Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Press Release - Looney Welcomes Passage of Council Budget

Labour Party Councillor Dermot Looney (Tallaght Central) has welcomed the passage of the 2013 South Dublin County Council Budget, stating that the Budget “seeks to protect frontline services and develop South Dublin as a good place to live and work.” The Council’s Budget was passed at a meeting on Monday, December 17th with the support of Labour, Sinn Féin and Fine Gael Councillors, along with two Independents. Looney has also criticised Fianna Fáil, who voted and spoke against the Budget without offering any alternative proposals.

“Today’s Budget seeks to protect frontline Council services such as Housing, Roads, Parks and Environmental Services, despite a substantial drop in income from central government and other sources. We have also managed to increase funding to the Council’s award-winning Library Services,” stated Looney. 

“Members of the Labour/Sinn Féin/Independent Alliance on the Council have again foregone tens of thousands of euro in Conference Expenses, following through on a 2009 pledge not to claim any money for Conferences at home or abroad. This money has been diverted into a Window Replacement Fund, increased to approximately €1 million, and targeted at local authority tenants. Councillors also froze rates for businesses in the County, after three separate rates cuts of accumulating to 5.3% since 2009. Important supports for vulnerable people were also protected, such as housing grants for the elderly and those who are disabled."

“Fianna Fáil opposed the Council Budget without offering a single alternative. At the meeting, I called on them to present alternative ideas, but, as has happened before, they could not be bothered. They subsequently complained about burial ground charge increases; despite knowing about these increases for more than a year they offered no alternatives on the day or in advance. It is hard to take them seriously on the issue. Last year, members of the Labour/Sinn Féin/Independent Alliance managed to offset some of the increases by diverting money set aside for Councillor Conferences to the burial grounds. Fianna Fáil Cllrs used those same funds to travel to hotels around the country attending Conferences.”

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Press Release: Looney and IT Tallaght Labour Welcome Bus Shelter After 3-Year Long Campaign

Tallaght Central Labour Cllr Dermot Looney and the IT Tallaght Labour Youth Branch have welcomed the construction of a bus shelter outside the college following a campaign which has lasted almost three years. Looney launched a campaign with the college branch at the beginning of 2010 to highlight the concerns of the hundreds of students and staff of IT Tallaght who use the bus stop on the Old Blessington Road on a daily basis.

The campaign included a petition with 1,100 signatures from IT Tallaght students, motions to South Dublin County Council, social media platforms and other methods to convince Dublin Bus of the need to install the shelter at the stop. Following pressure from the campaign, Dublin Bus confirmed they would inspect the site in March 2011 and agreed in November 2011 to seek planning permission. This planning permission was agreed in the summer of 2012 and the construction of the shelter occurred during the last week. The shelter has already been well used by students and staff of the college, as well as others who live and work in the area, given the inclement weather.

“I am delighted to welcome the installation of this much-needed bus shelter,” noted Cllr Dermot Looney, “the delivery of which was achieved after almost three years of campaigning. I want to congratulate my colleagues in the IT Tallaght Labour Youth branch for their work in helping to win this campaign. I also want to thank Dublin Bus for recognising the demands of students and other bus users in installing this shelter, and South Dublin County Council for assisting the application process.”

“I also want to pay tribute to IT Tallaght Students’ Union, who supported the campaign, to the hundreds of staff and students who signed the petition, the dozens to signed up to our Facebook page, and to the other public representatives in the area who supported my motions.”

Adam Fulham, Chair of IT Tallaght Labour Youth, said; “Our campaign started in early 2010 when we began to collect signatures for a petition we sent to Dublin Bus. By the end of 2010, 1,100 people had signed the petition for the shelter. More than 300 people signed up to our Facebook group and we won support from Cllrs and TD’s through the work of Cllr Dermot Looney. This is a great example where people power has won out for the students of our college.”
Below: Picture of Cllr Dermot Looney and Adam Fulham at the Bus Shelter outside IT Tallaght, with some of the petitions signed by IT Tallaght students and staff.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Looney Calls on Local Football Fans to “Support the Saints” this Sunday

Local Councillor Dermot Looney has called on local football fans to get behind St Patrick’s Athletic in the FAI Cup Final this Sunday, November 4th. Looney, a lifelong Saints fan, is encouraging lapsed Pat’s fans, neutrals and those with only a passing interest to avail of the cheap admission to the Aviva and support St Pat’s, who will take on Derry City in the final.

“At only €10 for adults and €5 for kids, this is a wonderful opportunity for all football fans to attend the Aviva at a fraction of the cost of a standard international ticket. A bumper atmosphere is guaranteed and with St Pat’s looking to secure their first Cup win in 51 years, it could be a truly historic match.”

“There are plenty of ‘lapsed Saints’ in our local area – those who might have attended Pat’s games over the years – who can bring great support to the Aviva on Sunday. Likewise, it will be a great family day out for neutrals, and for fans of other clubs. Even Shamrock Rovers fans will be cheering for St Pat’s on the day – no doubt behind gritted teeth – given that a Saints win is their only path into European football!”

“A recent report issued by the UK’s tourism agency stated that almost 200,000 Irish people travelled to Britain last year to watch English Premier League matches, spending almost €100 million. If one-tenth of those people spent a fraction of that money supporting their local football club, it would transform League of Ireland clubs. This is the ideal opportunity to catch an Irish football match before the winter break.”

Tickets are available via the St Patrick’s Athletic offices at 125 Emmet Rd, Inchicore and on the day at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Sullivan and Looney Call for Upgrade to Walkinstown Post Office

Two Dublin 12 Labour Councillors in neighbouring local authorities have joined together to call for an upgrade to a local Post Office service on the border of the City and County Council. South Dublin County Councillor Dermot Looney has joined with his Dublin City Council colleague Michael O’Sullivan to campaign for an upgrade to postal services in Walkinstown.

The Walkinstown Post Office is located in a small, old building on Bunting Road which the two Councillors have said is “not fit for purpose.” O’Sullivan and Looney have called on An Post to upgrade the services in the interests of safety, security and service for residents living nearby in the Walkinstown and Greenhills areas.

“The Post Office was located in this building decades ago with the assumption that this would be a temporary measure,” said Cllr Michael O’Sullivan. “But despite the huge changes in the postal service over all those years, little has changed for local residents.”

“The current premises is unsuitable for a modern post office service. There are serious safety and security concerns for staff and customers which came to light in recent robberies. Furthermore, the premises is too small to accommodate the large numbers who use the Post Office,” concluded O’Sullivan.

His South Dublin colleague Cllr Dermot Looney stated; “Since the closure of the Greenhills Post Office with the fire at the old McHugh’s site in 2003, thousands of residents in the Greenhills area have had to use the Bunting Rd office for their postal service. This has led to yet further pressure on the staff and the premises itself. It is particularly depressing to see large queues out the door at busy times, in all weathers – particularly when so many elderly and vulnerable people need to use the Post Office.”

“I have called on An Post to reinstate the postal service in Greenhills but, in the meantime, an upgrade to the Bunting Rd facility, or a move to an appropriate and nearby facility is required,” noted Looney. “If there is to be a move, it must be accessible by bus from Greenhills and other nearby estates. The rumoured move to the Superquinn on Walkinstown Road would be inaccessible for many elderly residents in Greenhills. I have communicated this to the CEO of An Post and Minister Pat Rabbitte and hope this is taken on board if a new site is being sourced.”

Both Cllrs have been told by An Post that they are aware of the problems being experienced at the Bunting Rd facility and that the company is actively seeking an upgrade. Both Cllrs have submitted motions to their local area committees at Council level and will be continuing the campaign in the time ahead.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Reply to the "Seanad Reform" Group

Earlier today I received an email from a Communications firm acting on behalf of seanadreform.com, as below.
Dear Councillor

Attached is a consultation paper entitled ‘Radical Seanad Reform Through Legislative Change - Proposals for Measures to Transform Seanad Éireann Without The Need For Constitutional Amendment’ prepared by Senator Feargal Quinn, Michael McDowell, Joe O’Toole, Noel Whelan and Senator Katherine Zappone. 

They look forward to receiving your views on info@seanadreform.com.

Kind regards, etc
 The document is meant to be available online. My response is below.

Hi .....,
many thanks for your email. I read through much of the consultation paper earlier today. Much of it is interesting; some of it is downright offensive, e.g. the proposal to maintain votes for graduates, and the vestige of the quasi-fascist Quadragesimo Anno in support of vocational panels.
My views are straightforward. Seanad Éireann is an anachronistic, elitist institution which is beyond reform. If we, as a country, are genuine about actual democracy, and giving power to citizens and communities, we will move on from the Seanad sideshow and seek real reform of the Dáil, local authorities and other structures.
I, of course, accept that some individual Senators have been excellent advocates in the past; but the institution itself is the problem.
Is mise, le meas,
Dermot Looney
Cllr Dermot Looney
Labour Party | Pairtí an Lucht Oibre
Tallaght Central

Monday, 24 September 2012

Press Release - Looney Welcomes Imminent Publication of Cllr Expenses

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party Councillor on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has welcomed confirmation that all Councillor expenses are to be published online in the coming days. Cllr Looney has campaigned for the publication of the information since his election to SDCC in 2009.

Following a question on notice from Cllr Looney at June’s Council meeting, and a motion in his name passed at September’s meeting, Council officials have confirmed the imminent publication of all Councillor expenses and remuneration on the SDCC website. Councillors have been written to in the last week with a draft of the published list, and full publication is expected within the coming days. The details will be posted along with details of Councillors’ attendance at County Council meetings since 2009.

“I am delighted that this important information will be made accessible to the public,” noted Cllr Looney. “Several other County Councils already publish such data under Section 142(4)(g) of the 2001 Local Government Act. Some national newspapers also publish the raw data on an intermittent basis. However, the Council’s plan to publish fully-annotated expenses and remuneration online will give a fairer and more complete account of these expenses.”

“These statistics will show that, in general, Councillors receive a modest income and a level of expenses far below what is highlighted in some of the media. Myself and my Labour colleagues on SDCC refuse, for example, to claim any expenses for Conferences at home or abroad. In the interests of accountability and transparency, I am releasing a full list of my own remuneration and expenses, including all non-Council related expenses, since 2009. This list shows that I am, consistently, one of the lowest-claiming Cllrs on SDCC.”

“Some politicians milked the system for too long – and got away with it. Now it is important that we never let this happen again. Opening up the Council’s books and publishing this information will go some way in ensuring transparency and accountability at local level.”


Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2009-2011

2009 (June-Dec): Representational Payment €9,731.10;
Annual Allowance €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;
Annual Allowance €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

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 €7,900 per annum nett.

“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. “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.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Press Release - Looney Elected Youngest-Ever Tallaght Area Chair

Labour Councillor Dermot Looney has been elected Chair of the Tallaght Area Committee at the Annual Meeting of South Dublin County Council held on June 29th. The 29 year-old is the youngest ever Chair for the Tallaght Area and is also the first Tallaght Area Chair from the Dublin 12 area, which became a part of the Tallaght Central ward prior to the last local elections.

The Tallaght Area Committee comprises 11 Cllrs from Tallaght South and Tallaght Central, who in turn represent over 100,000 residents in the area. It is the largest Area Committee on South Dublin County Council and one of the largest in the country. The Chair of the Committee is an unpaid position which includes the chairing of monthly area committee meetings and, on occasion, representing the Mayor of the County at events. Cllr Looney was unanimously elected at the Council meeting, having been nominated by outgoing Chair Cllr Mick Duff, and seconded by Cllr Marie Corr.

“I am honoured to have been elected as Chair of the Tallaght Area Committee,” said Cllr Looney, “and look forward to working with the new Mayor Cathal King, and the other Cllrs for the Tallaght area, in continuing to promote our communities at Council level and beyond.”

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Press Release: Looney Slams Greyhound “Mischief-Making”, Calls on Govt to Implement Waiver Scheme

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party Councillor on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has said that today’s call on the Government by Greyhound to pay them millions for a waiver scheme in SDCC is “daft and mischievous.” Looney has re-iterated his call for the Government to proceed immediately with a national bin waiver scheme, and to provide interim support for 18,000 households in South Dublin who are due to lose their waivers in a month’s time.

“This is a daft and mischievous call by a company who have behaved disgracefully since the bin service in our area was privatised. I and my Councillor colleagues fought tooth and nail against this privatisation but the service was sold by the management, without regard to the opposition of elected representatives, in a deal whose finer details we are continuing to look for.”

“The latest mess in the privatisation saga is the impending loss of bin waivers for some 18,000 households. There are almost 2,000 households on a waiver in my own immediate area of Dublin 12, almost all of whom are elderly residents of limited means who will be forced to pay for their collections if nothing is done by the end of March.”

“I have consistently called on Labour in Government to implement their Programme for Government pledge to introduce a national bin waiver system for all households. This appears to have been put on the back burner by Fine Gael’s Minister Hogan, but it is now time for Labour Ministers and TD’s to put on the pressure to ensure those on low incomes are given waivers.”

“As this will take time to implement, I am calling on the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, and the new County Manager of South Dublin County Council to meet to thrash out how those on a waiver can be accommodated in the interim. However, not one red cent should go to Greyhound given their treatment of residents in South Dublin and Dublin City and their appalling customer service record. Instead, the Government should investigate options outside this company.”

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Press Release: Looney Welcomes Reversal of Local DEIS Cuts

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party Councillor on South Dublin County Council, has welcomed today’s announcement by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn that 235 posts in disadvantaged schools in the DEIS scheme will be retained. Looney, who works as a primary teacher in Tallaght, was involved in attempts to overturn the cuts since the announcement in Budget 2012, in particular with the Band 2 schools in the area.

“I am giving a cautious welcome to news that posts in DEIS Band 1 and 2 schools are being reinstated across our area. This was a scandalous mistake by the Minister, and one which was rightly opposed by school communities across Dublin South-West. Today’s u-turn is a tribute to the schools, parents and activists who worked to save these crucial posts in our disadvantaged schools. I also want to thank our local Labour TD’s, Eamonn Maloney and Minister Pat Rabbitte, who were involved from the get-go in trying to save these posts. Schools and parents across Tallaght will breathe a sigh of relief tonight as the news breaks.”

“However, many issues remain. St Mary’s NS in Tallaght Village, which received some support as a disadvantaged school but did not fall into the DEIS Scheme, is set to lose a number of teachers. Four local post-primary schools which are in DEIS are also set to lose out. This is in addition to a decrease in the capitation grant and a swathe of other cutbacks which schools are already forced to deal with.”

“With billions of further cuts promised, I would call on Labour Ministers and TD’s to protect education and develop an economv strategy which promotes growth and investment, and not the failed policies of austerity, to meet our international obligations and grow our economy. Otherwise, the axe will continue to fall on crucial services and our communities will continue to suffer.”

Monday, 16 January 2012

Press Release: Looney Welcomes Support for Earned Regularisation Scheme for Migrants at SDCC

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party Councillor on South Dublin County Council, has called for the government to act with haste in implementing an Earned Regularisation Scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland. Cllr Looney was commenting after the unanimous passing of his motion at South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in support of such a scheme. The motion was similar to one passed on Dublin City Council, proposed by Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, in December.

“I am delighted that Councillors from all parties supported my motion in support of undocumented migrants on both sides of the Atlantic; both the undocumented Irish living in the USA, and those migrants who have come to Ireland,” stated Cllr Looney. “We are rightly concerned with our friends and family members who are living and working, undocumented, in the USA. But now the government must also turn its attention to the thousands of people living in a comparable situation in Ireland.”

“The Migrants Rights Centre Ireland, with whom I have worked on this campaign, estimate that some 30,000 undocumented migrants are living here. Many have lived and worked here for several years, paying taxes and contributing in many positive ways to our communities. They are often engaged in employment in catering and cleaning, and given their irregular status they are frequently subject to exploitation by ruthless employers.”

“An Earned Regularisation Scheme would provide a humanitarian response to the issue of undocumented migrants, regularising their status, generating more in tax revenue and protecting against exploitative employers who are undermining the working conditions of all workers. Now that two of the largest local authorities in the country have unanimously supported this scheme, I am calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality to act immediately to prepare and implement such a scheme.”

Edel McGinley, Irregular Migration Project Leader at the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said, “we very much welcome this development and the leadership shown on this issue by South Dublin County Council. A motion such as this recognises the contribution that undocumented migrants make to Irish society and highlights the urgent need for a solution to be put in place”.

For more on this please see http://www.mrci.ie



MOTION: Councillor D. Looney

That this Council supports the Undocumented Irish campaign in the USA to introduce an earned regularisation scheme. This Council also notes with concern the high numbers of undocumented families and children living in Ireland without rights and under tremendous stress and fear. This Council supports the introduction of an earned regularisation scheme in Ireland, based on criteria set down by the Department of Justice and Equality, so that undocumented migrants living in Ireland can participate fully in the social, political and economic affairs of the country. This Council will forward a copy of this motion to the Minister for Justice and Equality.