Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown profile: Water charges and property tax lead concerns

FG-FF alliance may re-emerge if Labour bears brunt of voters’ anger

As part of changes to local government introduced by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will increase from a 28-seater to a 40-seater.

As part of changes to local government introduced by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will increase from a 28-seater to a 40-seater.

Mon, May 5, 2014, 08:15

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Water charges are top of the list of concerns for voters on the doorsteps of Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown, along with property tax – residents there pay some of the highest levels in the country.

 

Canvassers are often greeted at the door with “I know this isn’t your fault but” followed by a tirade about Government policy on taxes, unemployment, medical cards and health insurance.

Local issues include the ongoing parking problems in Dun Laoghaire and the loss of businesses in the town. The closure of Glenalbyn swimming pool late last year continues to be a concern to voters in Stillorgan. In Glencullen, recreational facilities for young families along with planning issues have been raised.

As part of changes to local government introduced by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will increase from a 28-seater to a 40-seater.

The logistical difficulties this would bring were considered by councillors last year. The current chamber in the town hall on Marine Road in Dún Laoghaire is a protected structure and so it was considered impossible to extend it. An ambitious plan to build a new chamber at a cost of €800,000 was examined but after an unfavourable public response it was dropped. Instead seating arrangements for councillors will be altered with smaller chairs and an extra tier of seating.

Each of the six electoral areas in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will grow: the five-seats in Dundrum will increase to seven; Stillorgan and Blackrock will both go from four to six; Glencullen-Sandyford will go from four to seven; Dún Laoghaire from six to eight; and what was the Ballybrack area will be called Killiney-Shankill and will increase from five to six seats.

The changes mean, depending on turnout, candidates are likely to have lower quotas to reach than last time in order to be elected. The electoral division of Clonskeagh-Milltown will move from the Dundrum electoral area to Stillorgan also as part of the changes. Some 86 candidates have registered for the election and have until tomorrow to withdraw.


FG-Labour alliance
In the current council an alliance between Fine Gael and Labour has dominated decision- making, with 19 of the 28 members often voting en bloc. Though it could be said that council business over the term has run more efficiently as a result, it has sometimes meant little room for dissenting voices.

Fine Gael currently has 11 councillors and is running 21 candidates. It will miss long- time representative Donal Marren in the Killiney-Shankill area following his decision to retire. The party is hoping to at least maintain its numbers given the increase in the number of seats available.

Labour currently has eight seats and is running 12 candidates. Former minister for education Niamh Bhreathnach from Blackrock, who is retiring, will be a loss, but Jane Dillon Byrne, who has been at her post since 1974, hopes to continue her unbroken record in Dún Laoghaire. Labour hopes to maintain current numbers.


Controversial inclusion
At the last local elections in 2009 Fianna Fáil’s representation on the council fell from seven to four. The party is running 14 candidates this time around, including former Minister for Education Mary Hanafin, whose controversial last-minute inclusion was a surprise to the party locally.