Monday, 16 December 2013

50 community groups to benefit from Mayor's paycut

Following my election Mayor in late June, one of the first decisions I made was to take a paycut and to divert that money instead into a fund for community groups. My colleague, Deputy Mayor Eamon Tuffy, joined me in this and together we launched the "Mayors Fund" back in September. In total, we have allocated €10,000 for this fund. The fund was to be administered by the Community Department in South Dublin County Council and was aimed towards the three priorities I have outlined for my term as Mayor - youth and sport, older persons and the environment.

We expected to be able to make grants of up to €500 when we launched the fund, as we expected that 20 or 30 groups would apply. Instead, we have been overwhelmed with the level of applications which arrived in. In total, almost 75 separate applications were made to the fund. In consultation with the Community Department, myself and the Deputy Mayor have decided to make grants of €200 to 50 groups to ensure that as many groups as possible were helped out with a small, but significant amount of money. The groups come from all five electoral areas in South Dublin County and are across the three priorities listed above.

Thanks to all who have helped in setting up the Mayors Fund and in spreading the word. Congratulations to the 50 groups who will receive cheques worth €200 in the New Year. Commiserations to the groups who did not receive funding this time - we are writing to these groups to advise of alternative funding sources. In no particular order, the successful groups are;

1 Youth Horizons
2 Perrystown Manor Estate Active Retirement (based in Perrystown Community Centre)
3 Tallaght Mens Shed
4 Kingswood Kilnamanagh Active Age Club Men
5 Bawnogue Youth & Community Centre
6 Sruleen Community Development Association
7 St. Aengus Active Retirement
8 Boden Park Residents Association
9 Brookfield Environmental Group
10 65th Greenhills Scout Group, Celebrating 40 Years
11 Retired Active Mens Shed (RAMS)
12 Dominics Community Centre
13 Dodder Park Residents Association
14 Whitecastle Girl Guides
15 St. Kevins Family Resource Centre
16 Cherryfield Residents Association
17 Willbrook & Willbrook Downs Res Associ
18 Greenhills Boys Greenhills Afc
19 Old County Pitch & Putt Club
20 Tallaght Festival Band
21 Mojo Mens Shed
22 Brittas Community Association
23 Limekiln Temple Manor Community Games Limekiln Communitygames 
24 Greenhills School Completion Programme
25 Holy Rosary Primary School
26 Ballyboden Family Resource Centre
27 Lucan Community College (Coderdojo)
28 Citywise Education
29 Swan FSO
30 Clondalkin Shotokan Academy
31 Perrystown Performers Society
32 Key Project
33 Bawnogue Unemployed Group Ltd.,
34 CARP- Killinarden
35 St. Peters BNS
36 Greenhills College Basketball Club (Greenhills Colleage)
37 The Web Project
38 Gaelscoil Na Camoige
39 North Clondalkin CDP
40 Quarryvale Community & Leisure Centre
41 The Stay Project
42 The Four District Day Care Company
43 St Andrew’s Centre for Senior Citizens
44 CAP Allotments Project
45 Clondalkin Equine Club
46 Trustus We Care
47 Greenhills Ladies Club (based in Greenhills Community Centre)
48 Finnstown Abbey Residents Association
49 Active Age Group, St Jude’s
50 Manortown United F.C

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Directly-Elected Mayor for Dublin? Have Your Say!

Next May, as well as voting in local and European elections, voters across Dublin are set to be faced with another ballot paper, asking if they want a directly-elected Mayor for Dublin or not.

Directly-elected Mayors exist across Europe and in other political systems, but not in Ireland. Dublin currently has four people fulfilling Mayoral roles; the Lord Mayor of Dublin City, myself as Mayor of South Dublin, the Mayor of Fingal, and the Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. All of us were elected by the Councillors on each of our Councils, but the vote next May will ask Dubliners if they would like a straight vote to elect a Mayor for all of Dublin.

I am working with the other Mayors and Councillors from across Dublin, including our own County Council, to come up with a proposal for Dubliners to vote on next May. While nothing is set in stone, some elements of the new proposals have broad agreement:

- The new Mayor would serve for a 5 year term;
- The new Mayor would represent all of Dublin, county and city;
- The existing 4 local authorities (the City Council and three County Councils) would be retained.

There are a number of key issues, though, on which we are looking for comments and advice from Dubliners, including:

- What powers would the new Mayor have?
- To whom would the Mayor be answerable/accountable?
- Would the Mayor be able to appoint her/his own “Cabinet?”
- What would happen to the existing offices of Mayor/Lord Mayor/Cathaoirleach?
- How would all this be funded?

It is vital that people in South Dublin and across the Dublin region have their say during the public consultation phase which lasts until October 12th. Let us know the kind of directly-elected Mayor you would like to see, or if you don’t wish to see one at all. Anyone interested can take a survey or make a written submission online, as well as finding out more information on the process, at Hard copies of this are also available in County Hall, Tallaght and in Council libraries and facilities across South Dublin.

I will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on the issue of a Directly-Elected Mayor next Wednesday, October 9th from 7.15pm-9pm in County Hall, Tallaght for members of the public to find out more and have their say. I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Press Release: Looney calls for Yes vote to “Scrap the Seanad”

Cllr Dermot Looney, Mayor of South Dublin County Council, has called on local people to vote “Yes” in the referendum on October 4th to abolish Seanad Éireann. The Greenhills-based Labour Councillor stated that he would be campaigning for a yes vote in the new Templeogue-Terenure Local Electoral Area, which includes parts of Dublin 12 and 6w as well as areas in Rathfarnham, Firhouse and Knocklyon.

“The Seanad is an irrelevant, undemocratic institution which copperfastens elitism in political representation,” stated Looney. “All three systems of selection into it are an aberration; Taoiseach’s patronage, election by politicians on mar dhea vocational panels, and elitist votes from particular universities. Almost 97% of the citizens in this Republic have no say whatsoever in electing it.”

“With few exceptions, Senators who do manage to get the nod rarely make an impact on the political process. In 75 years the Seanad has only ever rejected two bills, the last by mistake some 50 years ago. Instead of having a serious influence on and input into legislation, the Seanad is instead used by political parties as something between a halfway house for ex- and aspiring TD’s, and a retirement home for others.”

“Over the last four years I have campaigned against the frivolous waste of public money by Senators who send Christmas cards and gifts. That culture has continued right up to this week, with one Fianna Fáil Senator using public funds to advertise the opening of his new bar. ”

“Since its establishment there have been a dozen separate reports written on reforming the Seanad. All of these are now gathering dust on shelves in Leinster House. Now, in response to this referendum, we have seen the emergence of yet further campaigns to retain the Seanad and reform it. Various competing proposals have been made. They range from the unworkable to the fanciful. Former Minister Michael McDowell has proposed that no salary be paid to Senators at all; all well and good for a Senior Counsel, but how is an ordinary worker or unemployed person in our community to be able to hold office?”

“The reality is that there is nothing approaching consensus on what kind of reforms might be brought in, nor any appetite to do so. We can all envisage and propose improvements on the Seanad of today. But this isn’t a political version of Fantasy Football in which we get to try out our favourite formation. There is no evidence that reform will happen. What hope have current proposals of being enacted when the vote by the citizens of Ireland in 1979 to extend the University panel franchise to all third level graduates – before I was even born - has never been legislated for?”

“It is no secret that I am a critic of the Government and am deeply concerned with the concentration of power in the hands of a small number of individuals, including those who are outside the democratic process. But arguments that keeping the Seanad will preserve or even enhance democracy are misguided. Instead, we should adopt a unicameral system with a radically reformed Dáil and a stronger role for local government, along with other democratic reforms in communities, places of work and institutions. To that end, Government should advance serious Dáil reforms and changes to upcoming local government legislation in advance of the Seanad referendum.”

“It is galling indeed to see local lampposts festooned with Fianna Fáil aspirants using the Seanad campaign for self-promotion; this from a party who have been in Government for the majority of the last 75 years, doing nothing at all to reform the rotten Seanad. This is an opportunistic flip-flop by Fianna Fáil who supported abolition as recently as two years ago, but nothing more than we have come to expect from their cynical politics.”
“In the ten years I have been involved in politics, I have argued in articles and speeches for the abolition of the Seanad, making a significant contribution at the 2010 Labour Conference in calling for its abolition. In that decade I have heard all sorts of fanciful notions of ‘Seanad reform’ ranging from the bizarre to the unworkable. It is time to consign this undemocratic charade to the dustbin of history and work for real and genuine democratic reforms.”

Friday, 5 April 2013

Press Release - Looney: Housing Adaptation Grants Cuts “a Let Down by Labour in Govt”

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Cllr on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has stated that swingeing cuts to grants for older and disabled people to adapt their homes are “inexcusable” and “another let down by Labour in Government.” Looney’s comments come as South Dublin County Council’s grant funding for adaptation schemes is cut by more than half for 2013. 

Three separate grants are administered by SDCC for housing adaptation. The Housing Adaptation Scheme for People With a Disability is a grant for making homes more suitable for people who are disabled, up to a maximum of €30,000. The Mobility Aids Grants Scheme is usually for people requiring home adaptation due to mobility issues brought on by ageing, such as a downstairs bathroom or stairlift, up to a maximum of €6,000. The Housing Aid for Older People Scheme is for necessary works such as re-wiring and re-roofing up to a maximum of €10,500.

All three schemes are dependent on means testing and estimates from three contractors, while two of the schemes also require occupational therapist reports. Almost 250 homes in the Tallaght area alone have benefited from these schemes in the past two years. 

Grant funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to SDCC for the schemes was reduced from €3.08 million in 2011, to €2.73 million in 2012, and to just €1.21 million for this year. To date, almost €435,000 of the €1.21 million has already been paid out this year, with many in-progress works yet to be funded.

In response to Looney’s motion on the matter at a recent Area Committee meeting, Council officials confirmed that almost €2 million was allocated from the funds for last year and that the current funding is unlikely to meet the demand. Looney is also due to raise the matter at next Monday’s full Council meeting and has written to Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan to ask her to revisit the cuts.

“I have been delighted to assist many older and disabled people in informing them about and assisting them with applications to these important schemes,” noted Looney. “South Dublin County Council has had a strong record of ensuring grant aid for all applicants who meet the strict criteria during my time on the Council. This inexcusable cut, which cuts the scheme by almost 2/3 since 2011, is likely to mean that older residents and those who are disabled will be unable to avail of necessary housing adaptations to allow them live with independence and dignity. It is also bad news for local tradespeople who rely on schemes such as these to make a living in these precarious times.”

“I would urge all those who are interested in applying for the scheme to do so immediately as grant funding may run out on the basis of these cuts.”

“The Labour Party entered government stating that they would protect vulnerable people. This has been another let down from Labour in Government. There are options beyond the austerity agenda which can protect our vulnerable citizens and protect employment. With this in mind, I have written to Minister O’Sullivan to ask her to revisit these cuts.”

County Council Meeting Headed Item based on my motion below (updated figures have since been provided)

Monday, April 08, 2013

REPORT OF TALLAGHT AREA COMMITTEE  MEETING (1) & (2) - Monday, 25th March, 2013

The following motion was considered at the Tallaght Area Committee held on 25th March 2013:-
It was proposed by Councillor D. Looney, seconded by Councillor C. King:
“That this Committee notes with serious concern the announcement by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government of substantial cuts to housing adaptation grants for older people and those who are disabled; that a report be provided on the uptake of these grants by those in this area in 2011 and 2012; that a preliminary report be issued on how these cuts will affect grants in the area under the remit of this committee for 2013; and that a full report on the impact of these proposed cuts be made to the April Council meeting.”

The following report by the Manager which had been circulated was READ:

“The Council operates three Housing Grant Schemes for older people and those who are disabled as follows:
·        The Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability
·        The Mobility Aids Grant Scheme 
·        The Housing Aid for Older People Scheme.
These grants are available in respect of owner occupied dwellings and certain rented dwellings (subject to written permission being provided by the Landlord).
Grants may be awarded under these schemes by South Dublin County Council to qualified applicants subject to the criteria set out in the regulations and associated guidance documents issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG).
Budgets for these grants are not allocated on an electoral area basis.   However detail as requested in respect of the electoral areas of Tallaght Central and South for the combined schemes for years 2011 and 2012 is set out in the following table, as well as an outline of the expenditure on these schemes a county-wide basis:
No of Applications received from Tallaght Central and South EA
€ paid
€ County Wide
South Dublin County Council recently received notification of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government 2013 approved allocation for these grants in the sum of €1,213,986.05.  This reflects a 40% reduction (nationally) over the 2012 spend. 
In correspondence received from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government it was advised that due to the finite resources which are currently available, local authorities should ensure that funds are targeted at essential works only and that an effective and easy to understand scheme of prioritisation be put in place to ensure that applications are prioritised on the basis of the medical needs of the applicant. The three levels of medical priority advised to this Council are as follows:
1.      Priority 1: Terminally ill or mainly dependent on family or a carer, or where alterations/adaptations would facilitate the discharge from hospital or alleviate hospitalisation in the future.
2.     Priority 2: Mobile, but needs assistance in accessing facilities, or where, without the adaptation the disabled persons’ ability to function independently would be hindered.
3.     Priorty 3: The applicant is independent, but requires special facilities to improve their quality of life, e.g. separate bedroom or living space.
 To date grants to a total value of €356,343 over the 3 schemes have been paid out countywide.
As already outlined budgets for the various grant schemes are not allocated on an electoral basis.   Accordingly at this point it is premature to state how this reduced allocation will affect grants in the area under the remit of this committee for 2013.”
The motion was PASSED

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Press Release - Looney Publishes Latest Expenses

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Councillor on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has welcomed the publication of Councillor expenses for the County for 2012.  Looney last year won a long campaign to secure the publication of all Cllr expenses and has welcomed the most recent figures for 2012. Looney's own expenses are amongst the lowest in the County for the fourth year in succession.

“I am again delighted that this important information has been made accessible to the public,” noted Looney. “Following my election in 2009, I campaigned to have this information made readily available online. The Council published the 2012 figures two weeks ago. They again show me to be one of the most prolific attendees at Council meetings and lowest expense claimants on the Council. Alon with my Labour colleagues and some other Cllrs I refuse, for example, to claim any expenses for Conferences at home or abroad."

"In the interests of accountability and transparency, I am again 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. As a member of County Dublin VEC and four of its subcommittees, I am entitled to claim a small expense for meetings lasting more than three hours. I have also included those details below.”

Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2012
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

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 €8,000 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.

Full details of attendance and expenses for all SDCC Cllrs are available at

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Press Release: Area Chair Looney Calls for Submissions to Boundary Review Committee

Tallaght Area Chair Councillor Dermot Looney (Labour) has called for residents living in the Dublin 6w, 12 and 24 areas to consider making submissions to the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee. The Committee was established by the Minister for the Environment last year, and is due to recommend a series of new electoral areas for the next Council elections in 2014.
In calling for local citizens to consider making submissions, Looney has noted that, to date, no submissions have been made regarding the South Dublin County area. There are currently five LEA's on the Council; Tallaght Central (6 members), Tallaght South (5 members), Clondalkin (6 members), Lucan (5 members) and Rathfarnham (4 members). Substantial changes to all are expected, with their possible expansion in terms of seats, or the creation of new electoral areas.

“The Action Plan announced by the Minister last year detailed very significant changes to how we elect local councillors,” stated Looney. “One expected change is the increase in Cllrs on South Dublin County Council from 26 to 40. Another is the abolition of current four- and five-seat areas. New electoral areas will have between six and ten seats, with the Minister recommending seven as a typical number.”

“There will be very substantial changes to how we elect Councillors in our area, and I am calling on residents to have their say. Residents can make a submission by post or email. Details are online at Submissions must be made by Friday, January 25th.”

“I am currently drafting my own submission in to reflect my own feedback from voters, for example in ensuring that areas within Dublin 12 remain contiguous, that communities in Tallaght are not split unnecessarily, and that more thought is given to electoral area names.”