Derry Journal

SF Candidates Make 'Contract' With People
Tuesday 25th May 2004

SINN FEIN'S local election candidates have promised to bring a "radical new programme of accountability" to local representation in Donegal under a new initiative called 'Our contract with the People'.

At a special conference in the Holiday Inn in Letterkenny on Tuesday, chaired by Buncrana Councillor Padraig Mac Lochlainn, Martin McGuinness, MP, and EU candidate, Pearse Doherty this week helped launch the new initiative which makes four key pledges to the voters ahead of next month's local election.

The initiative promises the public that Sinn Fein will work to enshrine an inclusive power sharing system, oppose secretive meetings, be fully accountable to the public on issues and declare all financial gains derived from Council membership.

"We are very serious about these issues. We have made the commitments to set ourselves out as unique as set against other parties in the county and we are very serious about living up to our 'Contract with the People'," Colr. MacLochlainn told the 'Journal'.

"We see the election as a chance for people to lend us their vote and if, come the next election, we haven't honoured those commitments, then they can take their vote back," he added.

The party's new initiative begins by pledging an inclusive power sharing system in local government: "Sinn Fein council members will strive to have all positions on the council, and within committees rotated on a fair and equitable basis."

"We believe that those who vote for independent candidates have an equal entitlement to have their voices heard as those who vote for Sinn FÈin and other parties.

"We will work to enshrine an inclusive power sharing system that is free from self-serving political interest.

The 'contract' adds that Sinn Fein council members will oppose 'in committee' and workshop meetings and allow the public full access to the contents of public discussions.

"We believe that those types of meetings prevent the public from examining how their elected representatives come to make critical decisions that impact on their lives.

"Our council chambers must be fully accountable to the public. There should be no meetings behind closed doors."

Next on the 'contract' is a pledge to be active in every parish.

"Sinn Fein council members commit themselves to holding public meetings in each parish of their respective constituencies on an annual basis at which their attendance, voting patterns and representations will be outlined.

"This will provide the public with a clear benchmark to monitor the performance of their Sinn Fein councillors."

The fourth promise by the party regards the Councillor's expenses and other incomes derived from public service.

"All income derived from council membership (salary and travel/subsistence expenses) will be voluntarily detailed for public scrutiny.

"We will provide reports on our attendance at any conference we attend including a rationale as to why we felt it was necessary to attend.

"The public deserve to know where public funds go in order to make an informal judgement as to whether they are getting value for money."

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