Monthly Archive for February, 2007

My Submission on Metro West

Today was the last day for submissions for the public consultation phase on the Metro West route.

In the submission I made on behalf of the Dublin West Green Party, I expressed a strong preference for the Green Route (Route 2). My main reason for this is that I believe it is more important that the metro links educational and industrial/commercial areas like Blanchardstown Institute of Technology and Blanchardstown Corporate Park than leisure facilities like the National Aquatic Centre. The Green Route also has the advantage of not cutting the Millennium Park in Blanchardstown in two.

Other points I made in the submission include:

– The metro route should avoid Porterstown Park
Porterstown Park should not be chosen as the site for the metro depot
– The Blanchardstown Town Centre is an unsuitable location for a Park & Ride facility, due to the already widespread congestion in the area
– The bridge built to carry the metro across the Liffey Valley should be constructed in the most ecologically sound manner possible, with measures take to avoid noise and light pollution as well as to minimize visual impact.

If anyone is interested in receiving a full copy of the submission, email me at

Blanch Chamber of Commerce share my concerns regarding level crossings

I’m glad to see that Blanchardstown Chamber of Commerce are sharing the concerns I have raised on a number of occasions about the impact that the increased number of level crossing closings at Coolmine, Clonsilla and Porterstown are going to have on traffic in the area.

Gayle Eames from the Chamber of Commerce is quoted in the lastest Blanch Gazette as saying the increased number of closings “will cause absolute mayhem”.

While I obviously welcome the increase in train services on the Maynooth line, there are undoubtably are going to be difficulties for those in the localities of the level crossings. That’s why before Christmas, I asked Trevor Sargent TD to put down a Dail question to the Minister for Transport regarding replacing the level crossings. The answer we received indicates nothing is going to happen anytime soon. As such, I was successful in including in the Green Party Transport Policy launched last month, a pledge that in Government we will rapidly initiate a study of alternatives to level crossings.

Level crossings are simply not suitable on a busy line like the Maynooth line. The sooner they are removed, the better for all commuters.

Green Party National Conference votes to oppose plan to site metro depot on Porterstown Park

I’m just back from the National Conference in Galway. I’m pretty wrecked and will write more about it during the week, but I thought readers would be interested in the motion below that was passed unanimously by party members.

The Green Party reaffirms its commitment to creating a Liffey Valley National Park stretching from Islandbridge to Straffen; and that this will include the purchase of lands owned by Ballymore Properties at St. Edmundsbury/Woodville, Lucan, currently threatened by housing development, in order to preserve this wonderful amenity for future generations.

The Green Party further believes that any crossing of the Liffey Valley by the Meto West must be built in a manner with the minimum ecological and visual disruption possible. We oppose any attempt to site a metro depot within the Liffey Valley at Porterstown which would be environmentally disruptive and result in the loss of playing pitches and other amenities to local communities”.

The motion was jointly put forward by myself and Paul Gogarty TD from Dublin Mid-West. I’m delighted that it was passed. While I and the Green Party fully support the construction of Metro West, I believe that the option of locating a metro depot on the pitches at Porterstown is completely inappropriate. Not only is it a bad idea to locate development of this size in an area of natural beauty like the Liffey Valley, it will also lead to the destruction of pitches and facilities belonging to a number of local sports clubs. Like so many communities on the suburbs of Dublin, these clubs have had to fight long and hard to obtain these lands. They must not be sacrificed for the metro depot, especially when there are a number of more suitable locations along the proposed routes.

There are still a few days for public submissions to the Railway Procurement Agency on the issue. Email them at and let them know you want Porterstown Park saved.


Myself visiting Porterstown Park last weekend to get an idea of the impact of the depot proposal on the area.

Green Party National Convention 2007

I won’t be out canvassing this weekend as we have our National Conference down in the Galway Bay Hotel.

I have to say I’m really looking forward to the weekend. There is a great line up of speakers including Eddie Hobbs who will be talking to us about the consumer implications of peak oil and Renata Kuenast, former German Minister for Agriculture, discussing the pros and cons of being a Green Party in government.

There’s gonna be some interesting motions also. I’m speaking on motions about the impact of the Metro West project on the Liffey Valley, mental health services for young adults and climate change. I will also be speaking on some internal constitutional motions and I’ve been asked to chair debates on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

RTE are giving us live coverage from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Saturday. You might see me speaking during that slot! If you don’t catch that, try and tune in for Trevor’s leaders speech between 8:30 – 9:00. He will be outlining the principal actions the Green Party will be taking if we are elected to government in May.

Mags Murray welcome to election race, but she has a few questions to answer

It seems that at the Progressive Democrat conference over the weekend, Cllr Mags Murray announced her intention to stand for the PDs in Dublin West. I’m glad to see that Mags has decided to run in the general election. This will ensure that the people of Dublin West have a wide range of political positions to vote on and I think it can only add to the debate over the direction of our community and our country over the next five years.

I also think there is an important aspect of accountability in the Progressive Democrats standing a candidate. Cllr Murray is going to have to answer a few questions about the PD’s broken promises made to Dublin 15 during the last general election. I was looking over their 2002 manifesto recently, in which the Progressive Democrats promised a number of specific public transport projects for Dublin 15.

– City Centre – Blanchardstown Metro by 2007 (page 28)
– Fast and efficient commuter services on the Dublin-Dunboyne-Navan route by 2007 (page 27)
– Provide a high speed bus link from Luas at Heuston to the western suburbs and via the Phoenix Park to Blanchardstown (page 27)

I think it’s safe to say that none of these projects are going to be completed in the next 3 months, never mind by the end of the year!

As far as I know, Cllr. Murray wasn’t even a member of the PDs when these promises were made. However, as the candidate she will have to explain why the PDs have broken these commitments. Public transport is the number one concern for the people I have met on the doorsteps in Dublin West.

In light of the failure of the Progressive Democrats to fulfill the promises they made to the electorate of Dublin West in 2002, how can voters be expected to trust them this time?

‘Constituency’ programme not reflecting reality on the ground

I have to say I was unimpressed with the analysis former Blanch Gazette editor, Ken Whelan gave of my chances in the election on the RTE Radio One programme, ‘The Constituency’ last Sunday evening. I realise it is in the nature of all politicians to defend themselves when they are put down, but for Ken to say that there is no Green support in the constituency is completely off the wall. I have been out knocking on doors in Dublin West since July and people who have never voted Green before have been telling me that they are going to consider giving us the No 1 on this occasion. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’m going to top the poll, but having canvassed in many elections before, I have noticed a major change in people’s attitudes to the Green Party, and in Dublin West I believe this change in attitude, combined with peoples’ belief that we have the necessary solutions to traffic congestion, bad planning and climate change, will see me getting a very respectable vote in May/June and have me challanging for the last seat.

On a related note, Ken stated that Gerry Lynam (Brian Lenihan’s running mate) was a long time member of Fianna Fail. I’m sure that came as a suprise to everyone, including Gerry, since he was an Independent Cllr on Fingal CC for 5 years and only joined FF in the last few months, according to media reports.

Update: New Secondary Schools in D15?

I recently asked our party leader, Trevor Sargent TD, to submitt a question to the Minister for Education regarding the lack of secondary school places in Dublin 15. I attach the question and the Ministers reply below.

The response is disappointingly vague. Over the last few years, there have been major shortages of primary school places in Dublin 15, which have caused parents major distress in trying to ensure that their children can enter school. The figures clearly show that the same problem will happen in 2009 at secondary level when new schools like ETNS Castleknock and St Patricks in Diswellstown start to progress children to post primary.

In light of this knowledge, I believe the Department of Education needs to act now to secure sites for new secondary schools. We must avoid a school places crisis at second level in Dublin 15, similar to the one that occured at primary level.The existing failure of the Department to respond to the realities on the ground is one of the reasons why in our Policy on Urban Development published during the week, the Green Party stressed the need to create a ‘Strategic Planning Unit’ within the Dept. Education to respond to the school needs of growing areas.

249. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans she has, in view of the fact that in its submission to the oral hearing of the Hansfield SDZ appeal in November 2005 her Department stated that 4,000 post-primary school places were required in the Dublin 15 area, to provide new second level schools in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4534/07]

Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): As the Deputy will be aware, I have given the go-ahead for the delivery of a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school in Phibblestown area of Dublin 15.
This new school will be delivered along with new schools in Donabate and Laytown under a design and build contract and the Department is working with the relevant parties on the delivery of these projects within the earliest possible timeframe.
In the Tyrrelstown area of Dublin 15 the Department has reserved a site for a further post primary school and it is examining site possibilities for a new post primary school in the Castleknock area with the local authority.
The educational reservation in the Hansfield SDZ allows for the development of a post primary school for up to 1,000 pupils. A project manager has recently been appointed to oversee the development of educational provision on the Hansfield site.

Green Party launches Urban Development Policy – ‘Lets put people at the centre of all planning decisions’

On Tuesday the Green Party launched our Policy on Urban Development. It’s a great document and one on which I was glad to contribute. While the policy covers a wide range of issues to do with housing, transport and the provision of facilities, the basic idea behind it is our commitment to ensure that the needs of people and communities are at the centre of all planning decisions.

The big problem in Dublin 15 is that it has been the big developers who have called all the shots in relation to planning. That’s why the Census 2006 showed us to be the fastest growing area in the country. The result is that we don’t have enough schools, there are hardly any facilities for teenagers and traffic congestion is a joke. By bringing in the reforms we propose to the way development is planned in built-up areas, the Green Party will ensure that in the future, the chaotic development that has been seen in Dublin 15 over the past 10 years is not repeated.

Having spoken with parents in areas like Ongar, Diswellstown and Tyrrelstown about the problems they have faced in getting a place for their kids in schools, I urged my party colleagues to look at the planning of schools in this policy. In light of this, the Green Party is proposing that the law be changed so that developers can be made contribute money for buying school sites. Further, we propose setting up a ‘strategic planning unit’ in the Dept. of Education so that each time a local authority grants permission to a new housing development, a bell goes off in the Department and it must then alter its school building programme appropriately. With measures like these, I believe we can prevent further school places crises like those seen in Dublin 15 over the last few years

Another issue of relevance to Dublin 15 is the increased tendency of developers to seek permission to build large high-rise blocks of apartments. In our new policy, we call for ministerial guidelines to be issued about where high rise buildings can be located. We aren’t opposed to such buildings, but planning permission has been given for high rise in a number of locations in Dublin 15 where they are completely inappropriate and are a blight on the lives of their low-rise neighbours. With ministerial guidelines giving An Bord Pleanala a clear indication of where not to locate high-rise, we can stop such buildings being forced on local communities.

Guaranteeing the delivery of schools and proper guidelines for high rise buildings are just two small parts of what is a detailed and comprehensive policy. Below I briefly outline some of the other key issues that are dealt with in the policy, but have a read of it yourself on and email me with your comments.

Key Aspects of the Green Party Policy on Urban Development

The Green Party will deliver the policy by:

 Introducing a Sustainable Transport Programme that will ensure that the bias of public spending will shift from private to public transport. Under the programme local authorities will have more funding for transport investment in growth areas and will deliver local sustainable transport plans with corridors for cycle and walkways along existing rail, roads and waterfronts.

 Establishing a National Transport and Planning Agency to coordinate transport and land-use planning, and ensure that local planning approvals are not given to badly located traffic generating developments.

 Putting people at the heart of planning in the design of residential areas and in the promotion of more public participation in the planning system.

 Producing new Residential Guidelines based on good Urban Design principles to ensure that areas are designed to cater for the lifetime needs of people. Local authorities will set down new standards so that developers will produce a greater number of styles within schemes. All areas will have units for single people, young couples, growing families, single families and older people.

 Revising the Open Space Standards so that all green spaces provide both social and ecological benefits. Green Spaces will be designed to promote active use as meeting places, spaces for community events and designed with needs of children’s play and observation in mind.

 Ensuring the delivery of 5,000 Part V social housing and 5,000 affordable housing units a year, until the social housing waiting lists are cleared, by insisting on a minimum of 20% social & affordable housing within new developments. New rules will also be introduced to limit developers from using land or financial transfer to opt out of building social housing units within new residential schemes.

 Establishing a new National Planning Advisory Agency as a counter balance to the Strategic Infrastructure Bill. The agency will inform the public about large planning applications in their local area.

 Removing the €20 Planning Participation Fee and all administrative rules that act as a barrier to open participation in the Irish planning system.

 Making a direct link between public investment in infrastructure and increases in land value in areas benefiting from these investments. Local authorities will be able to recoup some of these costs in new section 49 zones.

 Amending the Planning and Development Act 2000 to allow County Development Plans lay down standards on energy efficiency.