Thursday, February 25, 2016

NO WAY - AAA (The Cut-Throat World of Limerick Politics)

Right from the start I was of the opinion that the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) was little more than a front for the Socialist Party.

I had attended a few meetings when it was the Campaign Against Water and Household Tax (or something like that) and I was aware that Cian Prenderville was a paid member of the Socialist Party with an annual salary of €35,000, because he told me so.

So when the campaign morphed into a political party I had written them as a front to trick people into voting for the Socialist Party.

Needless to say, I was extremely surprised when Cian rang me in April 2014 and asked me if I would consider running as a candidate for the AAA in the local elections; if it was a front he would hardly be asking me to run for them as we disagree on a few core issues such as abortion and the economy.

I declined and instead ran as an Independent; I was hoping to gain some vital transfers for another Independent, the late Jason Griffin (RIP).

The AAA got 3 City Councillors elected, 1 in each electoral area of the city - Cian in Limerick City North, Paul Keller in Limerick City East and John Loftus in Limerick City West.

I wasn't exactly thrilled for them; they had been elected on a platform of national issues and where I lived needed our Councillors to be more concerned with local issues.

I was PRO with the Ballinacurra Weston Residents at the time (BWRA) and we had invited all the newly elected Councillors to meet with us and take a tour of the area, we were pleasantly surprised by John - he's a genuine man that actually gives a shit about peoples concerns and problems.

John informed me that neither he nor Paul Keller were members of the Socialist Party, so I guess I was way off the mark.

Cllr. John Loftus taking the BWRA tour

I started attending protests and I even made a few Facebook videos in support:



Then last August a row on Facebook between John and a former friend and ex-AAA member made local and national news. 

The row took place via private messages and was over the ex-AAA member posting disparaging remarks on Facebook regarding the AAA street collections. John was out of the country visiting his daughter at the time and had arranged to meet his former "comrade" when he got back; his friend had agreed to a ceasefire in the interim. Then in the early hours of the morning John saw another snide post from his pal and he reacted by sending him the following message, which his pal screen-grabbed and posted all over Facebook, such was his loathing for the AAA.

Now, on the face of it , it looks bad. However it needs to be looked at in context. It was a row between two people that know each other and nothing more. John is a working-class man from Portglasgow in Scotland and those of us that know him are familiar with his use of the vernacular and colourful turn of phrase, but instead of standing by John, the AAA threw him under the bus and demanded that he resign his Council seat.

An AAA meeting was called and John was invited to attend. Apparently, most of those present were members of the Socialist Party and the proceedings had the air of a  kangaroo court. John rightly refused to resign his seat and was expelled from the AAA. I can only wonder if the intention was to replace John on the Council with a member of the Socialist Party.

Cian Prenderville went on local radio to condemn John for making threats and claimed that was no context in which it was acceptable for a Councillor to address someone in such a manner.

There is always a context and in this case it was a private message sent from his personal Facebook account (in anger to someone who knew him well); not acting in an official capacity and not from a Council or AAA account. There was no real threat because there was no real intent. I know this for a fact because I was "threatened" last July.

I encountered three men on the Boreen leading to my home and one of them was spraying graffiti on the road. As I approached them they ran away shouting "Cathal the rat" and "you're dead" while making gun gestures at me. I reported the incident to the Gardaí and I was told that because I wasn't in fear for my life and didn't  believe that they were going to carry out their threat that there was no complaint to make.

The only thing that I found scary about the incident was the fact that these men in their twenties were all fathers of young children.

The AAA have joined forces with People Before Profit for this election and Cian has a good chance of taking the 4th seat even though as a Councillor for Limerick City North he has done little for the people of Moyross and St, Mary's Park. Because of his poor performance as a Councillor and because of his treatment of John, I will be giving him mu No. 8 preference, I may even bump him down to No.10, I'll make a final decision in the polling booth.

I think it's only fair to mention that the AAA, as far as I'm aware, were the only party to canvass Weston, albeit from a van. I haven't seen any other canvassers in the area and no one has knocked on mine or my neighbours doors.

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