Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Press Release - Local candidates challenged to ‘come clean’ on water charges – Labour’s Looney

Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate in the Tallaght Central ward in June’s local election, has challenged candidates in the election to state where they stand on the issue of water charges. The call comes in light of Minister John Gormley’s claim that the re-introduction of water charges was ‘inevitable.’ The claim was made by the Green Party Minister in a speech to the Academy of Engineering Institute on Tuesday, April 28th.

Domestic water rates were scrapped by 1997 (by the Labour Party) and despite hints at reintroduction by Fianna Fáil in the time since, water charges have remained off the agenda. But the latest statement by the Minister for the Environment suggest that working people, already lashed through crises in jobs, public services and the economy as a whole, are again in the line of fire through water taxation.

“I oppose the reintroduction of water charges,” Looney said. "So does the Labour Party."

“Resource struggles for water, particularly in the context of climate change, are hitting headlines across the world. But this latest statement by Minister Gormley shows the huge gap in philosophy between the Green Party and the Labour Party on how best to go forward; the Greens look at water as a commodity to be rationed, while Labour views it within the rights framework. We believe that everybody has the right to free, clean and safe water provided, not through private companies, but accountable public utilities. Water should be paid for through general taxation, not in the form of a regressive stealth tax.”

“From talking to hundreds of people every week on doorsteps and elsewhere I know that working people are very concerned with the possibility of another stealth tax. Those on the left in this election are on record as opposing the water tax. I am giving a personal commitment to oppose it if elected as a Councillor. Now it’s up to all other candidates – particularly those in Fianna Fáil and the Greens - to come clean and state, as a matter of public record, whether they will vote with us to oppose water charges.”

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Dublin Bus Service Changes

In the past, I have spoken to a number of blog readers from across Dublin 6w, 12 and 24 about bus service changes.

The cutbacks in Dublin Bus are an assault on ordinary working people and environmentalist principles. I have campaigned with my Labour colleagues against their implementation but, sadly, today is the day when much of them come into effect.

You can see the new restricted timetables for local buses below;

77 - Grand Canal Dock/Ringsend to Jobstown
77a - Grand Canal Dock/Ringsend to Tallaght (The Square)
77x - Ellensborough to UCD Belfield via town
150 - Fleet Street to Rossmore
210 - Liffey Valley Centre to Tallaght (The Square)

A number of local routes have been withdrawn entirely - including the 15x, 50x, 202 and 206.

Service changes to more routes, including the 19a (Jamestown Road to Greenhills) service, will be made on May 10th.

For a full list, please see

I am committed to working as a candidate and, hopefully, a Councillor to bring better bus services to our area. You can read more of my blog posts on transport here and here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Hidden Interview

I was recently contacted by a local 'paper and asked the following questions. In the end, I had to cut my answers to about a third of what is here, but I thought I'd share my full answers with the readers of this blog. I think it gives a reasonable articulation of my campaign for election here in Tallaght Central.

I'll make sure to upload the final article to see how our campaign compares with other candidates'.

Why did you decide to run for election? I am involved in politics because I want a radical change for my local community, my country and the world. As a socialist, I believe that the political balance at all levels needs to be shifted away from big business and the powerful, and back to working people and those excluded from society. I believe I can best represent that political viewpoint - and the values to which it aspires - by representing local people at Council level, where so many of the crucial decisions that affect our lives are made.

What is your political history? I have been politically active for more than a decade across local, national and international campaigns. I played an active part in the movement against the war in Iraq and have been particularly involved in human rights campaigns for Palestine and Colombia. I have been active in national campaigns against racism and defending our natural resources from multinational control. Most recently, as a primary school teacher, I have led a campaign entitled "Putting Kids First" which has involved schools and parents in fighting against class size increases and special needs cutbacks. Locally, I am leading the campaign for appropriate development at the McHugh's site in Greenhills and successfully worked with local residents to fend off speculative landgrabs in Greenpark. I joined the Labour Party aged 20 in 2003, and was Chair of the UCD Labour Party and National Communications Office of Labour Youth before joining the Greenhills/Willie Cremins Branch. At 26, this the first time I have stood for election - a point I believe is positive, given the fresh ideas and young person's perspective I bring to this election.

What changes do you plan on making? I am acutely aware of the limited powers of local Councillors, as well as the need to work with other elected representatives and council officials to enact real changes. Politicians are famous for drawing up wishlists they could never possibly enact. My ideas are fiercely ambitious but grounded in reality. I'm also mindful that much of my immediate priorities will be geared towards defending existing services - fighting cutbacks in local schools, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin Bus and other public services. I want to change the Council's housing policy so that more social homes are built, affordable houses are made truly affordable, and a new "Rent to Buy" scheme is adopted by the Council, under which single people or couples can rent a home from the Council with the option of buying it later on, with that same rent money going to pay off the deposit. I also want the Council to be at the heart of a new jobs policy for our community - making sure existing jobs are kept here, and creating new, sustainable employment for local people. Many of these can be delivered under some of the schemes the Labour Party have outlined such as our "Earn and Learn Scheme," where a person can work 3 days a week and is supported in college for two.

Why should people vote for you? Local people are fed up of Fianna Fáil and their disastrous politics. But rather than a change from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael - from Podge to Rodge - I offer a real alternative. I bring both passion and principle as a young candidate, as well as huge experience in the kind of political campaigns we will need in the time ahead - defending public services, fighting cutbacks and developing communities. There is a fairer, better way to beat the recession, save and create sustainable jobs, and re-energise our local area with community spirit and solidarity - and I want to be at the heart of that as a local Councillor.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Working On a Dream

I thought I'd share the first real video of the campaign with you all.

Please leave your comments either here or on Youtube. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Canvassing in Perrystown

Some people don't believe we're the youngest local election campaign in Ireland.

True, we have some proud support from veteran political campaigners here in Greenhills, chief amongst them Cllr Eamonn Walsh.

But pics like these show the major success of our campaign to date - getting dozens of young people active and engaged in politics.

I'm pictured, top right, in Perrystown with Colm Lawless, Brian O'Connor and Ciarán Rose on the canvass last week. The picture was taken by another canvasser, Kirsten Gordon, who features with the three lads below.

Later that evening we had a visit from the DCU Labour Party who are undergoing a resurgence this year. They joined up with some of our regular team for some campaign work in Dublin 12. The picture (taken by Paul Mulville) looks heavenly, not just because it was Holy Week, but moreso because the only lights to illuminate us were the training floodlights used by the Robert Emmets team in the 8 Acres!
No matter what way the count goes on June 6th, engaging scores of young people in politics like this will be something to take pride in.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Press Release - Scandalous Budget an Affront to Working People – Looney

Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate in the Tallaght Central ward in June’s local elections, has slammed April’s ‘emergency budget,’ saying that it targeted PAYE workers and those on welfare instead of hitting the rich. Looney, 26, said that the budget featured, at its heart, a callous and right-wing political imperative which underlined the failed politics of the Fianna Fáil government.

“I have been talking to hundreds of local people since last Tuesday who are fiercely angry about the tack taken by Minister Lenihan,” said Looney. “Instead of hitting tax reliefs for their developer pals and millionaire tax fugitives, 81% of the €1.8 billion in tax increases is to come from the PAYE sector in an affront to working people.”

“A single worker on €40,000 - just over the average industrial wage - will lose €1,200 or €23 a week through the new levies, after already losing €400 last October. If they have the misfortune to be a teacher, a nurse or any other worker in the public sector, they were also hit from March by an additional pension levy of €2,103, or €40 a week. Yet despite these shocking, anti-progressive levies, there was no levy on wealth or unproductive assets which could have yielded hundreds of millions.”

“Let’s take another example – a married couple on €45,000 each, with 2 kids and a standard €250,000 mortgage. They will pay an extra €900 per year on the income levy – on top of the €900 they began to pay in January – and €1,800 on the health levy. They will lose €1000 in the early childhood payment for their two kids, and €900 on the abolition of mortgage interest relief – on top of the €300 they lost in January.”

“In total, after April’s budget, this couple are down almost €6000 a year. If either works in the public sector there’s an extra €1600 – or, if both are public servants, that’s almost €10,000 wiped off their annual income since January.”

“The abolition of mortgage interest relief will also hit working families hard, particularly those who were forced to pay through the roof during the Fianna Fáil-backed boom. At the same time, a landlord with a portfolio of properties can still claim tax relief of 75% against interest repayments.”

“Rent Supplement changes leave tenants at the mercy of landlords. Existing tenants will be hit with an 8% cut, meaning that all 80,000 current rent supplement tenants are going to have to ask their landlord for an immediate rent reduction or make up the difference themselves. Although some rental prices have been falling, this measure was crude and does not take into account the individual circumstances of tenants.”

“Attacks on welfare are the lowest of the low, and the abolition of the Christmas welfare bonus, and the halving of dole for those under 20 – with no requisite employment or educational supports – are particularly heartless.”

“Even where the Government looked to make the correct decision, it botched it. After years of following the US-style privatisation of hospital land for Harney’s crazed co-location policy – including at Tallaght Hospital – they have rolled back. But there is no word on how the 1,000 hospital beds promised under the scheme will now be provided. Labour first proposed the abolition of the early childcare supplement, but only when the details had been ironed out on a national pre-school scheme – something the Government have yet to do.”

“Perhaps most scandalous of all was what the Government refused to include in the budget. There are no cutbacks on special tax breaks for the pensions of company directors. There is no change in the status of tax exiles who, despite their claims to ‘patriotism’, claim to reside outside Ireland for part of the year to avoid paying taxes here. The 440 ‘high worth’ tax fugitives, who are worth an estimated €30 million each, will not contribute a penny more under this rich-man’s budget.”

Eamon Gilmore Video

This video was shown at the Labour Conference in Mullingar. It's well-made and well worth a look for anyone interested in a third political alternative for Ireland.

PS - there's a special appearance from 21 seconds on :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Press Release - Local Young People Facing Life-Long Jobs Crisis - Looney

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate for this year’s local election in Tallaght Central, has said that the most recent live register figures for the area highlight a potential “life-long jobs crisis” which will be felt hardest by young people. Looney’s comments come in the wake of March’s live register figures which show a record 8,233 people out of work in Tallaght – with a quarter of those aged under 25.

The 26 year-old Labour candidate, who is based in Greenhills and works in Tallaght, has been highlighting youth unemployment as a campaign issue for many months and has said that measures in April’s budget are a double-whammy for young unemployed people.

March’s live register figures show an extra 259 people signing on at the Tallaght Social Welfare Office, 83 of whom were under 25.

In just 12 months there has been a staggering increase of 3777, or 85%, in the total numbers signing on in Tallaght. The youth rate shows an increase of 947, also 85% up on the figures since last March.

However, Looney has said that the Tallaght office shows a much higher rate of youth unemployment than the remainder of the country.

“Nationally, 21% of those out of work are under 25,” said Looney. “But in Tallaght, this rises to 25%.”

“When broken down by gender, we can see that young women in Tallaght are being hit even harder. Locally, women under 25 make up more than 29% of the total amount of women signing on – much higher than the 22.5% nationally. With hits in childcare and other budget measures, young women are being targeted particularly unfairly.”

Looney also highlighted the sad increases at the Bishop Square Welfare Office, used by people in the Dublin 12 and 6w parts of the Tallaght Central ward. Here, the number of those signing on increased by almost 500 from February to March. Incredibly, there has been a jump in those signing on at Bishop Square in the last 12 months of 95.4%.

“The numbers of young people out of work in our community are truly depressing, but talking to local people and hearing their stories makes the current crisis really hit home,” said Looney. “On the doorsteps, 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.”

“It is scarcely believable that under 20’s are being slaughtered with a halving of their jobseekers allowance – with barely any schemes to encourage them back either to employment or education. As the youngest candidate in the county, my solidarity lies strongly with those young people; refusing to intervene at this stage will mean a life-long jobs crisis for thousands of local young people.”

“I will continue the campaign for better employment and education opportunity for all people, especially the young. Labour’s proposals for an earn and learn scheme, and our support for increases in Community Employment schemes, are the very ideas that will bring us out of this mess – not the same old policies from Fianna Fáil and their cronies which have brought us this crisis.”

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Friday Race Night - April 24th

I'm hoping to blog on today's budget very soon but the fightback against it needs to be strongarmed.

We are holding a Race Night on April 24th to fund the final stages of our campaign. Details are below. Please email me or leave a message here to buy or horse or sponsor a race or ad.

Many thanks,



Our campaign for community and change in Tallaght Central is now entering the crucial final two months.

After more than a year on the road we need to make these last few weeks count. Part of that is strong-arming our campaign to compete with the big money machines of FF and FG.

We don't take money from developers, builders or big business. We need it from ordinary people - the kind of people we want to represent, and the people for whom Labour provides real representation.

Our Friday Race Night will be great craic. The banter and the bets will be flying!

Here's how you can help.

1. Buy a horse or a few at just a tenner each!

2. Ask your friends to do the same

3. Take out an ad in our race night programme - very reasonable rates for great advertisement.

4. Come along on the night and bring a few friends. Big bucks to be won :)

Locate the Traders Pub on Google Maps at