THE Labour Party has strongly denied what it described as “misguided” claims from one of its own Northside councillors in relation to the Dublin City Council budget, which was approved last week.
Councillor Steve Wrenn (Lab), who represents the Ballymun Finglas area, launched a stinging attack on his own party, claiming it failed to inform him that suggestions could be made in relation to what additional funding of €1.7 million should be spent on.
“I only became aware of this extra funding by accident when it was mentioned to me off-hand about 20 minutes before the cut-off point for applications from local repres- entatives,” Cllr Wrenn told Northside People.
“I pulled over on the side of the road and and sent an email on my Blackberry to the council’s finance department requesting that €30,000 be allocated to the Fingal Centre in Finglas.
“It was a rushed mail. Obviously I would have wanted more time to put forward a better case for the centre.
“I’m very annoyed that not more of an effort was made to inform me that this funding was available and that I could put in a pitch for what some of it could be spent on in the North West area.”
He added: “I’m furious that I was left on the back foot like that. I feel very hard done by.”
The Fingal Centre’s Active Parenting Service is due to close in the coming weeks due to a shortfall of €30,000.
In correspondence seen by Northside People from Dublin City Council officials, the suggestion of topping-up funding for the Fingal Centre was rejected on the basis that the council couldn’t be “seen to be replacing other State bodies’ funding streams in a situation where the activity is not core local authority functionality”.
Funding for the centre would instead fall under the responsibility of the HSE, the Drugs Task Force and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The claims made by Cllr Wrenn have perplexed and angered the Labour Party group leader on Dublin City Council, Dermot Lacey.
“I cannot understand why Cllr Wrenn is making such claims as discussions on the draft budget have been ongoing since the summer,” he told Northside People.
“This may be down to a straightforward misunderstanding on Cllr Wrenn’s behalf and I don’t think anybody else would share his views.
“The budgetary process was completely above board and inclusive and I think that is evident by the large number of councillors who voted in favour of it.
“Every public representative was given the opportunity to put forward suggestions to what was needed across the entire city.
“In our discussions we concluded that €600,000 be allocated for a specific clean-up and anti-graffiti operation in the city and that €160,000 or so be spent on putting in security stairwells in Cromcastle Court in Coolock which has been an issue going back years.”
He added: “I wouldn’t have dreamt of picking out a local club in my area for funding from this additional expenditure budget. How could you pick one club over all the others that need money?
Cllr Lacey said it was “very disappointing” that the approval of the draft budget could attract negative publicity given how much was achieved with reduced available funding.
“We managed to increase services and resources for the people of Dublin while reducing the commercial rates which is massively good news,” he said.
“I am very proud to stand over what we achieved.”