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Morgan - Minister Cullens Bill yet another blow to democracy

29 May, 2003

Speaking in the Dáil today during a debate on the Protection of the Environment Bill 2003 Sinn Féin Arthur Morgan TD slammed plans by the government to introduce service charges. The Louth TD was also highly critical of provisions in the Bill which lessen the powers of local authorities.

"This is yet another Bill from Minister Cullen and yet another blow to democracy. People should remember that this is not the first Bill that Minister Cullen has brought before this house which has sought to diminish the powers of local authorities.

"Though there are some measures contained in this Bill that are to be welcomed they are simply window dressing for the Ministers real intention of diminishing by degree the autonomy of local authorities and for his planned imposition of service charges.

"If this bill is allowed to pass, local councillors will no longer have any function in deciding on household waste charges or regional waste management plans.

"I am particularly concerned that the Minister is attempting to persuade us that the imposition of service charges provided for in this Bill in based on the 'polluter pays' principle.

"This is a dubious claim designed to distract us from the fact that the economic policies pursued by this government along with its refusal to reform the financing of local government has left us with cash starved local authorities. An individual citizen is not the polluter who should be paying. It should be remembered that household waste accounts for less than 10 per cent of all solid waste. There is an unwillingness on the part of this Government to make the main producers of waste pay their fair share."

Speaking following the conclusion of the debate, Deputy Morgan was deeply critical of the Minister for absenting himself from the chamber during the debate on the premise that he had to meet with city and County managers.

"This shows what the Minister priorities are - he is not interested in hearing the voices of elected representatives at local level and he not interested in hearing the voices of elected representatives at national level. Martin Cullen has once again demonstrate his disregard for democracy" ENDS

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