In the second installment of our interview with Tipperary County Council election candidates, Tipperary Times speaks to Joan Delaney of Sinn Féin
Joan Delaney Sinn Fein Candidate in Templemore/Thurles LEA
1. Can you outline the main points in your manifesto?
- Jobs creation by pushing for investment in tourism & agri-food sectors and supporting local procurement
- Access to fair and equitable social housing and healthcare
- Oppose water tax in current format
- Provision of more support for youth services and projects
- Rates reform to support SME’s
- Lobby for retention of Council Offices in Roscrea & Templemore
2. What will you do to aid job creation and tourism in Tipperary?
We need more investment in our rural towns and villages to help create and sustain jobs. Tipperary has strong potential to become an Agri-Food hub and there are many small artisan producers in the county. They need support and investment and this has the potential to create real and sustainable employment.
Tipperary is also known for its great heritage sites – and North Tipperary has its share of them. With the right investment, Tipperary has enormous potential to become an important tourist destination. I also think we should not underestimate the potential of eco-tourism in the county.
I want to ensure that the Sinn Fein Sports Tourism Grant is implemented which will create employment.
We need reform of the rates system to support in particular small businesses in local communities. They are the life force of any town or village and it is they who create employment in localities. I would like to see new start-ups have a rate free period of time to help them get established.
I am a strong supporter of local procurement. Government policy of central procurement may save money for Government Departments but it damages local economies. Buy local and support local – ultimately this is what creates and sustains jobs in rural Ireland.
3. Why do you want to be a public representative?
I see firsthand the impact austerity is having on rural Ireland. Business closures, unemployment and emigration are destroying our communities. We need to change this. On the ground communities are doing great work with little help from Government and they need support.
I think with the amalgamation of the councils in Tipperary, it is essential to have a strong local voices at council level, who do not represent current Government policies and I want to be one of those voices. Also women have always been underrepresented in politics but they are 50% of the population. Women are usually the ones who balance the books in their households
We need more women at local, national and European level. I am hearing this constantly at the doors.
4. Can you explain the role of a County Councillor, as you believe it to be?
A County Councillor should represent the concerns and issues of the community who elected them and to act as their voice on the council.
5. What is your stance on the local property tax?
I and the party I represent, Sinn Fein are totally opposed to it. It is an unfair and unjust tax on the people of this county. The family home should not be taxed. It should be axed and replaced with a fair and progressive tax system.
6. What promises in your manifesto do you feel are attainable? Do you feel if you don’t deliver on your promises that you should seek to be elected again?
Working with a strong Sinn Fein team, reform of the rates system is I believe attainable. Youth Services, fair and equitable allocation of social housing and an emphasis on local procurement are all attainable, as is theimplementation of the Sinn Fein Sports Tourism Grant. I believe all elected representative should be held accountable by the people who elect them.
7. Do you believe local issues should be dealt with by Councillors rather than by TD’s?
Local Councillors are far more in touch with local issues. They live and work in their communities and are meeting people on a daily basis and are familiar with the problems and issues in their areas. However, not all local issues can be dealt with locally, because some are a direct result of Government policy. Current government TD’s aren’t delivering for local people, but a strong voice on the council can be an effective voice on behalf of the community.
8. What will you do to ensure that the Local Property tax collected is ring-fenced for projects in Tipperary and not used to serve national debt?
No local councillor can guarantee that the monies raised by the local property tax will be spent in their area, since it is collected centrally and then redistributed locally. Government parties have raised this unfair tax to bail out bankers at the expense of the electorate. But I strongly believe that taxes raised locally should be spent locally. I believe that a breakdown of how and where it was spent should be published on an annual basis.
9. What do you think of the Gateway scheme that Tipperary county council have implemented?
I am totally opposed to it for several reasons. These jobs are not sustainable jobs and displace the potential for real job creation. While it is important for people to learn new skills, job activation schemes such as Gateway, manipulate Government employment statistics, but real and sustainable jobs are not being created. If you look at the FAS (INTREO) website showing jobs for Tipperary for example, the majority of jobs are for internships and CE schemes – these are not sustainable jobs. There is also a very real issue that the extra €20 (less when you deduct PRSI), does not cover transport costs to and from the job in many cases.
10. Do you think the amalgamation of both county councils will save money and still maintain services?
I am not sure about this. I think we need to do a Needs Analysis for the entire county of Tipperary. I do think that the amalgamation will have a big social cost in view of the loss of services to the people of North Tipperary with the closure local area offices in Roscrea, Templemore and other towns and villages. This is happening all over the county.
11. How do you think the Tipperary Mayor should be selected?
I believe that the D’hont system should be used in electing a Tipperary Mayor as it seems the most democratic.
12. How do you think that your area should be funded in order to provide services?
I believe that the money collected locally should be spent locally and ring fenced for this.
13. What do you think of Dublin City Councils proposal to abstract water from Lough Derg and what can you do about it? Water is a very valuable resource and in the case of Lough Derg is an important tourist and recreational amenity in the county. Anything that jeopardises this must be very carefully looked at. I would like to see Dublin City Councils fixing all the leaks first before they take any water from Lough Derg.
14. What is your opinion on the abolition of town councils?
The abolition of town councils has moved democracy further away from the people and this new system favours the larger parties.
Questions for New Councillors
1. What experience do you have that would benefit the people of Tipperary?
I work part-time with the HSE as a chef, and I also run a small business and I see firsthand the impact of the FG/Labour policy of austerity has had on SME’s all over Tipperary and in Ireland as a whole. Driving through any town or village in the country and you can see this. In Roscrea alone, 14 businesses have closed in the past two years. The effect this has had on the town is devastating. Small businesses are the lifeblood of any community. I think my experience in business is a distinct advantage because I know what businesses are going through, with rising energy and transport costs. I have no doubt water costs will rise in the coming years too.
I am a mother and I worry about my family’s future in this country. I would like to think my daughter has a future here but at the moment I can’t see it. I also strongly believe that we need more women in all level of politics.
2. Have you been involved in politics before? If so, to what extent?
No I am new to politics. I am motivated to stand because of what I see happening in my own town of Roscrea and towns and villages in my area. They have been devastated by unemployment, emigration, business closures and a lack of investment.
3. Why do you want to be a Councillor?
I decided to stand because of what I see happening to my local town and the other towns and villages in my area due to the austerity policies of this current government. In Roscrea alone 14 businesses have closed in the past two years. Unemployment there is 10% above the national average. As far as I can see, this Government is intent on closing down rural Ireland. They talk of recovery but it’s not happening in my local town or in any of the towns that I have been to, while out canvassing in the past few months. This is my motivation for becoming involved in local politics. I intend to work for change. The only promise I can make is if I am elected, I will work very hard on behalf of the people who put their faith in me.