News & Current Issues
Here are some of the current issues.
"GIVEN THE APPALLING financial record of this Council I find it incredible that the County Manager would recommend that the Council take out yet another loan to clear an overdraft." Councillor Declan Bree told this months meeting of Sligo County Council
"We have had a repetition of this type of borrowing which is leading the Council into deeper and deeper debt. Initially we have a recommendation from the County Manager that the overdraft be increased. Then when it’s increased to its limit we have a recommendation from the Manager to take out a loan to clear the bulk of the overdraft and approve a smaller overdraft. Then we are told that the Council’s annual budget didn’t balance and the whole process starts over again. The overdraft is again increased; a further loan is required; a new overdraft is agreed and the Council debt spirals further and further out of control.
"The contents of the letter from the Department of the Environment which has been circulated to us has major implications for the future of this Council. It contains disastrous news for this Council.
"Three months ago the independent consultants Grant Thornton in their report made it clear that in order to survive this Council required an urgent bailout of €10 million from the Department of the Environment. However the Department in this letter has now made it absolutely clear that there will be no bailout. Minister Hogan and the Department are saying that we must paddle our own canoe and that there will be no bailout.
"The County Councils capital debt is now €73 million and the revenue deficit is €13million and growing. And is it any wonder? For the past number of years the County Manager has consistently asked councillors to adopt budgets that were based on fantasy, budgets that bore no resemblance to reality, budgets that were absurd and unattainable, budgets that have led to massive deficits in the revenue account each year. And to make up the shortfall the County Manager then urges councillors to take out loans and increase overdrafts.
"Unfortunately the majority of councillors continue to dance to the County Managers tune and constantly vote for budgets, overdrafts and loans which have totally undermined this Council’s financial viability." Cllr Bree said.
"Only eight months ago we witnessed a scenario in this Chamber where the Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour councillors voted in favour of a recommendation from the County Manager to increase the overdraft to a staggering €14 million. Thankfully the Minister and the banks would not approve such a proposal.
"Currently the Councils bank will not extend the Councils overdraft beyond €7.5 million. In this context I believe the bank manager in question is to be commended for taking such a stance. It’s a pity that senior bank officials and bank directors didn’t have the courage and the foresight to take such decisions in the past. If they did our country might be a lot better off today.
"What is happening here is madness, it’s clearly unsustainable and unfortunately it will be the ordinary people of this county who will in due course suffer the consequences.
"While other councils may have had difficulties, the fact of the matter is that Sligo County Council is the only Council in the state where the revenue deficit is increasing year by year. This type of further unsustainable borrowing is bringing the Council to the verge of bankruptcy." said Cllr Bree.
At the conclusion of the debate the County Managers recommendation to borrow €7.5million was adopted by a vote of 12 votes to 11, with the Fine Gael, Labour and Independent Labour councillors supporting the Managers recommendation.
SLIGO IS TO lose €4.7million of government grants because the County Council is unable to provide its portion of funding for the water mains replacement scheme in Sligo town
Earlier this month the County Manager Mr Hubert Kearns said that the County Council would be unable to make the local contribution for the scheme and that the Council was seeking 100% funding from the Department.
However in response to a parliamentary question from the United Left Alliance T.D. Joan Collins, in the Dail last week, the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said “there is no scope under the current arrangements for my Department to provide 100% funding to Sligo County Council for this scheme”.
Minister Hogan said in February he had approved the proposal to carry out the watermains replacement works. However, he said that in March the Council wrote to his Department setting out the difficulties in funding its 10% contribution of approximately €467,000 for the scheme.
Speaking this week Cllr Declan Bree said “Where else but in Sligo could we witness such a scenario Here we have the government offering grants of almost €5million for projects that are badly needed but due to ongoing ineptitude and mismanagement the Council is unable to avail of the funding.
“The Department indicated that it was prepared to provide a grant of €500,000 for the planned enhancement and paving of O’Connell Street, and a grant of €4.2 million for the replacement of water mains in the main street and other streets in the town. In addition to the significant improvements, these schemes would also have provided badly needed employment. All the funding is now being lost to Sligo and will be taken up by other Councils who manage their budgets prudently.
“The Department is prepared to provide 90% funding for the replacement of mains because they point out that a significant quantity of treated high quality drinking water is being lost from the system every day. In Sligo 45% of drinking water is unaccounted for.
“It costs the County Council €1.4 million a year to treat water at the Foxes Den and Kilsellagh plants. Unfortunately much of this costly high quality drinking water is wasted because of leakage and pipework corrosion. What is the logic in paying out €1.4million a year to treat water while failing to come up with a once off contribution of €467,000 to replace the leaking mains? The fact is that Sligo is losing out in every way. If ever evidence was required to show that the County Council is a basket case surely this is it.” said Cllr Bree.
HANDING OVER THE finances and resources of the Borough to Sligo County Council would prove disastrous for the future development of Sligo, Cllr Declan Bree told this months meeting of the Borough Council
"In the recent report on the Financial Appraisal of Sligo County Council the Consultants state that from a budgeting perspective the County Council is experiencing an increasing deficit of substantial amounts year on year. The County Council’s Capital Debt is now €73 million and the Revenue deficit is €13 million and is growing each and every day of the week.
"In contrast the Consultants state that this Borough Council is balancing its budget." said Cllr Bree.
"The elected councillors on this Borough Council have acted prudently over the years and refused point blank to accept recommendations from the County Manger to borrow millions of Euro for various projects he was promoting, including the County Managers proposal to borrow €1.3 million to give to private developers to build a bridge to their private development at Swan Point.
"In this context I found it extraordinary but not surprising, given the narrow terms of reference imposed on the Consultants by the County Manager, that they recommended that Sligo Borough Council should be merged with the County Council and that the resources of the Borough Council be handed over to the County Council
"Why would they want the funds and resources of this Borough Council to be handed over to the County Council to be squandered and wasted?" asked Cllr Bree.
"Why would any government or any Minister inflict such a penalty on the Borough Council and on the people of the borough?
"Is that the type of reward that should be bestowed on a Borough Council that has acted prudentlyand with due consideration over the years?
"As far as I am concerned, handing over the finances and resources of the Borough to Sligo County Council would prove disastrous for the future development of Sligo." Cllr Bree said.
Cllr Bree then proposed the following motion which was unanimously adopted: “Noting the fact that the recent financial appraisal of Sligo County Council carried out by consultants Grant Thornton confirms (a) that Sligo County Council is experiencing an increased deficit of substantial amounts year on year; and (b) that Sligo Borough Council is balancing its budget; and further recognising that the elected members of Sligo Borough Council have acted prudently over the years and refused to accept recommendations to borrow millions of Euro for various projects which the County Manager was promoting; this Council declares its total opposition to a merger of the Borough Council with the County Council; and further the Council requests the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to ensure that a merger does not take place and that the finances and resources of the Borough Council remain under the control of the Borough Council.”
SLIGO COUNTY COUNCIL has adopted a motion from Councillor Declan Bree calling on the Government and the Minister for Health to reverse the planned cut backs in the Home Help Service
Addressing the meeting Cllr Bree said "The Government decision to cut back the Home Help Service cannot be justified under any circumstances.
"These proposed cuts will affect the most vulnerable in society - elderly and disabled people in their own homes - the very people who are being more and more marginalised as a result of ongoing austerity measures.
"The cutbacks fly in the face of long-standing policy and clear commitments in the Programme for Government to develop and invest in home and community care services.
"Home Help is a fundamental part of delivering health services at community level. While cuts to hospital services or the closure of hospital wards can be immediately identified, the cuts in the Home Help Service will initially not be as obvious to the general public.
"As home helpers work in the home they are somewhat invisible to the public. However they provide a hugely important service. Their work includes everything from washing patients, feeding them, putting them to bed, changing colostomy bags, making beds, preparing breakfast, organising medication reminders etc. Without this type of care many people wouldn’t be able to live in their own home.
"Cuts to homecare services will result in earlier admissions to nursing homes and longer stays in acute hospitals. Home care services are low-cost yet high value. The cost of home care provision is significantly less than that of nursing home care provision, or long term hospital stay. The cost of an acute hospital bed is €899 a day or €328,000 a year.
"The proposed cut backs are totally illogical and will result in more people being decanted into hospitals while at the same time fewer will be fit for safe discharge home.
"Instead of proposing cut backs the Government should be making good on their commitment to provide additional care in the community for older people in need. The HSE has constantly said that care provision in people’s homes is the preferred option. However the proposed cut backs will have the opposite effect and will inevitably lead to increased hospital admission and increased costs.
"The consequences of these cuts will be earlier admissions to nursing homes, longer stays in acute hospitals and anguish for families who need support to care at home for relatives suffering illness, frailty or disability.
"Elderly people receiving home help services and the Home Help workers who provide the service need the support of the general public. The Governments proposed cut must now be reversed." he said.
He then propsoed the following motion which was unanimously adopted: “Recognising that the Home Help service is a fundamental part of delivering health services at community level; and aware that significant cuts in the service will affect the most vulnerable in society; this Council calls on the Government and the Minister for Health to reverse the planned cut backs in the Home Help Service; and further we call on the Government to adhere to the commitments given in the Programme for Government, to develop and invest in home and community care services.”
THE ATTEMPT BY the government to link the awarding of 3rd Level Education grants with payment of the Household Charge demonstrates how the poisonous effects of this austerity tax will cause increasing aggravation if Fine Gael and Labour don't change course and abolish it as well as abandon the plan for a property tax next year, Cllr Declan Bree told this month’s meeting of Sligo County Council
“The threat to deprive students of third level education grants was a new low for the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.” he said
“It was totally out of order, as practically all grants are for young people who have no liability for the household charge in the first place.
“It was unacceptable to terrorise students and families in this manner at a very stressful time when they were trying to access college.
“It was a disgraceful move particularly because the government was very much aware that it had no legal basis whatever for linking payment of the tax to the third level grant
“The government is clearly getting desperate and appears to be willing to use any means to get the registration figures up.
“Thankfully the protests and resistance that quickly emerged from the anti household charge campaign forced an immediate backtracking by the government and the Councils involved.” said Cllr Bree
IT HAS BEEN revealed that Council expenditure on the administration of Sligo’s Cranmore Regeneration project is significantly higher than any other regeneration scheme in the country.
United Left Alliance representative Joan Collins T.D. recently asked the Minister for the Environment for details of the amount of regeneration funding spent on a number of urban renewal schemes in 2009 including, the Mitchel’s Crescent Regeneration Scheme in Tralee; the Laural Avenue Regeneration Scheme in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown; the Cranmore Regeneration Scheme Sligo and the Waterford City Regeneration Scheme. She also sought the expenditure on staff salaries on each of the regeneration schemes and the staff salaries as a percentage of overall expenditure on each scheme.
The response from the Ministers office revealed that a colossal 17% of funding provided for the Cranmore Regeneration Project in Sligo was spent on salaries. In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown 1.5% of the funding was spent on salaries; in Tralee 1.5% was spent on salaries; while in Waterford 4.5% of funding was spent on salaries.
Speaking today Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree thanked Deputy Collins and said “This funding was supposed to be for regeneration, for the refurbishment of housing stock and the improvement of the estate, however in Sligo almost one out of every five euro is being spent on salaries and administration. How can the County Manager justify this?
“When the Minister for the Environment asked the local authorities in Dun Laoghaire, Sligo, Waterford and Tralee to use their own staff and resources to the fullest extent in terms of supervising regeneration schemes, he did so with the intention of reducing costs. However the exorbitant costs in Sligo are inexplicable and clearly cannot be justified.
“While paying 17% of the funding on administration the regeneration office also paid out over €120,000 in fees to private consultants, in addition over €90,000 was paid in Technical fees in respect of the grass mounds in the estate which still remain in place.
“The fact is that regeneration funding is not being spent where it is supposed to. In the past week alone I have been contacted by a number of constituents from Cranmore – one pensioner who asked for proper heating to be installed in her home was told that there was no money for such work; another told me that her obsolete cooker could not be replaced due to lack of funds and another told me that she has had to ask the Ombudsman to intervene so as to have her windows repaired/replaced.
“I have asked Deputy Collins to raise the matter in the Dail when it resumes in September. As far as I am concerned the people of Cranmore and the people of Sligo are entitled to know why so much money is being squandered on administration costs. ” said Cllr Bree.
THE CITIZENS OF the Borough have now every reason to be concerned. To hand over the finances and resources of the Borough Council to Sligo County Council would prove disastrous for the future development of Sligo, Cllr Declan Bree said this week in advance of a special meeting of the County Council where a financial appraisal of the County Council is to be considered.
“I predicted back in June that the narrow and restricted terms of reference imposed by the County Manager for the financial appraisal of Sligo County Council would leave the consultants Grant Thoranton, with no solution to the Council’s financial crises other than to recommend a take over of the Borough Council and its finances. And that is borne out by the report from the consultants which is to be considered at a special meeting of Sligo County Council on this coming Thursday. (9th August)
“The Report confirms that the County Council is experiencing an increasing deficit and currently has a deficit of €13 million in its revenue account. It indicates further that the Council will experience growing financial losses which will increase the deficit to a totally unsustainable €27.5 million by 2017.
“It recommends in the short term a State injection or bailout of €10 million to replace the Council’s bank overdraft and in the medium term it recommends a merger of Sligo Borough Council with Sligo County.
“The consultants state that while the County Council is experiencing an increasing deficit of substantial amounts, the Borough Council is balancing its budget. They also say that the Borough Council is in a stronger position than the County to generate income to bridge the funding gap by way of commercial rates and also from income generated within the town.
“The citizens of the Borough have now every reason to be concerned. To hand over the finances and resources of the Borough to Sligo County Council would prove disastrous for the future development of Sligo.
“I pointed out at the beginning of this process that despite the fact that Sligo County Council has the worst financial record in the country and despite the fact that the County Council is the only Council in the state where the revenue deficit is consistently increasing year by year, there was no proposal in the County Manager’s terms of reference for the consultants to examine, review or assess the performance and competence of the management of the County Council. The consultants were instructed to examine every avenue except the obvious one.
“Given the shambles of the County Council’s finances it is blatantly obvious why management would not want its competence and efficacy assessed.
“There are 34 County and City Councils in the state, and there are 34 County and City Managers. I again pose the question: Why is Sligo County Council the only Council in the country where the revenue deficit is consistently increasing year by year?
“The County Council’s Capital Debt is now €73 million and the Revenue deficit is €13 million and growing. And is it any wonder? For the past number of years the County Manager has consistently asked councillors to adopt annual budgets that were based on fantasy, budgets that bore no resemblance to reality, budgets that were absurd and unattainable, budgets that led to massive deficits in the revenue account each year. And to make up for the shortfall each year the County Manger then urged councillors to take out loans and increase overdrafts.
“Unfortunately the majority of county councillors dance to the County Managers tune and they have constantly voted for budgets and overdrafts which have undermined the council’s financial viability.
“When we met with Minister Hogan in January I told him that I estimated that the County Council was running up a deficit in its revenue account of approximately €7,000 every single day, seven days a week. According to a report issued by the Council’s Head of Finance this week my prediction was accurate - the head of Finance states that Council deficit for 2012 is expected to be €2.5 million!
“I also told the Minister that the Council could not survive without a significant change in management and a major financial bailout. I believe I was also accurate in that regard” said Cllr Bree.
SLIGO SUPPORTERS of the Shell to Sea Campaign mounted a protest at the Carraroe Retail Park in Sligo last evening (Monday 30th July), where a large Tunnel Boring machine was parked in a cordoned off portion of the public car park.
The machine, which the Shell multinational company intends to use to bore a 4.2 metre tunnel through Sruwaddacon estuary, Erris, in North Mayo, was carried on a number of heavy lorries and was under heavy security.
Over 100 uniformed Gardai and Special branch officers in addition to approximately 60 private security personnel travelled with the motorised convoy as it departed the Retail Park for Mayo shortly after 9.00.p.m. last night.
Cllr Declan Bree, who participated in the protest against the convoy said, “The people of Erris and North Mayo have made it clear that they don’t want Shell to put a highly pressurised pipeline for untreated gas in the midst of their community with the consequent risk of explosion and the danger to themselves, their families, and their community.
“They have been intimidated, threatened and even jailed for daring to stand up for their community.
“Throughout this ongoing ordeal these people continue to demonstrate strength, dignity and courage in the face of enormous adversity.
“In doing so they have inspired people from all over Ireland to reclaim the power that we hold as individuals, citizens and communities.
“The Shell to Sea campaign is essentially a campaign of the people versus corporate power. It is about our values and our natural resources; it is about our rights and our natural heritage. It is about the right of communities to live in a safe, peaceful and healthy environment.
“The issue is not only about processing the gas at sea. It’s also about the issue of who controls our natural resources. In the current economic climate there can be no excuse for allowing multinational oil and gas companies to continue making obscene profits immune from taxation while ordinary people are expected to take all the pain
“This evening by our presence on this protest we are calling for the protection of our natural resources and we are expressing our solidarity with the people of Erris and Rossport.” said Cllr Bree.
THE GOVERNMENT IS panicking because of the continued massive boycott of the Household Charge, and the decision last week by Fine Gael and Labour to cutback funding to local councils is in essence a form of collective punishment against communities across the country, Sligo Councillor Declan Bree told those attending a public meeting in the St John Bosco Hall in Donegal town last night.
The meeting, which drew a capacity crowd was organised by the Donegal Can’t Pay Won’t Pay Campaign and was also addressed by Donegal County Councillor John Campbell.
Cllr Bree told the meeting that over 760,000 households were still refusing to register and pay the unjust Household Tax.
“The massive boycott of the Household Tax and the Septic Tank Charge has been successful because ordinary people have said they won’t pay the private debts of bankers and developers.
“The decision by Fine Gael and Labour to cut funding to Councils is in essence a form of collective punishment against communities across the country. They should realise that this type of blackmail and bullying won’t work and will only lead to further austerity.” he said.
“Ordinary people are sending a message to government and to the European elite that austerity has failed and that people have taken enough of their cutbacks and attacks.
“It’s ironic that while corrupt bankers and developers are free to continue enjoying lavish lifestyles at our expense, Fine Gael and Labour in government slash funding to local councils and threaten ordinary people for daring to boycott an unjust tax which will be used to pay off the private debts of these same bankers, developers and bondholders.
“It is obvious that the massive boycott of the Household Tax and the Septic Tank charge caught the government completely by surprise and they are still trying to come to terms with the level of resistance from ordinary people.” Cllr Bree told the meeting.
THE DECISION BY the controlling group on Sligo County Council to impose major cut backs in funding to voluntary and community groups has been strongly criticised by Independent Socialist councillor Declan Bree.
Speaking at a meeting of the People First group Cllr Bree said “Three months ago the controlling group of Fine Gael/Labour /Independent Labour councillors on Sligo Count Council imposed cutbacks of over €1million which will impact on many services. However the cuts imposed at this months meeting can only be described as shocking.
“What we witnessed this month was a savage attack on the many volunteers involved in tidy towns committees, in feiseanna, traditional music events and numerous community and voluntary organisations throughout county Sligo.
“Small grants which were to issue to the Ballintogher Traditional Festival; the South Sligo Summer School; the Coleman Traditional Festival; the Choral Festival; the Fleadh Cheoil; Feis Shligigh; Feis Cheoil and the James Morrison Weekend have been cut by over 40%, while grants to the Tidy Towns Committees in the county have been slashed by 80%. In addition funding earmarked for other voluntary and community groups has been cut by 66%.
“These cutbacks were recommended by the County Manager, and the controlling group on the council constantly dance to the County Manager’s tune.
“Never, in the history of Sligo County Council has any controlling group of councillors acted in such a manner. It totally undermines the spirit of partnership that existed between the Council and local community activists.
“Over the past number of years these same councillors adapted budgets that were proposed by the County Manager, budgets that were based on fantasy, budgets that bore no resemblance to reality, budgets that were absurd and unattainable, budgets that led to massive deficits in the revenue account each year. And now in an attempt to make up for their mistakes they impose these savage cuts on voluntary and community organisations.” said Cllr Bree.
*AT THIS months meeting of the County Council Cllr Bree proposed the following motions which were voted down by the controlling group on the Council:
(1) “That the recommendations be amended and that the original budgeted amount of grant assistance for 2012 be paid to the County Fleadh Cheoil; to the Ballintogher Traditional Festival; the South Sligo Summer School; the Coleman Traditional Festival; the Choral Festival; Feis Shligigh; Feis Cheoil and the James Morrison Weekend.”
(2) “That the recommendations be amended and that the original budgeted amount of grant assistance for 2012 be provided for Tidy Towns groups.”
(3) “That the recommendations be amended and that the original budgeted amount of grant assistance for 2012 be provided for Community and Voluntary Groups.”
THE FINANCIAL APPRAISAL of Sligo County Council is fundamentally flawed by virtue of the fact that the terms of reference issued to the consultants by Council management are restricted and inappropriate; Cllr Declan Bree claimed this week.
“The narrow and restricted terms of reference for the financial appraisal will leave the consultants with no solution to the County Council’s financial crisis other than to recommend a take over of the Borough Council and its finances.
“The so called financial appraisal is clearly designed to ensure a recommendation that Sligo Borough Council be dissolved as an independent local authority with its financial resources handed over to the County Council.
“Despite the fact that Sligo County Council has the worst financial record in the country and despite the fact that the County Council is the only Council in the state where the revenue deficit is consistently increasing year by year, there is no proposal in the terms of reference for the consultants to examine, review or assess the performance and competence of the management of the County Council. The consultants have been instructed to examine numerous avenues except the obvious one.” said Cllr Bree.
“Given the shambles of the County Council’s finances it is blatantly obvious why management would not want its competence and efficacy assessed.
“The narrow terms of reference and the restricted scope of the appraisal imposed by the County Manager makes a mockery of the entire exercise.
“Is it any wonder that the Council management imposed its own terms of reference and proceeded to engage consultants without consulting the elected members of the Council.
“The record will show that at a Council meeting on the 2nd of May when reference was made to the proposal to engage consultants, the elected members unanimously resolved that the Council be provided with a report on the proposals to hire consultants including a copy of the tender documents and the terms of reference. However when the Council held its monthly meeting on the 14th of May, the proposed terms of reference and tender documents were not made available and the elected Council had no input into the process.
“Sligo County Council, as a result of ongoing incompetence, mismanagement and erroneous decisions is today on the verge of bankruptcy while Sligo Borough Council’s finances are in a reasonably healthy state.
“The citizens of the Borough have now every reason to be concerned. To hand over the finances and resources of the Borough to Sligo County Council would prove disastrous for the future development of Sligo.” said Cllr Bree.
SPEAKING AT THE conclusion of the referendum count, Cllr Declan Bree said: “The government clearly understood that the referendum would be a battle between people’s fear and their anger. The “Yes” campaign made fear the centerpiece of its campaign and unfortunately the fear factor prevailed. Even among supporters of the treaty there was an admission that the only grounds for supporting it were the threats of exclusion from future bailout funds.
“The result certainly shouldn’t be regarded as a mandate to impose the household charge, water tax and other austerity measures. It’s clear that those who are bearing the brunt of the austerity measures - cuts and tax hikes - have rejected this treaty in large numbers.
“The treaty, and the austerity policies being currently implemented, will bring neither stability, recovery nor growth. The battle against austerity continues.” said Cllr Bree.
“THAT THOSE INVOLVED in the “Yes” campaign issued a fraudulent and concocted photograph to the media speaks volumes about the veracity and integrity of their campaign, Cllr Declan Bree said today, referring to an advertisement photograph published in the “Sligo Weekender” last week.
"I understand that the plan to bring together Sligo advocates of a “Yes” vote turned into a debacle when likely supporters of the Fiscal Treaty failed or refused to turn up for a launch and photo opportunity in the Park Hotel two weeks ago." continued Cllr Bree.
"Elected representatives from the main political parties and representatives from numerous banks and business associations in Sligo were invited to take part in the event, however only a handful of people agreed to participate.
"In an attempt to give some credibility to their launch an image of the current Mayor of Sligo Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady was inserted in the group photograph which the organisers used as an advertisement in the local media last week.
"However the Mayor has clearly stated that she did not attend or participate in the event and it is now clear that the photograph that was published was falsified.
"In fairness to the “Sligo Weekender” it has to be said that it published the advertisement and photograph in good faith without realising that it had been tampered with.
"That those involved in the “Yes” campaign would issue a fraudulent and concocted photograph to the media speaks volumes about the veracity and integrity of their campaign.
"It would appear that fake and phoney photographs and fake and phoney arguments are clearly acceptable in the “Yes” campaign." said Cllr Bree.
"That business groups like IBEC are part of this will come as no surprise given the recent history of leading business people in the banking and financial sectors in this country.
"How can those people who call on the public to vote “Yes” be trusted? Where are the Lisbon jobs they promised the electorate during the last referendum? Where are the cancer services they promised to restore? Where is the mammography service they promised to restore? And what about the promises and pledges relating to Sligo Airport and to the Government offices in Tubbercurry. And these same representatives are now asking the public to trust them and to vote “Yes” for the Fiscal Treaty."
"I believe that the voting public are entitled to the truth. The public look for integrity, sincerity and honesty from all those involved in the debate on the Fiscal Treaty. But they are not getting it. Playing around with the truth and issuing bogus photographs reflects very poorly on the “Yes” campaign.” said Cllr Bree.
RECENT ATTEMPTS TO portray the imposition of a water tax as being about water conservation are total nonsense. The creation of the Irish Water company is about paving the way towards privatisation of our water services. It is a demand of the troika and a long sought wish of certain multinationals, said Cllr Declan Bree when he proposed a motion opposing the privatisation of water services at this months meeting of Sligo County Council.
Cllr Bree said “There is growing concern regarding the proposal by the government to remove the provision of public water from local authorities and hand over the services to a centralised Irish water company.
“The shedding of thousands of local authority jobs and a reduction in the role of local government in the provision of water and sanitary services is clearly unwelcome.
“This Council, like council’s across the country has a long record of providing an effective public water service.
“Those of us involved in local government all recognise that the years of under investment by successive government in water service infrastructure has created significant difficulties and we also recognise that the continuing failure of national government to invest in water infrastructure further undermines the service.
“Recent attempts to portray the imposition of a water tax as being about water conservation are total nonsense. The creation of the Irish Water company is about paving the way towards privatisation of our water services. It is a demand of the troika and a long sought wish of certain multinationals.
“If the water tax is successfully imposed, the next step will be to sell off the service. The experience of the privatisation of Eircom whereby the extraction of profit became more important than the development of services and has ultimately resulted in the company going into examinership show the inevitable result of the policy of privatisation.
“The experiences of Britain where water services have been privatised should also serve as a warning. Profits for shareholders have become much more important than investment in water services. Charges increase year on year and in many areas people regularly face water shortages.
“The decision of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and of SIPTU and the IMPACT trade unions to resist any proposal to privatise the water sector must be welcomed.
“What we need now is investment in our water infrastructure, not privatisation.
“I therefore propose “That Sligo County Council, recognising that water is a limited natural resource and a public commodity fundamental to life and health; (a) declares it’s opposition to the private control of water services; (b) expresses its concern regarding the government’s proposal to centralise water services; and (c) welcomes the Irish Congress of Trade Unions pledge to resist any proposal to privatise the water sector.”
The motion was seconded by Cllr Sean MacManus and was unanimously adopted by the Council.
THE GOVERNMENT THREATS to impose an even harsher budget if people dare to vote No to the Fiscal Treaty must be resisted, said Cllr Declan Bree when he spoke at a May Day meeting in Sligo.
Addressing those attending the People First May Day ceremony in New Street, on May 1st, Cllr Bree said “It is unacceptable for the Minister for Finance to threaten people with an even harsher budget if they dare to vote no. People are not being invited to participate in a debate; they are being bullied and intimidated by the establishment. The Government has now turned on its own people.” he said
“The Fiscal Treaty will impose a permanent policy of austerity and in reality it is a device for fleecing and robbing ordinary people. It has been drafted to ensure that more of the people’s money will be spent on servicing a debt that is not theirs than will be spent on the people’s basic needs, such as decent health services and education.
Cllr Bree said the Treaty will tie the hands not only of the current government but of all governments into the foreseeable future as regards economic policy, and it will bury once and for all the hope of a Social Europe.