IN our politicians we trust – at least until the next election do we part, if we so wish.
We put them in there; we elect them to their highly paid jobs of €90k-plus per annum, albeit it’s far from being a year-round job as Dáil Éireann sits well under half the days of the year; we elect them to their lavish expenses of €5k a month, give or take a few shekels; we believe their every word, whether spoken with the powers of oratory of latter-day James Dillon or a more down-to-earth-like Jackie Healy-Rae.
So it was that we believed Deputies Joe Carey and Pat Breen of the dominant Government party, Fine Gael. Poll-topping Pat Breen and his running mate Joe Carey.
We believed them – whether they had their hand on their hearts, or on the biros filling out those expenses sheets – when they said Clare would be rewarded for stumping up with the the household charge, that Clare local government would be rewarded with a payment from the Department of the Environment coffers of €250k.
It was fairly cut and dried. More household charge cash into the coffers of Clare County Council meant more cash for local services.
Services like keeping libraries open, services like stocking libraries with books; services like filling potholes; services like grants from the promotion or the arts and other things. The list goes on and on….
To be more specific, Pat Breen and Joe Carey, the Fine Gael standardbearers in Clare and the current incumbents of a tradition and Dáil Éireann flame held by the likes of Paddy Burke, Bill Murphy, Frank Taylor, Madeleine Taylor-Quinn and Dónal Carey said that the €250k syphoned from Clare County Council’s annual budget would be handed back if Clare surpassed a threshold of 70 per cent compliance with the controversial €100 household charge.
Clare hasn’t been found wanting in that regard and is edged towards that 70 per cent.
It won’t make any difference though – regardless of how much is collected there will no €250k in cash coming back to Clare County Council to keep our libraries open etc, etc….
No cash equals empty promises. No fault of the council, but those higher powers.
The highest power in this regard is the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan.
Who knows, there could be thousands of people out there who still want to pay their household charge, but are looking for no-interest loans from the bank to do so.
But hey, you have to be part of the business or political elite to get no-interest loans from our banking institutions.
Maybe Dr Phil could help there?
But then again, he’s a busy man, taking his scalpel, or a machete more like, to local services, while at the same time dragging his feet on political promises that were made both before and after Fine Gael’s hour of victory last February 12 months.
Promises like reforming local government; promises like reforming Seanad Éireann.
The Dáil has been reformed, but to label a reduction in the number of TDs from 166 to 158 for the next election as real reform is a joke. Real reform would have hit at the cosy cartel that always exists among the parties of government and the Oireachtas as a whole.
It makes you admire the likes of Willie Penrose up in Westmeath – he had the trappings of power as a junior minister, or a so-called super-junior ministry that gave him a seat at the Cabinet table, but on principle of the closure of Columb Barracks in Mullingar he bailed out and resigned.
And if Róisín Shorthall had the same political gumption she’d follow suit, after the shameful way in which the Minister for Health, James Reilly, played constituency politics with the nation’s health services by locating two new primary care centres in his own North Dublin constituency, even though facilities for Balbriggan and Swords ranked 44th and 130th respectively in the league table for 20 centres around the country.
What chance one of our own standing up over a broken promise regarding Clare County Council funding?
What chance one of our own standing up over the way that Shannon Airport is continuing to lurch towards oblivion as the unwieldy committee system fails to emit any white smoke about the benchmarked implementation of the former hub of the aviation world’s independence from its bete noir that is the Dublin Airport Authority.
In our politicians we are supposed to trust, but the thing is, with the cutbacks to Clare County Council services now in the offing because of a broken promise with regard to funding, the local library service might yet be looking for philanthropists to step forward to buttress their book stocks.
How about this for a donation: a booklet containing a list of the promises made pre- and post-General Election 2011, from politicians both local and national.
It might make for compulsive reading.
See this week’s Clare People for more