[Sinn Fein]

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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