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Ending Business As Usual

Conservatism feeds off public cynicism towards politics. Fingal Labour party councillor Patrick Nulty led opposition to yet another junket trip by his fellow public representatives. Here he outlines why.

At a recent meeting of Fingal County Council I raised a formal objection to councillors attending a housing conference in Brazil scheduled for November 2010. The convention at council meetings had been that such events would be simply nodded through without any debate or discussion.

Councillors voted by thirteen votes to eight to sanction the trip. Those who were in favour of allowing councillors to attend this conference were all six Fine Gael councillors, two independents, three Fianna Fáilers and a couple of Labour councillors.

The opposition to attendance at this conference came overwhelm­ingly from the left. Four Labour Party councillors, three from the Socialist Party and one lone soldier of destiny.

Those who choose to attend this conference will do so at the taxpayers’ expense. Such a situation cannot be tolerated. As a local councillor for an area where one in four young people under twenty five are unemployed and where communities are being refused funding for various vital projects, it is incredulous that Fingal County Council would sanction attendance at a conference in Brazil.

It is vital that left wing pub­lic representatives who seek a mandate from the electorate lead by example and make every effort to ensure that public money is used efficiently, equitably, and for so­cially useful purposes. This is even more critical when working people are bearing the brunt of govern­ment cutbacks.

One of the key tasks for the left is to challenge the cynicism that sometimes pervades the mainstream media about politics that “they’re all the same”. Politics at its best is about ideas, values and action. Taking a stand on the issue of Councillors’ conference trips is important because it shows that the political consensus can be challenged.

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