Monthly Archive for April, 2014

Time to regulate ‘Cash for Gold’ shops

The theft of gold and jewellery is a major driving force behind a significant number of burglaries across Blanchardstown and Castleknock. Homeowners I’m meeting are all report the same characteristics behind these break-ins – many valuable electronic items left untouched, while gold, jewellery and safes are all taken. Obviously, many of the items stolen are of huge sentimental value to the persons affected.

A major element behind these crimes is the ease with which criminals can dispose of gold. They are particularly difficult for the Gardai to prosecute as the very purpose is to destroy the item stolen by melting it down, which has the result of eliminating the evidence of the crime. This is why I believe it is vital that we examine how ‘cash for gold’ shops operate. While most of these shops are completely legitimate, the lack of regulation in this area is actually facilitating criminals who specialise in jewellery thefts.

In June 2012, the Department of Justice published a report on the issue. This set out the measure that the Gardai had taken to date, including contacting each ‘cash for gold’ shop and informing the owner of their existing legal obligations.  However, when it came to making recommendations, the report really pulled its punches, suggesting that the matter should be bounced between a couple of Oireachtas Committees. Almost two years later and little progress has been made on the matter.

Two years ago in the US, the State of Florida put in place laws requiring ‘cash for gold’ shops to take a detailed description of all items of jewellery that they bought. This description must be kept on record for up to three years, and could be shared with the police if necessary, to compare with descriptions of stolen goods. Significantly, the shop cannot sell on or melt down the jewellery for at least 15 days after purchase. This gives police the chance to catch up with any stolen goods.

I believe that the Minister for Justice should introduce legislation following this “Describe, Share and Hold” model. It will slow down the ability of criminals to dispose of stolen jewellery and increase the chances that victims of crime will get precious possessions returned to them. While it may cause extra work for ‘cash for gold’ shops, it will also improve public confidence in the entire sector.

I’ll work to stop plans for high rise in Castleknock village

If elected, I'll work to have the Fingal Development Plan amended to remove reference to high rise buildings in Castleknock village

As we come close to polling day in Local Elections, many residents in Castleknock village have been asking me about the future of the Flower Shop site in the middle of the village.

In February 2010, An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for a major 5 story development of shops and apartments here. Along with many residents, I strongly objected to this planning application to both An Bord Pleanala and Fingal County Council. I also objected to the flawed Urban Centre Strategy (UCS) for Castleknock village which was foisted on residents by the County Council.

In 2011, I advocated that reference to the Urban Centre Strategy and high rise buildings be removed from the Fingal County Development Plan. Unfortunately, Fingal County Councillors from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour (including some Dublin 15 councillors) voted to keep the reference in.

If elected to the Council in May, I will work with all interested councillors to undertake a S.13 Variation of the Fingal County Council Development Plan which would remove the reference to the urban centre strategy and the high rise development. I would seek to replace this with a reference to a height limit for future buildings on this site. While such a variation will not change the current planning permission that runs until early 2015, it would impact any attempts to alter or extend this planning permission.

I have secured agreement from all the other Green Party candidates standing across Fingal that if they are elected, they will support me in any vote on this issue.

Since I first ran in 2004, I have always stood up for the interests of residents against big developers – here in Castleknock and across Dublin 15. Other councillors allowed for planning permission for the development in Castleknock village to go ahead. If I’m elected, I’ll do my upmost to undue this bad decision.

An illustration of the scale of the buildings that have been given planning permission, in comparison to the Church and other existing buildings

Campaign Launch and Royal Canal Clean-

Myself and Eamon Ryan at my campaign launch

I launched my local election campaign on Saturday in Browne’s Restaraunt, Blanchardstown village. I was joined by Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader and our Euro Election candidate in Dublin. Following the launch myself, Eamon and local volunteers undertook at clean-up along the Royal Canal.

I’m really looking forward to the local election campaign over the next 6 weeks. As the local Green Party representative, I’ve gained real experience over the last ten years, campaigning for residents of Dublin 15 on basic quality of life issues like public transport, new schools and responsible development. I believe Dublin 15 is a good place to live, work and raise a family – but I know we can do more to make it better. I’ve seen where Fingal County Council gets it right, but also where the Council has failed: sometimes in pushing bad decisions but often by failing to properly communicate with and respond to the needs of residents.

Green Party volunteers cleaning the Royal Canal at Castleknock Station

I am running in the Castleknock ward because I know I can use the experience that I have gained to bring more effective decision making to Fingal County Council, based on the needs of residents. I’m passionate about rebuilding our local economy and sustaining jobs, but I want to make sure that as we recover, we do not make the same planning and development mistakes that were made locally during the Celtic Tiger years.

Local Election Campaign Launch & Royal Canal Clean-Up

Tomorrow I’ll be launching my local election campaign for the Castleknock ward in Browne’s Restaurant in Blanchardstown.

I’ll be joined by Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader and our Dublin Euro election candidate.

If you’re interested in hearing my vision for Dublin 15 and the key issues I intend to prioritise if I’m elected to Fingal County Council, feel free to drop in.

Following the launch myself, Eamon and local volunteers will be undertaking our annual Royal Canal Clean-Up. We will be meeting at 1:00pm at Castleknock Train Station and cleaning the stretch of the canal between the 12th Lock and Coolmine Station, till about 3:00pm.

Hope to see you tomorrow.

Fingal councillors vote against Dublin Mayor plebiscite shows shocking contempt for voters

Yesterday’s decision by Fingal councillors to deny Dubliners the right to vote on proposals for a directly elected mayor was outrageous. While it is fair enough that some councillors may disagree with the idea itself, the fact that they have prevented the electorate having a say on the matter shows complete contempt for the views of the people who elected them

What was particularly shocking was the view expressed by many of the councillors that Fingal operates separately from the rest of Dublin and that we can survive as well, if not better, on our own. Fingal’s prosperity is absolutely linked with that of our capital city. Decisions made about planning, housing, public transport and waste collection impact upon us all. A counter motion, supported by nearly all councillors, that Dublin city should go ahead with a vote for a directly elected mayor, would be hugely damaging for Fingal and put us at a massive competitive disadvantage.

What this decision shows is that too many of the sitting councillors in Fingal have become too accustomed to the perks of their position, and have no interest in even considering reform. At the local elections in May, we need to elect new councillors who want to improve how local government works, for the benefit of all the citizens of Dublin. If I am elected, I pledge to do what I can to see yesterday’s decision about the directly elected Mayor reversed.