29th May 2003
Minister Cullens Bill yet another blow to democracy
Speaking in the Dáil today during a debate on the Protection of the Environment Bill 2003, Sinn Fein Arthur Morgan T.D. slammed plans by the government tointroduce service charges. The Louth T.D. was also highly critical ofprovisions in the Bill which lessen the powers of local authorities.
``This is yet another Bill from Minister Cullen and yet another blow todemocracy. People should remember that this is not the first Bill that MinisterCullen has brought before this house which has sought to diminish the powers oflocal authorities.''Though there are some measures contained in this Bill that are to be welcomedthey are simply window dressing for the Ministers real intention of diminishingby degree the autonomy of local authorities and for his planned imposition ofservice charges.''If this bill is allowed to pass, local councillors will no longer have anyfunction in deciding on household waste charges or regional waste managementplans.
``I am particularly concerned that the Minister is attempting to persuade us thatthe imposition of service charges provided for in this Bill in based on the'polluter pays' principle.
``This is a dubious claim designed to distract us from the fact that the economicpolicies pursued by this government along with its refusal to reform thefinancing of local government has left us with cash starved local authorities. An individual citizen is not the polluter who should be paying. It should beremembered that household waste accounts for less than 10 per cent of all solidwaste. There is an unwillingness on the part of this Government to make themain producers of waste pay their fair share.''
Speaking following the conclusion of the debate, Deputy Morgan was deeplycritical of the Minister for absenting himself from the chamber during thedebate on the premise that he had to meet with city and County managers.
``This shows what the Minister priorities are - he is not interested in hearingthe voices of elected representatives at local level and he not interested inhearing the voices of elected representatives at national level. Martin Cullenhas once again demonstrate his disregard for democracy''
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