Read the full Programme for Government here.
Monthly Archive for June, 2007
Wednesday was a big day. There were about 800 of us in the Mansion House to debate the motion that we would support the Programme for Government (PFG) that Dan, John and Donal had negotiated with Fianna Fail.
As Deputy Chair of the Green Party National Council, I had the honour of chairing the debate. To be honest, I expected that it would be very fraught and divisive. In actual fact, it turned out to be the easiest Green Party debate I have ever chaired. That’s not to say there wasn’t strong feelings on both sides of the argument. But everyone in the room realised the importance of the discussion and there was no heckling or interruption of speakers.
Like the vast majority of fellow party members, I voted in favour of the agreement. The deal did not go as far as I would have liked in many areas. However, considering our party have only 6 seats in the Dail, we have had a large proportion of our Election 2007 Manifesto implemented. Our two Ministers, John Gormley and Eamon Ryan are ready for the challenges of government and we believe that the Green Party’s influence will be felt throughout all the different departments.
We have achieved a number of key commitments as part of the PFG. We have had major success regarding global warming, with a new target of a 3% annual reduction of carbon emissions each year and a new process by which on Budget Day, the Government must report on what progress has been made in reaching this target. For the first time, Ireland can be seen to be getting serious about tackling global warming.
We have secured an extra €350 million investment in education each year over the term of the government. I’m also delighted to see a number of innovations regarding planning for new schools – a number of these are outlined here.
The Noise Bill that the new government will introduce will enable householders take effective action to deal with noisy neighbours. During the election, this issue came up regularly on the doorsteps. Further, the many problems faced by householders in Dublin 15 due to management companies will be tackled through new legislation to regulate this area. We have also secured a major package of €100 million for wall and attic insulation which will allow householder cut their heating bills and reduce carbon emissions.
The deal certainly contains some disappointments on areas like Shannon and co-location. On a local level, despite major efforts from our negotiating team, we were unable to convince Fianna Fail to drop their plans to relocate Mountjoy Prison and the Central Mental Hospital to the site at Thornton Hall. Nevertheless, I look forward to working with our two Green Party Ministers to ensure the policies that will benefit the people of the Dublin 15 area and the country will be implemented over the next 5 years.
Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the strong provisions on education included within the new Programme for Government negotiated with Fianna Fail.
“The Green Party has had a major impact on the section on education contained within the Programme for Government. Key to this is the commitment to invest an extra €350 million per year over the lifetime of the Government into education services. The issue of class sizes is addressed by a commitment to ensure that class sizes are reduced to one teacher to 24 pupils by 2010/11. I was particularly pleased that the Green Party negotiators were able to secure long-term funding for the existing 12 ABA schools catering for autistic children, thus guaranteeing their future”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
“Planning for new schools was something I campaigned hard on during the General Election in Dublin West. I am delighted to see commitments within the Programme for Government to ensure that rezoning for residential developments will now have to be accompanied by a commitment regarding land for schools and that the manner in which sites for schools can be obtained will be reformed. New procedures will be put in place to ensure that local authorities have to plan for new schools or extensions to existing schools in their area. Finally, a Developing Areas Unit will be established in the Department of Education. This will undertake the same role as the Strategic Planning Unit proposed by the Green Party and will be effective in identifying where new schools are needed and ensuring their swift delivery”.
“Obviously, having something written down in a Programme for Government is one thing, but implementation is another. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Dail and our two new Green Party Ministers in ensuring that the commitments we have made are delivered upon”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.
Green Party Dublin 15 spokesperson, Roderic O’Gorman, has declared himself unsurprised at new findings from Dublin Bus that show that during rush hour, buses in the city centre are often traveling at just walking speed.
“I hope Dublin Bus didn’t spend a whole lot of money on this study, as myself or anyone else who use the bus on a daily basis could have given them the information for free. The delays to buses caused by City Centre congestion has a particularly severe effect on those routes serving Dublin 15, as the 37, 38 and 39 services all begin on Hawkins Street on the southside and either have to pass along Dame Street and along the quays through Stoneybatter, or in the case of the 38, pass up O’Connell Street. Only the 40D route actually begins on the northside of the city, but even this route faces major delays along Dorset Street and Glasnevin”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
Dublin Bus recorded that in one example last week, it took one bus 47 minutes to travel the length of O’Connell Street. A spokesperson said that company were particularly concerned as, while such delays are often recorded during winter months, they do not usually occur during the summer.
“Dublin Bus have already started blaming the priority given to Luas as the reason for these delays. Again, we see the result of the failure to have an integrated public transport system designed for our city. The Green Party have consistently argued for the need to create a National Transportation Agency to deal ensure that the addition of new modes of public transport doesn’t actually result in other types working less successfully. Until the management of public transport in Dublin is controlled by the one body, bus users like myself are faced with ever mounting delays in our daily commute”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.
The turf war between Irish Rail and the Department of Transport over the disused Broadstone rail line has been cited as a further example of the lack of integrated transport planning in Dublin city by Green Party Dublin 15 spokesperson, Roderic O’Gorman.
“Media reports over the weekend have highlighted Irish Rail’s announcement that they intend to reopen the old Broadstone Station and that commuter trains on the Maynooth line and on the new Dunboyne line will be able to use this stop by 2010. While this would obviously affect Dublin 15 commuters, the fact is that under the Transport 21 plan, the line to the Broadstone Station is already marked down for use as a Luas line. Due to the different gauges, it would be impossible for both the Luas and Commuter services to run along the disused line to Broadstone. This would appear to be another example of what passes for ‘integrated planning’ in Dublin’s transport system”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
Irish Rail claim that they will have the new Broadstone Station in operation by 2010, and that by 2012 it will be linked by a Luas extension to the City Centre. However, the Department of Transport has reaffirmed its plan to use the Broadstone line for a Luas service and has further stated that none of Irish Rail’s development plans included using the Broadstone line for commuter services.
“As part of our General Election Manifesto, we supported the extension of the Luas from O’Connell Street to Broadstone and then further up the disused line to Liffey Junction and then on into Finglas. I believe such a route would be of greater advantage commuters as the new Liffey Junction Station would give passengers on commuter services an early opportunity to get on Luas services that would take them directly to the south-side of the city”.
“However, I think that the row over the future use of the Broadstone line shows yet again the need for a National Transportation Agency, as proposed by the Green Party, which will put an end to such turf wars between the different bodies and guarantee the integrated public transport system that Dublin desperately needs”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.
Green Party Dublin 15 spokesperson, Roderic O’Gorman has called on the incoming Government to make guaranteeing educational choice a major priority. He was speaking at the 3rd Interfaith Roundtable Conference, held in Blanchardstown on Saturday, under the heading of ‘Education and Integration: Learning to fit in?’.
“During the General Election campaign, education was one of the top three issues that came up on the doorsteps. While class size and the lack of schools were the prime concerns, the lack of school choice is something that concerns many parents. This is not only a worry for non-catholic families who find it difficult to get places for their children in catholic schools. There are also a large number of Irish families who simply want their kids educated in a inter-denominational setting, but are prevented from doing this due to a lack of such schools”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
Speaking after the Conference, Roderic O’Gorman responded to the recent announcements regarding primary schools in Dublin 15.
“While the announcement of the new diocesan Schoil Cholim is welcome for those non-catholic children in the Carpenterstown area who cannot get a place in the existing schools, I would question why the patronage of this new school was not offered to a body like Education Together. Further, it is essential that the planned VEC primary school, which has previously been announced for the Diswellstown area, is not shelved in light of the creation of Schoil Cholim. In a rapidly growing area like Dublin 15, parents should be given as much choice in the type of school in which they wish to educate their child as is possible. After all, such a right to choose a type of education is guaranteed in our Constitution”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.