In a speech on Monday resembling that of Richard Boyd Barrett TD, we witnessed Fianna Fail's Marc MacSharry make an -apparent- impassioned speech on the lack of finances, large debt and the fiscal constraints imposed on Sligo County Council.
He's quite right in pointing out that such austerity measures have led to the destruction of basic services in the Sligo region such as; The downgrading of Sligo General Hospital and the discontinuation of cancer services. The shortage of social housing and lack of funding to build social housing. Leaving 1100 people on the housing waiting list. The forced 42 per cent reduction in staff within the council (237 people since 2008), which has now forced the closure of our library. I could go on...
But shall we delve into why Sligo County Council have incurred such debts and been forced into these fiscal constraints? Well apart from the Lissadell legal debacle, much of the debt incurred by Sligo County Council is due to the buying up of land at hugely inflated prices during the boom. With some saying; if Sligo County Council was a property developer it would be in NAMA. In cooperation with the banks and property developers, Fianna Fail allowed a bubble to grow and burst. When it burst, those in Fianna Fail made sure they saved their own skins and that of their banker & property developer friends. Leaving the people of Sligo and the Irish people to foot the bill of the €64 Billion blanket guarantee and endure horrific austerity over the course of the last decade. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of Fianna Fail's attacks on working people. Did Marc MacSharry make impassioned speeches when this was going on? Did he leave Fianna Fail out of disgust? No.
Some may say he wasn't a TD at the time so in some sense he is off the hook. But when we look at but a couple of his actions in Dáil since he was elected we see that Marc MacSharry is your typical Fianna Failer who seeks to protect his section of society - the rich. Surely a share of the €13 Billion in Apple Tax would have gone a long way in restoring and enhancing some of the services for the people of Sligo. But he voted to appeal the EC ruling. What about the people of Sligo who he stood with on protests calling for the abolition of unjust water charges. A promise both he and the Fianna Fail party ran on in the last election and performed another - of many- U-Turn's today by voting against a motion for abolition. Considering his anti-choice stance. What about the very many women (and men) of Sligo that travelled to Dublin last weekend fighting for basic human rights – the right for woman to have bodily autonomy?
The truth is the impassioned speech on Monday is just another disingenuous way of attempting to shore up votes cloaked in the nonsense of "fighting your corner". Fianna Fail work on the politics of claiming to be shrewd operators that can go out and get some of the crumbs from the table on behalf of "their corner". But as the Apple tax scandal illuminated further - there's a massive cake! That we made! And we want it back! And the only way we'll get that is through grassroots political action and people power both locally and nationally. That fights to protect our services, end austerity and inequality - creating a better future for all.
So, I'm not falling for it - and the people of Sligo won't either. So I'll ask Marc the question he asked in the Dáil yesterday;
"Do you think the people of Sligo are Stupid?"