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The Sun Always Shines On Vincent Browne


A Festival of Cruelty curated by as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills. Culturalfatwa looks beyond the haranguing to the true message of Tonight with Vincent Browne.

By any measure Tonight with Vincent Browne at the unearthly hour of 11pm on TV3 is a weird yet wonderful phenomenon. In fact, in a political landscape almost completely devoid of genuine debate, it might just be said to be unique.

Stranger still the fishies that swarm and nibble about in the associated twitter hashtag, #vinb. Here extreme lefty meets dedicated republican, hard core begrudger and random Twitter smartarse, and all on a roughly even footing. Within this tag swim small schools of wrigglers of the anti-bailout right (the Karl Wheelan/Paul Somerville shoal for want of a better term), and occasionally, even in these shallows, drifting thoughtlessly under a bridge you hear a faint shout, “TROLL!” Too late! A doughty rock lobster of the Fianna Fáil, Labour or (horror) Fine Gael variety has you held in its vice-like claws.

The #vinb tag, rightly described recently on Twitter by @soundmigration as a genuine social/sociological phenomenon, would repay study – maybe someone is already on it?

Moving out of ‘virtual pools’ for a moment what we have is simply a TV panel show presided over by the mighty Vincenzo. It’s extraordinarily hard to describe to the uninitiated this man of (apparently) lefty-liberal leanings. Of course his arsenal of ticks, shudders and eye-browy moves and gestures have been well mimicked, if not quite equalled, by the short-lived Mario Rosenstock sketches on the show. But beyond the baleful sighs and the eyes up to a heaven he doesn’t believe in, to a god that’s not taking calls, Vincenzo is as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills.

Besides a photographic memory stretching back eons there is his most dreadful weapon, the phrase “Just answer the question”. So strong is this stinger that it seems to have been the main reason that the Troika refused to meet either opposition or press on their last tour of inspection. It is deployed with limpet-like tenacity, the hapless victim (be they left, right or centre) is allowed to blather on at will for a brief period. Then “the question”.

“The question” is always of a “have you stopped beating your wife?” nature. It might be nice to think that a simple yes/no could be returned as an answer, but that would be far too easy! Rarely has the harried victim even the microseconds to draw breath, yet alone stretch to audible sound. “The question” is always completely ‘loaded’, entirely and intricately of arch Vincenzo design and almost never, ever, drawn from whatever has been the media pre-approved ‘argument’ or ‘side’ in any particular debate.

Some choice examples of this include asking Leo Varadkar, “Why did you put the ‘gun to head clause’ in the preamble to the Fiscal Compact Treaty?” (he also deployed this particular bludgeon during the first Compact Treaty debate with Micheál Martin and Simon Covney), asking Troika member Klaus Masuch, “did your taxi driver tell you how the Irish people are bewildered that we are required to pay unguaranteed bondholders billions of Euros for debts that the Irish people have no relation to or no bearing with, primarily to bail out or to ensure the solvency of European banks? And if the taxi driver had asked you that question, what would have been your response? That’s my first question”, or September’s evisceration of the hapless Kieran O’Donnell, “are you proud of what your party colleague, Phil Hogan, did in this instance – reassuring or assuring neighbours in this area that a Traveller family wouldn’t be housed in that area?”.

There are many other things that you are liable to see on Tonight with Vincent Browne that you will never see anywhere else on the Irish airways or, possibly, anywhere in the world.

There are the Festivals of Cruelty or bloodings, horrible rituals in which one of the major political parties supplies a young innocent for the specific purpose of a verbal savaging by Vincenzo. This seems to be based on the misguided notion that the victim will be steeled/tempered or toughened in some way. The repeat throwing of FG TD Paschal Donohoe into the metal box shows that particular theory up as a complete non-starter. The casual savaging of doe-eyed Paschal only seems to draw him back for more and at times even this seasoned anarchist antichrist feels like throwing a towel into the ring on his behalf. Seasoned ministers and party leaders generally will not be found even accidentally within a 50 mile radius of Vincenzo under any circumstances. In our lovely wee democracy in the year 2012 they are basically terrified of a ‘mere’ TV presenter. This is, obviously, hella cool.

There are times when an ‘ordinary head’, be they homemaker or community activist, is allowed to spout forth at and, occasionally, annihilate some stuffed shirt or other. There are times when an academic or expert is called out, though mind you one or two (Diarmuid Ferriter springs to mind) take to it like ducks to water. There are live embedded outside broadcasts from within protests ignored elsewhere on the airwaves. They have a presenter who reads viewers’ tweets, texts and comments out live, later reproducing them fully credited on a blog (politico.ie), responding in detail and often using that to generate debate in future shows.

This show never so much ends as fizzles out – usually in a bad-tempered, inconclusive and incoherent morass. Each ending is a tiny, beautiful example of another glib and easy closure (the sine non qua of most political broadcasts), deliberately and successfully elided. As a resigned Vicenzo stares directly into the void and mumbles something about the weather forecast the message is clear: if there is to be resolution or closure, indeed change of any stamp, it’s gonna have to come from out there beyond the TV screen, from you (yes, you!), the humble viewer.

via The Sun Always Shines On #Vinb : rabble.

via The Sun Always Shines On #Vinb : rabble.

Phil Hogan’s and His Big Mouth


 

Phil Hogan, the Environment Minister, has branded the Sunday Independent and another newspaper as “knackers” and threatened to “put manners” on them for publishing pictures of himself and his now former press secretary in Doha on Budget day.

Last Thursday, Mr Hogan accused the  Indo of engaging in a “disgraceful game” and threatened: “We will put manners on you.” Mr Hogan was reacting to coverage of himself in recent months.

Rich considering The cheapest room in the hotel is 605 euro which is an outrage when he is standing over cuts to the blind and disabled.

download (7)

When I saw the picture at first glance I thought it was Fidelma Healy Eames and said Oh Jesus not her again

The 10-strong Irish party that attended included Hogan’s press secretary, Yvonne Hyland, the woman pictured with him on the front page.

 

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His little finger is definitely on the rump area.- Oh Dear Maybe they’re really good friends?

Well he is doing no worse that Bertie, Biffo and co.

But I recall Mr Hogan was a very strong opponent of cronyism when Fianna Fail were in power.

Amazing they way people change their mind when they get power,

Hogan could cross over to FF and they would be at home in there lot

 

Yvonne Hyland was a former P.R person for F.G before she became press secretary to big mouth Hogan. Was she hired because of he skills and suitability for the job or was she hired for other reasons?  I bet her interview was a real tough one. A lady on 83k a year whose job was to insure no bad PR and no unwanted photos!!!  A lady of amazing abality

 

Money well spent. I doubt it

The woman that big Phil was pictured cosying up to in Qatar has since left her position.

Ahhh.

What happened there…. they seemed to be getting on quite well.

Dastardly and motley crew is a wacky Coalition


Need a foolproof guide to figuring out the Government’s actions? Read on

How the promissory note works (sort of)

Step 1 The Government pays €3.1 billion interest payments on an IOU for loads of money it gave to Anglo/IBRC (a branch of Government), who then pay the interest back to the Central Bank (a branch of Government), who stare at it for a while.

Step 2 Some sums.

Step 3 Terrifying omens abound. A two-headed lamb is born. An eagle drops a wolf cub. It lands on Phil Hogan’s head (he wears it as a hat). An apparition of Seán Lemass is seen pacing Leinster House. The Spice Girls make a musical. The ghost of Bertie Ahern is seen in a petrol station forecourt eating a Big Time (to the surprise of the still living Bertie Ahern). The pope tweets his first tweet (“I’m infallible LOL!”). A long-faced man from Europe appears and gazes mournfully at us.

Step 4 Coffee break.

Step 5 Some more sums. Maybe some physics. Possibly a bit of string theory.

Step 6 The money vanishes.

Step 7 Cut respite grants for carers and reduce child allowance.

How the Labour Party works

This is when members of the Labour Party usually intervene and say they are a bit sad. They feel really desperate about the whole thing. In fact, they feel just awful. Words cannot express how terrible they feel and neither can devising redistributive policies. “Jaysus, it’s terrible,” they add, before crooning a few bars of a song about Jim Larkin and submitting an expenses claim.

“If only we were in opposition,” they say. “Then we might have some real power.”

At this point they sing a sad Irish air about missing being in opposition.

Because Labour are goodies. If they weren’t in Government things would certainly, definitely, probably, possibly be worse. We’d be working as footmen in Fine Gael’s stately homes and the Cabinet would be paying off loads of extra interest on promissory notes and raiding the pension fund all the time, just for the laugh. Enda Kenny would be wearing leather gloves, jodhpurs and possibly an eye patch. There would be far more nefarious guffawing.

Labour are, they imagine, classic heroes like the rebels in Star Wars. It just so happens they’re on the Death Star wearing stormtrooper suits at the moment (alternatively, you can imagine them as the carefree Smurfs hanging around Gargamel’s cave dressed as cats).

How Fine Gael works

Fine Gael, on the other hand, is more comfortable with governmental villainy (see Derek Keating’s attack on the “welfare economy lifestyle”). Its Ministers are modelled on classic baddies from fiction.

Kenny’s whole shtick is based on Gort, the glossy robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still (not the Galway town).

James Reilly, with his tax-relieved stately home and history of lobbying for the medical profession, is of course the Lovecraftian old god Cthulhu locating health centres in his home dimension.

Michael Noonan has based his persona on a character from the obscure 1950s Hammer exploitation film – Dracula meets Michael Noonan – in which the hero, an ageless whispering plutocrat, battles the otherworldly Michael Noonan.

Not everyone in Fine Gael seems bad at first. The Li’l Blueshirts, Leo Varadkar, Lucinda Creighton and Simon Harris, once seemed like roguish scamps engaged in neoliberal hijinks with a social-conservative twist.

But eventually their unearthly powers manifested themselves, like the children in Village of the Damned, and they terrified us all with their Toryism, sighing monotone deliveries, and by causing unexplained fires with their minds. They don’t mind being baddies.

Labour again

But Labour are goodies. They don’t mean to target the poor. They LIKE the poor . . . and not just as a source of cheap labour. So they’ll sigh and cry and feel everyone’s pain and some brave souls will defect and some of them will do sad-face. Because they’re not baddies. They’re NOT. STOP IT. DON’T LOOK AT ME. DON’T LOOK AT ME!

via Dastardly and motley crew is a wacky Coalition – The Irish Times – Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

via Dastardly and motley crew is a wacky Coalition – The Irish Times – Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

Hogan feels heat on return from €30,000 trip


download (9)Desert mission’s costs could have reversed cut in respite care grants for 92 families

MINISTER for the Environment Phil Hogan has swapped the searing heat of Doha for the chill winds of home, returning today from a week-long trip that is expected to cost close to €30,000.

The bill is enough to reverse a €325 cut to the €1,700 respite care grant – introduced by last week’s Budget while Mr Hogan was in Qatar – for 92 families.

Mr Hogan and his ministerial entourage of nine spent a week at the UN talks toiling at back-to-back round table sessions, bilateral meetings and political briefing.

But the lasting image of the jaunt will be the Irish Daily Mail‘s pictures of the minister relaxing over drinks in his five-star hotel bar with his press adviser Yvonne Hyland, a former Fine Gael press officer.

The photographs were published on Budget Day, hours before the public was to discover the extent of the tax increases emanating from his department on cars and homes. They were reportedly taken at the end of a long day of back-to-back meetings.

Meanwhile, the burdened citizens back home who are paying for Mr Hogan’s trip were counting the cost of his latest austerity measures.

For a Government bent on selling a message of austerity, the timing was poor. The department said the costs of the trip came to €5,000 for flights and €16,000 for hotel accommodation. On top of the cost of flights and accommodation, the group of 10 would be entitled to claim foreign subsistence rates intended to cover any food, drinks and other costs incurred by Mr Hogan and his civil servants while abroad.

Daily subsistence of about €100 over seven days adds €7,000 to the bill, bringing the final cost closer to €30,000.

Although the sum is relatively modest in the scheme of Ireland’s debt problems, €30,000 is enough to reverse the €325 cut to the €1,700 respite care grant for 92 families or to extend the newly-cut €1,375 grant to an additional 21 families.

The department said it had “no response” to the publication of photographs last week showing Mr Hogan and Ms Hyland relaxing over a drink.

One of the few TDs to query Mr Hogan’s absence

ANALYSIS PAGE 28

from the Dail on Budget week was Sinn Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh.

Mr Hogan and his ministerial entourage were in Doha to bone up on international environmental issues in advance of Ireland’s assuming the EU Presidency next month.

He was accompanied by his private secretary, Eddie Kiernan, Ms Hyland, and John McCarthy, the assistant secretary at the department’s environment division. Six other officials were also in the group but his department did not name them. Some of the party travelled in advance, no doubt to get in early to prepare the ground. They flew economy on flights from Dublin to Doha via Abu Dhabi – at a cost of around €500 each.

“The numbers attending (Mr Hogan and nine officials) on the department’s part are being kept to the minimum necessary to allow us to be able to cover multiple parallel tracks of meetings and to prepare us for the Presidency role that we will have to discharge from January to June, including leading for the EU at an inter-sessional meeting in Bonn,with the possibility of a second inter-sessional also being mooted,” a Department spokesman explained.

Mr Hogan and his officials stayed at the Kempinksi Hotel in Doha, which offers a range of luxury suites and “sky villas” with “Arabian sun peaking through the floor-to-ceiling windows.”

But far from living it up in solo luxury, the department staff doubled up to save money. A spokesman said they shared “what are, in effect, two-bedroom apartments”.

Mr Hogan, meanwhile, had what the department called his own “one-bedroom unit” but which was reportedly one of the suites touted by Kempinski on its website, on the 49th floor, complete with four bathrooms, a kitchen and panoramic sea views.

“In both cases the accommodation is the cheapest of three available categories of accommodation in the hotel,” the spokesman said, coming in at a relatively modest €149 a night

Although Qatar governs itself according to strict Sharia law, luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to non-Muslims.

The department claimed the delegation was among the smaller groups attending the international conference. Almost 200 nations attended the climate change talks which were aimed at negotiating a new international treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. Mr Hogan will be the minister leading the EU’s work on climate change when Ireland takes over the EU presidency in January.

And it was necessary to send nine officials to various parallel meetings going on at any one time.

During the seven days, Mr Hogan gave one three-minute address to a UN plenary session in which he spoke about the need for urgent action on climate change.

He also promised delegates “an ambitious environmental agenda” when Ireland takes over the Presidency of the European Council in January.

According to a schedule released by his department, he spent much of the week attending daily co-ordination meetings with 27 EU ministers; bi-lateral talks with EU ministers and the UN; ministerial round-table talks; and multiple “bilateral talks” with small island states, with Russia and with “least developed countries” and with non-government agencies.

He also attended a ministerial breakfast hosted by Mary Robinson

via Hogan feels heat on return from €30,000 trip – National News – Independent.ie.

via Hogan feels heat on return from €30,000 trip – National News – Independent.ie.

Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use.


Ah right, so that explains the urgency around the household tax.

And just in case you forgot what Big Phil said about its introduction back in July:

“It is internationally accepted that local services are administered by local authorities and financed by local service charges. Ireland is now moving along a path to a local and sustainable funding base for local government. Effective local governance requires strong local decision making. This new funding system for local government will continue to allow local authorities to prioritise expenditure to meet locally identified needs as part of the local authority’s budgetary process, making for a more efficient, accountable and effective funding system. This is local democracy in action.”

A wee google around tells me that Thomas Kinsella who tops this poll of self serving, is best known for using his casting vote to nominate Dana for the presidency. Paton who comes in at number 2 on the list, is a cheer leader for that most hopeless of events The Gathering.

The Irish Independent carried an interesting story back in September about how our Councillors are making pigs of themselves at the public trough.

An Irish Independent investigation reveals that our part-time politicians were paid an average of €31,600 each in salary, allowances, expenses and fees for sitting on a range of public bodies. Many of these councillors earned this cash on top of their day jobs.

However, others have made a full-time living out of what is supposed to be a part-time role. A major trawl of financial records held by almost 200 public bodies revealed very high – but legitimate – pay and expense packages claimed by some councillors.

The highest-earning councillor in the country received seven payments totalling €83,000 from five different bodies – his county council and four outside bodies, to which he was nominated by virtue of being a county councillor.

Read more here if you can stomach to.

Great stuff lads, mine is a tripple carvery, a pint and a half one. Make sure you keep the receipt.

via Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use. : rabble.

via Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use. : rabble.

Budget 2013: Property and NAMA


Budget 2013: Property and NAMA

December 5, 2012 by namawinelake

This afternoon in the Dail, the finance and public expenditure and reform ministers, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin presented Budget 2013. All the associated documents are here. These are the tax measures. These are the cuts to services and welfare. Overall, the Government presented a positive assessment of the economy overall and confirmed that it expects to beat the deficit target for 2012 with an actual of 8.2% versus the target of 8.6% in the Memorandum of Understanding with the programme finance Troika. So, what about the NAMA and property aspects of the Budget 2013 announcements?

(1) NAMA is to ramp up its provision of residential property for social housing in 2013. This is grossly unfair on NAMA which has already made 3,800 homes available to Government which has only overseen the acquisition of 133 homes to date, including 58 in 2011. So much for environment minister, Phil Hogan’s fanfare last December 2011, indicating that NAMA would provide 2,000 homes in the short term.

(2) NAMA has spent €650m of the €2bn investment announced in May 2012.

(3) The property tax will come into effect from 1st July 2013. Residential property will be self-assessed by homeowners and the tax will be collected by the Revenue Commissioners. The tax is payable by owners rather than occupiers unless they’re both the same of course.

(4) So far, claims the Government – opponents have different figures – 66% of households have paid the €100 household charge in 2012 which was supposed to have been paid by 31st March 2012. From 1st July 2013, the Revenue Commissioners will collect arrears on this charge, and from 1st�July 2013, the arrears will rise from €100 to €200.

(5) The property charge will be 0.18% on homes worth less than €1m and will be 0.25% on homes worth more than €1m, but only on the element in excess of €1m. If a home is worth less than €100,000 then the assessed value will be €50,000. Above €100,000 there are bands of €50,000 and the assessed value will be the midpoint of the band, eg your home is worth €130,000 then the assessed value will be €125,000, if your home is worth €205,000 then the assessed value will be €225,000.

(6) In 2013 only, only 50% of the annual charge will be payable.

(7) There will be exemptions for three years for first time buyers in 2013, and buyers of homes which were previously vacant and unlived in.

(8) There will be no waivers, only deferrals so if you can’t pay, the charge will be added to a tab� which will be payable when you sell or die.

(9) In 2013, if you have a second property and are presently paying the non principal private residence tax of €200, you will continue to pay that tax in 2013, IN ADDITION to the new charge. From 1st January 2014, you will only need pay the property tax, with the NPPR abolished, but only from 1st Jan 2014.

(10) Rental income will be subject to PRSI, typically about 4%.

(11) Real Estate Investment Trusts will be introduced in 2013. REITs are managed property investment funds and allow ordinary investors to invest in property without investing large sums with tax incentives. Typically, you buy a share in a property fund and then you get income on your share from rent and if property is sold at a profit. If you want out of the fund, you can sell your share. REITs have been promised since this administration came into office.

(12) There was no change to the incentives offered in last year’s budget, but mortgage relief for first time buyers will be ended as previously indicated by the end of December 2012. However first time buyers in 2013 will be exempted from the new property tax for three years.

Estate agents and property consultants Lisney have been quick out of the gates and have provided a response to the Budget 2013 announcements. They criticise the structure of the new property tax for a variety of reasons including no account of stamp duty and that it should be on occupiers rather than owners. With respect to REITs, James Nugent, the managing director of Lisney has this to say:

“REIT’s are publically traded property companies, where the majority of the assets of the company are income producing real estate assets. This will provide liquidity to the market and will allow investors participate in areas of the property market that they would not traditionally have had the opportunity to enter, i.e. it will allow them invest small sums of money in large-scale commercial properties. Given the relatively small size of the Irish market, it is likely that there will only be a limited number of REIT’s established, perhaps two or three. It is positive that this is being introduced at a time when property values are low. This is contrary to the situation in UK when they were introduced at the height of the market in 2007 and suffered large losses within a short period of time due to the falls in property values. REIT’s are also positive from the point of view that they will provide a new source of funding for property companies. A return of a listed property sector is to be welcomed, the added benefit of no taxation at company level is good news for the investor.”

via NAMA Wine Lake.

via NAMA Wine Lake.

Local News Nibbles


Donegal

Fears Over Wind Frms

Medical expert claims up to 120 people could suffer health risks

A medical expert has claimed that up to 120 people who live within 1.5km of a proposed wind farm in Donegal could suffer health risks if the development goes ahead.

Dr Christopher Hanning, an honorary consultant in sleep disorders medicine at the University Hospitals of Leicester, was giving evidence at an oral hearing on the proposed wind farm at Straboy, near Glenties.

Dr Hanning said there is compelling evidence from recent studies that wind turbine noise can impair the health of people living too close to them.

Donegal County Council says it is adhering to national policy and guidelines.

Wind energy guidelines here state that “in general noise is unlikely to be a significant problem where the distance from the nearest turbine to a noise sensitive property is more than 500 metres.”

In its submission to the oral hearing the council, said: “It may well be that there are emerging concerns in relation to adverse health affects rising from wind farms, which may ultimately require greater separation distances to houses and centres of population.”

via FEARS OVER WIND FARMS – Local – Donegal Democrat.

CLARE

Clare county councilors have been stripped of their power to direct County Manager Tom Coughlan to make major planning decisions in exceptional cases that may be in contravention of the County Development Plan.

This is just one of the changes, which includes the abolition of the four local town councils in Ennis, Shannon, Kilrush and Kilkee with a combined membership of 36, as part of the most dramatic overhaul of local government in over 100 years. Councilors have been given the thankless task of levying rates for the introduction of a new property tax next year, which looks set to cause major controversy at council meetings.

Although the number of county councilors could be cut from 32 to 24, no decision has been taken on the exact number of members, which will be decided by a new independent statutory committee.
[Source: Clare Champion]

LONGFORD

Local taxi drivers have slammed the government’s plans for new taxi branding signage as another money-generating stunt.

Two weeks ago, Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly welcomed the move, developed by the National Transport Authority, which will see semi-permanent taxi stickers applied to the front doors of all taxi cars.

It’s intended to be a cut-price version of New York’s yellow taxis, or London’s black cabs, aimed at preventing licenses being switched between different cars. It has been estimated the cost for the signs will be between $195 and $325.

Longford taxi driver Paddy Boyle described the news as “another gimmick for money.” While Minister Kelly said the change will “make it harder for rogue drivers to continue operating in the sector,” Paddy doesn’t believe it will make any difference.
[Source: Longford Leader]

ROSCOMMON

The number of members elected to Roscommon County Council could be trimmed down to just 18 in a new program of radical reforms that is also expected to sound the death knell for Boyle Town Council.

Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan was expected to announce radical changes to the local authority sector last Tuesday in a bid to bring savings of more than $92 million per annum.

Speculation has been rife in the lead up to the minister’s announcement, with strong signals that town councils face the axe and that the number of councilors on local authorities will also be substantially reduced.
[Source: Roscommon Herald]

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/News-from-Ireland—news-from-around-the-32-counties-175221771.html#ixzz2A59LlVaP

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/News-from-Ireland—news-from-around-the-32-counties-175221771.html#ixzz2A594XM9Q

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/News-from-Ireland—news-from-around-the-32-counties-

Westport town councillors will not take abolition ‘lying down’


Councillor Myles Staunton said that the abolition of Westport Town Council would be a “retrograde step” and said that the council “will go down shouting” if town councils are to be eradicated

Cllr Staunton said that in November 2010 the council unanimously passed a motion against the dissolving of town council and invited a delegation from the Department of Environment to meet with the town council; this invitation was not taken up. Cllr Staunton again reiterated this invitation “before it’s too late”.

Cllr Staunton said: “Don’t give me the money argument as it doesn’t stand up,” explaining that in the town’s budget of over €5 million, the expenditure of councillors is only one per cent. The councillor added: “In the event that the town council becomes extinct money paid in rates no longer will be ringfenced for Westport town to cater for facilities,” and instead will go “into the back hole of the Mayo County Council budget.”

Cllr Staunton said that at this late stage we should put a package together and say come and look at what we have done, “if we go down, we go down shouting.”

Cllr Brendan Mulroy said that he firmly believes that “we are going out of business and the town will suffer for it.”

Fine Gael councillor Christy Hyland said that the town council “is the closest tier of government to the people” and to get rid of town councils is “an attack on democracy”.

Cllr Keith Martin said that people in this town care about the town council which is evident in election times. Cllr Martin said that “this council has been a leader” and “we will not be a voice snuffed out easily.”

Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Ollie Gannon said that every council should be judged on its merits and he said that “we are letting the minister know that we are not taking this lying down”.

Cllr Tereasa McGuire said that Westport is one of the “most successful town councils” and if the town council goes there will be no voice for local people, which is the “real tragedy”.

Cllr Michael McLaughlin added that “radical reform” is needed for town councils, as some are just a talking shop. The Fine Gael councillor said that “councillors should be paid properly and given more powers or scrap the lot.”

via Westport town councillors will not take abolition ‘lying down’.

via Westport town councillors will not take abolition ‘lying down’.

Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister –


LOCAL AUTHORITIES will in time be given powers to set their own property tax rates in order to generate funds to support provision of services in their areas, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said.

The development, announced by the Minister at the publication of a programme of local government reform, would give county councillors power to set the tax at a level that meets financial needs. This was the case under the domestic rates system that was abolished in 1977.

Property tax will become more and more the source of income for local authority services to be funded,” said Mr Hogan. “If they are raising the money locally for service provision, they will have a say in how they spend it. Each local authority can have a different level of property tax in due course. The timing of that is a matter for Government.”

The tax, expected to be levied at an initial rate of 0.25 per cent of the property value, is to be announced in the December 6th budget and is likely to come into force in the middle of next year. The details of the levy, which is to be collected by the Revenue Commissioners, are yet to be approved by Cabinet.

Mr Hogan was speaking at the publication of Putting People First, a programme of local government reform which he said represented the most radical changes to local political structures since the 19th century.

The abolition of 80 town councils, a reduction in the number of local authorities to 31, and a proposal to reduce the number of elected councillors by 42 per cent to a maximum of 950, are among the measures set out in the plan.

It indicates that the role of elected councils should be extended to cover matters such as local economic development and the support of businesses. But it also states that the power of councillors to overturn the decisions of planning officials should be removed. Many of the changes outlined in the plan are to be in place for the 2014 local elections.

via Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister – The Irish Times – Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

via Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister – The Irish Times – Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government


The Cabinet will this morning consider a plan to radically reform local government, including the abolition of town councils.

Phil Hogan‘s proposals would reduce the number of councillors from over 1,600 to 950

Other measures proposed by Environment Minister Phil Hogan are amalgamations of other local authorities and a voluntary redundancy scheme for 500 staff.

All 80 town councils around the country are to be abolished, and county councillors will instead have a role at district level.

In both Limerick and Waterford, the city and county councils will be merged into a single authority, as will the two county councils in Tipperary.

Cork and Galway will retain city as well as county councils, while Dublin will keep its current four councils.

All of this will reduce the number of councillors from over 1,600 to 950.

The targeted voluntary redundancy scheme should see an estimated saving of €45m per year.

A directly elected Mayor for Dublin is still a possibility, but only after voters in the capital are consulted in a plebiscite to be held alongside the local elections in 2014.

via Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government – RTÉ News.

via Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government – RTÉ News.

Reforms will stop councillors overturning planning decisions –


THE POWER of councillors to overturn the decisions of planning officials will be abolished in a massive overhaul of local government to be announced tomorrow.

The biggest reform of local government since the current system was instituted in 1898 is due to be unveiled by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan.

The decision to curtail the planning powers of local councillors has been taken in the light of evidence given to the Mahon tribunal regarding corruption in the planning process.

As part of the reform package, section 140 of the Local Government Act will be abolished so that councillors will no longer be allowed to direct officials in respect of planning functions.

The planning system has been bedevilled for decades by the ability of councillors to override planning decisions made by the professional planners in local authorities.

The practice has been more common in some counties than in others and has been the source of continuing controversy.

The Mahon tribunal, which investigated planning corruption in Dublin during the early 1990s, uncovered an elaborate system of payments and political donations made to councillors during the planning process.

It is believed the reforms to be announced tomorrow will take account of the tribunal recommendations and are designed to ensure that similar problems do not arise in the future.

It is also expected that the reform package will involve the abandonment of plans to have a directly elected mayor for the greater Dublin area similar to the office of London mayor.

The plan was the brainchild of the former minister for the environment and Green Party leader, John Gormley.

However, the Government parties have maintained since before taking office that the creation of a Dublin mayor would cost €8 million a year and was not justified in current economic circumstances.

The nub of the reform plan, which has already been flagged by Mr Hogan, will be a substantial cut in the number of councillors and a reduction in the number of local authorities.

It is expected that some local authorities will be merged, but it is not yet clear if smaller town councils will be abolished as originally planned.

The household charge introduced by Mr Hogan at the beginning of the year will be replaced by a fully fledged property tax next year but the Government remains committed to the principle that the money will be ring-fenced for use by local authorities.

Despite the controversy and the slow start to the collection process, the Department of the Environment now believes that the compliance rate will be close to 75 per cent by the end of the year.

Responsibility for collecting the property tax has been passed to the Revenue Commissioners, who will also be responsible for collecting the household charge arrears.

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Glenties last July, the Minister said that he had been mandated by a “reforming Government to drag the system of local government into the 21st century” so that it delivered more to the community and put people first.

via Reforms will stop councillors overturning planning decisions – The Irish Times – Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

via Reforms will stop councillors overturning planning decisions – The Irish Times – Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

Real News Nibbles from Around the Country


North Tipp

A significant surge in payment of the €100 Household Charge in North Tipperary in recent weeks has resulted in the lifting of a Government threat to further slash funding for local government services in the county.

During the summer Environment Minister Phil Hogan, noting that just over half of North Tipperary householders had paid the charge, threatened to cut the County Council’s Local Government Fund of €14.5 million by €1.5 million. Such a cut would have resulted in major cuts in local government services across the county.

But over the past six weeks or so a surge in payments saw a further 8 per cent of householders pay the charge, thereby removing the threat of the swinging cuts being imposed.

Two out of three householders in North Tipperary have now paid the new €100 charge

Via Nenagh Guardian

By God how they all tremble when the hear Hogan’s bark

Offaly

We learn from the Offaly express that 7,041 non-Irish nationals were living in Offaly at the time of the Census, accounting for 9.2% of the population of the county.

According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office, of the non-Irish nationals resident in the county, 1,865 were UK nationals – the largest non-Irish nationality in the county, followed by Polish nationals with 1,566 persons.

To be consigned to living in the bogs of Offaly these people must have suffered desperate deprivation elsewhere

=================================================

Waterford

From the Munster express we observe

The Munster Express has learned from reliable sources that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan, TD, is likely to announce this week that Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council will definitely be merged and that the headquarters of the new body will be in the county, not the city.

While such a move has been opposed by many politicians from both local authorities, it will be a particularly bitter pill for Waterford city to swallow.

It looks like cheerio to Waterford city Council oh well maybe a few less people claiming expenses

Wexford

From the Gorey Guardian we lean

WE’RE sitting on a goldmine. Literally. Prospectors have struck gold in North Wexford, and say the samples taken to date have the potential to yield hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and other precious metals.

‘It was very exciting,’ said Liam McGrattan, who works in Investor Relations with the IMC Exploration Group plc.

‘ This is a pretty big strike. I’d compare it to the oil strike off the coast of Cork recently,’ said Liam.

‘If we got two big strikes we could get rid of the IMF and the ECB out of the country,’ he joked. He said the operation would require an underground mine, meaning a huge jobs boost for the local community.

Well now Liam good news indeed but I see you work in investor relations. A profession well known for kite flying

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