Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A big thank you - and a few changes

An overdue thank you to the voters in the Templeogue-Terenure Local Electoral Area who gave me a great mandate on May 23rd in returning me to South Dublin County Council. I topped the poll with 2,826 votes - well over the quota of 2,391 - and was thus elected on the first count. It was an extraordinary achievement for an Independent candidate.

Huge thanks to my campaign team, my family and friends for their support not just during the campaign, but over the past few years. It is clear that my principled stance on the Council, my hard work in the local area, and the response to the establishment parties provided the basis for such a significant vote.

I spent the following two weeks wrapping up my term as Mayor of South Dublin, another fantastic honour. I have also spent this time speaking with other Councillors in trying to push a progressive agenda on South Dublin County Council. I signed up to the Progressive Alliance of Sinn Féin, Independents, Labour and the Greens on SDCC. The Alliance commits to policies around job creation and retention, provision of more social housing, tackling climate change, ensuring the protection of public services and promoting community and equality on the Council. 

In the time ahead, I will be seeking to work with other Independent Councillors and others on the left, in SDCC and elsewhere, to develop a more coherent approach to advance left wing politics both locally and nationally – something which will take both time and effort. With this in mind, I have also used the past few weeks to examine my own role on the Council and on external bodies. There are many changes in local government, some of which will mean that there are more Councillors seeking to be elected to fewer positions to statutory bodies.

After 5 years on the Dublin/Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (formerly County Dublin VEC), I have decided not to contest for the ETB again. I have enjoyed getting my teeth into education and youth policy and operations in the County, and have particularly been proud of my work on several school boards of management. I also served on the Youth and Sport Subcommittee of the ETB. There is a huge amount of work involved in the ETB and I think it is now time for someone else to be given a chance to serve.

I have stepped down after 3 years of involvement on the boards of Tallaght Community School and St Mark's Community School, work which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I thank the principals and boards for the ongoing work they are doing in the community. I will remain on the Boards of Management in Greenhills College and Coláiste de hÍde, both of which I chair, as well as St MacDara's CC, until the end of this year when they are re-appointed by the ETB. I will, of course, continue my work in education as a teacher and activist.

I have also decided not to contest for the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee for this Council term following five years of involvement on this important committee. I proposed the new Traveller Accommodation Plan as Mayor following a lot of work by that committee.

I do hope to continue my membership of the Dublin 12 Local Drugs Task Force if I am re-elected onto it by the Council.

At the Annual Meeting of the Council, I was appointed a Chair of one of the new Strategic Policy Committees of the Council. The new SPC Scheme is subject to changes but at present I will be Chairing the new Social and Community Committee of the Council, dealing with policies in areas such as sports, recreation, community grants, community centres and social inclusion. I am very much looking forward to this work and to working on the Corporate Policy Group of the new Council.

Some of you may have noticed that I have changed my Facebook presence from a personal account to a “page” – please be sure to follow that at www.facebook.com/VoteDermotLooney . I am continuing to tweet regularly at www.twitter.com/dlooney .

I am reviewing my Advice Centre commitments given the makeup of the new local electoral area and will confirm those details in late August. For now, please contact me by email should you wish to meet me.

On a personal note, I am looking forward to a break over the summer, to taking in more of the World Cup, and to seeing St Pat’s play in the Champions’ League! The past few months in particular have been extremely busy, so it will be good to take a couple of weeks off!