Still waiting for answers from Dublin City Council

On April 22nd last I wrote about my attempts to get information from Dublin City Council regarding the illegal erection of posters by Minister of State Pat the Cope Gallagher.

My question was, and still is, very simple. “Was the minister fined and if so, by how much?”

My last contact with DCC on that occasion was with Mr. Pat Cronin, head of waste management. He refused to answer my question, insisting that I put my case in writing and he would deal with it further.

On 24th April I wrote to Mr. Cronin by registered post. Despite several phone calls since I have not even being able to confirm if Mr. Cronin received my letter.

However, on the 22nd of May I did have another conversation with the public servant who first refused to divulge information on the matter. The conversation is worth posting as it gives a good idea of how things are done in our banana republic.

Me: I want to know, was the minister fined?

Public Servant: Why him in particular?

Me: Because he’s a government minister who deliberately set out to break the law

PS: How do you know he deliberately set out to break the law?

Me: Because you confirmed it to me when I last spoke to you and through the media

PS: I didn’t, I never used that word, let’s get something clear here; I never said to you that he deliberately set out to break the law

Me: OK, he has said himself that he did it, it’s in the papers

PS: No, he didn’t say he deliberately set out to break the law, he did put up the posters

Me: And the posters were illegal, so, did he put them up accidentally?

PS: Yes,

Me: Did he? (In astonishment)

PS: Yes, he didn’t know that they don’t have the strict regulations in Donegal that we have here

Me: (Still astonished) Hold on, are you telling me, are you confirming to me that the minister didn’t know he was breaking the law?

PS: That’s right, I am

Me: Did he tell you that?

PS: Yes, I was talking to him. He apologised profusely (“I honestly, genuinely did not know that I was breaking the law”). You see, you cannot put up posters in Dublin city but if you go across the road to Fingal, you know, when you cross the border, you can put up the posters

Me: No, you’re probably not familiar with the Litter Pollution Act, 1997, but I am

PS: Excuse me, I am, I work on it

Me: Ok, you should know so that’s it’s illegal to put up posters without permission, full stop, the LPA 1997 covers the whole country

PS: I understand, yes

Me: But what you’re saying is that it applies in some places

PS: I said, other local authorities are not as strict as we are

Me: I’m not concerned about strict or not strict. I’m concerned about breaking the law, especially when a government minister breaks the law

PS: I’m not defending Pat the Cope Gallagher, it’s not my job; he’s well able to do it himself.

Me: A couple of days after the minister ‘accidentally’ broke the law, he was given back the posters intact and he put them up again in Donegal. He broke the law again in Donegal. Now, we have to assume that he knew he was breaking the law in Donegal

PS: I’m not commentating on that

Me: There’s another thing I need to find out. You and Pat Cronin have refused to tell me if you have taken action against the minister.

PS: We don’t discuss anybody’s business

Me: But what I want to know is; are you basing your refusal on legislation/regulation?

PS: I’m basing it on office policy

Me: I don’t accept that. I’m a member of the public; this is a government minister who has broken the law. I have a right to know, you’re telling me I don’t have a right to know.

PS: I’m not telling you that, I’m telling you I’m not telling you.

Me: Are you entitled to refuse me the information

PS: Yes,

Me: By what law/regulation?

PS: On the grounds that I’m the manager of this office and I do not discuss anybody’s business with anybody else

Me: Are you absolutely sure, on a personal basis, that you’re not breaking any public service regulations by refusing me the information?

PS: I am quite happy in not giving out information, I never give out information. If Pat Cronin wants to answer you he’s quite entitled to. I’m happy in the decision I’ve made, that’s my answer to you.

I am in the process of taking further action regarding the refusal of DCC staff to answer my questions and I will post on the matter as things develop.

In the meantime I have taken the following actions regarding Gallagher’s illegal activities:

Submitted a formal complaint to DCC regarding Gallagher’s breach of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997.

Submitted a formal complaint to Donegal County Council regarding Gallagher’s breach of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997, in that part of the country. I will be writing on this particular saga soon.

Submitted an official complaint to the Standards in Public Office Commission regarding Gallagher’s breach of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997.

My complaint to SIPO is made on the basis that the minister is in serious breach of the Code of Conduct for Office Holders as outlined by the Standards in Office Commission (Office Holders) Sections:

1.3 Requirement to observe the Code of Conduct.
1.4 Principles of Ethical Conduct.
1.5 Highest ethical standards to be applied at all times.

4 thoughts on “Still waiting for answers from Dublin City Council”

  1. Bravo!

    I still maintain that such matters should be dealt with by an Administrative Court as exoists in France and in some parts of Canada. A system using only written submissions, no necessity to use lawyers, and, unlike the Ombudsman, decisions are binding on the administration.

    In France your means of obtaining the respect of the law would be simple, you would take the head of waste management before the Administrative Tribunal because he is not applying the law.


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  3. Best of luck with that…I had my car crushed by DCC in Nov while away on holiday.It’s now March and after 3 letters dozens of calls I’m no further on. PAT CRONIN NEVER answers anything, He is a classic example of a well paid idle public servant.It’s so frustrating they sit in their office ( prob mostly at home ). They never call you back and we’re the fools paying for them and their pensions. Come the revolution etc etc.

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