Does Anybody Want a More Efficient Council?

Next Monday’s scheduled meeting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has several important pieces of business on the agenda. In addition to the normal Councillor submitted motions, we will have the opportunity to discuss our ABP submission on the proposed €18,000,000 plan to develop cruise liner facilities in the harbour. It also falls to us to determine if we will once again vary the Local Property Tax rate, a move that last year gave over €8,000,000 back to the residents of the county. Judging, however, by the media activity (both real and social) of some of my Councillor colleagues, it would appear that nothing is currently more important than a row about the procedural workings of a sub-committee of a local authority! Since being elected to the council in May of last year, I have regularly been asked by people how I am finding life as a Councillor. It is very hard for me to give any answer that doesn’t contain the phrase ‘slow and frustrating’. Don’t get me wrong, working in and for my local community is a very energising and rewarding experience. The problems unfortunately begin when we attempt to conduct business at our monthly council meeting. At these meeting, we have the opportunity to exercise what little power that remains vested in Local Authority members and deal efficiently and expediently with business for the benefit of those that elected us…. But we don’t! …Instead the webcast cameras are rolling, the press are in the gallery and we feel the need to grandstand, to score some political points and to ‘echo’ what was just said by our five, six or seven electoral ward colleagues lest their newsletter reads better...