17
Sep
12

Personal statement on remit of the new Cork Regional Coordinating Committee

I distributed the following statement at the Cork CAHWT Regional Delegate Meeting on Saturday 15 September.

 

At the August Regional Delegate Meeting (RDM) a decision was taken that will potentially have far reaching consequences for the development of the campaign.

At the July RDM it was decided that a regional coordinating committee be established that was based on one rep from each of the working groups and supplemented by one or two others to give a better balance of geography and experience etc. Most of the working groups had been able to discuss this and had selected their representative to the coordinating committee ready to be ratified by the August RDM.

There had been a motion at the July RDM for the direct election of the members of the coordinating committee but this had not been passed. The August RDM saw that same motion moved again, despite it not being passed at the previous RDM. It should also be noted that the model of a coordinating committee made up of reps from the working groups had also been previously passed in the motion at the May RDM where we had set up the working groups in the first place.

This alternative basis for electing the coordinating committee was passed at the August RDM with the previously agreed (twice!) basis for the coordinating committee only being used to select an interim coordinating committee to be in place until we elect the new Cork Regional Coordinating Committee at the September RDM.

It may seem that the difference in these two ways of electing the regional coordinating committee are minimal but I think there is an important difference in what they imply about the role of this committee. It was claimed by supporters of the motion at the August meeting that this was just a coordinating committee and was not about undermining the authority of the working groups we have set up. But if that is really so then why vote for this alternative to the previously agreed decisions to have a coordinating committee based on representatives from the working groups?

This was never explained because a procedural motion to cut short the discussion, moved by one of the supporters of the motion, was passed so it went more-or-less straight to a vote. In the absence of that discussion I am left to speculate that the reason is because some of the supporters of the new basis for the coordinating committee want an executive type body rather than a coordinating one and didn’t want that coming out in the discussion in case it swung the vote against them.

The text of the motion passed is somewhat ambiguous on this issue and we are now faced with an important decision at the September RDM about setting the remit of the new regional coordinating committee. We should start our thinking about that remit with the understanding that the RDM is the highest authoritative body at the Cork regional level. The RDM then has sub-committees to implement its decisions between meetings. We have set up the working groups to do just that. We also recognise that there needs to be coordination between the working groups so we need some kind of committee to make sure the working groups work in harmony in implementing the decisions of the RDM.

But the key issue is whether the coordinating committee is a special sub-committee of the RDM with full powers and authority of the RDM to make decisions and direct the activity of the working groups or is it just another sub-committee with the same level of authority as the working groups and primarily there as a forum to avoid duplication of effort by the working groups in implementing the decisions of the RDM?

Or put another way – is it to be an “executive” or a “coordinating” committee?

If we were a political party then an executive type body would make sense to me but I think a broad-based campaign, as CAHWT aspires to be, needs a different kind of organisational structure to maximise the democratic control by activists in the local groups who form the real basis of the campaign. It seems clear to me that the working group model with representatives from them making up the membership of the coordinating committee (as we twice democratically decided to implement before the August meeting overturned those two previous decisions) does that better than having an executive committee.

We have overturned the two previous decisions to have a coordinating committee based primarily on reps from the working groups – we should not compound that error by giving the new committee a remit which will effectively transform it into an executive.

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