Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Man Bites Dogs

Richard Humphreys
Has Labour councillor Richard Humphreys been bitten by a rabid dog? How else can one explain his unprovoked attacks on the Dogs Unleashed organisation. His frothing effusions can be found in the current edition of LifeTimes (South-East) and on his web site: http://richardhumphreys.blogspot.ie/

 He characterises Dogs Unleashed as a "highly organised, well-heeled minority" who generate a "loud volume of noise and misinformation", and later refers to them as "those who scream the loudest". All this about a group that is merely exercising its democratic right to canvass Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council (DLR) about proposed changes to its beach bye-laws.

This decent and responsible group are representative of a wide cross-section of society - and are far from "well-heeled" in most cases (a crime it seems in Humphreys' book). Dog lovers are in fact an amiable and democratic bunch who come from gated mansions, solid middle-class estates, and council-houses.  Far from "screaming", they presented their case in a coherent and well-argued fashion, complete with endorsements from leading vets. A fine example, I would have thought, of local democracy at work.

 The most disturbing part of Humphreys' triumphalist rant is that it fails to mention that the final decision by DLR last week represented not a complete victory for either side but a compromise. Both sides had to make concessions. Dogs Unleashed lost the battle for Seapoint (and its equally well-organised swimmers) but won the right to exercise dogs off leash on Killiney Beach.

Dogs Unleashed has over 5,000 members in DLR. A public meeting in Killiney Castle Hotel drew over 700 attendees. All of them felt strongly about the proposed new bye-laws and did what they could to change them by canvassing their local councillors. This I believe is what democracy is all about and should be applauded by our public representatives, not decried and sneered at. The Labour party is in enough trouble without alienating citizens who express views contrary to one of its councillors. His intolerance of democracy in action, and Tory Boy antics, would seem more suited to some right-wing group.
Tory Boy