LOCAL politics needs to enter the 21st Century, according to Limerick city councillor Diarmuid Scully.
After a city council colleague last month dismissed a Facebook campaign supported by more than 2,500 people as “social media nonsense”, Cllr Scully insists that the local authority should wholeheartedly embrace communications technology to keep in touch with the electorate.
The Fine Gael councillor said he would like to see social media incorporated into the local authority’s decision making processes and this could be done by making a few simple changes to the standing orders of the new Limerick City and County Council.
“In the fiasco over the proposed renaming of the Shannon Bridge, City Council employed a PR company and counted the number of letters written in by members of the public to the Mayor’s office.
“It would have been far better, cheaper and more democratic to let the public vote on such issues through a secure cloud server. This technology is already used in elections to the Students’ Union in UL where it has replaced paper ballots completely,” he expolained.
The city councillor also believes that a mechanism is needed whereby issues of genuine local importance can be put directly on to the council’s agenda. He suggests that a petition – online or on paper – submitted by 200 registered electors of Limerick should be enough to put an item on the council agenda, and that the person putting forward the motion would be entitled to address council directly on the issue.
“Every other aspect of our lives has been transformed by the disruptive power of technology. Local politics needs to come into the 21st century,” he concluded.