News from Ireland 2020: Uproar in Mayo as govt spending in Mayo linked to taxes collected in Mayo.

Mayo 2020: Large protests led by local county councillors and TDs have marched in Castlebar and Westport after it emerged that the County Council may have to raise a local council tax to fund local services. The row emerged after the directly elected Mayor of Mayo pointed out that under the 2017 Local Government Act, which devolved block grants to the County Council for health, education, policing and housing amongst others, if the the people of Mayo want to spend more on public services than the grants allow, then they have to be willing to fund it themselves.

“This is not rocket science.” The mayor said. “Mayo gets the same block grant per head of population as Dublin, and we decide how it is spent in Mayo. It’s true we have wider areas to cover, but we also have lower costs than Dublin. A nurse in Dublin gets paid more than a nurse in Mayo because his living costs are higher. If we want more services than other counties, we have to pay for them ourselves. We have spent years complaining about being told what to do by Dublin. Now, we are masters of our own destiny, something that some councillors seem to want to run a mile from. They’re into my office every day looking for additional spending on this GAA club or that road, but when I ask them to discuss how we pay for all this, they’re on the streets protesting against the county council that they are elected members of. Well, this isn’t the old days of the county manager. We run this county, the council and me, and it’s time they grew a pair.”

Councillor Olly Slipper (FG) condemned the mayor for “not standing up for Mayo”. “It’s a disgrace that the people of Mayo are expected to pay taxes for the services in Mayo. A disgrace! It is obvious that Mayo is a special case and should get extra funding from taxpayers in other counties, something that I think they’d be delighted to do. The mayor should be up in Dublin lobbying for other counties to pay a special Mayo tax to fund extra services in Mayo. We have a right to fairness!”

News from Ireland 2020: Michael O’Leary led for-profit trades union declares results.

WorkRights, the private for-profit trades union founded by former Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has posted a post-tax profit of €1.2m after its first year of operation. O’Leary, addressing the company’s first AGM, welcomed the profit result as vindication of his belief that old fashioned trades unions were failing their members, and that an AA style operation would better serve modern employees.

“How is it that in a single year we have signed up 42,000 workers at a membership fee of €150 per annum? I’ll tell you how. Because WorkRights stands up for all its members, not just the ones who work in the public sector. And I’ll tell you another thing. WorkRights executives don’t have anywhere near the feathernested packages of ICTU and SIPTU big cheese! We put our membership fees into providing services for our members.”

Since opening business in 2019, WorkRights has provided employment law advice to or represented over 12,000 non-unionised workers at the Labour Court, Rights Commissioners and Labour Relations Commission, as well as negotiated special pension, health insurance and other benefits for its members. O’Leary famously received a salary of €1 for his time as CEO, having promised that he could represent ordinary Irish workers better than “that crowd of hairy Hoxhas in Liberty Hall.”

SIPTU and ICTU delegates could not be reached for comment.

News from Ireland 2020: Action Party continues to lead FF/FG in polls.

Action Party Leader Suzanne Smith

Action Party Leader Suzanne Smith

The newly formed Action Party continues to lead in the recent Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post. Excluding don’t knows, the poll puts the AP on 38%, FF on 24%, FG on 18%, Labour on 6%, Sinn Fein on 13% and others on 1%. Sources in the FG/Labour coalition said that “the only poll the government is interested in will be on polling day.”
Political pundits have called the continued strong performance of the Action Party extraordinary, considering that it is only a year old and has no TDs or senators. Suzanne Smith, the well-known businesswoman and party leader, continues to lead in the polls as preferred choice for Taoiseach. Tom Haskey of the Irish Times: “What’s interesting is the level of enthusiasm for the party. People either love it or hate it, and let’s be honest, the National Guard is the source of much of that strong feeling.”

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News from Ireland 2020: Gardai protest growth of Private Police.

NPSI officers on patrol in Galway yesterday.

NPSI officers on patrol in Galway yesterday.

I posted this four years ago:

Galway 2020: Garda unions have lodged a formal protest with the Mayor of Galway following the decision of the City Council to outsource public order duties to National Police Service of Ireland Ltd. Under the decision of the council, the Garda Siochana will no longer be responsible for non-national security policy in the boundaries of Galway city. This has followed a three-year trial period where the NPSI policed the city alongside the Gardai, as they were entitled to do under the 2014 Private Security Act.

Addressing a press conference, the mayor stoutly defended his policy: “The reality is that, after three years patrolling public areas, dealing with tourist crime, public order and safety issues, our polling has shown that the people of Galway overwhelmingly preferred dealing with the NPSI over the Gardai. They found them more responsive, more courteous, more professional, and the fact is, they are better at solving crimes than the Gardai.” The Garda unions complained that NPSI have more resources than the Gardai, a claim disputed by the mayor. “Since the government devolved policing budgets to the county councils, we found that the cost of putting a single Garda on patrol, when you weigh in salary costs, pension and early retirement, is the same as two and a half PSNI officers. NPSI officers tend to be younger, fitter, better trained and have more modern equipment than the Gardai, because their budget is not overwhelmingly spent on pay. Galway just cannot afford the Gardai anymore.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions was criticised by Garda unions earlier in the year when an email from within her office admitted that NPSI’s in-house  unit of barristers supervising investigations had meant that NPSI files tended to be far better prepared and generally stronger cases than those submitted by Gardai. Garda unions demanded more resources. The email stated: “It should be noted that NPSI cases tend to be founded on presentation of forensic evidence, CCTV footage and corroborative statements to a much greater degree than Garda files, which rely overwhelmingly on confessions by an alleged guilty individual. There are also far more cases submitted, per head of population, by the NPSI than by the Gardai. It would seem that the NPSI seem to “see” more crimes committed than the Gardai. Having said that, the Gardai continue to lead the NPSI on road traffic violation charges, particularly during good weather.”

The decision follows six years of legal battles, where Garda unions attempted to force the DPP not to accept files prepared by the NPSI, claiming that as a private organisation it could be corrupted. Previously, the court had ruled that the DPP had to consider properly prepared documents indicating that a crime had been committed, regardless of their source. The case memorably collapsed in the High Court last year when former FBI agents, brought in as consultants by NPSI, conclusively proved that not only were investigation standards in the NPSI higher than the Gardai, but that anti-corruption measures within the NPSI were far stronger than in the Gardai. A further embarrassment was caused when the Garda Ombudsman, charged with regulating the NPSI, admitted that the NPSI cooperated with her office to a far greater degree than the Garda authorities did. Garda unions demanded more resources.