Ireland a once proud nation is now lying in ruins. We all know how we got here but the uncertainty of how we get out is what is scaring the people right now. Where do we start to rebuild? Who will lead us towards a new promised land? All these questions are out there but the clear and concise answers are still sheltered from the public. The bottom line is this country has been a game played by a select few. It has been relatively straight forward to play for the chosen few, even amongst the wreckage they can salvage reward. This inner circle is the cancer that has eroded the soul of the nation and has spread like wildfire. This country now needs political cleansing. We have to examine the root of the disease and that starts with Councillors.
The middle men we don’t actually need. This is where the system of Irish politics breaks down. These are the drug dealers of Irish politics a scourge on the future of local businesses, a drain on public finances. Once you get involved with them, it’s almost impossible to escape their reign that is fuelled by emotional blackmail on the vulnerable . What function do they perform? Simple, they are the creation of a job out of nothing. A job that is promoted in importance by them. A job that is protected by those above them in the political chain, so as to keep everything in order on ground level.
They operate on a level similar to any gangland organization. You need something done in your area, you believe the proper process is to approach your local councillor and seek his help. A simple request then turns into his tool for exploitation. He approaches the council in the same manner you could as a group or individual, except he will create the impression that he has weight to throw around and his association with certain TDs may be mentioned to enforce this impression. The people in the council are hired to perform their duties in an unbiased manner but once the councillor is introduced the system, it is then corrupted. Councils need to create a clear and transparent process for people to approach them for assistance regarding local issues. They should be able to lodge their request and an answer made available within an acceptable time frame. If the request is declined, a reason for it should be afforded to the member of the public that requested it.
To give you an example,Councillors took over €31 million in expenses from county and city councils in 2009. The following link will give a break down of how some of these payments were made http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0524/1224271012025.html. At a time when small businesses are struggling to survive, you really have to question is it viable to have these people draining council funds for personal gain. Are the councils not capable of running themselves? Surely the best people have been recruited from the open labour market to undertake these roles. Is the sustainment of a role for the councillor saying that we think you are incompetent in managing council affairs and it is better if they are directly involved in how the money is budgeted.
How many of these coffin chasers do you think submit fuel receipts for attending funerals? It would be startling if revealed. Surely a more forensic approach to their expense claims needs to be implemented. How can people believe that these are sincere individuals that care about their community? Have we really become that gullible? No doubt these individuals will be wearing out shoe leather in the coming weeks campaigning with their selected TD. They will be seeking out members of the public to remind them of all they have done for the community and they will be making this appeal on a very emotional level. If you are lucky they may even drive you to the polling booth. Warning: You may have difficulty tracking them down until the next relevant election.
What of councillors that became involved in land deals directly or indirectly? Conflict of interest never seemed to be an obstacle to them. How many have been financially enriched after been lobbied for votes to pass planning permission? When you trace back the crash of our property sector it will start here. We are not for one moment suggesting all have been partial to a kick back but there is no denying that many could not resist the temptation. The corruption goes all the way to the top and one has to admire their secrecy that surrounds it, as well as the immunity the political process has afforded those involved. This secrecy comes at an extra price to the people of Ireland, as favours have to be repaid to these councillors. Jobs that should be openly advertised for the most suitable candidates, especially ones on state boards are bequeathed to many councillors. It appears to be the price of silence and it is sad that not one whistle blower has had the courage to take a stance against the rape and pillage of this country.
If the job of a councillor was voluntary, how many of these marauders would exist if there was no financial gain? Genuine and caring people would probably take up the slack they leave behind. How many have conflicts of interest? How many are double jobbers? How many fill the role of secretary for sitting TDs. It’s a closed shop and outsiders are not welcome. The councils simply need to advise people that they are willing and waiting to address the concerns of all citizens in that area in an unbiased and practical manner. Straight forward transparency would obliterate their role and make it harder for the political omerta to exist. At a time when rates are crippling businesses the savings from reducing the role of councillors and their numbers, would surely trigger a reduction of rates for these businesses. This would also be of benefit to the consumer as it should lead to price reductions across the board.
All people want is a fighting chance to get this country back on the road to recovery but there are those with interests to protect that are an enemy to us reaching our goals. A Political Asset Bureau needs to be established in this country to bring those that were involved in corruption to justice.