Friday, 7 June 2013

Unelected Council Officials must respect principles of Democracy

Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has stated that senior public
servants with Bray Town Council have seriously overstepped the mark by
denying citizens the right to democratic representation by their
democratically elected public representatives. The councillor made the
comments following the refusal of council officials to meet two
homeless women in the presence of a councillor.

Speaking on the issue councillor John Brady said “Last week we had an
unprecedented event in Bray when two homeless girls staged a sit in of
the Bray Town Council offices seeking the basic right to suitable
emergency accommodation for themselves and their children as opposed
to the unsuitable homeless shelter over 40km away in Rathdrum. After
26 hours sitting in the council offices a resolution was reached and
key to that was that the girls, the chair of the council Mick Glynn
and I sat down with all relevant officials to try resolve their
homeless situation. However the officials moved the goalposts when
they refused to meet the girls in my presence or the presence of the
chairperson. This unfortunately resulted in another sit in being
staged by the girls and it only ended after I asked the girls to do so
to prevent them getting dragged into a political squabble between the
unelected, unaccountable officials and the elected members. ”

Cllr Brady continued “There are clearly two key and totally separate
issues in all of this. One is the critical issue of the girl’s
homelessness and the need to find a lasting solution to it. The second
is the unprecedented attack on the basic principles of democracy and
the primary function of a councillor which is to provide a
representational function. I think it important that the two issues
are kept separate and dealt with likewise and that’s why I asked the
girls to end their sit in. I am continuing to work with the girls to
try put in place suitable long term accommodation.”

“The second issue to come out of this is the two fingered salute given
to all councillors by the senior officials dealing with this issue. It
is outrageous that Bray Town Council has refused to meet two citizens
in the presence of their democratically elected representative.
Representing constituents is one of the primary roles of a councillor
and any attempt to stop this is a blatant attack on the entire
democratic process itself and is the right of any citizen or group to

Cllr Brady continued “We are supposed to live in a democratic society
where public representatives are mandated by the people to represent
them. This is legislated for in the Local Government Act 2001 and
strengthened in the Putting People First, Action Programme for
Effective Local Government 2012. This is not just an attack on me as a
councillor; it’s an attack on all councillors.”

Cllr Brady concluded “This issue has been raised with the Minister of
the Environment and Local Government Phil Hogan. I am also getting
legal advice.  Council officials are public servants. They are there
to serve the public and fulfil their public duties. It is important
that Bray Town Council and other councils get the message that this
type of behaviour is not acceptable and maybe if they stuck to their
jobs, Bray and Wicklow would be a better place.” Ends

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