were not made on a more equitable basis. People want to see the information that was used behind these decisions. Balbriggan and Rush people feel they are soft targets and are being unfairly chosen again for cutbacks. If democracy and the will of the people mean anything in local government then the Council will look at these measures again. The libraries are a public resource and paid for by the public they should not be cut without adequate consultation with the public.
There was clearly no consultation with the public prior to this these planned cuts being announced. This was obvious from the report when it was suggested that people could visit at other times or travel to a nearby library instead – it displays a serious lack of understanding of the users of the libraries, some people will not be able to use the library if these cuts are implemented and suggesting that people travel elsewhere assumes the use of private transport and the extra time involved.
I organised these two public meetings to make up for the shortcomings in the Councils process. It is very clear that we have two very hurt and disenfranchised communities who have gotten a battering on a variety of issues in recent years. It is the people who are now left battling for their towns of Balbriggan and Rush and more power to them. And I mean that in the real sense of the word – there must be more power with the people. It is ironic that Phil Hogan’s strategy for reform of local government talks the talk about giving more power to the people but it is clearly just more words on paper. The question of the moratorium must also be clarified and it must be pushed.
Small organising committees have formed out of these two public meetings to plan more actions over the coming weeks. If anyone would like to be kept up to date or would like to get involved please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and 087-9608540