I’m pleased to see that, following lobbying by myself and other councillors, the draft Fingal Tourism Strategy has been substantially altered to include more references to a significant number of new action points relevant to the Dublin 15 area. At the March meeting of Fingal County Council, I raised my concern that the original draft had very few concrete Action Points relevant to West Dublin, with the main focus of the document being on the North County and coastal areas of Fingal.
I particularly welcome the new Action Points that I called for on a potential Liffey Valley Greenway, a Liffey Valley Discovery Centre and the increased usage of the Royal Canal. I was also pleased to see the highlighting of the promotion of the Sports Campus as a high quality training centre.
I want to thank the Council officials and the team drafting the Strategy for responding to the concerns I raised when the first draft was placed before the Council. Tourism can be a key driver in providing employment across Fingal. In doing so, it can provide improved facilities for everyone in the area. It is important that the facilities in the Dublin 15 are properly recognised in the wider scope of Fingal and that the Council promotes this part of Fingal to the same extent as the rest of the county.
At yesterday’s meeting of Fingal County Council, we voted on the adjustment to the Local Property Tax (LTP) rate. There were two different proposals. One, to reduce it by the full 15% allowable, and the second to reduce it by 10% this year and request that the remaining money be dedicated towards addressing homelessness and community projects.
It was a difficult decision. In the wider context, the sum of money we are talking about – €7.8 million, is relatively small. But with the economy in its present state, even small amounts of money back in peoples pocket makes a difference.
At the same time, money spent by the Council, and targeted at homelessness, something I think most people agree is the biggest challenge we face in the Dublin are, can have a real impact on the most vulnerable in society.
During the Local Election campaign, I did not make any pledges on the Property Tax, as I wanted to see what position Fingal’s budget was in before I made any decision. I wanted to see people get relief in the level of tax they are paying, but also protect some level of investment. That’s why I voted for the 10% cut in the LPT rate, with the remaining €1.9 million being invested in services, particularly homelessness. From my point of view, this was the fairest way to approach the issue.
However, a substantial majority of councillors (31) voted for the full 15% cut, and this was the figure that was passed.
Yesterday’s decision by Fingal councillors to deny Dubliners the right to vote on proposals for a directly elected mayor was outrageous. While it is fair enough that some councillors may disagree with the idea itself, the fact that they have prevented the electorate having a say on the matter shows complete contempt for the views of the people who elected them
What was particularly shocking was the view expressed by many of the councillors that Fingal operates separately from the rest of Dublin and that we can survive as well, if not better, on our own. Fingal’s prosperity is absolutely linked with that of our capital city. Decisions made about planning, housing, public transport and waste collection impact upon us all. A counter motion, supported by nearly all councillors, that Dublin city should go ahead with a vote for a directly elected mayor, would be hugely damaging for Fingal and put us at a massive competitive disadvantage.
What this decision shows is that too many of the sitting councillors in Fingal have become too accustomed to the perks of their position, and have no interest in even considering reform. At the local elections in May, we need to elect new councillors who want to improve how local government works, for the benefit of all the citizens of Dublin. If I am elected, I pledge to do what I can to see yesterday’s decision about the directly elected Mayor reversed.
No public e-car charge points (green pin) have been provided in Dublin 15
In recent weeks I have been contacted by e-car users in the Dublin 15 area, who are concerned that Dublin 15 is losing out on the ESB’s allocation of public e-car charge points. This infrastructure is essential for the long term viability of the e-car project. While there are currently three charge points in Dublin 15 (Coolmine Train Station, Castleknock Hotel, Hutton & Meade Ballycoolin), all are on private property, which limits their accessibility. This contrasts significantly with the number of public charge points across the north county area of Fingal.
I’ve written to Fingal County Council to find out what has been the total take up by the Council of the initial allocation of 1500 public charge points by the ESB and further, to see how many public charge points does the Council intend to locate in the Dublin 15 area and where will these be placed.
On the other hand, it is good to see a new private charge point being provided at the Castleknock Hotel in recent weeks. Local e-car users are pleased with this development, particularly as the charge point at Coolmine Train Station has been out of action for a number of months. However, e-car users really want to see public charge points located across Dublin 15.
It will come as no big surprise to people that I’m going to stand in the local elections next May. I’ve been selected by the Green Party to run in the Castleknock ward, which covers Blakestown, Blanchardstown, Carpenterstown, Castleknock, Laraghcon and the Strawberry Beds. I’m really looking forward to the campaign and meeting people in all these areas over the next nine months.
Dublin 15 is a great area to live, work and raise kids in. However, I think we can always do more to make it better. That’s why over the last 9 years, I’ve campaigned on issues like proper planning, adequate school places and public transport provision. These issues still need to be tackled and I know that if I am elected as a councillor next May, I can work more effectively in delivering on these priorities.
Too often, people tell me they feel that Fingal County Council is out of touch with the needs of the communities in Dublin 15 and that its services are difficult to access. I believe that county councillors need to be active, accessible and deeply aware of the issues and concerns in each neighbourhood. This is the type of councillor that I will be if I am elected.
It’s hard to find a family in Ireland that hasn’t been hit by unemployment or emigration over the last few years. It is vital that Fingal County Council takes a lead role in promoting opportunities for job creation across Dublin 15. As I campaign over the next nine months, I’ll be setting out ideas on how the Council can support employment initiatives.
Obviously, an election campaign is a big undertaking. If you are interested in some of the issues that I’ve raised, or would like to help out, please get in touch.
Last Friday I made a submission on behalf of the Dublin West Green Party proposing some changes to the make up of local election wards in the Dublin 15 area. These were contained in my submission to the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee, which is looking at the local election wards across the country.
I’ve suggested that the current Castleknock ward should be renamed Blanchardstown & Castleknock. This is appropriate, as all of Blanchardstown village and surrounding estates are in this ward. I’ve also suggested that the Mulhuddart ward be renamed Mulhuddart & Ongar to reflect that Ongar is the major new population centre in the ward. I think it is important that the names of the wards reflect the reality of the areas they cover.
I also proposed the movement of one electoral district, called ‘Lucan North’, between the two wards. This is the area including Clonsilla village and Laraghcon estate. I’ve suggested that it should be moved from Mulhuddart & Ongar to Blanchardstown & Castleknock. This was where it was before the last redraw of boundaries in 2008.
I am making this suggestion to balance the population between the two wards. The Minister for Environment is proposing that there should be significantly more councillors in Fingal County Council. By moving this area, it would allow the Mulhuddart & Ongar ward to have 8 seats, and the Blanchardstown & Castleknock ward to have 7 seats, under the new numbers being proposed by the Minister.
The results of the boundary redraw in Dublin 15 and across the country will be made known by the end of May.
As you know, I recently wrote to the Mayor of Fingal, asking that he raise with Fingal County Council the issue of support for a Dublin 15 District Council. These proposed reforms of local government were discussed at the Council’s recent monthly meeting, and the Mayor has indicated to me that there is general support for the idea of district councils.
I am pleased to see that the Council is taking a broadly positive attitude to this proposal. A Dublin 15 District Council would allow more decisions on local matters be taken solely by the councillors elected in the existing Mulhuddart and Castleknock/Blanchardstown wards. This will increase transparency and democratic accountability, as local councillors will have to take full responsibility for local decisions. Decisions that have a county wide impact, such as the Development Plan, would still be taken on a county-wide basis.