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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Parish-pump politics without attending to the pump

Parish-pump politics have their place as long as the pump is actually attended to when required.

Some years ago, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown council in South Dublin carried out a botched refurbishment of the main street in Blackrock village.

It was just finished when some holes were dug by the PermanentTsb office and a few shovels of tarmacadam were "temporarily" put on the handiwork.

For the two subsequent years, councillors, council officials and the public traipsed over the rickety pavement.

Shur why would there be accountability at such a mundane level, when there's none all the way up the ladder??

Last Saturday, the Irish Independent reported that Dublin's local authorities have paid out over €15m in compensation to people who injured themselves walking on dangerous footpaths.

And Dublin City Council spent more compensating injured parties than it did repairing pavements between 2001 and 2005.

Figures compiled by Fine Gael show that Dublin City spent €8.7m in compensation but just €7.3m repairing footpaths during the same period.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown paid out almost €1.9m for injuries, while spending €4m on repairs; South Dublin paid out €1.4m in compensation and €3.6m on maintenance; and Fingal County Council spent €2.9m on compensation and €4.1m on repairs. In all, €14.9m was spent on compensation and €19.2m on repairs.

Fine Gael senator Brian Hayes accused the government parties of failing to ensure that public funds were spent effectively.

"The underfunding of local government often means that paths in need of repair are left in a poor state, resulting in falls and other injuries. Claims for injuries such as this have amounted to a staggering €15m in Dublin alone."

But the Department of the Environment denied Senator Hayes's claims, saying that local authorities were free to spend money from their own funds on repairing footpaths.

Where there's no system of accountability and responsibility, it's a recurring theme: The Buck Stop Nowhere!


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