9 August 2001 Edition

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Duleek incinerator decision slammed

Two steps backwards for local democracy have been taken by Louth and Meath County council. On Tuesday, 31 July, the Meath County Manager gave planning permission to build an incinerator at Duleek, despite the thousands of letters and petitions, submissions and protests from local people saying they do not want an incinerator on their doorstep.

Meanwhile, in Louth, a letter went out last week from County Manager John Quinlivan, to all local authority representatives in the county. ``I wish to advise, (with reference to the North Eastern Regional Waste Management Plan 1999-2004) that I have today (27 July) made the Plan'', he wrote. The plan, which has been rejected by Louth county councillors, backs the controversial incineration option.

There have been months of argument and debate on Louth County Council, where one by one councillors came to recognise the opinion of the local people they represented that incineration was totally unacceptable. Finally, councillors threw the Regional Plan out.

It took a High Court case earlier this year, brought by Councillor Arthur Morgan, to insist that the Council Chairman and County Manager recognise the councillors' majority vote against incineration. Now the manager, an employee of the Minister for the Environment, Noel Dempsey, has ``made'' the plan, or imposed this plan over the heads of the democratically elected representatives of the people, who had rejected it.

``The minister and his appointee, John Quinlivan, between them, have undermined the very integrity of our council and its members, in this apparent ministerial endeavour to overturn a democratic vote of the council,'' says Sinn Féin councillor, Arthur Morgan, who along with many in the County has fought the government's plan for incineration.

``I would urge people not to give up on the political process, just to give up on those councillors who are so tied to the apron strings of the minister and county managers that they did not dare to respect local opinion and turn down planning permission for Indaver,'' said Morgan.

``I am sure that they will not put one bucket of concrete, or lay one brick on this site. Government is for the people, by the people, with the people. We will accept nothing less. Democracy must be respected.''

Morgan's sentiments were echoed by Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who said the decision was ``disturbing but not unexpected.

``Given the decision by th eminister to dump democracy with the passage of the mis-described Waste Management Bill, there can be little surprise that plans were already well advanced to cater for the demands of the pro-incinerator lobby. That the elected voices of the people of Louth had rejected such a proposal and had their decision affirmed in the High Court has counted for nought with this minister and government. The important amendments that I and my Sinn Féin colleagues in Monaghan County Council steered through the council debate on the regional plan have now also been dumped by this minister.'' Ó Caoiláin sai the government had ``willfully undermined our system of local government, handing the power to the city and county managers with no recourse to the council chamber''.

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