Local Elections - bring on the dancing horses


ANARCHISTS ARE NOT against democracy. We are in favour of the idea but we sure as hell disagree with the way it's currently practised. Fine cases in point were the local elections. These were the first local elections in the 26 counties for eight years. Indeed the government decided it might just as well be the wisest thing for all concerned to offer the sitting incumbents up to £20,000 to feck off and retire rather than having to put us all though the process of reminding us how great they were. Thankfully many of them did.

When the last local elections were held in 1991 almost every single candidate and party (apart from the PDs and Greens) declared that they were against local authority charges. Then from 1994 onwards we spent the best part of three years fighting against these very charges, which we'd been promised by candidates would never happen. Many are the lies that slip from a candidate's mouth prior to elections. We ended up having to fight the Councils when they broke their word and imposed Water Charges, and we won. We beat them.

So less than three years after this defeat they came around to your door asking once again for your vote. Indeed it had been nearly nine years since most of you had seen them unless you were fortunate/unfortunate to live beside one of them. Here is an example of the games these people play to maintain their feelings of importance and of course to be in a position to receive the bribes that come from dealing with planning permission.

Seán Ardagh (FF), a TD and outgoing South Dublin county councillor, opted to stand in the Terenure ward for the City Council, while his wife Máire was elected and retained his previous seat across an invisible county line. Fianna Fáil's onetime standard-bearer in Clondalkin, Mr Colm McGrath, ran as an independent (and got elected), having been deselected by party headquarters after he admitted "accepting contributions" from the developers of the Liffey Valley shopping centre at Quarryvale.

When you take a good look at the people who are supposed to be running your local area the best lesson to walk away with is that we could do such a better job ourselves - and at least we'd be answerable to the people we live with. The councils in our areas become like a miniature form of government - with less power but in the same way they remain unanswerable to the people who elected them. The people who help to run things in your area are not the councillors - they are the people involved in your community groups, coaching the local youth football team or organising recreation for the old folks. They run the area.

Meanwhile councillors decide to re-zone land and get rich from the proceeds of these decisions - providing us with a couple thousand more neighbours but no new services.

Dermot Sreenan

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 58 published in Oct 1999