Paul Melia – denigratory propagandist in the Irish Independent. Must try harder!

Paul Melia wrote a short report entitled “We shouldn’t waste another
cent on our out-of-touch councillors” accompanied by another burst of
ack-ack fire on the same page entitled “How the Local Authority gravy
train keeps rolling”. His accomplice on the front page is Cormac
McQuinn.

The level of denigratory, pusillanimous, mediocre and envy-inducing
bilge in the Irish Independent is presented as some sort of shocking
revelation. It is simply shocking to discover that some people are
paid for days of work interviewing candidates on behalf of employing
authorities. It is shocking to find out that Mayors of our major
population centres visit other cities to represent us and try to
stimulate trade and tourism. San Jose and Silicon Valley are not
unconnected. If you want to whinge in the Independent, a much better
target would be the reduction in the Consulate staff at San Francisco
when so much of Foreign Direct Investment originates within a few
hours drive of the consulate.

The pay and expenses at Dublin City Council are published regularly
and we should publish all this stuff routinely on the City Council
Website. The attendance at some conferences is abused to generate
expenses. Mandatory full-time councillors would remove a whole swathe
of potential candidates and seriously reduce the talent pool available
for people to select at elections. Councillors terms end at 5 years
and some of the high sums in the published lists include the exit
payments in lieu of pensions which is the system.

It is reasonable to pay people a fair wage. As chairman of the HSE
Dublin Northeast, I do not claim expenses for attending meetings and
other duties because I am paid sufficiently from the public purse.
Officials who attend meetings after 5 pm in Dublin do not get paid
overtime yet continue to do their duty after in difficult and fraught
circumstances of having to take gratuitous abuse.

Whether Councils should fund or part-fund MBA and other degrees for
councillors is a good question? I do not know the answer but I policy
should be discussed and a national policy adopted across the country
through the Department of the Environment and Local Government. I can
see the value of funding education for the public as well as for
individual councillors.

The work of the Strategic Policy Committees in Dublin seems valuable
from my perspective but journalists are free to rubbish this if they
wish.

It might prove interesting to publish the data on local representation
across Western Europe as an indicator of where Ireland stands in the
general scheme of representatives per 1000 people.