The following is the text of a talk given by Cllr Diarmaid Ó Cadhla on 19th February 2019 at a public meeting entitled:
End Corruption at City Hall
It is easy for us to call the dealings of City Hall corrupt, the evidence is all around us, unfortunately it escapes many who get fooled by the spin.
The corruption is visible and evident if we just look in two directions:
Look at the miserable conditions in which so many live, or the lack of homes for so many more, or if we look at the disrespectful way homeless people are treated. If we view the practice and listen to the statements issued by City Hall management and Council members we can see the evidence of deep rooted corruption, sometime unconscious, but corruption none-the-less.
There are people without hot running water, in one case for 38 years, and there are Council housing units that are literarily rotten with damp and toxic black mould.
Up to 96% of private rented dwellings in both city and county are in breach of Minimum Standards – something which is the legal responsibility of Councils to enforce.
One recently disabled senior citizen was told in December that it would take 3 years to install a certified needed wet room in her Council accommodation, if she ever even got it.
Hundreds of families with seriously disability needs are left waiting, year after year, with no action from City Hall.
Councils are in open violation of the law, in thousands of examples, and no members of Council are shouting about it. Maybe their silence is because they don’t see these conditions themselves, because they live the illusion, or because their Party told them all was well, or maybe its because they don’t go out among the people to ask them about their lives?
There are disabled people, long term tenants of Cork City Council, whose lives are severely restricted by neglect. Council has failed in its legal duty to provide adequate accommodation to people with disability, despite recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
There are senior citizens living in cold and damp, with no heating systems in their homes, and they are afraid, afraid of bullies.
When citizens are in fear of their own state, it tells you that corruption is at work and something fundamental is wrong.
It is common for tenants to be afraid of Council officials or afraid of rogue landlords to the extent of not reporting obvious neglect and conditions that even threaten their own lives. The fear arises out of their experience, whereby nobody stands up for their rights and they are threatened and often directly punished for daring to ask “please sir, may I have some more” , to quote Charles Dickens.
There are countless examples of families living with what can only be described as slum conditions, it is frightening to see it, I can only imagine what living it must feel like.
We have heard the Director of Services for Housing at Cork City Council tell us that people are constantly refusing offers of social housing, that they are ‘being picky’ and that existing tenants are trying to ‘milk the system’. The person who said this is paid (not earns) well over €100,000 per annum, paid from public funds – so their lack of empathy for the people is understandable.
We have heard senior City Council members, including a former Lord Mayor, speak about homeless people and describe their presence on the street as litter. The same Council member has never once spoken up for the rights of homeless people or condemned Governments neglect.
And, the corruption doesn’t just impact the working classes or the lower income groups, it affects domestic small business too.
We have all seen and heard about the business closures in city centre, we have heard the traders complain, in one recently reported case a court found that a trader’s inability to pay rates was caused by City Council actions.
Corruption is ruining our city in so many ways.
I call this CORRUPTION, because there are resources to address these needs and because these Council members and officials have a duty to act to address these problems, and the don’t, they are corrupt morally and politically!
Look at the waste of money that takes place, money that could resolve all of the above problems.
Look at up to €30 million of our money being allocated to build an event centre, and consider the suggestion that only €9 million of this might have to be repaid. Incidentally, this project happens to be with the same main contract as is engaged for the National Children’s Hospital – BAM – the vested interests are doing very well indeed.
The same developer, BAM got the €35 million contract to refurbish the courthouse in Anglesea Street, they seem to be in favour, and in the money.
How many house repairs could this expenditure have completed?
Look at the initial budget of €5 million for the bridge over to St Patrick’s Quay, no one wanted or looked for this, but the contractors will make a nice profit, whatever the budget finishes at – it is sure to increase.
Look at the stupid and insulting corporate logo, We Are Cork, costing €300,000 and Council members not even being asked about it – all decided by management.
Look at the idea of spending over €286 per head on a banquet for the Prince of England when he came on a private holiday, all the important people were given a night out at public expense – over €90,000 was spent polishing up City Hall.
On the same night an unrelated 24 hour homeless protest was removed from the front of City Hall, under threat of arrest by armed Gardaí, in case the Prince might get the wrong impression?
Look at the hundreds of millions that will be spend on the OPW/City Council flood protection scheme that will not work, this is all public money.
Look at the forever-time maintenance contracts that will be required to maintain the flood defences, if they get their way.
City Council is pushing ahead with this project despite best international opinion explaining that it won’t work, they even refuse to employ and independent consult to compare their plan to an alternative.
Our Councils seem to be obsessed with corporatism and globalism, with no thought for the domestic population or our needs, and little thought for small domestic business, which is in fact, our single biggest employer.
Funding distributed through the Councils is a tightly controlled affair, budgets are manipulated though a vote by the Party elite – if you say this as a Council member you are ejected from meetings!
There are dozens of schemes used to finance local business and community activity, it is a struggle to even get to know them, let alone leverage them – but they are known to the Party elite – it’s all worked out with management.
Like to big projects, the community funding schemes are all ‘ring-fenced’, the funds are not allowed to be transferred to housing or other essentials, this is part of the corruption.
Recently I said at County Hall that €44,000 being spent on junkets was a waste when basic house repairs were needed, I was condemned and told that that money was ‘ring fenced’ and, even if Council members wanted, it couldn’t be allocated to house maintenance.
Last year 15 City Council members spent €50,000 on a single junket to San Francisco, €9,000 was spend on a single hotel roof party, where they wined and dined at the expense of Irish citizens. All the Party elite have their noses in the trough, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Labour.
Where do you go from there?
The ‘haves’ are protected and looked after, the ‘have-nots’ are walked all over and left to a life of misery.
No wonder people hate politics and politicians.
Corruption rules the day, we must challenge it.