Exclusion of local opposition public representatives another example of this Governments Arrogance – Cllr Aengus O’Rourke
Athlone Town Councillor Aengus O’Rourke said he was “dismayed and appalled” by the decision taken by Minister Alan Shatter and Minister James O’Reilly this week to issue invitations to Fine Geal and Labour public representatives only to attend the launch of a public service in Athlone on Monday morning in Custume Barracks.
Cllr. O’Rourke said, “How dare they turn a public launch into a political gathering of their faithful. This is a public service, paid for by the tax payer yet only government representatives were present. This practice of exclusivity is a first, and is a complete break from traditional practice. The long standing protocol established over many years would always involve invitations being issued to all local public representatives from the area. But not on this occasion, the ever increasing arrogance of this Government is astonishing.”
“However, I am concerned that there is something more sinister at play here. In June Minister Shatter is expected to announce his decision on the future of the Western Brigade HQ based here in Athlone. There is strong speculation that it will be down graded, if this happens we could lose 500 members of the Defence Forces from the Town. It is therefore my view that given Athlones recent track-record for its people not being afraid to ask tough questions, the Minister saw it ‘safer’ not to ask opposition public representatives for fear he might have to answer the tough question “are we about to lose our brigade?”
Cllr. O’Rourke continued, “Furthermore with the Treaty vote just two weeks away the ministers were told to go to Athlone and stay out of trouble. My assessment is that the Government is storing up these bad news stories for after the Referendum including the down grading of the Army here in Athlone and the closure of our RTE studios. Watch this space.”