Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004: Report Stage (Resumed).
Joe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
This is one of the central issues in the workings of the new agency and whether an adequate delivery mechanism will be provided for the local community. Other amendments have been tabled and dealt with on this issue. However, the Fourth Schedule deals with the composition of the agency. There is not much sense in electing a token representative of the community or the residents. A critical mass is needed and it must include two residents. A representative of the residents could be easily isolated and it would be easy to put the needs of the residents on the back boiler. A chairman of an agency such as this who is worth his or her salt should be able to channel the activities and discussions of the agency to the "important issues" such as implementing structures and addressing development, procurement and so on. The residents' needs would then be dealt with under any other business.
It is important that at least one other representative of the residents is elected to the agency to support the representative provided for in the legislation. That is how business is conducted by such agencies. This will be a high powered body which will make decisions. Generally, residents are in difficulty in such circumstances and, therefore, the representative provided for should be supported by another representative of the community.
Deputy O'Sullivan proposed that representatives of the North West Inner City Network and the Dublin Inner City Partnership should be elected. That would involve the residents and the broader local community and would provide that educational, training, employment and environmental matters could be addressed through interaction with the local authority and local development groups.
This encompasses the totality of social activity in the area, involving residents and the broader local community, educational matters, training, employment, the environment, the local authority, local developments taking place in the area, the input from the Dublin Inner City Partnership and the network of approximately 50 organisations representing a variety of groups and residents' associations, particularly developmental groups. That their voices are heard on a continuous basis is important and they must be at the table where decisions are made.
The trade unions and social partners whose members work within the DIT are also involved. This addresses partnership. The Government is involved in a partnership with the trade union movement, employers, farmers and the business sector. Including this partnership is important for the trade union movement. Employers are certainly represented, as is the body corporate. There are no farmers in the area to the best of my knowledge. Trade unions should be represented for the large numbers of staff working in the area.
Will the Minister clarify one or two points about the Fourth Schedule? The Agency will determine the body that can apply to register as an interested registered group, whether it is a community group, a residents' association or a tenants' group. What criteria will be used? Will all the organisations comprising the North West Inner City Network be included as registered groups for the purpose of these elections? Who will vote in the elections? It is not clear that this will be a plebiscite of the residents of the area but simply an election of two representatives from each registered group. If that is the case, it is important to determine the criteria for registering the groups. Paragraph 3(6) of the Fourth Schedule states:
Each registered group may be represented by not more than 2 persons at the election meeting. Each of these persons shall be entitled to one vote at the meeting.
Depending on the criteria, there could be as many as 100 people from these groups or as few as a dozen or two dozen. Will the Minister clarify whether it will be a plebiscite in the sense that everyone in the area can exercise their votes or whether only two representatives from each registered group can vote?