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Sinn Fein will continue to challenge elitism and cronyism and corruption - Cullinane

8 February, 2014 - by David Cullinane TD

This is the full text of the speech on political reform, delivered by Senator David Cullinane, to the Ard Fheis in Wexford. Please check against delivery

Cronyism, corruption, political appointments and a lack of transparency and accountability are the hallmarks of our political system.

This greed and cronyism is pervasive and exists at the top in our banking sector, in state boards and even in some charities.

Phil Hogan published a document on local Government reform titled ‘putting people first’.

Well, he has indeed put some people first.

Big Phil put expensive and discredited consultants first.

He put those at the top in Irish Water first.

He put his political friends he appointed to the board of Uisce Eireann first.

In setting up Irish Water Big Phil has squandered €80m on consultants.

Consultants who played their part in bringing down banks.

He made sure that senior staff at Irish Water get bonuses and top up payments.

He allowed former county managers retired on lottery sum payments to take up key and lucrative positions in Irish Water.

Take the example of a former county manager in Waterford.

Ray O Dwyer was retired with 8 years added to his pension and a generous lump sum payment.

Mr O’Dwyer who is now Head of Operations at Irish Water was employed by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government less than a year after he retired from his managerial position with Waterford County Council.

The former County Manager whose role was to oversee local government reform and the implementation of the Report of the Local Government Efficiency Review Group left his post as County Manager in 2011 with a €334,000 pension package.

When Mr. Dwyer retired as manager of Waterford County Council in September 2011 he became the beneficiary of a special deal, only available to county managers and secretary generals of government departments.

This deal meant he was allowed pension benefits for years he did not work. He was given eight years of additional benefits to bring his years of public service to 40, when in fact he worked for 32 years. He received severance pay of €66,255, a gross pension lump sum of €204,871 and an annual pension of €63,335.

This is an appalling situation when so many ordinary people are struggling to get by on low incomes.

This is Big Phil ‘putting people first’

 He and Fine Gael got elected on the promise that they would bring an end to cronyism and ‘jobs for the boys.

But its business as usual and nothing has changed in terms of accountability and lavish and over the top pensions.

The ‘old boys’ network’ is alive and well and it’s long past time that it was gone. The Taoiseach needs to act and act now.

I am proud that Sinn Féin is challenging the ‘old boys club’.

We will not be part of their cronyism.

We will ask the hard questions without fear or favour.

I want to commend our Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald for showing how its done at PAC meetings.

She is fearless but fair.

She is demonstrating that the old style politics will not be tolerated.

As are our representatives in the Dáil, Assembly, Seanad, European Parliament and Local Authorities.

We will continue to challenge elitism, cronyism and corruption.

Unlike Big Phil Sinn Féin WILL put people first.

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