Social Democrats from across the Fingal County Council area have today demanded that the next mayor of the county ends the outright ban on political meetings in community centres.
Under current Fingal County Council policy, community centres may not be used for political meetings. The outgoing mayor, Labour’s Cllr Mary McCamley shut down a debate on this issue in the council chamber in the run-up to the referendum on the 8th Amendment last May.
Social Democrats Aengus Ó Maoláin (Dublin West), Councillor Paul Mulville and Tracy Carey (Dublin Fingal), and Councillor Cian O’Callaghan (Dublin Bay North) have attacked the ban as anti-democratic.
“The council has a responsibility to ensure that people living here know what decisions are being made, and have a space to discuss these issues,” Social Democrats candidate in Dublin West, Aengus Ó Maoláin said.
“Banning these meetings from occurring in community centres, often the only appropriate space for them, is clearly anti-democratic.”
“When community centres are unavailable, it excludes sections of the local community who cannot afford more expensive room hire in hotels or may not be able to access rooms upstairs in local pubs which are very often unsuitable for people with children, or inaccessible for people with disabilities,” said Tracey Carey, Social Democrats candidate for Dublin Fingal.
Paul Mulville, Social Democrats councillor for the Swords Ward said: “Fingal is one of the only councils in Ireland with this ban in place which only serves to disengage people from their local community.”
Social Democrats Councillor Cian O’Callaghan added:
“Fingal appears to be the only council in Ireland that operates an outright ban on political events in community centres. I live in Fingal – but I have to use community space in Dublin City Council if I want to organise a political meeting. I have a very positive experience of using community centres in the City Council area that are professionally run in a non-partisan manner that welcomes everyone. It’s a shame that Fingal does not support and encourage public participation in politics in accessible community venues.”