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(en) Ireland: Workers Solidarity #81 - We Don't Want Your Vote

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 27 May 2004 10:11:30 +0200 (CEST)

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Most, if not all, of the left wing political parties in Ireland are
standing candidates in the up-coming local elections. Members of
the Workers Solidarity Movement will not be joining them. We
won't be coming to a doorstep near you asking for your vote.
This doesn't mean we have decided to hang our hats up, we aren't
giving up on political change. Rather it is because we are committed
to political change that we are refusing to partake in the local
elections, for the elections have very little to do with political power.
What's the point
In Ireland, local authorities have very little to do with running the
city. Our cities are run by city managers. Council committees do
not make executive decisions, but, instead, tend to give advice to
the manager and acquaint themselves with the manager's
decisions and actions. However as an article on local government
reports 'the council has hardly any information channels of its
own, and depends heavily on the information it receives from the
manager' .

If the local authorities decide to act against the wishes of the
manager, he (or she) can get the Minister of the Environment to
dissolve them. Local authorities have no right to dismiss the
manager if they are unhappy with the decisions that he or she is
making. When it was announced recently that political posters
would be removed from public places, the citizens of Dublin had
no way of overturning the decision. It is not surprising therefore
that the Dublin City Council in a cynical move appears to put
issues of public cleanliness over issues of public democracy.

Furthermore many important decisions about the running of our
cities are made either by central government or by un-elected
quangos. Fianna Fail appoints the board of Temple Bar, so
although it is an area in the centre of the capital, the citizens of
that capital have practically no input into what is done with the

Power and corruption

The one area in which the power of local councilors has been
evident is in the allocation of planning permission. As has been
seen in the planning tribunals, it's also an area that stinks with
corruption. The interests of developers appear to be what drives
planning permissions. Housing estates are built with no public
transport connections, no shops or public services. Shopping
centers are built outside the city and are inaccessible to those of
us with out a car. The city is shaped to serve commercial interests
and the people who have to live, work, shop and socialise have no
way of challenging this development. Through public inquires we
can ask what happened, but we can't change the decisions that
have been made.

In Ireland we have local government, government by local civil
servants, but no local democracy.

It could be different. At the moment we elect local councilors to
positions where they have little power, what power they have they
are free to use in what ever way they like. If they lie to us, we
have no way of re-calling them from their office. This type of
democracy (known as representative democracy) is open to
abuse. For example, during the bin tax campaigns when on the
doorsteps the politicians promised to fight the charges, but when
in the council chamber voted to re-install them.

Our City

We believe in another type of democracy, direct democracy. This
is where local assemblies meet to discuss and decide on issues
that affect them. On issues of common concern to the wider
community, these assemblies first discuss and come to a position
of their own. Then they can federate with other areas by choosing
delegates whose role is to co-ordinate with other delegates from
other communities. At local city or county meetings delegates
carry the wishes of their communities on the particular topic
under discussion (whether that be traffic management, the
building of playgrounds or organising waste collection). If they
fail to carry out the wishes of the communities, the community
has the power to replace them immediately. If the is-sues are
unresolved the delegates can go back to the local assemblies for
further consideration and the process repeated until a suitable
solution reached.

by Aoife Fisher

* Anarchism and elections http://struggle.ws/election.html
During the general election we were assailed with a barrage of
promises and pledges from all of the political parties. Anarchists
are the only political movement which reject participation in
elections completely
This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper
'Workers Solidarity'.

We also provide PDF files of all our publications for you to print
out and distribute locally http://struggle.ws/pdf.html

Print out the PDF file of this issue

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