Friday 28 November 2014

Tenants may face eviction if Wicklow County Council becomes Debit Collector for Irish Water

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has called on the Wicklow County Manager Eddie Sheehy to give guarantees that no council tenants will face eviction if they go in rent arrears due to non-paid water charges being added to council tenant’s rents. This follows confirmation from the County Manager that under new legislation the council may become debit collectors for Irish Water. Speaking after raising the issue at Monday’s council meeting Councillor Brady said "At Monday’s council meeting I raised the issue of Wicklow County Council becoming a debit collector for Irish Water, collecting any unpaid water charges from its 4,301 tenants. I have a real concern that struggling tenants may have any unpaid charges added to their rents, possibly pushing them into arrears leading to possible evictions". Cllr Brady continued "Irish water have said that where a customer goes into arrears for more than 12 months and a late payment has accrued they will advise local authorities that by law they must recover the outstanding amount over a 12-month period. This means that Wicklow County Council will effectively become a debit collector for Irish Water. In Wicklow there are 4,301council tenants and many aren't in a position to pay water charges and due to their circumstances may already be in arrears with their rent". Cllr Brady went onto say "Any attempt to add unpaid water charges to tenant’s rents will only compound difficulties many are facing and could put their tenancy in jeopardy by going deeper into arrears. At the meeting the County Manager confirmed that these powers have been extended to Irish Water but no further information had been forthcoming". Cllr Brady concluded "I told the County Manager that it would be totally wrong for Wicklow County Council to do the dirty work for Irish Water by becoming their debit collector. Local authorities should have no role in this issue and Eddie Sheehy must not let the council get embroiled in this that will ultimately damage the relationship between the council and tenants. He must give assurances now to all 4,301 householders in Wicklow who are tenants of the council that they will not face eviction due to these measures. The Sinn Fein team on the council in Wicklow will fight this all the way to stop Wicklow County Council being used by the Government and Irish Water for their dirty work".

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Wicklow County Council Budget 2015 is a missed opportunity-Sinn Fein

After a ten hour debate Wicklow's six Sinn Féin County Councillors voted against the County's 2015 budget saying it was a missed opportunity to make a real difference and help the citizens of the county. Instead the Councillors voted to throw €1,675,925 into a black hole in Wicklow County council.

Speaking after Mondays council meeting the Sinn Fein group leader on the council, councillor John Brady said "At Mondays budget meeting in Wicklow County Council a real opportunity to help the citizens of Wicklow was genuinely squandered by conservatives Councillors in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and some Independents. We were given an unexpected sum of money €2,675,925 from the Non Principle Private Residence Charge (NPPR). Not only did we have an opportunity to give some of that money back to some families who accidentally became landlords and got stung for the NPPR. We also had an opportunity to fill the community deficit by investing all the money in housing and other community focused projects".

Cllr Brady continued "Instead we had a conservative budget adopted by the Old Boys club of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour which sees €1,675,925 thrown into a black hole in the coffers of the council with no benefits to the people of Wicklow. The money will go to partially pay off a deficit that could have been served over a number of years."

Cllr Snell stated "Sinn Féin wanted each of the five Municipal Districts to get an equal share of the €2,675,925, this would have resulted in local projects in each area benefiting to the tune of €460,000 and the remainder going into a fund to give money back to families that may have become accidental landlords with the NPPR. We have missed a real opportunity to tackle the housing crisis and to support and deliver projects a local levels across the County".

Cllr Lawless went onto say "I'm very disappointed that not an extra euro will go into tackling homelessness in the County. This year alone we have had nearly 100 families present themselves as homeless to the council. We could have done something meaningful in trying to address this serious escalating problem. Instead Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and some Independents sided with the conservative view of the County Manager Eddie Sheehy and effectively threw away over €1.6m in funding. I know many homeless families unsure of their future coming up to Christmas won't thank them for that".

The Sinn Fein Councillor in Arklow Mary McDonald was scathing in her criticism of the council "Arklow like many towns across the County has shops closing on a weekly basis, the Main St is fast becoming a ghost town. There was an opportunity in the budget to help the struggling businesses in Arklow and try encourage new ones into the town. Unfortunately all the local Councillors with the exception of myself voted to increase the commercial rates in the Arklow area, this will only serve to compound the serious problems businesses are facing".

Cllr Gerry O'Neill continued "I'm bitterly disappointed for the people I represent in West Wicklow as the majority of Councillors voted to effectively deprive the west of €460,000. We have a very small discretionary budget for the Baltinglass area of €24,000, if we had of received an extra €460,000 it would of been like winning the Lotto. The west is the forgotten part of Wicklow and both infrastructure and community have been neglected over many years, Mondays meeting where this money was thrown away will not be forgotten by the people here and the Councillors responsible have a lot of answers to give".

Cllr Oliver O'Brien concluded "At Mondays budget meeting we had an ideal opportunity to start putting the citizens of Wicklow first and centre stage and to ensure we provided the services, supports and infrastructure that have been neglected over the last 5-6 due to the austerity policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. We got unexpected finances from the NPPR and it was an ideal opportunity to give something back to people and communities that are struggling to keep it together, unfortunately the council voted 19-11 to adopt a budget that really was a missed opportunity".

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Water concessions are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has labelled the concessions on water charges announced by the Government as the rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic by political parties that have their fingers in their ears and are not listening to the citizens.

Cllr Brady said "The government clearly hasn’t got the message yet. They say they have listened with humility to the people opposed to water charges. However if they were listening they would know that the people are demanding the scrapping of water charges and not clarity or a package to sweeten the deal. The concessions on the charges are basically a dangled carrot and a con job designed to lure people into agreeing to pay a charge that will inevitably be increased to much higher levels in years to come."

"The changes are effectively the rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic by a government with its fingers stuck in their ears. The Government have been on the ropes for the last few weeks on the issue and since 1 November they have been on a PR offensive to try and quell the unprecedented levels of protests the government has been facing. It shows that people power is working. We must continue with the protest campaign as the Government clearly are sinking on this issue."

Cllr Brady continued “We have achieved a victory forcing the Government to do a political u turn, however we need them to go one step further and abolish the water charges altogether. These concessions are due to end after 2018 and I believe people will face much higher bills at that point."

“The Government have failed to listen to the will of the people, they need to remove their fingers from their ears and listen. These changes have not quelled the anger of the people on this issue, in fact it's done the complete opposite. People now know that people power works, we now need to stand united and harness that anger and focus all our efforts on ensuring we get the maximum possible turnout in protest against water charges on December 10th to deliver home the message once and for all that water charges must be scrapped" concluded Councillor Brady. Ends

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Concern expressed with planned changes to the 145 and 45a bus routes

Sinn Féin councillor John Brady has expressed concern about changes that Dublin Bus are planning on introducing to the 145 and 45a bus routes. Drivers on the routes have been informed of the changes that are due to be implemented in January. The changes in the routes will result in the ceasing the 145 route to Kilmacanogue in Ballywaltrim, however the 45a which currently stops in Ballywaltrim will be extended to Kilmacanogue.

Expressing concerns around the lack of public consultation Councillor Brady said "From January Dublin Bus are making big changes to the 145 and 45a routes that serve the North Wicklow area. It's planned to stop the 145 bus that currently goes to Kilmacanogue in Ballywaltrim at the new bus lay-by on the slip road between the Killarney Rd and the Southerncross. The 45a which currently goes from Ballywaltrim to
Dun Laoghaire will be extended to Kilmacanogue".

Cllr Brady continued “It is planned to make the changes to the 145 and 45a routes in January, however there has been no public consultation on these changes. I welcome the fact that Dublin Bus are going to continue a bus service to Kilmac, there had been serious concern that the service would be cut completely. There was a campaign organised to save the service to Kilmac and hundreds of people signed a petition and this was subsequently handed to Dublin Bus. The fact Dublin Bus are going to extend the 45a to Kilmac is a small victory in itself and shows the concerns of residents were legitimate".

Cllr Brady concluded "There are concerns however that the 45a will be a less frequent service for the people of Kilmac and that there will be no direct link now to the city centre as the 145 had provided. Students going to UCD will now need to make alternative plans. Likewise users of the 145 coming from Dublin will now only get as far as Ballywaltrim and will have to make other plans to get as far as Kilmac. I'm calling on Dublin Bus to consult with the public on these planned changes before they are implemented". Ends

Brady asks for second legal opinion on Irish Waters request for tenants information

Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has called on Wicklow County Council not to hand over any council tenants information to Irish Water until a second legal opinion is sought from a barrister that specialises in Data protection. The Councillor made the request on Monday following legal advise from the councils law agent that the council had to comply with a quest from Irish Water seeking details on the councils 4000 tenants. He got a undertaking from council officials that this would be done, however they refused to give an undertaking that no information would be given while awaiting the opinion.

Speaking after Mondays council meeting Councillor Brady said "At the council meeting on 3 November the councillors were informed that Irish Water had sent a letter to the council seeking information on its 4,000 tenants. I raised serious concerns on the issue as both a councillor and a tenant of the council. I believe the request is in breech of Data Protection laws and I sought a legal opinion".

"The councils Law Agent issued his opinion which was presented to the council on Monday. He states that under Section 26 of The Water Services Act Irish Water may request a Local Authority to provide it with such information as it may reasonably require to enable it to perform it's functions as a Water Services Authority".

Cllr Brady continued "I'm not happy that the advice the Councillors have been given takes heed of Data Protection Legislation and I've asked for a second legal opinion from a barrister who specialises in this area. I believe the council or any other body can only share information they hold on an individual with their consent and I don't think the law should be any different for Irish Water. I like many others have refused to engage or correspond with Irish Water and they shouldn't be allowed to circumvent the stringent Data Protection Laws that are in place at both national and European levels".

Councillor Brady concluded "At the meeting I asked the Chief Executive Eddie Sheehy not to comply with the request from the head of Irish Water John Tierney until we got a the second legal opinion and also a response from the Data Protection Commissioner. Unfortunately Mr Sheehy would not given an undertaking on this and said he could not guarantee the information would not be sent. I find this unbelievable, there are concerns surrounding the legality of the request and I as a tenant would take it very serious if any of my details are handed over whilst awaiting the legal opinion. As a public representative I also believe Mr Sheehy would be acting in bad faith and against the expressed wishes of the elected council".  Ends

Monday 10 November 2014

Wicklow County Council votes no confidence in Irish Water and to abolish water charges

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has expressed delight that a Sinn Fein motion tabled at Mondays special council meeting of the County Council was supported by the majority of Councillors present. The motion was a vote of no confidence in Irish Water and called for its abolishment, it further calls on the government to immediately reverse water charges and to stop the water metering process. 

Speaking after the special meeting that was called by Sinn Féin, councillor Brady said "The six Sinn Féin Councillors in Wicklow called the special meeting so that Councillors from all political parties and none could take a stand on the issue of water charges and Irish Water. The people of Wicklow and right across the State have spoken out loud and clear on this issue and their voices need to be listened too. We put forward a motion which we believed encompasses the concerns of the people of Wicklow and thankfully that motion passed by 23 votes to 6 and 3 Councillors not present".

"I had the privilege of proposing the motion which commended the people for organising and mobilizing on the issue and taking to the streets in their thousands, sending a message that couldn't be ignored. The motion also called on the government to reverse domestic water charges as it's an unfair and unjust double charge that people simply can't afford to pay. It will suck another €14million from the local economy in Wicklow, an economy that's already on its knees. The bottom line is water is a basic human right that we already pay for".

Cllr Brady continued "The people of Wicklow have no confidence in Irish Water and the motion adopted by the council is a vote of no confidence in them and calls on the Government to abolish the quango that is Irish Water. The motion further calls on the government to halt the roll out of water metering and that the €539m loan finance that was taken from the National Pension Reserve Fund be used in fixing the infrastructure that allows over 40% of all water be lost through leaking pipes".

"The final issue dealt with in the motion was a call to government to hold a constitutional referendum to retain public ownership of water services and infrastructure. This is a hugely important issue as I believe the government is currently laying the foundations of privatising the natural resource in the future".

Cllr Brady concluded "I'm delighted the motion was adopted by 23 votes to 6. However the fact that the 6 that voted against the motion are all Fine Gael Councillors show that the message hasn't hit home to them and they are ignoring the will of the citizens of Wicklow. However it is an important step in the right direction, the Sinn Féin motion is now the policy of Wicklow County Council and the four government TDs in the county need to listen to the voice of the people of Wicklow, also the County Council and this message needs to be delivered to the government in the Dáil. The people of Wicklow won't accept anything less than the total abolishment of water charges because they simply can't pay and won't pay the unjust tax". Ends

Full motion passed by Wicklow County Council by 23 votes to 6 with 3 not present

That Wicklow County Council calls on the Government to;

 - Listen to the widespread public anger that exists towards this Government and Irish Water by the Irish people, who are now rightly organising and mobilising in protest and opposition to these water charges through the Right2Water public campaign which includes activists, citizens, community groups, political parties and trade unions.

 - Immediately reverse domestic water charges which are an unfair and unjust double charge being forced on already struggling households.

- Stop the roll out of metering and redirect the €539m loan finance from the National Pension Reserve Fund towards fixing the massive leakage problems and interruption to supply.

- Hold a constitutional referendum to retain public ownership of water services and infrastructure. 

- Abolish Irish Water as it doesn't have the confidence of the Irish People or Wicklow County Council

Friday 7 November 2014

Decision to turn cardiac arrest patients away from St.Vincents Hospital will impact most on Wicklow residents

Wicklow Sinn Féin councillor John Brady has expressed deep concern on plans to stop St.Vincents being designated as a Primary PCI centre. This means that all patients experiencing cardiac arrest will bypass St.Vincents hospital and go to the next Primary PCI centre in the Matter Hospital or St. James's.

Speaking after talking to concerned Wicklow First Responders Cllr Brady said "The news that St.Vincents will no longer deal with suspected Cardiac arrest cases is truly shocking. This means that patients being rushed from Wicklow will bypass two hospitals now, St.Columcilles and St.Vincents and travel at least another 15-20 minutes to the Matter Hospital".

Brady continued "Last November the 24hour A&E closed it's doors in St.Columcilles and all patients were sent onto St.Vincents. Sinn Féin the people of Wicklow and I campaigned tirelessly to save the A&E in St.Columcilles, however Fine Gael and Labour ultimately allowed the HSE close its doors. This move was disgracefully supported by all 5 Wicklow TDs. I predicted that St.Vincents wouldn't be able to cope with the additional patients and it's seems that less than 12 months later I've been proven right".

"This crazy decision for suspected cardiac arrest cases to bypass two hospitals will be most detrimental to the people of Wicklow, particularly to people in South Wicklow who are already at risk due to the additional travel time in getting to St.Vincents. Now for the doors of St.Vincents to be closed in their faces and to be told to continue onto the Matter or St.James's is an absolute disgrace. The promise of St.Vincents being a state of the art hospital, well able to cater for the additional patients from Wicklow has never materialised, people are still lying on trollies and now we have this which shows clearly the decision to close St.Columcillies was a political one aimed at saving money and not to deliver a better service".

Cllr Brady concluded "Haven spoken to a number of First Responders in Wicklow I know they have huge concerns about this decision and also with the lack of consultation. People have been effictively been told today, Friday 7th November from 4pm St.Vincents will no longer deal with cardiac arrests. Did Fine Gael and Labour think they could introduce this change now because everyone's focus was on water charges at this time, I'm afraid not. This is yet another lie and another broken promise from the government and it shows how little they think of the health and welfare of its citizens. I'm calling on Minister Harris and his fellow government TDs here in Wicklow to intervene to ensure this decision is reversed". Ends

Thursday 6 November 2014

Brady welcomes planned Enniskerry works

The Cathaoirleach of the Bray Municipal District John Brady has welcomed a commitment he has secured from the council to replace the footpaths in three housing estates in Enniskerry. The work will commence in the Millfield, Monastery Grove and Kilgarron Park estates in the new year. 

Welcoming the news the Sinn Féin councillor said "Unfortunately over the years Enniskerry has been the poor relation when it comes to the County Council. Following numerous requests and site visits, I'm delighted to have secured a commitment that the footpaths in Kilgarron Park, Millfield and Monastery Grove will be upgraded in the new year".

"Residents in these estates have been asking for the footpaths to be repaired for years, unfortunately the funding was never in place. With the creation of the new Bray Municipal District which takes in Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue. I seen it as critical that these areas would get their fair share when it came to funding for maintenance and upgrading work. I am aware that there are many other issues including housing maintenance in the area and I'm continuing to work on those".

Cllr Brady continued "The footpaths in these three estates are particularly bad and equates to a public hazard. They are the original paths which basically consist of a thin layer of Tarmac, this has worn away in many parts leaving large potholes in the paths. The council will also look at addressing problems with gullies at a number of locations in the estates".

Cllr Bray concluded "As Cathaoirleach  of the new Municipal District I feel it's important that both Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue feel part of the new district and that projects are advanced in both areas. In the new year I intended on holding a number of the District council meetings in those areas so the voices of residents living there can be heard".

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Sinn Féin Councillors call special meeting of Wicklow County Council to discuss water charges

A special meeting of Wicklow County Council is to be held on Monday 10th November at 2pm to discuss the ongoing saga of Water Charges and Irish Water. The special meeting has been called by the six Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillors along with three independents.

Speaking after the meeting was called Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady said "We have called this special meeting of the council to discuss the issue of water charges and Irish Water. I believe it's important that politicians of all political parties and none listen to the will of the people of Wicklow who turned out in their thousands on Saturday last to protest against water charges".

“The huge turnout at the protests here in Wicklow that were organised by the Right2water campaign is a clear message to politicians to listen to the citizens who are saying that this tax is unfair and that far too many people cannot afford to pay for water charges".

Brady continued "The special meeting that we've called will give all Councillors a chance to stand with the people of Wicklow. It will also give Fianna Fáil members an opportunity to call on their leadership to change their stated policy of supporting water charges in principle".

“We have a situation here in Wicklow where a number of so called ‘Independents’ along with Fianna Fáil are in a council pact with Fine Gael, who along with Labour in government are implementing these policies, these Councillors must put the people before their own selfish political ends and withdraw their support from this pact unless water charges are scrapped" Continued Brady.

The Sinn Féin Councillor said "The people of County Wicklow have taken to the streets to say that they do not accept these unjust charges in practice or in principle. Sinn Féín have made an unambiguous commitment to scrap these unfair and inequitable charges if we are in government. On Monday next Wicklow politicians of all hues will be given the opportunity to stand with their constituents, or with the political parties who are implementing these punishing charges. The choice is theirs, but they should stand with the people who elected them." Ends

Monday 3 November 2014

Irish Water request information on all Wicklow County Council Tenants

Wicklow Sinn Fein County Councillor John Brady has expressed concern at the news that was revelled at a council meeting on Monday that Irish Water have written to the council and all other local authorities, requesting access to all information on council tenants.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Brady said "At Monday's council meeting it was brought to the attention of Councillors that Irish Water had written to all Local Authorities seeking access to information on all the councils tenants. I have deep concerns in relation to this request as both a public representative and also as a council tenant".

Brady continued "I have stated publicly that I won't be engaging with Irish Water or returning my registration pack giving my families details. So for the council to give my details or any other tenants details to Irish Water without their prior concent is totally wrong and in my opinion amounts to a breech of data protection".

"I have asked for the council to get a legal opinion on this issue and not to give any information to Irish Water until the council is informed what the legal basis for the request is".

Cllr Brady concluded "It's quite evident that people are simply refusing to engage with Irish Water or return the registration packs in the numbers that the government had hoped. The deadline has already been extended from the end of October to the end of November. However it appears they are now prepared to use any means possible to get information on householders and I believe that the council would be wrong to engage". Ends

Sunday 2 November 2014

Thousands take to the streets of Wicklow to oppose water charges

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has commended the thousands of Wicklow people who marched in the five Right2water protests that were held in the County on Saturday 1st November. He also said that the people have spoken and the four Government TDs in Wicklow must now listen to the fact that people can't and won't pay their water charges.

Speaking after marching and addressing the Bray rally Councillor Brady said "Saturday 1st November will go down in history as the day the people took a stand right across Ireland in their tens of thousands and told the Government that they are not representing them and that water charges must be abolished. In Wicklow over 12,000 people took to the streets and participated in the five different protests that were organised by the Right2water campaign. In Bray alone over 5,000 marched in one of the largest protests ever to be held in the town".

"The people in Wicklow and around the County have spoken with their feet and delivered a message to the four Wicklow Government TDs, Enda Kenny and Joan Burton that people can't and won't pay their unjust water charges. The tax will suck another €14.5million from the local economy in Wicklow, it's no wonder shops and businesses are struggling and continuing to close. We need to put money back in people's pockets to help grow and lift the economy".

Brady continued "I had the privalage of marching and addressing the rally in Bray where many elderly people said it was the largest rally they've ever seen in the town. Many other people said it was the first time they've ever marched or protested on any issue. People are empowered now and this is only the beginning of the campaign that will continue to grow until water charges are abolished".

"The Government must now stop the threats and listen to the people. The bottom line is people don't have the money to pay a second time for water. I know for many it's a choice of putting a meal on the table for their family of paying the water tax, so the decision has already been taken for them, they must provide for their family. I'm standing with the families who can't pay and I'm talking a stand not to pay the charges, I also ripped up my Irish Water registration pack in front of 5,000 people in Bray at the rally. I conscious of the implications of my actions and I'm not asking others to follow me but to make an informed decision. We have the Government on the ropes on this issue and together we must continue to build and keep the pressure on them until they are defeated". Ends

Cllr John Brady's speech at the Bray rally can be seen here.