Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mayor to open 'Book of Dissatisfaction'

The Mayor of Waterford City, Councillor Mary Roche has announced that she is to open a 'Book of Dissatisfaction' at City Hall in Waterford.

"I see this as something which will allow people, in their own time and in their own way, to register their dissatisfaction with the current government and their handling of Ireland and Irish affairs," said Cllr Roche. "It is quite common for Mayors to open Books of Condolence when a great catastrophe is visited on a community or a country. It allows people, collectively to record their dismay and have it passed on to the relevant authorities.

That is exactly what has happened to Ireland. We have suffered a huge catastrophe at the hands of the current and previous Governments - and now, to add insult to injury, our health, welfare and social care budgets are going to be slashed in order to pay the money back. It is a disaster for this country and people want some way to release their frustration, and vent their annoyance and have their voices heard. I hope that the 'Book of Dissatisfaction' will allow one avenue for people to do that."

The book will allow people to sign record their name and address and will have a space for people to comment and have their say - pass their verdict, or just send a message - to those who have led us to this pass.

The 'Book of Dissatisfaction' will open at City Hall on Monday next, November 29th and will be available for people to sign from 9am to 5pm daily.

"I would ask as many people as possible to come and sign the book" said the Mayor "and through this simple means, to send a message to the Government that we are not happy with their performance on our behalf. To tell them 'we are dissatisfied'. This is something everyone can do in their own time to have their voice heard."

The 'Book of Dissatisfaction' will be open from 9am to 5pm daily for people to sign at the City Council Foyer, City Hall, The Mall, Waterford from Monday 29th November. The Mayor is inviting all the people of Waterford City & County and from the South East Region to make the effort to come in to City Hall and record their dissatisfaction.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

General Election Isn't the Answer

Ok....the government is unravelling and rightly so. I'm not going over the reasons or what got us here because personally I'm sick of hearing about it but in the interests of this Country of ours and our people we need to look a little more closely at how Ireland needs to shape up for the future. I'm not talking about financially either, as we have ceded that right to bigger, international agencies and it's outside of our control, in honesty.

So what am I talking about then? I'm talking about the fundamentals. How do we run our country. How do we elect those will run our country. How we 'do' our politics. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know that I believe that the political system we have here is broken; not fit for purpose - and so it has turned out to be.

We elect the nice guys, the guys we know, the guy we've perhaps always voted for (or his son!), the guys who (say they) got the house for your daughter or maybe the guy who (says he) sorted out your medical card. I use the word 'say' because the reality is that nobody can get you anything that you are not entitled to in your own right. Not a TD, a Councillor or even the Taoiseach himself. If you qualify, you qualify and that should be the way it is. A country that doles out favours on the basis of who-you-know is one that we should have no aspiration to be a part of in the grand scheme of things.

And what kind of service are we running if you need a TD to get you a medical appointment? That is ridiculous, wicked politics. What your TD ought to be doing is ensuring that our health, welfare and social services run efficiently, and fairly and in a timely manner so that people are delivered their rights as a matter of course and in a prompt and courteous way.

But no, they are happy to run around, like an errand boy, doing favours in order to get your vote. Is this really the way to ensure that we get the best people, with their heads in the game and focused on how best to run this tiny country with a big reputation? No is the answer. It isn't.

So we need to change it. And having a General Election - much as I welcome the opportunity to give FF a good kicking as much as the next person - will not deliver that change. We will change the bums on seats but not the country and we will still deliver up the same old faces, working the same old system, with only one thing in mind - and that is to hold onto their own seats.

So what would that change look like? Well, I don't profess to have all the answers but it must do a few things in my opinion. It must take the focus off individual TD's and put it onto policies and politics. It must make TD's less dependant on small numbers of votes and it must allow for talented people to enter the system. I'm not sure any or even some of this is possible. But it is the only way to make sure that Ireland is equipped for the future.

In most of Europe they use a 'list system' to elect their local and national governments - so, my party fights your party. And if my team wins, the people on my 'list' get in and if your team wins then it's your list. It puts the focus onto policies rather than people and also delivers a better 'team' approach with more balance in terms of skills, women, and leaders.

We need, it goes without saying, fewer TD's. About 66 should be enough I would think. (Perhaps we could reach that in stages - I'm thinking of turkeys and Christmas here!) That would give a much larger electorate meaning that the focus could not be on the mundane or the minuscule. That would have to be left - as it should be - to local politicians. This would make TD's less vulnerable to local self-interest issues and much more capable of working in the National interest.

The list system would also allow for bright people - who perhaps might not want to fight elections - but who have a hell of a lot to offer this country, to be brought into where they are needed.

But what do we want as a country? Do we want things to be the same? (I suspect yes.) Do we want proper leadership, with talented TD's focused on running the country? (I suspect not.) Even though almost everyone I speak to calls for 'proper leadership' - nobody actually, really wants it. They want things to go on the way they always have. I suspect there will be a low turn out for the next elections. I suspect that will suit the 'same old' heads. I suspect we have no appetite to really change and grow as a Country....but I live in hope that I am wrong.

And so I ask 'we the people': what do you want? I question that sacred cow that any politician must not question if he or she values their own seat: the electorate. What do you want? Do you want and modern, nimble, can do country that puts the people of Ireland first - as a people? That sometimes tells us things we don't want to hear? That guides the ship of state away from 'pothole land' and into a proper republic? That takes the tough decisions that 'the locals' don't like. That spends our resources wisely and not on the basis of getting them re-elected?

I can't answer the questions myself. But I know what I fear. Perhaps I shall have my question answered sooner than I think.

We need to re-think our politics, our republic, our country. Or else the only thing positive that may come out of all this mess - which is the opportunity to change a broken system, consciously, mindedly, together and rationally - will pass and will be lost.

A General Election will not do that. Will anyone - and does anyone want to even try? I, for one, do. I feel I should be calling people who are like-minded to action. The sensible, silent, thinking majority. The people who despair at the rent-a-picketers and those who are calling for disruptions and civil disobedience! They are only distractions. Thinking a General Election is the solution or can deliver a solution is deluded at best and completely infantile at worst!

I want to say lets get this conversation going. But alas I fear it wouldn't even be heard. So I'm putting it out there. These are big questions and we are in a time of great opportunity for ourselves if we can answer them. But who is willing. Who.....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mayor Attends Tall Ships Conference in Norway

And on a positive note, as Mayor of Waterford City I am off tomorrow morning bright and early to Norway for the last International Tall Ships Conference before those beautiful vessels will arrive here on June 20th next year.

It's our last chance as a city to get all the main players in one place, to woo them, if you like, to come to our ancient city. We will go bearing gifts and with a great story to tell, with fantastic plans afoot and with the whole city simply simmering in anticipation of what is sure to be an amazing event - the largest festival on the Island of Ireland in 2011.

Des Whelan, the Chairman of the event locally is also attending as is Olivia O'Reilly who is the chief organiser of the entire event along with a few representatives from the Port Company and some sub-committee chairs. I look forward to a busy, productive few days in what I expect to be a cold Norway. Suffice to say that a warm coat, furry boots and hats 'n gloves are being packed!

We intend to also host some meetings at the event to explore the possibility of kick-starting the re-introduction of the Sail Training programme to Ireland which I am keenly interested in. Lets hope there will be something to report. While the return of the programme is my ultimate aim, it would be really fantastic - and what a legacy of the event next year - if we could have a Tall Ship operating out of Waterford City? Wouldn't that be something?

On a slightly downbeat note I and others are still working hard to ensure that there will be an Irish Tall Ship at the event next year. Many of you will remember the line-up in 2005 when the gorgeous and much lamented Asgard II (pictured above) was in attendance, graced by the company of the Dunbrody which came down from our neighbouring port of New Ross and also the Jeanie Johnson. Three Irish sailing ships was a sight to behold and sadly it will probably never been seen again. However I am anxious that some Irish vessel will be here to fly the flag proudly in our name. Here's hoping. However it is surely hope, rather than expectation!

In the meantime, it's an early start for my first spin up the brand new motorway to Dublin and on to Norway. Roll on the summer!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Voters of Donegal South West

Dear Voters of Donegal South West,
I am writing to you as a voter in Waterford where we too have been denied the right to equal representation in Dail Eireann for quite a long time. Be that as it may, you are now being given the opportunity that we continue to be denied and I have a favour to ask of you. Could you send the Government a message on behalf of all of us in the Country? Do you think you could find it in your heart to tell them to shag off? You are in a great position because they think they might have a chance to win a seat in your constituency and if they lost and lost heavily, it would really hit home. You would be doing us all a great service and it would leave them under no illusion as to how dissappointing, disgusting and disgraceful we feel that their behaviour has been over the last few years.

We were a rich country and at every hands turn they made the wrong decisions and they continue not to seem to know what the real story is or how to get us out of it and now every man Jack of us is going to have to 'feel the pain' or so they tell us so that they can pay back every gambler, sorry I mean bondholder, at the expense of the future of our children.

So if you could find it in your heart to deliver a sound, swift democratic kick in their electoral family jewels I think you would find yourselves being feted in every county in the country. Please consider my request and I look forward to your response on voting day. Remember, we're all counting on you.

Yours in desperation and anticipation,
The Waterford Electorate

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holy Cow - or should that be Laughing Cow - I'm Cheesed Off!

I can't say what exactly it is about the cheese that has angered people so much. And I'm not doing any puns either. This is a serious business. It's like they have just taken the insults they are prepared to launch on this small nation to a whole new low. Cheeses! Jesus! Can they not just go away?

I have blogged before about the need now for a General Election and I repeat that call tonight; in the interests of this Country they must surely see that the best thing is for a new government to be formed either before or after Christmas which has a mandate for the next four or five years?

Decisions need to be made and implemented over that period that the current government simply is not and will not be in a position to implement. At longest they can last another 18 months but I don't think that even the most optimistic amongst them see them lasting even that long. They are going to put us to the expense (eventually) of 4 bye-elections....can they not just go for the big one and release the powder-keg of upset, annoyance, disappointment and outright anger that people are feeling? At least a General Election is a valid way to let off steam.

Go Fianna Fail - and take your cheese with you. Go - and maybe you can nibble on it as you contemplate the fiasco which you have brought upon this country - when there was no need. When we had resources which you squandered. When you should have made the right choices for the Country but you put yourselves first. Go - if you have any dignity or shame left. Go - and give us a General Election now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Government now Moving to Gag Waterford!

It is really beyond belief that the Government, while moving the writ for the Donegal SE bye-election, are still attempting through their Supreme Court Appeal, to ensure that the voices of Waterford voters continue to be unheard! How dare they!

They have been given one almighty slap on the wrist today that they weren't expecting and still they want to thwart the very democracy on which our increasingly floundering state is built. It's beginning to look more like a dictatorship every day! Either call all the bye-elections or better yet do the decent thing and the right thing for Ireland and call a General election.

This Government has neither the mandate nor the right to make decisions for the next four years. They were either elected on lies and spin or incompetence and they are in their dying throes. They either saw this coming and decided to ignore it, or they didn't see it coming in which case they are guilty of criminal stupidity!

And to add insult to injury they are using our money to silence us! Is there not some way that Fianna Fáil can be forced to fight their political battles with their own money at least??? I mean they're telling us till we're blue in the face that we are up the proverbial creek without so much as half a paddle and yet they can, in our name, spend probably hundreds of thousands of our money - in trying to silence us!

I, as a tax-payer am saying NO. You may NOT spend my money on this appeal. There is an implicit contract between governments and the governed. We pay our taxes and generally trust that they will be used for the good of the Country. That trust is gone. That contract is broken. This case is certainly not for the good of the people.

Call the bye-elections or call the General Election. Call a halt to spending hard-earned money on your vanity projects. We know you don't care about us but please, call time on this Government - even if it's only to save yourselves! I don't care what the reason is: just go.