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Dwyer - Sinn Féin to Oppose Local Authority Budgets in Wexford

9 December, 2003

Sinn Féin Councillors in Wexford, Enniscorthy, New Ross and Gorey will vote against the annual estimates on all four local authorities in County Wexford this month. Speaking following a meeting of Councillors and local election candidates in Gorey on Sunday Cllr John Dwyer outlined Sinn Féin's position in relation to the local authority budgets.

Cllr Dwyer said:

"Sinn Féin are adopting a principled position of opposition to the estimates presented on all four local authorities in the county. As a matter of principle we cannot support any budget that includes a further rise in already unfair service charges. The system of Bin Charges as it presently operates in Wexford is wrong and unfair. Sinn Féin object to waste collection being used by local authorities as a revenue generating device and have presented proposals which outline a just and sensible alternative to the present system.

"Over the past twelve months Sinn Féin Councillors have endeavoured to pursue much needed reform to the present system of Differential Rents on Local Authority Housing and have proposed a cap to this scheme. Councillors from the other party's failed to second Sinn Féin motions dealing with this issue and thereby avoided even debating this important issue that impacts on the well being of so many households in this county.

"In addition, failure to carry out necessary repairs and to adequately maintain local authority housing is a matter of huge concern. This should be an issue of the highest priority but instead we have continued to witness the situation whereby local authorities act like commercial landlords in charging the highest possible rents to their tenants but have failed in their responsibility to properly maintain the local authority housing stock.

"We are aware that Sinn Féin are likely to be the only party to vote against the estimates in County Wexford. It is up to the other parties to justify their own positions. We would expect to be challenged on our alternative to the present system and indeed we do have a range of proposals to offer on the financing of Local Authorities that we have already consistently advocated.

"It is undeniable that Local Authorities throughout this State are underfunded by central government. Successive Governments over many years have created the present scenario where councils must operate on a shoe string budget and are coerced yearly to impose unfair service charges along with a whole range of new stealth taxes. All of the other party's have failed to present any real opposition to this present system and indeed have played their part in perpetuating it.

"Sinn Féin as a party has consistently highlighted the failures of local government in Ireland. The party has been strong advocates of real reform of local government - not the piecemeal gestures of successive Governments. Reform has been promised in each of the last four decades by central government. What has actually been delivered on each occasion is an ever more weakened and inefficient system.

"Sinn Féin will continue to demand real reform of local government, to fight the disempowering of local authorities and to call for greater public knowledge and discussion of the central funding process." ENDS

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