Ireland

Youghal. Roughly 6.500 is the population of this little town on the Southern Irish coast but on Wednesday 5th February, the participation at the public meeting organized by the CPPC – The People’s Convention – An Chomhdàil Phobail- was fairly poor. The aim of this public meeting, was to get citizens more involved in the politics and in the decision making process, above all because of the next Local and European election that will be held in May.

“Common sense and honesty” repeated Paddy, (one of the local area representatives of the CPPC) are two skills not identified anymore with the current politicians in power. The CPPC is an independent movement focused on the concept of empowerment of citizens, the bottom up democracy and on the renewal of the electoral system that ensures that people have proper representation. How? The most important points for this independent movement as they consider themselves, are: Select their own candidates in open public forums; make a contract with the candidates to follow the mandate on every issue; elect their own candidates to represents the people, the needs of the community rather than follow a political party’s agenda that doesn’t take into consideration the real needs of the people; create a system to checkup on the performance of council services; establish the right to recall any elected representative.

It was November 2010 that the CPPC was born, coming up with the idea that there is a contract between people and candidates elected, a contract in which the elect are committed to respect the interests of the community, that has to be the main important rule in the life of the State, not just during the election time, but before, during and after , through the selection of the candidates in each local area , the official election, and afterwards with supervision.

They bring out the idea that now is the moment to properly represent local communities, especially after the Local Government Bill approved last autumn that contemplates the abolition of town councils, which have been in existence for 115 years, accounts for the massive reduction in councilors, down from 1,627 to 949. In addition, the two councils in counties Tipperary, Waterford and Limerick are each being merged into one. This is actually the biggest change in local government structures.

Paddy was continuing, saying that it is necessary at the election of the Cork City Council to bring« our own people’s candidates, without politcal slogans» able to say no to water charges, property tax , cuts to health care and mainly to protect the interest of the community. But just a few ears were hearing his speech, although, looking around, it is fairly evident how the economic crisis is still affecting this town. Many activities have closed, farms and even an old cinema on the main street are not operating anymore. The discontent of citizens is palpable, also because of the austerity policies of the Troika, but at the same time the citizens participation was still poor.