Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.
These are the seven principles of public life also known as the Nolan principals. Following last nights BBC Spotlight programme I am confident that members of our local council would know more about the Nolan sisters than they do of these principles.
The BBC Spotlight programme broadcast on February 18th 2014 featured an interview with the SDLP's environmental stalwart Shaun Gallagher. Mr Gallagher who was a member of the North West Waste Management group joint council committee was questioned on whether or not he knew that one of the preferred bidders for a FIVE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS incineration plant was the same company (Brickklin Waste management) accused by Derry City Council of dumping illegal waste. Brickkiln was also found in 2013 to be in breach of it's waste management licence.
Mr Gallagher denied all knowledge despite the case ending up in the High Court, a process that took 18 months. The journalist continued to tell Mr Gallagher, that producers had been assured by Derry City Council that ALL elected members had been informed of the case against Brickklin waste management company.
The programme then saw Mr Gallagher insist the interview come to and end with him accusing the presenter of an ambush. Mr Gallagher later wrote to Spotlight asking that his interview be removed from the programme.
From personal experience it is clear Mr Gallagher does not take too kindly to being asked questions. In October 2010 on behalf of the Galliagh Concerned Residents Group I wrote to Councillor Gallagher seeking clarification on his membership of the Outer North Neighbourhood Partnership.
The next morning Mr Gallagher who at that point was not a happy camper paid me a visit at 10am, he was very belligerent, irate and I felt quite intimidated by his demeanour. This visit led to my husband launching a formal complaint with the SDLP's chief executive over Councillor Gallagher's conduct. When I met with the SDLP accompanied by a leading Trade Unionist, a member of our residents group and our groups legal advisor I was met by a veiled threat of legal action against myself on behalf of Mr Gallagher through the SDLP Chief Executive Mr Michael Savage. When it became evident that no matter what Councillor Gallagher had done or the evidence presented supporting my case the SDLP would not reprimand him I decided to end the meeting.
I received this response from Mr Gallagher on October 15th 2010:
The response from Councillor Gallagher contained quite a number of inaccuracies and the residents group I was part of wrote to the SDLP to highlight these.
In May 2011 I stood as an independent candidate in the Shantallow ward of the city to highlight how residents in my area including myself were being treated appallingly by our local councillors, council officers and their lackeys. I knew at that point I would have difficulty getting elected having done a few calculations. However I proceeded to prove that I could stand in the election and to highlight that people were fed up with being ignored and walked over.
I am delighted that this year people from many areas, North and South of Ireland, have decided to stand as independent candidates in the local government elections. I am further overjoyed at the prospect of an independent candidate standing in every council ward in Derry.
If recent revelations aren't enough to wake people up to the farce that is local government then I ask what will???? These revelations including the handling of the Social Investment Fund with the refusal to fund Foyle Search and Rescue and Hurt. The fact that politicians are happy to put more funding into building football pitches than employment schemes despite Derry being an unemployment blackspot. The fact that a current Sinn Fein Councillor was given a job by another party member and former Sinn Fein Mayor without any interview process taking place, a job funded from the public purse. The fact the the only Catholic Secondary school in the Waterside area of the City will be closed without every measure being put in place to keep it open. And these are only a few examples of how the political parties are failing the people.
It would be quite easy in light of the Spotlight programme to lay blame solely at the feet of the SDLP. However it must be noted that Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly was Derry City Councils other representative on the North West Waste Management group joint council committee. I would like to hear Mr Kelly's position on the Brickklin scenario and I would suggest Raymond McCartney should do the same.
VOTE ONCE- VOTE INDEPENDENT- DON'T TRANSFER!
It would be quite easy to do the same old thing and follow your usual voting pattern and just put your 1,2 or 3 beside the party representatives standing in your area. But as you can see the politicians have a lot to answer for, as do their parties. The party will come first and that's why this election time I would ask you to consider the Nolan principles I listed above and measure the current representatives against them. If you're honest with yourself you'll agree they don't marry up. Maybe then it's time to vote for one of the independent candidates standing in your area.
VOTE ONCE- VOTE INDEPENDENT- DON'T TRANSFER