Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A big thank you - and a few changes

An overdue thank you to the voters in the Templeogue-Terenure Local Electoral Area who gave me a great mandate on May 23rd in returning me to South Dublin County Council. I topped the poll with 2,826 votes - well over the quota of 2,391 - and was thus elected on the first count. It was an extraordinary achievement for an Independent candidate.


Huge thanks to my campaign team, my family and friends for their support not just during the campaign, but over the past few years. It is clear that my principled stance on the Council, my hard work in the local area, and the response to the establishment parties provided the basis for such a significant vote.

I spent the following two weeks wrapping up my term as Mayor of South Dublin, another fantastic honour. I have also spent this time speaking with other Councillors in trying to push a progressive agenda on South Dublin County Council. I signed up to the Progressive Alliance of Sinn Féin, Independents, Labour and the Greens on SDCC. The Alliance commits to policies around job creation and retention, provision of more social housing, tackling climate change, ensuring the protection of public services and promoting community and equality on the Council. 

In the time ahead, I will be seeking to work with other Independent Councillors and others on the left, in SDCC and elsewhere, to develop a more coherent approach to advance left wing politics both locally and nationally – something which will take both time and effort. With this in mind, I have also used the past few weeks to examine my own role on the Council and on external bodies. There are many changes in local government, some of which will mean that there are more Councillors seeking to be elected to fewer positions to statutory bodies.

After 5 years on the Dublin/Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (formerly County Dublin VEC), I have decided not to contest for the ETB again. I have enjoyed getting my teeth into education and youth policy and operations in the County, and have particularly been proud of my work on several school boards of management. I also served on the Youth and Sport Subcommittee of the ETB. There is a huge amount of work involved in the ETB and I think it is now time for someone else to be given a chance to serve.

I have stepped down after 3 years of involvement on the boards of Tallaght Community School and St Mark's Community School, work which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I thank the principals and boards for the ongoing work they are doing in the community. I will remain on the Boards of Management in Greenhills College and Coláiste de hÍde, both of which I chair, as well as St MacDara's CC, until the end of this year when they are re-appointed by the ETB. I will, of course, continue my work in education as a teacher and activist.

I have also decided not to contest for the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee for this Council term following five years of involvement on this important committee. I proposed the new Traveller Accommodation Plan as Mayor following a lot of work by that committee.

I do hope to continue my membership of the Dublin 12 Local Drugs Task Force if I am re-elected onto it by the Council.

At the Annual Meeting of the Council, I was appointed a Chair of one of the new Strategic Policy Committees of the Council. The new SPC Scheme is subject to changes but at present I will be Chairing the new Social and Community Committee of the Council, dealing with policies in areas such as sports, recreation, community grants, community centres and social inclusion. I am very much looking forward to this work and to working on the Corporate Policy Group of the new Council.

Some of you may have noticed that I have changed my Facebook presence from a personal account to a “page” – please be sure to follow that at www.facebook.com/VoteDermotLooney . I am continuing to tweet regularly at www.twitter.com/dlooney .

I am reviewing my Advice Centre commitments given the makeup of the new local electoral area and will confirm those details in late August. For now, please contact me by email should you wish to meet me.

On a personal note, I am looking forward to a break over the summer, to taking in more of the World Cup, and to seeing St Pat’s play in the Champions’ League! The past few months in particular have been extremely busy, so it will be good to take a couple of weeks off!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Looney launches local election campaign: “Some Independents are more for equality than others”

Cllr Dermot Looney, the current Mayor of South Dublin, this week launched his election campaign as an Independent candidate in the Templeogue-Terenure local electoral area. Looney launched his election slogan, “Standing up for our Community,” at the launch in the Cherrytree, Walkinstown.

Speaking at the event, Looney stated; “I am campaigning on an unapologetically left wing platform of defending public services and protecting the vulnerable. My record on the Council over the past five years is of principled decisions and hard work. In my term as Mayor I have prioritised services and funding for youth and sport, older persons and the environment.”

“In reality, this election campaign began just after the 2009 local elections. I have been stuck in on the local issues for five years, making sure to update residents with frequent leaflets, canvassing and the most active social media engagement in the area. The reception in recent weeks to our campaign has shown me that local people respect my ongoing work and are in support of my decision to leave Labour and stand on a principled Independent platform.”

“There is a great deal of anger and disappointment towards both Government parties and Fianna Fáil. Based on national polling and, more importantly, the reception on the doorsteps, I am hopeful that voters fed up with these parties will turn to a strong independent candidate. It is worth remembering that in this election, some independents are more for equality than others. I am the sole left of centre Independent and hope to attract support from across the local electoral area.”

“My hard work is illustrated by the fact that I have put down 399 questions on notice and motions at local area committee level since 2009. This is more than twice the amount of any other Councillor, and is almost as much as the five other Councillors running in this area put together.”


The new Templeogue-Terenure electoral area includes parts of Dublin 12 (Greenhills, Walkinstown, Perrystown), Dublin 6w (Templeogue, Terenure), Dublin 14/16 (Ballyroan, Knocklyon) and Dublin 24 (Firhouse, Ballycullen). 6 seats will be decided for the area in the poll on May 23rd.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Campaign Launch - Welcome to the new-look site

Welcome to my new look website. I am relaunching the site as part of my local election campaign launch today. I am asking for your vote in the upcoming local elections on May 23rd. Please find more information on the "About Me" page.

If you read through the archive here, you'll find I was once an opinionated blogger - but that the frequency of posts has drastically diminished over time. Why? Simple. The move to social media. If you want to hear my latest news, or read my latest opinions, follow me on Twitter and Facebook. What I'm trying to do on this site is provide some more information than I can on social media - hence a page detailing over 500 motions and questions.

Let me know what you think! Dermot

Monday, 31 March 2014

Give Dubs their say on a Directly-Elected Mayor

I was honoured at today's Special Meeting of South Dublin County Council to propose the resolution on holding a plebiscite on a Directly-Elected Mayor for Dublin. And I was happy that, after a worthwhile debate, 19 Councillors voted in favour and just 3 against. You can read my speech at http://pastebin.com/Z7vaim4z .

I managed to catch the last few minutes of the meeting in Fingal on their webcast and caught up on the remainder on Twitter. It was regrettable that Councillors in Fingal in essence viewed themselves as gatekeepers to democracy and blocked the resolution to hold a plebiscite.

The plebiscite vote was passed by 50-0 in Dublin City Council. 23 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councillors voted unanimously tonight to put the vote to a plebiscite

In total, 92 Dublin Cllrs voted in favour, and just 19 voted against.

The quadruple lock of requiring all four Councils to pass this by an absolute majority was an invention of Minister Phil Hogan and his Government, who clearly have no appetite for giving Dubliners their say on this. It gave finality to a convoluted process in which Councillors were expected, without time nor budget nor staff resources, to formulate a structure, to consult publicly and to put forward detailed proposals on a directly-elected Mayor. The plans are not perfect but despite the protestations of some Councillors today they are quite detailed.

Dubliners are rightly angry that they have been denied a vote by this convoluted invention.

There is a straightforward way of proceeding which will give Dubliners the right to have their say and which will protect residents in Fingal and other authorities from a city centre focus.

The Minister could call the plebiscite, requiring that it pass by a majority of voters in each local authority area.

That would be democratic for Fingal, and democratic for Dublin.

There is nothing stopping him - legal or otherwise.

Will he and his Government have the guts to put it to the people? I doubt it.

This blogpost was edited to take into account the result of tonight's vote in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Looney publishes expenses and remuneration for 2013

Independent Cllr Dermot Looney, a candidate in the Templeogue-Terenure electoral area in the upcoming local elections, has welcomed the imminent publication of Councillor expenses for the County for 2013. In 2011, Looney won a long campaign to secure the publication of all Cllr expenses. The publication of the “S142 Register” giving these details is due on the Council website in the coming days.

“I am again happy that this important information is being made accessible to the public,” noted Looney. “Following my election in 2009, I campaigned to have this information made readily available online in the interests of transparency and accountability. As well as releasing a full list of my Council pay and expenses since 2009, I am also the only Councillor to publish my expenses as a member of the ETB (formerly the VEC) and four of its subcommittees.”

“My election as Mayor half-way through 2013 means that I have taken leave from my job as a teacher and taken a full-time wage from the Council. My first decision as Mayor was to cut my pay by €7,000 - €3,500 of the Mayoral Allowance for 2013 went into the Mayor’s Fund for community groups, and a further €3,500 has been cut for 2014.”

“In nearly five years on the Council I have refused to attend ‘conferences’ at home or abroad. Instead, over €20,000 foregone by me has gone to providing homeless accommodation, assisting Council tenants in need of window and door replacement, and funding mobility grants for the elderly and those who are disabled.”

“It is disappointing that almost €122,000 has been spent on these ‘conferences’ over the last five years, mainly by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Councillors. If I am re-elected in May, I will continue my pledge not to claim money for ‘conferences’ and to continue to oppose the junket culture.”

Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2013
2013: Representational Payment €16,657.72; Mayor Allowance €17,900.02 (includes deduction for Mayor’s Fund) – total salary €34,557.74
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone, Broadband and Mayor Travel €4,727.14; VEC/ETB Expenses €1,053.82 (covered 2012-13); Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €12,267.83

Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2009-2011
2009 (June-Dec): Representational Payment €9,731.10
Expenses €3,587.47; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €300; VEC Expenses €283.64; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €4171.11


2010: Representational Payment €16,797.26;
Expenses €6,306.65; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €829.35; VEC Expenses €810.40; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €7,946.40


2011: Representational Payment €16,723.92;
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €985.72; VEC Expenses €769.88; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €8,242,47


2012: Representational Payment €16,723.92;
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €650.62; VEC Expenses €567.28; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €7,704.77


Notes:
 

The “Representational Payment” is, in essence, a Councillor’s ‘salary;’ it is fixed at one-quarter of a Senator’s salary and is dependent on attendance at meetings. As it is subject to PAYE, PRSI, USC and other deductions. I receive approximately €8,000 per annum nett. The Mayoral Allowance in 2013 was paid in the six months from July-December. It is also subject to these deductions.

The main “expenses” figure – formerly the “annual allowance” refers to travel, subsistence and other expenses incurred in carrying out the duties of a Cllr. “Phone and Broadband” refers to the payments made for mobile phone and broadband usage. A travel allowance is provided to the Mayor in lieu of a car. “VEC expenses” are €40.52 for every meeting of the VEC or its Subcommittees that incurs more than 3 hours work. Expenses do not apply to Community School boards or meetings which take less than 3 hours.

Full details of attendance and expenses for all SDCC Cllrs are available at http://www.sdcc.ie/the-council/council-meetings/s142-register