In our latest installment of our series from the various political parties, Sinn Fein tell us why they deserve your vote in the upcoming elections
On May 22nd we will elect people to 11 new super councils in what is the biggest shake-up in local government for over 40 years.
Powers will be devolved to councils on planning, the environment, the development of local tourism and the regeneration of deprived communities.
These changes will enable local representatives to allocate resources where they are needed most, making local democracy more relevant to people’s lives than at any time since the early 1970s.
Sinn Féin is the only truly national all-Ireland party.
We are standing 350 candidates in every council area and in every European Parliament constituency in Ireland. This means everyone in Ireland has the opportunity to vote for a progressive Republican party with alternatives to the slash and burn economics of cuts and austerity.
Sinn Féin’s candidates includes the largest number of women ever put forward by any political party in Ireland as part of our campaign to increase the number of women in politics. There is also a good blend of youth and experience.
Equality is at the heart of all Sinn Féin’s work and we have argued for a more equitable system of democracy within councils through mandatory sharing of powers and responsibilities.
In councils where Sinn Féin holds the balance of power we have long practised the principle of d’Hondt where chairs and responsibilities are allocated and rotated in proportion to party strength. We will continue to do so in the new council arrangements.
These new councils will increase local input and democracy and will deliver services in a way best suited to meet local needs.
Local empowerment will be increased through participation of the community and voluntary sectors in decision-making. This will make councils more accountable to local communities.
Communities will also have a bigger influence in the planning process through the creation of local development plans. These will allow communities a say in how their areas are developed.
Instead of the current ‘top-down‘approach to the creation of local development plans, a ‘bottom-up‘ approach will be taken with more involvement from citizens and elected representatives in the process.
The new councils will provide better value for money for ratepayers with less duplication in the delivery of services, better sharing of resources, economies of scale and transparent procurement processes.
Giving councils increased investment opportunities will enable them to direct money and resources locally where they are most needed.
Sinn Féin regards economic regeneration of disadvantaged areas as a key function of the new councils. For the first time in over a generation councils will be able to decide what type of inward investment is needed and have the tools to go and get the resources.
Councils will also have the ability to create a health strategy. This includes top-class recreational and sports facilities improving the health of local people as well as supporting local clubs and organisations. Sinn Féin is determined to address underfunding and underinvestment in these resources through historic discrimination or neglect.
Sinn Féin is committed to bringing the digital revolution to all our communities so that everyone, both households and businesses, can access the opportunities that broadband provides. Not only is this essential in attracting inward investment but also in the education and recreation of children.
With the creation of properly researched and widely consulted upon ‘Community Plans‘ both local and central service providers will be required to deliver on the outcomes. Resources will be targeted at the needs identified and linking in with central government can produce better outcomes for entire communities.
Sinn Féin will do this by working closely with both the Assembly and Dáil Éireann to access funding and resources from central government and from Europe.
Sinn Féin has a proven record of standing up for ratepayers in delivering accountable local government. We stand against austerity and cuts in public services all over Ireland and we have opposed cuts to the European budget.
We have a track record of leadership, of taking risks for peace, driving change and standing up for ordinary people. We are about getting people back to work, stimulating the local economy and challenging emigration.
Given a new mandate we will continue to operate in a strategic and coordinated way to make local government work for local people.
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.