Sinn Féin Leader on Cork City Council Cllr.Chris O'Leary has said that tonight's acceptance of d'Hondt system by Cork City Council brings to an end 34 years of pact politics on the local authority.
Cllr. O'Leary said:
“The d’hondt system is fundamentally about democratising the working of Cork City Council by respecting the voting preferences of the people. That is what has been adopted tonight.
"It is not about swapping one domineering political elite for another. It is simply about respect and moving the council to a space in which it truly works for the ordinary people of Cork City, not vested interests.
“Sinn Féin promised radical change and we are pushing forward with that agenda based on sound democratic principles. We were also aware that our detractors would take the opportunity to undermine the process of change but that is the nature of politics. Sinn Féin is up to meeting that challenge too.
“We need to cut right through the spin that has gone on over the last 48 hours.
“D’hondt is not a pact by another name. The nature of d’hondt is fundamentally the opposite to the politics of pacts that have dominated politics on this local authority for 34 years.
“It is not a system based on undemocratic, pre-arranged voting agreements. These were agreements in which the mandates, given to councillors by the people, were sidelined in order to hoard power.
“D’Hondt works on the basis of proportionality according to the percentage of the votes received at the local elections. As such, it respects the mandate given to councillors only two weeks ago.
“Secondly and perhaps most importantly, d’hondt ensures that parties and councillors are not tied into voting in favour of all five budgets at the very start of new council term.
“This had been the most coercive element of pact politics in the past. D’hondt will allow parties and councillors to examine and critically analyse each budget as it comes. It will allow parties who are opposed to cuts, which are impacting the most vulnerable in society, to block such measures and propose equitable alternatives and fair allocation of funding and resources.
“It will ensure that parties, opposed to cuts and austerity, are not squeezed out of the room when it comes to deciding budgets and chairs of committees.
“D’hondt breaks the archaic and unjust approach to budgetary decision-making on Cork City Council.
“Sinn Féin said we would deliver for the people of Cork City and the D’hondt system allows for a wider structure through which this can be achieved.
“Anybody saying otherwise either doesn’t understand D’Hondt or is being untruthful.”
Responding to the argument that D’Hondt will only help to prop-up Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on City Council, Cllr. O’Leary said:
“That is part of the spin I mentioned. We want democracy. Our responsibility is to the people of Cork. There are 31 Councillors on City Council. The electorate returned 15 Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Councillors between those two parties.
“Now that may not be something that makes me jump for joy but it is a reality.
“The D’hondt system can be used to turn Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael away from the path of austerity and onto a socially progressive agenda that will address issues such as the housing crisis in this city.
“Crucially, D’hondt will allow us to stand up to them in a meaningful and effective way should they fail to do so.”