Poolbeg incinerator - city council manager assures company they can ignore vote of council


In a further confirmation of the empty nature of electoral democracy its been revealed that the Dublin City Council manager wrote to the company building the controversial Poolbeg incinerator to assure them they could ignore the two city council votes against the project. This after a special meeting when 50 out of 52 councillors voted against the proposal!

It's a local example of what we have seen in recent months in Greece. Politicians can promise the sun, moon and stars when they seek your vote but the electoral system is set up to ensure they have really little power to do anything other than tweek the system. One way or another corporate capitalism has the final say but in the Dublin city council example its embarrassingly transparent.

Without any sense of shame city manger Keegan wrote "I appreciate how someone unfamiliar with the Irish local government process might view the developments with some concern" but "I am pleased to be able to advise you that we remain committed to the project notwithstanding the two unhelpful votes”

That phrase "two unhelpful votes" tells you all you need to know about how seriously electoral democracy is taken. As is his explanation that the irrelevant hiccup was because the wrong people had won the election so that the council was “largely dominated by anti-government parties and independent councillors.”

He's smart enough to acknowledge how useful this system is for politicians as it means that "Paradoxically, the fact that it is a decision for the CEs creates a situation where elected members can respond favourably to the relatively small number of local objectors." In other words they can talk big about opposing the project to those whose votes they want in the knowledge that they actually have no power over the process.

It's another illustration of how its a mistake to trust in electoral strategies to build movements. The system is set up to allow this sort of charade to play out and whenever an honest party gets elected to power they quickly find that they can do little. The capitulation of Syriza being an unusually fast & transparent example of that process in action but one quite typical of a process that plays out over and over in Ireland and elsewhere.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )