Wantete case puts Gardaí in the dock
Dublin Councillors Larry O'Toole and Aengus Ó Snodaigh went to witness the hearing of Belmondo Wantete's case in Dublin's District Court last week. The case has aroused widespread protest at the apparent racism of the state institutions.
Armed Gardaí beat down the door to Belmondo Wantete's house in Drimnagh, at 3.30am, beat him, shouted racist abuse at his family, handcuffed him, dragged him, naked, to a van, where he was beaten again. He was remanded to Mountjoy Jail for a week. Gardaí had a warrant for a Nigerian, who was reported to have lived at a different address (next door) to one where Wantete has lived for several years with his family. Wantete is from Zaire and has refugee status.
A spokesperson for Residents Against Racism, which was first formed as a result of Wantete's case and which group has done much to publicise the case, expressed the many concerns which surround the case.
``The Gardaí can act apparently with impunity. Wantete made a complaint to the Garda Complaints Board. His case, which first went on last March, had to be abandoned because the prosecution was in possession of the statement, which he had made in confidence, to the Board.
``The lack of an independent complaints procedure in the state, makes respect for civil rights and protection against abuse by the police, a sham. There is no safeguard against abuse of civil rights, or racism of the forces of the state whilst we have no independent complaints procedures.''
Louth again defers waste management decision
Louth County Council again postponed a decision on its draft waste management Plan, at its meeting on Monday, 16 October. As Arthur Morgan pointed out at a public meeting (above) in Dundalk last Friday, some councillors find it hard to resolve the conflict between Minister Dempsey's admonitions, when he visited the county that day, and the 22,000 signatures of ordinary people calling on councillors not to vote for incineration.
Minister Dempsey may yet rue the day he appointed MC O'Sullivans consultancy to draw up what are widely seen as inadequate waste management plans, with what Professor Connett referred to as ``outrageous mistakes, which amount to no more than a sales promotion of incinerators''.
It has been announced that the EU Commission has started legal proceedings against the Dublin Government for its failure to implement the 1993 waste management directive. The government now faces potential fines of 20,000 Euros per day.
As Brian Stanley, Sinn Féin councillor in Portlaoise and one of the first councillors to lead opposition to the Midlands Waste Plan says: ``The 20,000 Euros will not be coming out of Minister Dempsey's pocket, but ours. It is MC O'Sullivans who should have to carry the burden of this fine.''
The government could have introduced separated collections of kitchen waste for composting, which would at one blow have reduced use of landfill by a third, at low capital cost. What has Minister Dempsey been waiting for? Was it to hand out the multimillion contracts to incinerators which people don't want?''
On Monday night, 16 October, Mayo County Clouncil voted 15-13 to adopt the waste management plan for the Connacht region which Galway so resoundingly defeated during the summer. To the disgust of campaigners against incineration, the proposal was put by Labour councillor Johnny Mee, who himself many times had declared his opposition to incineration. It is rumoured in the corridors that Johnny's Mee's anxiety to please the Fianna Fáil council block of 15 might be an anxiety to chair the council next year.
``Such is the undemocratic nature of local government. ``It has to change,'' says Vincent Wood a Mayo Sinn Féin activist.
At last Monday's meeting of Monaghan UDC, the Sinn Féin councillors defeated moves by the executive to privatise waste collection in the town. Last year, Councillor Owen Smyth first raised the existence of a longstanding agreement between the UDC and the SIPTU members on employment in waste collection in the town. Council management then denied the existence of such an agreement and Owen Smyth was called a liar and shouted down.
However on Monday, the council management was obliged to recognise the existence of this agreement, which effectively prevents Monaghan from engaging in such battles as occurred in Drogheda and Bray, where councils tried to privatise waste collection. Monaghan UDC members voted in support of the SIPTU workers and their agreement.
The vote means that waste collection remains in the hands of the UDC and the waiver system, which exempts from payment some 400 people, OAPs and people reliant on social welfare payments. In the rest of the county, the private company allows no waivers against the £90 per annum charges.