Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Civil Partnership proposals are a step in the right direction

Tuesday saw the publication of the heads of the Civil Partnership Bill. These were meant to be published by the end of March, but were delayed due to the changes in Cabinet and some disagreements between ourselves and Fianna Fail as to the content.

I’m pleased to see that the Government is moving to deliver on the commitment, contained within the Programme for Government, to legislate for civil partnerships. Within the Green Party, we believe that same-sex couples should have full access to civil marriage. As such, we would like to go further then these proposals. However, we see the Civil Partnership Bill as a step in the right direction, as it will give protection to persons currently in a relationship, and give recognition to these relationships.

The heads of the bill run to 172 pages, but briefly, the proposals on civil partnership would give same-sex couples who obtain a partnership the same rights as married couples in a wide range of areas such as tax, succession, pensions, social welfare, immigration and domestic violence. Civil partnerships would be formed in the same way as marriage, and would only be dissolved on the death of one of the partners or under a court order if the partners had been living apart for two of the previous three years and proper provision had been made for both partners.

I was disappointed that no provision was made for children’s rights within this legislation. However, this issue will have to be addressed in a wider reform of guardianship and custody laws, dealing with a wide range of issues including the rights of fathers, rights in relation to step-children etc. I understand that there is an acceptance within Government that there is a general need to address all these areas through reforming legislation.

I’m also pleasd to see that the bill provides a new redress scheme for both opposite and same-sex couples who are left in a financially vulnerable situation in the event that their relationship breaks down or one of the couple dies suddenly. This new redress scheme will allow the financially vulnerable person apply to the courts for a range of reliefs. Obviously, this would apply to persons not currently in a marriage or civil partnership.

Press Release – Action required on law reform report on management companies – O’Gorman

28/06/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has called on the Government to quickly take action on responding to the report of the Law Reform Commission on management companies.

“The abuse of the rights of homeowners, particularly first-time buyers, that has occurred due to the use of management companies has been a major negative side effect of the building boom. That is why this report on ‘multi-unit developments’ by the Law Reform Commission is so important. Prior to the General Election, this was an issue the Green Party highlighted and I know that my party colleague, the Minister for the Environment John Gormley, is eager to engage with the other relevant departments – Justice and Enterprise & Employment, in order to get the various recommendations implemented into legislation as quickly as possible”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“The recommendations contained in the report cover a broad area including company law, planning issues, questions of title and conveyancing, and the role of developers. A key element is a draft Multi-Unit Development Bill. I will be urging John Gormley to act quickly to get this legislation passed and to address the many serious issues faced by homeowners in relations to management companies”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
rodericogorman@gmail.com

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes refusal of full liquor licence for Laurel Lodge

27/06/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the decision of the District Court not to grant a full liquor licence to a shop in Laurel Lodge. He was speaking outside the Richmond District Court after the decision was made.

“I believe that the correct decision has been made in this instance. There is huge concern locally about the abuse of alcohol by young people, which is felt by parents, teachers and the Gardai”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“The judge looked at S.18 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2000 which states that a full liquor licence may be refused if the area is adequately provided for by other off licences. One of the barristers involved made the somewhat bizarre claim that there were actually not enough off-licences in the Castleknock – Blanchardstown area. However, the evidence from local Gardai and a concerned local resident convinced the judge that there was an adequate number of premises in the area selling alcohol and as such, the licence was refused”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
rodericogorman@gmail.com

Press Release – O’Gorman congratulates St Patricks NS on Carbon Footprint Analysis

25/06/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has congratulated the students and teachers of St. Patricks NS, Diswellstown on the way they have worked to reduce the schools carbon emissions. He was speaking at the launch of the schools Carbon Footprint Analysis.

“The Green Schools Committee in St. Patricks have done a fantastic job. Through their actions, they have implemented a three stream recycling system, with bins for organic, recyclable and landfill waste. The students have also been very active in persuading their parents assist them walk or cycle to school, rather than take the car. All these actions have contributed to a very low level of carbon emissions from the school. These kids are really leading the way in fighting climate change. The idea of a carbon audit for schools is really positive as it both allows them identify ways of being more environmentally friendly, but also save money”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“The audit also demonstrates the success of investing in shared facilities like St. Patricks NS, which also acts as a community facility for the Diswellstown area. This is shown by the fact that, even when compared with some of the most environmentally friendly schools in the UK, St. Patricks has a significantly lower rate of carbon emissions”.

“The Minister for Transport has recently announced his intention to allocate up to €2 million each year to assist the transport aspect of the Green Schools Programme. It is really important that we get as many children as possible out of the car and walking and cycling to school. The pupils and parents of St Patricks NS have demonstrated this is possible and I am pleased that the Government has committed to providing the money to support this”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman

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Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
rodericogorman@gmail.com

diswellstown_-_carbon_audit_and_reduction_plan

Press Release – Vehicle labelling gives motorists’ choice – O’Gorman

21/06/08

Vehicle labelling gives motorists’ choice – O’Gorman

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman, has welcomed the launch by the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley TD, of the new labelling system for cars, indicating their carbon emissions and the amount of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and Motor Tax that must be paid on them.

“This new system means that motorists continue to have choice. Those that want to drive cars with really high carbon emissions still can, but they have to pay a tax rate that reflects the damage their choice does to the environment. However, those that make the choice to switch to cars with a more environmentally friendly engine will actually end up saving money”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“The new labelling system is similar to the one currently used for large electrical equipment like fridges and washing machines. Vehicles are divided into 7 bands, corresponding to the amount of carbon they emit. These bands are then used to calculate how much VRT or Motor Tax must be paid. For example, motor tax on a car in the most efficient A band will be approximately € 100 each year whereas motor tax rate on the least efficient G band will be € 2,000 per year”.

“Similarly, VRT for a car in the efficient A band will be 14% its open market selling price whereas the VRT for the less efficient G band cars will be 36% the open market selling price”.

“The personal choices each one of us makes in our lives all influence the amount of carbon we emit and as such, our contribution to climate change. By implementing this new system, the Government is showing that it will reward motorists who make the decision to be more green in their choice of car”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
rodericogorman@gmail.com

Press Release – Fuel Poverty must be addressed in budget – O’Gorman

21/06/08

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman has called on the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan and the Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan, to address the issue of fuel poverty in the upcoming budget. He was speaking in response to a report from Sustainable Energy Ireland which showed that in 2005, over 140,000 homes were at risk of fuel poverty.

“I am calling on the Minister for Finance to take action in the forthcoming budget to deal with the issue of fuel poverty. We have all witnessed the massive increase in fuel prices over recent months and all the indications are that this is going to continue. The report launched by Sustainable Energy Ireland during the week indicates that in 2005, over 140,000 homes were at risk of fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is defined as having to spend more than 10% of disposable income on heating your home to an acceptable level.

“Considering the increase in fuel prices since 2005, I think we can expect that the proportion of homes at risk of fuel poverty will have significantly increased. As such, it is vital that the Minister for Finance examines ways in which various social welfare payments can be used address this issue. No one should ever be left feeling that they cannot afford to heat their home to a comfortable level”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

Roderic O’Gorman also commented on some medium and long term policies designed to deal with difficulties faced by consumers in dealing with the increasing oil and gas prices.

“Since entering into Government a year ago, my party colleagues John Gormley and Eamon Ryan have both been working in their departments to ensure that in the medium to long term, houses are much more energy efficient in Ireland. A number of initiatives have looked at ensuring higher standards in new housing”.

“However, for existing housing stock, Minister Ryan has initiated an insulation programme which will see € 100 million provided in grants to allow people improve the insulation on their houses. Not only will this scheme be good for the environment by cutting carbon emissions, it will also allow people save substantial amounts of money in heating their homes”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
rodericogorman@gmail.com

My reaction to the Electoral Boundary Report

The report of the Dublin & Cities Electoral Boundary Commission was published this afternoon and is available here.

On the positive side, it is great to see that the Dublin 15 area is being given an extra representative, which will mean we now have 9 councillors between the Mulhuddart and Castleknock wards. Our area was severely underrepresented compared to other parts of Fingal as pointed out in the submission I made to the Commission. It is good to see that this issue has now been addressed.

I was somewhat surprised to see the new boundaries that the Commission has created for the Mulhuddart and Castelknock wards. In particular, by adding all areas north of Lucan including Laraghcon to the Mulhuddart ward, the Commission has created a large and somewhat unwieldy ward, stretching all the way from the Ashbourne Road to the banks of the Liffey. Even though Mulhuddart is to receive an extra councillor, it is still going to be a large area for the elected representatives to cover.

Nevertheless, the key issue is that the boundary review has addressed the fact that Dublin 15 was severely underrepresented compared to the rest of Fingal and this has to be welcomed. It will be interesting to see what effects the new boundaries have on candidate selections over the coming months.

My submission on Kellystown

On Thursday I made a submission on behalf of the Dublin West Green Party to Fingal regarding the Kellystown Variation. I have called for significant amendments to the existing plan, primarily linking the building of new homes with the delivery of the Metro West.

The submission is attached at the bottom of this post if you want to have a look at the detail.

I believe that when Metro West is complete and the Maynooth line has been electrified, the lands at Kellystown will be the best served with public transport in all of Dublin 15, possibly in all of Dublin. The soaring price of oil, and Irelands rapidly rising carbon emissions from transport shows us we have to start designing towns that are based around public transport – with Kellystown, we have the opportunity to start making that change in Dublin 15.

However, in light of previous broken promises about the delivery of infrastructure, I can understand how people are naturally going to be suspicious about allowing more residential building, which could put pressure on already over stretched roads, bus and rail services. That is why in my submission to Fingal County Council I am calling for a condition to be inserted stating that no residential development should take place within these lands until the Metro-West is up and running. This will mean that the transport infrastructure has to be in place before the houses can be developed.

I know there has been some concern regarding the loss of greenbelt that would result from building on Kellystown. However, in recent months, we have seen Fingal County Council undertake a study of greenbelt lands around Tyrrelstown, with the suggestion that new residential development should take place in the future. This area is grossly unsuited to new housing – already the thousands of residents of the estate are poorly served with public transport. I think it is crucial that Fingal County Council move away from zoning land that is isolated, and demonstrate that in future, it will concentrate new homes around high quality public transport links. I know that no one likes to see greenbelt being built upon, but from the point of view of long term sustainability, Kellystown with its public transport infrastructure is the most suitable location in all of Dublin 15 to built houses.

I think it also has to be recognised that the Kellystown variation will provide substantial community gain including much needed land for primary and secondary schools, a large public park and a graveyard. However, before the Council agrees to the variation, it is absolutely vital that the councillors are shown the legal agreements entered into between the developer and the Council management, so that they can be assured that the Community gain will be swiftly taken into public control.

My submission also highlights the need to promote high quality, family friendly homes in Kellystown.

One of the worst aspects of development in the Dublin 15 area has been the construction of high density ‘shoe-box’ apartments, which are not suitable for families. This in turn means that people move on regularly which prevents communities forming. In order to avert this in Kellystown, I am calling for a condition to be inserted stating that any apartments built there will comply with the new Dublin City Council guidelines on apartments, which require larger sized apartments, fewer one bed apartments and more three bed family friendly apartments. By applying these measures to the land at Kellystown, we will ensure that the new community here will be family friendly.

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