Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Local Branch Motion to Labour Conference

Labour's Party Conference take's place this year in Mullingar from March 27th-29th.

The following is the motion being put forward by my branch, the Willie Cremins Limekiln-Greenpark/Greenhills Branch, on public transport.


Preliminary Agenda - Motion to Labour Party Conference 2009

Willie Cremins Branch (Limekiln/Greenpark-Greenhills), Dublin South West

Conference believes;

That the social, environmental and economic infrastructure of the country is dependent on a stable, well-funded and effective public transport system.

Conference notes;

That recent attacks on public transport by the Government, particularly Dublin Bus, are a betrayal of environmentalist principles and our responsibilities to lower carbon emissions.

Conference further notes;

That those hit hardest by cuts in Dublin Bus routes and services will be those on low incomes, the elderly and the immobile.

Conference rejects;

Right-wing proposals to privatise certain routes which will lead to the cherrypicking of profitable services and the downgrading of Dublin Bus overall.

Conference reaffirms;

The Labour Party’s commitment to a well-funded, effective and affordable Dublin Bus service in public ownership, serving all communities in the Dublin area, and acting in an integrated manner with other public transport services in the region.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Press Release - "Return Home to Labour," Looney Asks Local Workers

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate in the new Tallaght Central ward has called on local trade union members to "return home" and vote Labour in June's local elections. Speaking in the wake of the ICTU National Demonstration in Dublin City Centre on February 21st, which brought 120,000 union members onto the streets, Looney pledged his support for local workers and the unemployed in the months ahead, claiming that Fianna Fáil had abandoned working people with a reckless economic policy and support for big bankers and developers.

Looney, who was part of a strong Dublin South-West Labour contingent on the march, is a primary school teacher and member of the INTO.

"Workers have been under months of vicious attack from this clueless government," said Looney. "Levies which hit even those on the minimum wage will not win our way out of the recession. Nor will the cynical attempts by Fianna Fáil and their friends in big business to divide-and-rule by driving a wedge between public and private workers."

"Local workers, public and private, will have their opportunity to continue the fightback in the months to come within their own unions. Those who are not yet members of unions can take this opportunity to unionise and be part of the campaign for a better, fairer way for Ireland. But workers can also win by making sure their vote counts this June."

"Traditionally, Ireland has been unusual in European terms because large amounts of working people tend to support Fianna Fáil rather than a Labour or socialist party. But recent poll increases and a swell in our membership shows that, ever day, more and more people are turning to Labour as the real alternative. For the workers who return home by voting Labour, I pledge this litmus test - if elected, every decision I will take on the Council will need to be in the interests of working people and those excluded by society. And other parties simply don't match up to that test."

Proud to have Stood Up - Now for the Long Walk

I'm delighted to have been part of the 120,000 + workers and their families who took to the streets yesterday to demand a better, fairer way.

You can read ICTU's ten point plan for national recovery here. It was heartening to see the labour movement take such action. The next few months will be a particularly tough fight for working people. Attempts to drive a wedge between the public and private sector continue apace. The socialist stand for a public sector at the heart of society is under threat from the divide-and-rule tactics of Fianna Fáil and their friends in big business and the media, many of whom, of course, have been to blame for the current crisis.

Yesterday, we stood up. Tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, it'll be the long walk to victory.

Here are some pics from the demonstration. You can see more on my Facebook Group.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Comrades in Arms

I am honoured to be a Labour candidate in this election. What gives me most food for thought are the many magnificent Labour activists who have tried to get a nomination, but have not done so for various - and often unfortunate - reasons.

However, in recent days I've been particularly proud that two comrades with whom I have worked closely in the past have been chosen on Labour tickets.

Patrick Nulty
, who was Chair of the Labour Youth Executive I served on in 2006-07, has been chosen as a Labour candidate in the Mulhuddart Ward of Fingal County Council. Patrick is a phenomenal inspiration to many of us in the party - a dedicated activist on issues across the board, who has worked particularly hard on behalf of homeless people. Patrick will be a superb representative and has been off to a flying start since his selection last week.

Ian McGahon is another comrade from days in Labour Youth. I spent a week in the US with Ian on the Obama campaign in Virginia last November, and have worked closely with him at national level. Ian has been selected as a candidate for Bray Town Council in Co Wicklow, and deserves all the support he can get to become another outstanding left representative.

These two are added to by Cian O'Callaghan, our candidate in the Howth-Malahide Ward on Fingal Council. Cian recruited me to the Labour Party in 2003 and his campaign for election has been fantastic in an area far from a traditional Labour stronghold.

My experience of political candidates is that they are often insular, petty and deeply selfish about making sure they are elected! But this time round, I'm proud to ask those campaigning with and for me to give whatever time and effort they can to campaigns like those of Cian, Ian and Patrick. A significant challenge for Labour is to rejuvenate the party not just with young representatives, but with those who have a record of activism and work on the left. The four of us, and the many others I haven't named here, can be part of a promising future for the party - so we need to make that future happen.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Press Release - Cynical Attacks on Special Needs Kids Should be Reversed - Looney

Cynical Attacks on Special Needs Kids Should be Reversed - Looney

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate in the new Tallaght Central ward in June's local elections, has called for special needs class cuts targeting local schools to be reversed. Greenhills-based Looney, a primary school teacher who works in Tallaght, was commenting in the wake of another savage week of cutbacks in education, with almost 120 schools hit by the effective closure of special classes and withdrawal of support for special needs children.

The schools in the Tallaght Central ward affected are:

- St Peter’s BNS, Limekiln Road, Greenhills;

- St Mary’s School, Greenhills Road, Tallaght Village;

- St Paul’s GNS (Senior), Limekiln Lane, Greenhills;

- Scoil Nmh Aengusa (Sinsear), Balrothery;

- St Mark’s Senior NS, Springfield

· each of which will lose 1 special class

- St Brigid's NS, Brookfield;

- St Aidan's NS, Brookfield;

- St Anne’s Primary School, Fettercairn

· each of which will lose 2 classes.

Looney, 26, has launched a petition locally to Minister O'Keeffe aimed at reversing the cuts.

"It is no coincidence that the majority of these are in working-class communities and areas of socio-economic disadvantage," noted Looney. "This really is the lowest of the low from this clueless government who are putting their banking buddies and developer donors ahead of the most needy. The sickening excuse that the policy is to mainstream these pupils is nothing but nonsense – mainstreaming should only take place when children are ready."

"The trend in recent years has been to accommodate children with learning disabilities in mainstream schools, with much of the old 'special school' infrastructure being dismantled. If the replacement infrastructure in mainstream schools is itself now being dismantled, that means that these children are being left high and dry. Services for kids with special needs have come under sustained attack in recent years, with many local schools already suffering from severe cutbacks in Special Needs Assistants numbers."


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Gummy Spending Limits And the Need for Ethical Cash

After months of haranguing the Minister for Environment, John Gormley TD, eventually launched the much-vaunted local election spending limits today.

You'll find the details here.

The results, predictably, are a toothless whitewash, if that metaphorical mix is permitted.

For LEA's the size of Tallaght Central, a €15,000 spending limit will apply. For members of political parties, this is automatically reduced to €13,500 because a ten per cent levy (haven't we had enough of that word) is imposed on those getting support from party head offices.

Although our ward is one of the biggest in the country, the €15,000 doesn't bother me one bit. We simply haven't a hope of raising that amount of cash to spend. Nor do I intend traipsing along to a host of banks looking for loans that we may very well struggle to pay back.

We are more ambitious, perhaps, than any other campaign in Tallaght Central and I am sure our efforts will be noticeable in the final weeks of the campaign in particular. Regardless, our expenditure will be a fraction of that figure.

The figure is too high in the first place, but that's not likely to affect the heavy spenders anyway. The 'spending limits' apply only to the last 60 days of the campaign. Anyone in fear of going over the limit can simply front-end their spending to, say, 61 days before!

Not that it particularly matters. The proposals, as usual, are toothless. There is little on the way of resourcing of investigation of how accounts have been kept, their accuracy and what has been left off. Even if dodgy dealings were uncovered, there seems to be *no* punishment for those who lie or fraud their way in election accounts.

This is a typical Green governmental sop, simple as.

We will win our campaign here in Tallaght Central not on how much we spend, nor on how much we say we haven't spent - but on actual political engagement with voters, by the promotion of our message, and by the politics and values we put forward.

Money is most certainly needed for a modern election campaign - that's why I launched a donation drive last week - but for us, donations are small and from ordinary people who support our campaign. We refuse point-blank the big business and speculator bribery which hurt our communities and corrupted the politics of this country, and continues to do so.

Fianna Fáil and their cronies will have you believing this was all in the distant past, a relic of a byegone era. But let's look at facts - as Elaine Byrne has in today's Times.

1. Treasury Holdings declared donations of €100,000 to Fianna Fáil between 1997 and 2007 - and a further €70,000 to the PD's.

2. In total, the Fianna Fáil party, including its parliamentary wing, declared donations of more than €3 million during those ten years - approaching 60% of all declared donations.

3. Of the €1.5 million donated directly to the Fianna Fáil party itself, €600,000 - about 40% - came straight from developers.

4. These are iceberg tips. As Byrne notes, "The 2008 standards commission report found that €8.8 million in political donations were not disclosed in the three-week period before the 2007 general election (never mind that spent in the previous two years!)."

It's entirely factual to say Fianna Fáil are the party most supported by, and supportive of, big developers and big bankers. It is political corruption of the highest order - whether in-your-face-blatant or only blatant (there's nothing subtle about it). And a huge part of the progressive task is to ensure that culture of closeness is purged from Irish politices in this generation.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Gilmore for Taoiseach!

Last week I created a group called "Gilmore for Taoiseach" on Facebook.

Already, over 200 people have signed up. But we want this to grow to tens of thousands so we can change the script - it's not just a choice between FF and FG. Here's the blurb for the group, which you'll find here.


People in Ireland want change. We are fed up - not just of a Government who have dropped us into a spiralling recession, but of conservative politics and right-wing economics. Enda Kenny and his Fine Gael party offer little different to the status quo.

The real alternative is Labour. The Labour Party has the ideas, the values and the policies to get Ireland back working.

Eamon Gilmore TD, Labour's leader, has the highest approval rating of any Irish political leader and is leading the charge for a third option in Irish politics.

That third option rejects neoliberal economics and the greed of the speculators, developers and bankers who have caused the unprecedented hardship we are now in.

That third option proposes positive solutions to get our economy back going - an economic stimulus package which will put tens of thousands back to work and a taxation system which closes off the developer loopholes and avoidance scams.

That third option stands for better public services - health, education, transport and housing. And it stands for a politics of fairness and equality above all else.

That third option is Labour. Eamon Gilmore can break Civil War politics by becoming the first ever left-wing Taoiseach in Ireland. Get active with Labour at - and play your part in creating that history.

Press Release - Recent Youth Unemployment Trends Most Worrying of All - Looney

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate for this year’s local election in Tallaght Central, has blamed government inaction for spiralling unemployment figures, calling for measures targeting young workers and young unemployed people to be implemented immediately. His comments came as national live register figures showed 327,861 people signing on in January 2009, with local figures just as worrying.

Looney, who is based in Greenhills and works in Tallaght, noted that at the Tallaght Social Welfare Office, the signing on centre for people from Dublin 24, an unprecedented 7,261 signed on for jobseekers allowance and benefit in January. This was 745 higher than in December, yet again marking the biggest monthly increase in unemployment in Tallaght this decade. Extraordinarily, there has been an increase in the Tallaght office alone of over 3,000 in the last year.

Looney highlighted the increasing youth unemployment rate as a cause for particular concern. There were 1,767 under 25’s signing on in Tallaght in January – an increase of 171 in just a month.

Looney also noted the increase at the Bishop’s Square Welfare Office, used by people in the Dublin 12 and 6w parts of the ward, which saw the number of those signing on increase from 5,652 in December to 6,342 in January – a jump of 690. The figures for this office are almost 3,000 up from January 2008.

“The current employment crisis is threatening any social gains made across this area in recent years,” noted Looney, “and will hit working-class communities the hardest. I have talked to countless young people and their families who are most at risk, hearing heartbreaking stories of despair. Even emigration is not an option for many young workers given the global jobs crisis. ”

“Nobody needs reminding that during the 1980’s more than one in four young people were on the dole, that many had to emigrate, and that this part of Dublin became an economic blackspot. Now that those days have returned it’s time for urgent policies which stem the flow. Labour’s proposals for an economic stimulus package would put thousands of construction workers back to work on vital national projects such as a nationwide school buildings programme and environmental retrofitting schemes.”

"We should use the €14 billion in the European Social Fund for youth retraining, education and increasing mobility between sectors and access to the labour market for young people. Here at home, we need to implement new welfare to work initiatives and active labour market programmes as a matter of urgency, supported by decent provision of childcare and education places."

"For more established and older workers, the INOU's call for an early warning system for redundancies will provide the time to attract other investment or retrain workers before they lose their jobs. Community Employment schemes, particularly for the long-term unemployed, must be maintained and developed, and talk of prioritising the high-tech sector can’t be allowed to exacerbate social exclusion in working class communities - meaning that no further cutbacks at any level of education are acceptable."

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Victory for Greenhills and Greenpark!

I am delighted to post that the appeal to An Bord Pleanála regarding the landgrab at St Mel's and Glendoo Close has been rejected tonight.

You can read my blog posts about it from last year here and here . I have worked with local residents in both estates to ensure this was warded off along with my colleagues Pat Rabbitte and Eamonn Walsh.

Tonight's victory did not seem possible a year ago but the work by residents, particularly in terms of research into the legalities around ownership, as well as their submissions opposing the development, has truly paid off. See my press release below for more info.


Looney Welcomes "Huge Victory" for Greenhills and Greenpark Residents

Dermot Looney, Labour's Greenhills-based candidate in June's local elections, has congratulated local residents on a hard-fought victory with the rejection by An Bord Pleanála of a speculative development between St Mel's Avenue in Greenhills and Glendoo Close in Greenpark. Looney, along with local Labour colleagues Cllr Eamonn Walsh and Pat Rabbitte TD, had campaigned to ensure the site was retained as green space for local residents.

The application by Lansdowne Francs Properties to build six houses on the green space, which involved a controversial deal with South Dublin County Council to pay a reputed €250,000 to the Parks Department in return for the land, had originally been made in December 2007. The Council decided in May 2008 to seek additional information but, on foot of massive local objections and a series of legal and ownership matters, rejected the application in June 2008. The developer lodged an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, which itself was delayed on two occasions due to a backlog of work in the appeals board, but was finally decided on February 3rd.

"I am absolutely delighted for the residents who worked hard in the face of enormous odds to oppose and campaign against this land grab," said Looney. "Simpy put, this is a huge victory for Greenhills, Greenpark and ourselves in Labour who campaigned vigorously against this speculative development. An Bord Pleanála's decision is the correct one and I sincerely hope that this is the end of the matter."

"Greenhills and Greenpark have been the subject of similar speculative developments before. An attempt to grab land between St Peter's Road and St James' Road was met by a phenomenal campaign by local people who have now built an inspirational community garden at the site. A further attempt last summer by a separate developer on Keadeen Avenue in Greenpark to build on land beside the Greenhills Road was warded off by a campaign I organised with local residents. This latest successful effort by residents to protect their green space should be the nail and coffin for any further speculators seeking a quick buck in our area."

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Press Release - Looney Expresses Support for Students, Opposes Fees

Dermot Looney, Labour's candidate in June's local elections in Tallaght Central, has joined with local students and their families in opposing the re-introduction of third-level fees. He was speaking as about 15,000 students marched on the Dáil to demand the retention of the free fees initative. Looney, 26, began his political career as a student activist in UCD and played a part in the campaign which defeated proposals to reintroduce fees in 2003.

Looney has written to the officers of IT Tallaght Students' Union and the Union of Students in Ireland expressing his solidarity and has pledged to do all he can, if elected to the Council, to support students. The Greenhills-based candidate, who works as a primary school teacher in Tallaght, noted that the County Council retains control over student maintenance grants, while Councillors are also involved at VEC level and as members of governing bodies in higher institutions.

"I agree with USI when they point out that education is the only way out of this economic downturn for our young people - be they at primary, secondary or third level - or beyond," said Looney. "The Labour Party opposes the reintroduction of fees and wants to see investment at all levels of education be the fundamental basis for economic recovery."

"Labour was correct to bring in free fees in 1996. It enabled me and thousands of others from working class backgrounds the chance to go to college. As a socialist, I believe in free education across the levels because it is a basic human right and because it is the most liberating tool we as a society have."

"It is entirely dishonest to portray the reintroduction of fees as the rich paying and all others retaining a waiver of some sort. Instead, the very rich will continue their advantage while everyone else will be hit with costs running into tens of thousands of euro, the likelihood of crippling debt and the reality that many will simply not be able to afford it.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

This February, Build the Alternative By Joining Labour

The verdict is in. People are fed up. Not just of the government, but of politics in general. Politics as usual.

It needn't be this way. The Labour Party offer a real alternative. We have the values, the philosophy and, increasingly, the people. More and more people are turning to Labour as the recession hits hard and the same old politics and economics fail us. But building a Labour Party capable of leading the country takes more than words.

We need an organisation capable of attracting the votes needed to build a leading force in Irish politics.

And to make that organisation happen, we need more members - more members to campaign on the issues that matter, to drive policy in the party, to knock on doors and to ensure a broad democratic base for the Labour Party of the future.

This February, Labour is launching an historic recruitment drive. Here in the new Tallaght Central Ward, I am making sure as many local people as possible are given the chance to join Labour and get active. Nationally, our party website at allows you to join in less than 60 seconds. Locally, you can contact me through this blog or by emailing .

Joining the Labour Party was the best decision I've ever made. Make it yours.