Coun­cils need to be bet­ter at di­a­logue

Fingal Independent - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

ANIGHTMARE is haunt­ing Europe, the night­mare of Com­mu­nism.’ That is the first sen­tence of the Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo, writ­ten by Karl Marx and Fred­er­ick En­gels in 1848. There is a new ghost haunt­ing Europe and the de­vel­oped world and it is the ghost of pop­ulism, bet­ter called fas­cism or far-right ide­olo­gies.

When Marx and En­gels wrote their Man­i­festo there was great un­ease in Europe, peo­ple were an­gry and au­thor­i­ties were ner­vous. To­day peo­ple are again an­gry, they feel marginalised and dis­en­fran­chised. There are Eu­ro­pean elec­tions next May which could well see the es­tab­lished par­ties lose their con­trol of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment to right-wing/na­tion­al­ist par­ties

Why is there such wide­spread alien­ation and anger to­day? The fol­low­ing story might throw some light on why we are where we are.

In Au­gust Dublin City Coun­cil closed its Bring Bank in Dublin’s Rath­gar in or­der to im­prove the fa­cil­ity. A large no­tice was erected to tell cus­tomers it would re­open in Oc­to­ber. Last week a coun­cil em­ployee as­sured me it would never open again.

When he told me that the Rath­gar Bring Bank would never open again I was slow to be­lieve him. I put it down to gos­sip and the usual ban­ter, in which we en­gage. Some days later I was dis­pos­ing my re­cy­clable waste at the Rath­mines Bring Bank, where I over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion about the po­ten­tial fate of the Rath­gar fa­cil­ity.

I de­cided the best ap­proach was to phone the coun­cil, which I did. I ex­plained my con­cern. Ini­tially she told me that she had no idea it was closed. Came back to me a few min­utes later to tell me that there were dif­fer­ent opin­ions as to whether or not Rath­gar was clos­ing. She gave me the name of the per­son who could an­swer my ques­tions and sug­gested I phone that per­son on Mon­day. And that’s ex­actly what I did. I was as­sured that Rath­gar would be re­open­ing. The site was be­ing re­ar­ranged but be­cause of tech­ni­cal prob­lems there would be a de­lay of a few weeks in the re­open­ing date.

I doubt too many peo­ple would have the in­cli­na­tion to do what I did and go back to the source to get the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion. But now that I have done that, I know ex­actly what the facts are.

Whether it’s the in­ac­cu­rate gos­sip fig­ures of the num­bers of homi­cides com­mit­ted by mi­grants across Europe or the mil­lions of pounds the UK would save ev­ery day if it left the EU, we are all be­ing sucked in by ru­mour and gos­sip. Trump’s ‘fake news’ works in the most de­vi­ous ways.

But one way to counter what is go­ing on at present would be for peo­ple in charge to be fas­tid­i­ous in telling em­ploy­ees ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing, in other words, to use that aw­ful, over-used word, ‘trans­parency’. If my coun­cil em­ployee friend was told what was hap­pen­ing, if he were made feel he played a cen­tral and im­por­tant role in the smooth-run­ning of Dublin City Coun­cil he may well in­deed have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent take on real­ity. In­stead of feel­ing marginalised and for­got­ten he might be proud and even en­thu­si­as­tic about his em­ploy­ers.

Far too many ghosts rise from the ashes and then cause ter­ri­ble de­struc­tion.

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