Monday, 21 March 2011

Looney criticises “unfair and undemocratic” privatisation of bin collection in South Dublin

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has said that the Council’s decision to outsource bin collection to a private company is a “grossly unfair and undemocratic act” taken without the consent of elected representatives. Looney was commenting in the wake of SDCC management agreeing over the weekend to privatise the brown and bin collection service to Greyhound R&R Ltd, in spite of a recent Council motion opposing any attempts to privatise the service. Looney seconded an emergency motion proposed by Cllr Cathal King at Monday’s Tallaght Area Committee meeting opposing the privatisation.

“This decision has clearly been in the pipeline for some time,” noted Cllr Looney, “but the manner in which it was announced was bizarre indeed. I first found out about it on a visit to the Council’s website early Saturday morning. It turns out that the elected Councillors had only been informed about this through a late Friday afternoon email in which we were told the deal was done – but we were told to remain quiet about it. Meanwhile, the Council have posted the information to its website, and Greyhound sent out a self-congratulatory press release which the Council have been happy to publicise!”

“The elected representatives of this Council have had no hand, act nor part in this ‘executive decision.’ I have done everything in my very limited power as a Councillor to stand up for the public bin service, and in particular the thousands of less well-off and elderly residents who rely on the waiver, via motions, questions and political pressure at Council level. However, the decision of successive governments to take any powers away from elected representatives regarding waste means we could not halt this move.”

“We are now told that the waiver will only last another 12 months, and that no new applications are being accepted. This is a grossly unfair decision which will cause huge worry for the thousands of people currently availing of the waiver – not to mention those who will be forced to rely on social welfare in the coming weeks and months.”

“Furthermore, it is clear that this decision has already had a huge negative impact on residents. Those on the Friday collection route, including hundreds of people in my own neighbourhood of Greenhills, did not have their bins collected last week and have also missed out on non-collections on Saturday and Monday.”

“Greyhound are promising lower prices – and they may indeed be true to their word in the short term – but this privatisation may very well lead to market oligopoly in time, with a small number of large private companies operating an effective cartel and being able to push up prices. An accompanying decline in service is very possible in such a market environment. I will be calling on the Council management to at the very least retain the existing waiver system in the long term at our next meeting.”

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Press Release - Grassroots should reject ‘unbalanced, short-sighted” coalition deal, urges Labour Cllr

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has said that he will oppose the Labour Party’s entry into government with Fine Gael at Labour’s Special Delegate Conference this Sunday. Looney said that, far from being ‘balanced,’ as has been claimed, Fine Gael would outnumber Labour in any such arrangement by 2 to 1, with a resultant policy bias towards Fine Gael’s plans for cuts, conservatism and privatisation.

“Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the party as a whole, Labour has emerged from this general election out on its own in second place;” noted Looney, “an historic achievement for a party which has always played third fiddle in Irish politics. Fine Gael, meanwhile, has been given the lead position but does not have a mandate to govern on its own.”

“Fine Gael have a number of options at this point, including seeking the support of independents or coalescing with their centre-right colleagues in Fianna Fáil with whom there are few major differences. Labour members have just one choice – whether to lead the opposition to a government of cuts and austerity, or to join with it as a minor partner.”

“Having spoken to many Labour members and voters from all sorts of backgrounds during this campaign and in its aftermath, I believe there is substantial opposition to a Fine Gael-dominated government from the grassroots of the Labour Party and from ordinary communities across Ireland. Such a government would be unbalanced and short-sighted.”

“It is clear that a deal is not in the interests of the Labour Party, its voters or the values we have carried since the party was founded by James Connolly 99 years ago. But, more importantly, this coalition would not be in the national interest.”

“The interests of the Irish people are not served by the Labour Party fighting for scraps from a Fine Gael menu of cuts and social conservatism. The national interest will be best served by the strongest ever Labour Parliamentary Party acting as a powerful and constructive opposition in the upcoming Dáil, and seeking to lead the next government not only in terms of numbers, but of policy.”

“Labour has the best potential Ministers in Dáil Éireann but I want to see them in Government implementing Labour policies, not Fine Gael ones.”

“Coalition between an emboldened Fine Gael and a numerically far inferior Labour Party will be bad for Ireland and bad for Labour. I will be asking Labour members to vote against the deal on Sunday and, regardless of the outcome, will seek to play a constructive but principled role in the party in the time ahead.”