Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Status of the 37 bus route terminus must be clarified – O’Gorman

 

30/01/11

Green Party Dublin West candidate, Roderic O’Gorman has called on the Department for Transport to finally clarify the status of whether the 37 bus route will be able to terminate at the Blanchardstown Town Centre.

“Last year, during Dublin Bus’s ‘Network Direct’ consultation regarding bus routes in Dublin 15, it was stated that the newly amalgamated 37 and 37X service would commence and terminate in the Blanchardstown Town Centre. This would provide a direct Dublin Bus link between Castleknock and the Town Centre. However, no progress on this has yet been made and the 37 continues to terminate on the Blanchardstown South Road”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“Before Christmas, I contacted Dublin Bus to find out what was the delay on this issue. Dublin Bus confirmed that they had sought approval from the Department of Transport to extend the 37 route to the Town Centre. However, the decision was deferred due to “external factors””.

“It is clear from the tone of their letter and the fact that they have applied for this on a number of occasions that Dublin Bus wish to undertake this route extension. The benefits for commuters in Castleknock, Carpenterstown and Laurel Lodge are obvious. I am calling on the Department of Transport to fully clarify what are the external factors preventing a decision and further, for the Department to resolve these quickly to enable this service to be extended”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Why is Fingal CC still rezoning land for housing?

Last week I made my submission regarding the Final Stage of the Fingal County Development Plan. One of the key issues I highlighted was the completely inappropriate nature of the vote by Councillors  [p 2268-9] to rezone 32 hectares of land for residential purposes at Tyrrelstown. In my submission I have called on the Council to use the final stage of the Development Plan process to undo this unwise decision

If you read the Strategic Overview  [p 19-23] of the Fingal Development Plan, it makes it clear that Fingal has a significant oversupply of land zoned for residential purposes, compared to that which is required under the Regional Planning Guidelines 2010-2022. Why then, in the middle of the collapse in demand for property, is Fingal zoning even more land for housing?

t looks like the measure is been taken as a sop to the developer in order to get land for schools and a public park. However, surely after all the planning disasters we have witnessed in the last few years, both in Fingal and across the country, we should have realised that this is not the way to do business. Developers cannot hold the Council and local communities to ransom.

From the point of view of good planning and public trust in local government, it is vital that the Council undo this rezoning. Dublin 15 does not need more land for housing. The Council must employ more appropriate techniques to achieve the much needed land for a public park and extra schools sites for Tyrrelstown.

After Today’s Finance Bill debacle, we need to get serious about Dail Reform

For me, today’s antics by FF and FG gene-pool independents showed more than ever why political reform has to be one of the key campaign issues during the general election. At the very time when the eyes of the world are upon us, the IMF, the EU and any potential overseas investors were treated to the spectacle of the Minister for Finance being dragged to meetings with a number of former FF and FG politicians, where they presented their list of populist demands. They were then able to march to the plinth of Leinster House and claim they had won big for their interests (though RTE questions how real some of their ‘wins’ actually were).

I’m from a small political party. Some would say that small political parties have had too great an influence on politics in Ireland (see Democrats, Progressive). However, at least smaller parties attempt to represent the entire country. The Green Party ran candidates in all constituencies in 2007 and hope to do the same in 2011. The ‘gene-pool’ independents currently in the Dail make a virtue of the completely parochial nature of their representation.

Maybe there is a place for purely geographical interests being represented in a legislature. The EU has the Committee for the Regions (though it has no major legislative powers). But certainly, the parochialism of Lowry, Healy-Rae and McGrath has no place in our main legislative chamber. This is why I get so angry when I hear abolishing the Seanad being touted as the political reform we need. Yes, the Seanad needs reform, but the DAIL is where the major problem lies.

In my view, any politician who isn’t making serious commitments on Dail reform in this campaign, can’t be taken seriously (they should be making commitments on local government reform too, but I’ll talk about that later on).

Standing in the General Election

 

I am delighted to have been selected to run in the General Election in Dublin West for the Green Party. My campaign will focus on key messages regarding job creation, political reform, investment in education and fighting bad planning.

Employment must the key focus of the next Government. The Green Party has had major success, creating and protecting 16,000 jobs in the green economy sector in areas such as renewable energy, home insulation and green infrastructure projects. The highly educated and skilled workforce in Dublin West is well positioned to benefit from continued investment and government support for these newly growing industries. If elected, I pledge to work in the Dail to continue to develop these new economic growth areas.

As a lawyer, I passionately believe in the need to use the law to shape the society in which we live. In this election campaign, I will be arguing that our country needs major constitutional reform to ensure that the mistakes that led to the current crisis can never happen again. We need a Dail that is smaller, more efficient and not dominated by parish-pump politicians. We need local government which is accountable and has real powers. We need a public service where talent is promoted and appointment is not based on longevity or connections.

Even in light of the huge pressure on the state’s finances, we have fought hard to protect investment in education. There has been sustained spending on the building of new school, both in Dublin West and across the country. The Green Party prevented the reintroduction of 3rd level fees. Most importantly, we have secured extra teachers for both primary and secondary to prevent an increase in the pupil-teacher ratio. Education is key to our economic recovery and if we are part of the next government, we will continue to work to protect investment in this area. 

Fighting bad planning in Dublin West and nationally will always be a top priority for me. Indeed, it is the reason why I decided to actually stand for my first election in 2004. In government, John Gormley passed an excellent new Planning Act, which addresses many of the problems in the planning system. However, local councillors from the big parties continue to do damage. In local elections in 2009 the Green Party lost all its seats on Fingal County Council. Since then, we have seen the rezoning alliance of FF and FG make a number of really bad planning decisions. Many of these decisions were passed very narrowly. I just missed out on the last seat in Castleknock-Blanchardstown against a Fianna Fail candidate, and if I had been successful, many of these votes would have gone the other way. This proves why is it so important to have a Green voice representing the area.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with voters and with the other candidates during the election campaign.

Start of Civil Partnership process is major achievement of the Green Party in Government

 

Its fantastic to see the start of the process for the granting of civil partnerships in Ireland and the recognition of the first civil partnerships. This is an extremely important moment for the gay and lesbian community in Ireland. On Thursday, 13th January the first civil partnership were recognised under the civil partnership act. These are same-sex couples who had entered into marriages or unions in other countries, but are living here in Ireland. They will now receive recognition as civil partnerships under Irish law.

 The Minister for Justice has issued a statutory instrument, setting out 27 countries whose form of marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in Ireland.

 From the 4th January, Irish same-sex couples have the right to apply to become civil partners here. As there is a three month requirement for notice, we can expect the first ceremonies to start taking place in early April.

As legal advisor to the Green Party on this issue, I am hugely proud of our role in achieving a major step forward for civil rights in this country. Until now, Ireland was one of very few European countries which made absolutely no provision for recognising same-sex relationships. As a result of the Green Party’s actions in government, same-sex couples may now enter into civil partnerships, which offer protections across a range of areas like taxation, inheritance, domestic violence, pensions, social welfare and shared homes. They also bestow official state recognition on these relationships.

The Green Party remains committed to achieving full civil marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens of our state. We believe that this is an issue which must be addressed by the next Government.

Public Participation in Final Stage of Development Plan Essential

Work has been ongoing on the new Fingal County Development Plan since early 2009. Like myself, many individuals and local groups have been highly involved in the previous public consultation process, making detailed submission setting out views on how Fingal should develop. This is now entering the final stage.

Public submissions must be received before 5:00 PM on Monday, 24th January. This can be made in one of three ways; online, via email or through the post. The Council has provided an excellent website detailing the amendments proposed at this stage with maps.  

It is important to remember, this is the final say that the public will have in the creation of this development plan, which will last until 2017. A number of significant changes have been made since the first draft was published, so it is vital that people make their voices heard in how our community will look over the next six years.