[Sinn Fein]

12 January 2001

Dublin City Council should not be axed

Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor Nicky Kehoe has said that if Local Government Minister Noel Dempsey replaces Dublin City Council with a commissioner over its refusal to introduce bin charges he will be undermining local democracy.

Councillor Kehoe said:  ``This reminds me of the last days of the Greater London Council before it was axed by the Tories.  Who is the Minister for Local Government here - Noel Dempsey or Maggie Thatcher?''

He added:

``Let's be clear what is being proposed here today - Fianna Fáil wants to put another tax on the people of Dublin.  Bin charges are a tax by the back door.  Sinn Fein is totally opposed to service charges.

``In 1978, the people of Dublin were guaranteed by the Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition government that local authority services would receive enough funds from the central exchequer.

``Today, when the Fianna Fáil-led Government is boasting of record Budget surpluses, why aren't they providing the funding for a cohesive and effective waste management strategy?

``And what are we talking about here - less than 14 million.  Fourteen million pounds!  Hardly a fortune in Exchequer terms.  Perhaps we should ask Liam Lawlor for a few bob if Noel Dempsey won't give it to us.

``Dumping responsibility for waste management on local authorities without providing adequate resources is a nonsense.  The Government has made a mess of the entire waste management issue.  It is outrageous that Minister Dempsey should threaten to stand down an elected local authority because we won't comply with the Government's seriously flawed waste management strategy.

``This Government has completely failed to provide an effective and equitable waste management service.  The industrial and commercial sector is being allowed to ignore its waste management obligations with no effective requirements from Government  for them to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. It is this sector which is the principal polluter, not the ordinary householder.

``The bin charges are wrong and should be opposed for that.  But if the pro-bin tax parties force the charge through here today then there is no guarantee that charges will not be increased next year or the year after, or that the people exempted from charges this year will still be exempt in the future.

``We have tried to fulfill our mandate to our voters and also to pass the Estimates.  I should like to pay tribute to my Council colleagues for their efforts in this.  But now we are being threatened that if we do not do what the Government wants, the democratically-elected council of our capital city will be replaced by a single commissioner.  At one stroke of his pen, the Minister overturns local democracy - makes a joke of local government.

``Sinn Fein remains opposed to the double tax of bin charges and we call on the Local Government Minister, Noel Dempsey, not to overturn local democracy and to recognise the democratic decision of Dublin City Council.'' ENDS

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