In the next couple of weeks, Frank Gallagher, Socialist Party Councillor on Drogheda Borough Council, will step down. Since his election in 2009, Frank has been in the forefront of fighting all measures of austerity and for the interests of ordinary working people in Drogheda and the general Louth area.
Frank is stepping down because unbeknown to him, and against his wishes, the Property Tax on the family home was paid. Frank had strongly supported the Boycott of this new austerity tax as part of the campaign for its abolition. Despite the fact that he has made no mistake, to avoid giving any opportunity to the enemies of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) to damage the campaign with false accusations of double standards or hypocrisy, and to protect his own and the Socialist Party’s good name, Frank is stepping down in a rare demonstration of a principled approach to politics. He will, however, continue the fight against austerity.
The Government and the Revenue Commissioners have engaged in disgraceful intimidation and have created huge pressure on families up and down the country to pay what remains a deeply hated tax. They stand condemned for their actions in robbing working people to ensure the bankers and speculators get their pound of flesh.
Frank stepping down from the council has reached the national media now but, in fact, nearly three weeks ago he went public on this situation on his Facebook page and in the local media. Joe Higgins TD praised Frank’s approach, “Frank has been an excellent fighter for the people of Drogheda and is showing tremendous character in dealing with this situation in such a straightforward and principled manner. I have no doubt that Frank’s standing in the community will even increase because he has shown that genuine socialists can be trusted to act in a principled and open fashion.”
When council positions become vacant, the legislation on local government does not provide for a By Election in the ward or electoral area concerned so that voters could have the decisive say in filling any vacancy. The political party which nominated the resigning member has the right to nominate a replacement councillor. If this is not done, the council concerned makes the replacement instead but either way the position will be filled.
Just as we feel that Frank has been an excellent councillor for working class people in Drogheda, and even more so because of his socialist outlook and commitment, so too we think the best way to continue to represent the anti austerity and Left perspective that people voted for in 2009, is for us to nominate a replacement from the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party will be nominating Ciaran McKenna to replace Frank and we are sure he will be as strong a fighter, working alongside Frank in the months ahead.
Frank intends to stand in next year’s council elections as a principled anti-austerity and Socialist Party candidate.