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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Council is dead, long live the council!

So there’s just 80 days left to polling in the local elections.  The legislation to abolish local urban government is gone through the house, signed and by the President and now law.  I don’t think that it will be challenged, the legal advice to councillors is that at best its 50/50 and would not be head before an election anyhow. So urban councils are into their last few months, I regret this but I’m a realist, little can be done unless the Minister has a change of mind. In truth it won’t happen, not with this Minister. I am sorry our council is going. I think that it will damage Labour in areas like Connacht where off a small vote a labour councillor might get a seat on in a town but cannot expect one in a county council. We’re a national party that everyone in the state must have the option of supporting. Instead we’ll see more councillors from the same old, same old political backwoods.
But what does this really mean in Wexford? In my view a whole lot. Wexford will have a Municpal Borough and District council but let’s not take the eye off the ball. The cheque book moves over to the County Council.  Wexford Town’s development will now need the nod from the County Council. And here’s the rub! Wexford Town will elect just 5, maybe 6 councillors out of 34 county councillors.  Previously where different parties might have differed in Wexford Borough Council on national issues, they united on local issues that affected the town. Under the new arrangement Wexford may well get an unpleasant surprise. Councillors from other districts, indeed even resident within the district but who get votes outside of the town may have a very different view of what the town deserves.
In reality nobody asked for austerity in the last 5 years. Was there an alternative in government? Yes there was! I remember the cliché of heavy lifting in 2009/2010 when FF and FG wanted to front load the pain and cuts.  FF did make sweeping cuts that they now tend to forget. In the end the compromise government formed 3 years ago agreed how to proceed to get the Troika out. So now they’re gone , we’ve moved on.
So let’s move on even further. What have any of the parties got to say about what Wexford needs to go forward? It sounds very seductive to lend an ear to how hard the cuts have bitten. But does this make someone who opposes a government a good councillor? It’s easy to oppose but in any new council Wexford town’s councillors will have to stand together for Wexford. Jumping up and down to oppose  government will go down like a lead balloon with those that need a job, want a future or need a start. Its then the real politics will start

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