After the announcement at the Council meeting on Monday that the proposed cuts to Rush, Balbriggan and Baldoyle library hours would not be as severe as initially planned I would like to acknowledge the part played by the normal people of Rush and Balbriggan:
‘It was my privilege to organise the first two public meetings in Balbriggan and Rush on the library cuts back in April which really helped to mobilse public and political opposition to the cuts. Major credit must go to all the ordinary people who despite the seemingly grim situation took a stand for something that was important to them – this is their success and it is important that they are aware of it. There is a lot about local government that is undemocratic but this reaction by the Council to the groundswell of public opinion is heartening.
It is particularly important that all the young people who got involved in the campaigns against the cuts are congratulated for their efforts and are made of aware of the fact that their actions had a real and positive impact. While I remain doubtful as to the democratic nature of local government I will not lose faith in the people and the backbone that they have shown in standing up against what had been seen and portrayed as hard medicine we all had to swallow. It has been a hard fight to date but also a pleasure to be involved in a variety of actions against the cuts – petitions, letter writing campaigns and public protests and gatherings with the people of Rush and Balbriggan.
While we are not out of the woods yet in terms of the vulnerability of our library services the statement from the County Manager on Monday was very encouraging and we will see what this translates to in reality. As I said at the public meetings though, we have to be prepared for more such proposals in the future. Staff retirement was mooted by the Council as one of the reasons why the cuts were proposed – if the embargo remains in place and people continue to retire at a natural rate then we will have to organise again but at an even greater level. Next time I think we need to target central government even more’.