Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes new enrolment policy for Dublin 15 schools

25/01/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman, has welcomed the announcement by the Catholic Archdiocese that it is to initiate a new pilot enrolment scheme for the Clonsilla/Porterstown dioceses.

“I warmly welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese that it will be implementing a new enrolment policy for St. Patricks in Diswellstown and St Mochta’s in Clonsilla. I know many people were gravely concerned at the previous policy which worked to exclude non-Catholic children. The news that both schools will now reserve up to one third of spaces for non-Catholic children will promote integration among the young people of the area”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

The announcement was made in light of the need to deal with the large demand for places in the two schools, which operate a joint enrolment policy.

“In his statement, Archbishop Martin makes a very relevant point about the fact that it has been Catholic schools who have been left to deal with the large number of non-Catholic school applicants. That is why it is important that we promote alternative school models such as Educate Together. I’m delighted to see that the pre-enrolment day for the new Carpenterstown Educate Together was extremely well attended. We need to support such schools so parents have a choice regarding the education method they want for their children”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Tuffy’s stance on inefficient light-bulbs is disappointing

I’m very pleased to see that the EU Commission has rowed in behind Minister John Gormley’s blan to phase out the use of traditional inefficient light-bulbs. This project is an important step in Ireland tackling its high level of carbon dioxide emissions. Not only will the measure be good for the environment, but it will also save consumers money as the energy efficient CFL bulbs last much longer. John now intends to implement a public consultation programme to ensure that the phase out of the old bulbs occurs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

At the same time I have to say I’ve been really disappointed by some of the comments coming from Jonna Tuffy TD, the Labour spokesperson on the Environment. It’s stated Labour Party policy to ban inefficient bulbs by 2012. I would have expected Labour to have welcomed Minister Gormley’s proposal to get rid of them more quickly. Instead, Deputy Tuffy has issued a tirade of press releases attacking the proposal( here, here and here). Indeed, in her most recent statements, she seems to be saying that the European Commission is not supporting Minister Gormley, despite the fact that the Minister met with both Commissioner Verheugen and Commissioner Dimas, who indicated their agreement.

From what I can make out, Deputy Tuffy wants a much longer time period taken to implement the change to CFL bulbs. Has anyone told her that climate change needs to be tackled now? Ironically, after the publication of the last report from the International Panel on Climate Change, Deputy Tuffy released a press release calling for “immediate action on climate change agenda”. Yet now she seems determined to put every roadblock she can find in the way of John Gormley’s proposal – a measure that will make a significant cut in our carbon emissions.

i reckon Deputy Tuffy needs to decide if she is serious about tackling climate change or if she and the Labour Party are going to spend the next 5 years playing politics with this all important issue.

Press Release – Alcohol advisory group should target drinks advertising, not the legal drinking age – O’Gorman

12/01/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice that he has established an Alcohol Advisory Group to look at the sale and consumption of alcohol in Ireland. However, he has also urged that the Group should focus on issues such as advertising by the Drinks Industry and enforcement, rather than increasing the legal age for buying alcohol.

“I’m delighted that the Minister for Justice has set up this new Alcohol Advisory Group and also that it has been given a rapid timeframe within which to report. In negotiating the Programme for Government, the Green Party secured a number of significant commitments regarding dealing with binge drinking and it is essential that these are implemented quickly”, stated Roderic O’Gorman

“However, I am concerned by comments from the Minister that he is thinking of raising the legal age for the purchase of alcohol in certain establishments. I do not think that such a measure will in any way tackle the root causes of alcohol abuse in Ireland. Even when the legal age for buying alcohol is 18, we all know that persons under that age are able to obtain drink if they really want to. Raising the age to 21 will make no substantial difference”.

“I would urge the new Alcohol Advisory Group to focus on two areas. Firstly, I believe we need to restrict the advertising of alcohol. How can we seriously impact upon the drinking culture in Ireland when alcohol is portrayed through advertising and the sponsorship of sporting events as a vital ingredient for a good social life?”

“Secondly, there needs to be stricter enforcement of Section 4 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2003. This makes it an offence for alcohol to be sold to someone who is already intoxicated. Far too often, pubs and off-licences are serving people who are clearly drunk”.

“I hope the Alcohol Advisory Group will deal with these two crucial issues in its report. Addressing these will go much further to tackling binge drinking in this country than raising the drinking age”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes the establishment of the Local Electoral Areas Boundary Committee

08/01/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, that he has established committees to review the boundaries of local election wards before the next local elections. The Minister set as the 20th June the latest date for the Committee to submit its recommendations.

“I’m delighted to see that John Gormley has established the Local Electoral Areas Boundary Committees. Dublin 15 has experienced massive growth over the last 5 years and we are now significantly underrepresented on Fingal County Council. This review will allow for the current boundaries to be redrawn and more importantly, the transfer of seats from the North County to the Dublin 15 area”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Editors Note – Membership of the Dublin & Cities Committee and the Terms of Reference of the Committee

Dublin and Cities Committee
• Niall Callan, former Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Chairperson)
• Kevin Dowling, Former Executive Manager, Dublin City Council
• Adrian Kavanagh, Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth
• Willie Soffe, Former Fingal County Manager
• Teresa White, Assistant County Manager, Cork
This Committee will report on the areas of Dublin City, Cork City, Galway City, Limerick City, Waterford City, and Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin County Councils.

TERMS OF REFERENCE
Dublin and Cities Electoral Area Boundary Committee
1. To review and to make recommendations, subject to paragraph 2, on the division of the cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford and the counties of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin into local electoral areas and the number of members of the councils to be assigned to each such area, with a view to ensuring a reasonable relationship between the 2006 population and representation within each local authority. For this purpose, the Committee is to assume no change in the total membership of each local authority and to endeavour, as far as practicable, to achieve variance from individual average local authority representation within the range of + or – 10%.

2. In carrying out its review, the Committee shall have as an objective the drawing up of electoral areas which (alone or in combination) would, as far as practicable, have an urban or neighbourhood focal point (or points).
3. In recommending changes to local electoral areas, the Committee should, subject to paragraph 2, take due account first of the desirability of preserving natural communities or the hinterlands of population centres, and secondly of the desirability, where it may be possible to do so, of aligning local electoral area boundaries with Dáil constituency boundaries.
4. The number of councillors representing an area as determined above should not be less than 4 or more than 7, provided that in very exceptional circumstances 3 seat local electoral areas may be recommended where otherwise the geographic size of the area would be disproportionately large.
5. Subject to the above, the Committee shall endeavour to maintain continuity in relation to the arrangement of local electoral areas.
6. The Committee shall submit its report as soon as possible and, in any event, not later than 20 June 2008.

Fingal County Council need to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment of the Tolka Sewer Scheme

A number of people have been in contact with me regarding the proposal to lay a sewer pipe through the Tolka Valley in Dublin 15. In my submission to Fingal County Council regarding the plan to build storm-water storage tanks beside Blanchardstown Hospital (this is part of the wider scheme), I have asked to Council to reconsider proceeding with the plan to build a new duplicate sewer pipe through the Tolka Valley beside the existing pipe without undertaking a full Environmental Impact Assessment.

Over the last number of years, between € 2-3 million have been spent on works developing the Tolka Valley Park. The area is heavily used by locals for recreational purposes. Further, the river itself is fished by local youth angling groups such as the Tolka River Valley Alliance (TREA). All these activities will face major disruption and some may be permanently stopped, by the current plans being put forward by the Council. As such I believe that it is vital that Fingal County Council undertake a full Environmental Impact Assessment, setting out a detailed assessment of realistic alternative routes on social, environmental and economic criteria.

It strikes me as hugely wasteful that, having put so much resources into the Tolka Valley Park, that the Council are now prepared to undo much of this by implementing major construction works to lay this sewer pipe. This, combined with the lack of consultation with local residents and interest groups, leads me to believe that in the short term, the Council must undertake a proper EIA.

Looking to the long term, I am renewing the call I have made on a number of occasions for the creation of a Catchment Management Scheme for the river. This can be done under the Fisheries Amendment Act, 1999 and would bring together farmers, anglers, tourism and recreational interests, the Fisheries Boards, State, public and voluntary groups along the entire length of the river. I believe that it is only through undertaking such a coordinated approach can we ultimately ensure that the river is protected as the major environmental resource that it is.

Below is a copy of the submission I made on behalf of the Dublin West Green Party to FCC

Mr. John Mulcahy,
Senior Engineer,
Water Services Project Office,
Floor 1,
Fingal County Council
Swords,
Co. Dublin

03/01/07

Re: Stormwater Storage Tanks, located in Tolka Valley Park, and other issues associated with the 9C Sewer development

Dear Mr. Mulcahy,

I would ask you to take account of the following points raised on behalf of the Dublin West Green Party. While we realise that these relate more to the wider 9C Sewer development, but nevertheless we feel that it is vital that these are noted.

1. The Dublin West Green Party has considerable concerns over the routing of the proposed 9C duplicate sewer through the ecologically sensitive Tolka Valley which is also an important community resource;

2. The proposed development has the potential to undermine the considerable work which has been undertaken to date by ‘Tolka Valley Community Forum’ including the significant capital investment by the Fingal County Council Parks Department and volunteering on the ground by local interst groups.

3. There has been a lack of public consultation, particularly in relation to the damage that the development will do to sections of the Tolka Valley.

4. Before advancing this proposal any further, we would ask that a full Environmental Impact Assessment should be prepared setting out a detailed assessment of realistic alternative routes on social, environmental and economic criteria.

Press Release – Legislation for Dublin Transport Authority welcome – O’Gorman

03/01/08

Dublin 15 Green Party representative, Roderic O’Gorman, has welcomed the news that the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey will this month publish legislation on the creation of the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA).

“I’m delighted to see that the legislation for the creation of the Dublin Transport Authority will be published during the month. This new authority will be a vital instrument in co-ordinating public transport across the city. We will soon have six different modes of public transport in Dublin – Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart, Metro, commuter rail and private operators. If these are going to deliver the required integrated service to commuters, there needs to be a body overseeing the operation of each transportation type”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“The DTA is also going to be crucial in the future development of the city. I welcome the fact that it will now have a key role to play in the creation of regional planning guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area, in conjunction with local authorities. Further, the DTA will be able to integrate housing developments and local authority area plans with transport needs. For too long, we have seen new estates built on the edge of the city with absolutely no public transport connections. The goal of the DTA must be to ensure that home owners have public transport as an option form day one when they move into a new estate”.

“The fact that oil prices have this week crossed the $100 per barrel mark is another indication, if any was necessary, that the cost of motoring is only going to increase. Giving commuters a real public transport alternative will be a key priority for the Green Party in government over the next 5 years and the creation of the Dublin Transport Authority is central to this strategy”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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