Pat Greene argues that parking fees in Drogheda are a stealth tax.
Louth county councillors are allocated tens of millions of Euro of taxpayers money. So why is it they come back year on year looking for more? Could it be that they are wasting our money? If the Louth County Municipal council needs more money, does it stand to reason, that it may not be in a position to meet its obligations?
It must be emphasized that there is only one Council in Louth and it sits in Dundalk. Neither Drogheda or Mid Louth has a legitimate sitting council and this was highlighted recently when County Manager Joan Martin refused to attend any so called council meetings outside of Dundalk. Most appalling of all is the false claim that Drogheda has a legitimate Mayor. You may see an individual in red robes and chains but let me be very clear the office of Mayor in Drogheda ceased to exist when all local power was centralised in Dundalk in 2014 by the Labour Party and Fine Gael - a decision they now regret and are actively trying to reverse. Even the Louth Municipal council does not recognise the mayor of Drogheda as legitimate yet it costs to the people of Drogheda upwards of €20,000 a year.
The unelected county manager holds all the power and not the County chairman as many are led to believe. The county manager has the power to veto any decision made by elected officials, a power that has been used on many occasions which is an affront to Democracy. So our local representatives have no power, none, zilch, nada. So don’t be fooled by their protestations to the contrary, it’s all a stage and your part is that of the fall guy. The county manager wanted an increase in taxes to “....balance the books....” meaning our council is insolvent; they do not manage our money appropriately and now they want more!! It is forced through because threats by the county manager of abolishing the council by using the Dáil are omnipresent.
The Louth Municipal Council like other councils around the country must restore staff (civil servants) salaries as per an agreement. To do this they want the people of Drogheda to pay more for parking. Now to me that is a bit rich to say the least, considering the same civil servants have free parking. It must be remembered that parking meters were not installed as a revenue, However what we were told at the time was, that parking meters would be installed and that it would be extended to all parts of the town. We were also told by councillors that they would be installed to free up parking spaces for shoppers in order to enhance local business etc. We were not told it was in fact a funding program, also known as a stealth tax, so who are the servants and Who Are The Masters?
On our political stage the fall guy is told one thing at the elections then the civil servants do as they please. Listening to two local councillors on LMFM’s M Reade show Friday 19th Oct. debating how the money should be used is an example of the wool being pulled over the eyes of us, the fall guy. The idea of parking fees as funding rather than serving a function is cemented our minds, because no one is questioning the local representatives about how parking has become a stealth tax rather than what it is supposed to do.
The county is insolvent because they have managed our money so badly and they will keep coming for more. Why does the fall guy vote for such an unbalanced system? There is no accountability! But this is not good enough! They ramp up losses and we pay for their short comings and we must wait four years to hold them to account.
What we need is a system of direct democracy and recall, a system they fear because then they can be held accountable and fired at any time in the four years. If we had such a system and they were held accountable how much would they waste? Direct Democracy is the only system that puts manners on politicians, the elected representatives who spend our hard earned money.
➽Pat Greene is leader of Direct Democracy Ireland