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Sligo Co. Council to hand back €4.7 million in grants? (Dec 2012)
 
Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has said that Sligo Co. Council will be the laughing stock of the state if it is forced to hand back €4.7 million in approved grants due to its inability to provide less than 10% in matching funding to supplement these major grants.
 
Raising a number of questions to the County Manager in relation to this funding for water-main replacement works and street refurbishment works in O’Connell St. in Sligo city centre Councillor MacManus said:
 
“In Feb 2012 the Department for the Environment gave approval for the allocation of €4,200,000 towards the carrying out of watermain replacement works, mainly in O’Connell St, under the Sligo Water Conservation scheme. This is a major grant by any yardstick.
 
In March 2012 this Council wrote to the Department of the Environment outlining the financial problems of Sligo Co. Council and its inability to provide the 10% of matching funding needed to draw down this grant. The Council further asked the Department to provide 100% funding for the watermains project.”
 
“In the Dail last October Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said in relation to the Council seeking 100% funding ‘There is no scope under the current arrangements for my Department to provide 100% funding to Sligo Co. Council for this scheme’.
 
“It is obvious from the Ministers response that this council is not going to get 100% funding and therefore that we will lose this very substantial grant. This is a total disgrace for which responsibility falls to those people on this Council, both management and those elected members, who have brought this Council to the brink of bankruptcy. Sligo Co. Councils failure to avail of a grant of €4,200,000 will make this local authority the laughing stock of local government throughout the state.”
 
“However the debacle doesn’t stop at the loss of €4.2 million, added to that sum is another grant of €500,000 in place for refurbishment works in O’Connell St. which cannot be spent until the watermain works are done. And of course the watermain replacement won’t be done so now we will lose a further €500,000 bringing the total loss to Sligo city of €4,700,000--- what a sorry carry-on!
 
If all this wasn’t bad enough the situation is made worse when we consider that this disaster could have been avoided if the main roads in Sligo city had been left under the control of Sligo Borough Council as I proposed in 2011.”
 
“While Sligo Co. Council is tens of millions in debt, Sligo Borough Council is in the black and if the Borough Co. had control of the primary roads in Sligo city matching funding would be available and these grants of €4,700,000 would be availed of and used to carry out these necessary works. And to think that there are proposals to abolish the Borough Council and to leave the Co. Council in sole control--- God help Sligo.” Councillor MacManus concluded.
 
MacManus wants better Budget for Sligo Communities (Dec17th 2012)

Speaking at the commencement of discussion on the annual budget meeting of Sligo County Council Councillor Sean MacManus attacked both the cut backs in Government funding to the Council and proposals by the Co. Manager to slash funding for a range of services provided by the Council including Disabled Persons Grant, maintenance of Council houses, community grants and tourism promotion.
 
In his remarks on the proposed budget Cllr. MacManus said;
“Cathaoirleach,I would like to make a few general comments about the budget estimates which we are about to discuss. I have to say at the outset that I am very disappointed and worried about the amount of cutbacks which are outlined in this draft budget for 2013. Bad as recent budgets have been this year’s is considerably worse.
 
In relation to government funding I must say that another reduction in the Local Government Fund Grant and a massive reduction in the Disabled Persons Grant make’s the situation worse.
 
I’m also opposed to the proposals from the manager to further reduce our housing maintenance budget, reduce community grants, recreational development and tourism promotion.”
 
“We are all aware of the present dire financial situation of this state, however when we look at the funding provided to local government by central government then we can clearly see how the mismanagement of successive governments is wreaking havoc with the quality of living within our communities. Since 2009 the level of funding under the Local Government Fund has fallen by over 25%.”
 
“This situation is made much worse by the financial mess which Sligo Co. Council is in due to the adoption of crazy budgets over the past number of years by various combinations of ruling groups on this council.
 
I am calling on the current ruling parties on this Council, --- Fine Gael, Labour and Independent Labour --- to ensure that these dramatic cuts are reversed.
 
“Prior to the last general election both Labour and Fine Gael promised that they would deliver a better deal for our people. The drastic cutbacks in this budget clearly tell a very different story.
 
Sinn Fein will, as usual, be bringing forward proposals to amend and improve this budget. This budget is bad news for the people of Co. Sligo, unless the cutbacks outlined above are reversed there is no way that any progressive politician could support it” Councillor MacManus concluded.
 
Redeployment of Co. Council Staff. (Nov.2012)
 
Councillor Sean MacManus has asked the Sligo Co. Manager to provide a full report to Council members on the effects of staff of the Co. Council been redeployed to other statutory bodies which in turn will cause reduction in the services delivered by the Co. Council.
 
Raising the matter at the November meeting of Sligo Co. Council Cllr MacManus said:
 
“It is my information that a significant number of staff heretofore employed by Sligo Co. Council have recently or are in the process of been redeployed to other agencies such as the Road Safety Authority etc.  I have been told that up to 15 staff are due to leave the Co. Council under this current movement with the possibility of further reductions in the future.
 
It is obvious that these further job losses within the Council staff will have serious implications for the level of service delivered by Sligo Co. Council. Coming on top of the large number of jobs which have been lost by the Council over the past 3 years these new cuts will have a big impact on the services which the public expect from this Council.”
 
“I am now asking the Co. Manager to provide the members of this council with a detailed outline showing within which services these new cutbacks will occur, the grades and number of staff involved and the resultant effects of these job losses on our services.
 
I clearly understand the drastic financial position which Sligo Co. Council is now in due to years of poor management. However the question needs to be asked how many jobs can be shed before services have to be shut down. We are all aware of how job cutbacks in the Council have diminished the quality of service which Sligo Co. Council provides. How can it be otherwise, how can management and those members who have controlled this council over the years expect staff to take up the slack caused by the job losses suffered so far?”
 
“Our workers are not robots they are human beings who are been pressurised into increased workloads . On the one hand the Co. Manager expresses concern for workers and talks about bullying whilst on the other hand he repeatedly speaks of how 80 staff redundancies would be a big help to the Councils finances. There’s scant regard for workers in such thinking or indeed for the level of services which this Council provide to the public”. 
 
“As elected members who interact with the public we need answers to the questions which I have raised. We also need to be told clearly if any services are being considered for closure and what rationale management used when determining these job losses” Cllr. MacManus concluded.  
 
MacManus Slams County Council Financial Mess (Aug.2012)

How much money did this Council spend on this report from Grant Thornton? Was it €10,000 or €15,000 or was it more? No matter how much or how little it cost it was, in my opinion, money wasted.
 
This so-called appraisal of the financial situation of Sligo Co. Council tells us little that we did not already know. It clearly highlights the mismanagement of the finances of this Council over a number of years. Such mismanagement lies at the door of the main parties in this council, whether it was Fianna Fail and Labour prior to 2009 or Fine Gael and Labour since.
 
The record of successive estimate meetings show that a few of us warned that budgets were been introduced which could not add up and that we voted against these budgets. The Co. Manager who advocated the implementation of these budgets will of course say that it is the function of Councillors to agree on a budget and you were only too eager to rubberstamp his proposals.
 
Contrast this readiness of these parties in this chamber to accept without serious examination the Managers budget with how budget items are questioned at Sligo Borough Council meetings. The Borough Council will not permit vanity projects to be pushed through by officials, just look at their decisions to refuse to spend €5 million on O’Connell St. or €1.4 million on an unnecessary footbridge. No wonder that this report states that Sligo Borough Co. is solvent whilst Sligo Co. Council is over €13 million in the red!
 
Which brings us to one of the recommendations of this report indicating that Sligo Co Council and Sligo Borough Council should be merged. Well God help the people of our main centre of population if such an unhappy marriage were ever to come about. Why should the people of Sligo city be foisted with the vast debt of Sligo Co. Council, why would the Borough Council which runs its financial affairs in an orderly manner be abolished to help underwrite the recklessness of Sligo Co. Council?
 
Hands off Sligo Borough, years of overspending have got the Co. Council into this financial mess, those of you who bear responsibility now must shoulder that responsibility.

‘Government must abolish Universal Social Charge’ – MacManus

Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus has called on the Government to abolish the Universal Social Charge and ‘to ensure that all taxes and social insurance contributions are raised progressively so that those who have the most pay the most.’

 

Councillor MacManus was speaking after a Sinn Féin ‘day of action’ in Sligo City Centre, where he was accompanied by Deputy Michael Colreavy and twenty plus Sinn Féin activists.

 

“The Universal Social Charge breaches the fundamental principal of progressive taxation – that those who have more should pay more. It is a flat tax which everyone with an income above €16,016 pays at the same rate of 7%

 

“Rather than target wealth and ensure that those who could afford to pay more did, Fianna Fáil and the Greens went after those earning as little as €77 a week. Fine Gael and the Labour Party continue to implement this flawed and unfair policy.

 

“This tax does not matter a damn to the bankers, those earning over €100,000 a year or individuals who benefit from huge tax breaks. The people taking the hit with the Universal Social Charge are the teenagers doing the paper round, the college students in casual jobs and the mothers in part-time work. How can this be described as fair?

 

“Fine Gael and Labour have said that they will ‘review’ the Universal Social Charge. They have also proposed at least 32 other reviews in the Programme for Government. A review is not good enough. Fine Gael and Labour should make a stand for the people and abolish this grossly unfair tax”. ENDS
For confirmation tel Chris @ 086 811 9550


 

FG & Lab are part of consensus of cuts’ - MacManus


Speaking at the launch of Sinn Fein’s ‘Make A Stand – March against Cuts’ Rally in Dublin next Saturday, Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus accused Fine Gael and Labour of ‘being part of the consensus of cuts’ led by the Fianna Fail administration.

Cllr. MacManus said, “Fine Gael and indeed the Labour Party are attempting to fool the people into believing that they are outraged by the current administrations plans to savage the Irish people in the interests of their banker and speculator friends. In fact they have accepted the timetable for reducing the deficit and have also accepted the need for massive cutbacks which will be borne by the ordinary people of this state.

“They may argue about whether the cuts should be of the order of €6 billion or merely €4.5 billion. They may express outrage at the IMF having being handed over control of the country’s finances. They may castigate the Government which has been responsible for that.

“But when the smoke clears they have themselves signed up to the consensus for cuts. They have also expressed their willingness to act as the executive arm of the IMF and whatever theatre is being acted out between them is merely to do with which party will have the biggest numbers in the coalition that will administer those cuts when the present sorry bunch shuffle off the stage. ENDS

 
MacManus Calls for Government Action on Money-lending. (Agreed by Council on 6 September 2010)
 
Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has sought the support of Sligo County Council in an effort to force the Government to introduce new laws to curb the actions of illegal money-lenders.

Speaking to his proposal to the council which called for new legislation to enable more convictions of illegal lenders and increased protection for people who testify against these people

Councillor MacManus said:

“I am sure that many members of this council are aware of the issue of illegal money-lending which has long been a scourge of this society and which, unfortunately, Co. Sligo has not escaped.


Over recent months the incidents of this type of parasitical behaviour seems to have increased, due I suppose to some extent because of the deep recession in which our economy lies.


Illegal money-lending and those lenders who trade in it are blight on Irish society.  The fact that it is virtually always those who suffer from high levels of social and economic hardship who are  at the mercy of these loan sharks makes the situation even worse.


It is common knowledge that massive interest rates of up to 200% are been extorted from those individuals who are unfortunate enough to have become ensnared by these illegal operators.

I have heard many reports of people who have been intimidated and threatened by these lending  thugs here in Sligo. These include people been both physically and verbally assaulted and receiving serious threats to both themselves and their families. In some cases it is reported that  this thuggish behaviour has led to situations where people in debt have felt compelled to abandon their homes as a result of this intensive intimidation.


As the law stands at the present time the possibility of pursuing a criminal conviction in relation to illegal money-lending is mainly dependant on the testimony of people who are very often too afraid to take this serious step. Given that convictions are so heavily reliant on evidence given by those who are in hock to illegal lenders it is easy to see how this situation is exploited by the illegal lenders and why their use of intimidation is so widespread.


It is obvious that the present law and the manner in which it is being implemented is inadequate to deal with the serious social problems posed by illegal money-lenders—convictions brought under the Consumer Credit Act 1995 have been very limited.


Consequently there is an urgent need for the government to review its current legislation and to introduce an action plan so that this scandalous situation can be addressed.  Government action should include stronger enforcement powers for the various statutory bodies to deal with the problem and  improved regulatory measures to robustly protect those victims who have the courage to stand up to illegal money-lenders. Also better supports are needed to ensure greater preventative steps across our society to tackle this scourge, in particular steps to address the current levels of poverty and social exclusion which drives vulnerable people into the grasp of illegal lenders.


In conclusion I wish to thank and to acknowledge the initiative taken by Communities Against  Illegal Money-lending Sligo in relation to this insidious issue here in Sligo. Their work has raised awareness of the stranglehold which these lenders have on some of the most vulnerable communities in Irish society and should be welcomed. Because of the negative effects of that grip it is of the upmost importance that the government now take urgent action to tackle this disgrace.”

 

“Banking scandal needs full public scrutiny” – MacManus

The following motion was submitted by Councillor Sean MacManus
on 2 February 2010. The motion was agreed.

“That Sligo County Council expresses its disapproval of the decision of the Fianna Fail/Green Government not to hold a full public inquiry into the banking crisis in this state. In the interests of full public scrutiny and to build trust, any investigation into why the present banking scandal developed should be held in public to permit a full and open examination of the role played by senior bank management, the government and the banking regulators. Consequently, this Council calls on the Government to reconsider its position and initiate a public inquiry in line with the overwhelming wishes of the general public who have to bear the financial costs of this debacle”
 

Speaking on his proposal to Sligo Co. Council calling for a public inquiry into the banking scandal, Sinn Féin Councillor Sean MacManus stated that such is the scale of the scandal that nothing short of full public scrutiny is acceptable and that the Government’s proposed approach should be rejected in favour of an inquiry conducted in the open by a Joint Oireachtas Committee.

“We are all aware that the government, under public pressure, intends to hold a form of inquiry into the banking scandal in this state. However their “Commission of Investigation” falls far short of the open and fully public examination which is needed.

Trust in those whome we do business with is essential, the public for obvious reasons, do not trust the banks. Central to any examination of the banking system must be to build trust through ensuring that all the corrupt practices of the present system be eliminated and that those who behaved in such a fashion be held accountable for their actions.

 “This inquiry needs to examine and expose in full how the banking sector played a central role in bringing the Irish economy to its knees. It must call to account top banking officials and the bank regulators who, instead of doing their duty, maintained a cosy relationship with the banks. The role which both Government Ministers and external auditors played must also be examined.

 “The Irish public has already poured ¤7 billion in recapitalisation payments to Anglo-Irish, AIB and Bank of Ireland. Over ¤50 billion will be spent on NAMA. Billions more is required for further bank recapitalisation - and the public still don’t know exactly how or why this situation was allowed to develop.

  “The inquiry must be public and I would suggest an all-party Joint Oireachtas Committee should carry out this investigation – with outside experts being brought in where necessary to help with such an investigation.  The bulk of the work should be done in public. This is what our people have a right to and what they deserve.

Virtually everyone outside the Fianna Fail/Green government fundamentally disagree with the proposed Commission of Investigation as a method to undertake this inquiry. Who will sit on this Commission? How much will it cost the taxpayer who has already been badly burned by the whole banking debacle.

This work could be undertaken by members of the Oireachtas at a great deal less cost to the taxpayer and with full public disclosure. As it stands the public element of this process of investigation will be virtually non-existent. How is it that both the US and British administrations have held public inquiries into this banking situation but the Irish government cannot do the same?

 “The systemic failures that pre-empted this banking crisis and the fact that many of those involved are still in their positions requires a fully transparent examination of the facts.

I do not believe this will be achieved through this process as set out by the government, this is an attempt to whitewash the truth before the inquiry has even taken place.”

ENDS

 
 

MacManus seeks better deal for Co. Sligo from Council Budget.

 21 December 2009
 
Cathaoirleach,

I would like to make a few general observations about the budget estimates which we are about to consider.

Let me say at the outset that I am extremely disappointed and worried about the amount of cut backs with which we are presented today.

 
In the Managers report there is outlined a grim list of areas of the services of Sligo Co. Council which will be curtailed and cut in the coming year.
 
In common with everything which this awful government is doing we have been told that they are cutting back on the level of grant support to Sligo Co. Council—grants which because of the limited powers of local government--- this council depend on to deliver a decent level of services to the people of this county.

We are told by the Co. Manager “that the Councils capital Works Programme will be curtailed across all areas of activity”

 
Such curtailment will mean further cutbacks in the level of service this Council can provide in maintaining and upgrading of our road network, in the delivery of new sewerage treatment systems and in the development of the long awaited new County Museum, among many other items.

 
The Managers proposal to cut back by 10% the modest community grants which this council gives to the voluntary groups who carry out excellent work in many communities throughout this county is an extremely negative precedent and is one which I call on all Councillors to resist.

 
We are also told that further savings will have to come from cuts to the payroll of Sligo Co. Council and the non-filling of vacancies. Apart from the hardship caused to families by such cuts it is obvious that any further cuts in staffing will adversely affect the level of service which this Council can provide.

 
All of these cutbacks and failures to deliver on the infrastructure necessary to develop Co. Sligo can and must be laid squarely at the door of this disastrous government. Along with their pals in the banks and the big developers they have ruined the economy of this state. They have misused and wasted the wealth of the so-called “Celtic Tiger”. Low paid workers, the unemployed, people with disabilities, children and many others, are now being forced to pay for the governments sins of neglect and mismanagement.

Given all this neglect and cutback’s by the government isn’t it ironic that we are about to witness this 2010 budget for Sligo Co. Council being enforced by the very parties who would put themselves forward as the alternative to Fianna Fail and the Greens.

 
Today we are about to witness Fine Gael and Labour introduce one of the harshest budgets in recent memory. Regrettably the price which the Fine Gael and Labour Councillors now must pay for taking the lion’s share of positions on this council is one which will not benefit the people of Co. Sligo, who will ultimately suffer if this budget in its current form is adopted.
 
For the reasons mentioned, I will not be supporting this budget. 

Ends.

 

MacManus calls on Government to reinstate Christmas Bonus

(passed unanimously)

6-Nov-09

Councillor Sean MacManus has asked the members of Sligo County Council to support his proposal calling on the government to reinstate the Christmas bonus payment for Social Welfare recipients.

Warning that a failure to restore the Christmas bonus would push those struggling to get by further into poverty and into the arms of moneylenders Councillor MacManus proposed that Sligo County Council ask the government to reinstate the annual bonus.

Speaking at the November meeting of Sligo Co. Co. Councillor MacManus said;

“In last Aprils emergency budget it was announced that the Christmas Social Welfare Payment (better known as the Christmas bonus) would not be paid this year. In 2008 this payment was made to around 1.3 million people---- 940,000 recipients and an estimated 400,000 dependants.

Of all the recent cuts introduced by this government this must rank as one of the meanest. Scrooge is alive and well and now resident in this Fianna Fail/ Green coalition.

Experience shows that the Christmas bonus is a vital injection of funds at what is the most expensive and stressful time of year for all low income households.

Families with children use this money to cover some of the costs of Christmas and there is now a real danger that without this payment people will be pushed into the arms of money lenders.

Elderly people use this payment to help cover the costs of fuel over the winter and as a result of this cut many will undoubtedly go without sufficient heating this year.

Those affected by the removal of the Christmas bonus don’t have savings to cope with this unexpected cut in their income--- unlike the golden circle that this government panders to, those on social welfare don’t have large nest eggs tucked away or overseas bank accounts which they can turn to.

Not only has this cut dire consequences for low income households it is also bad for local businesses. By taking this money out of local towns it will further depress local economies and put shops that rely on the Christmas trade under further pressure.

Therefore I propose that Sligo County Council calls on the Ministers of Finance and Social & Family Affairs to restore this payment as a matter of urgency” concluded Councillor MacManus.

 

Ends.

 

MacManus makes Council motion to stop cuts - Motion passed unanimously

 
At last week's Sligo County Council, Cllr, Sean MacManus introduced a motion to stop the drastic proposed cuts in community support programs.  The Council passed the motion unanimously. Notice of Motion is just below, followed by Cllr. MacManus' full speech on the subject.
 

Notice of Motion

 
That Sligo County Council calls on the government to halt its present policy of drastic cuts to community support programmes.
 
In particular we are opposed to the proposals for further significant reductions to this sector contained in the McCarthy report.
 
Some, but not all, of the many areas to be affected include Community Development Projects, Rural Transport Projects, Drugs Task Force, Disability and Mental Health Organisations and Family Resource Centers.
 
These cuts will devastate the Community Sector and bring severe hardship and increased poverty to the poorest communities across the state. This Council calls on the government to stop harming the weakest in our society. 

  
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