Monthly Archive for October, 2014

Support our campaign to amend the Constitution to prevent privatization of water

Yesterday, the Green Party launched our ‘Our Water’ campaign, to encourage the Government to hold a referendum in the next year to put an article into the Constitution that would prohibit the privatization of Irish Water.

 

We are calling on the Government to hold a referendum on public ownership of water as a priority, before the end of their term of office. We wish to see the inclusion of the following new Article 10.5 into Bunreacht na hÉireann, which would state:

 

“The State shall treat drinking water as an essential resource and in the interests of the common good the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people”.  

 

There’s been a huge groundswell of public anxiety about water charges in the last few months. Much of this is based on uncertainty about the future of Irish Water – will it continue to raise its prices and will it one day be sold off to an international corporation. We can answer this second question now but changing the Constitution to ensure that this will never happen.

 

Enda Kenny himself said that any move to privatize water in this country would have “disastrous consequences”. We completely agree. But it’s not enough for the Taoiseach to make statements like that. He can take the issue of possible future privatisation off the table by bringing forward this referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that water remains a public resource. The Government must act to provide the public with this level of reassurance.

 

You can sign the petition here and watch the campaign video (narrated by Dick Warner) here. The hash tag we are using for the campaign is #OurWater

Update: Tir na nOg Park

At the local area committee of Fingal County Council yesterday, myself and other councillors raised last weekend’s vicious assault in Tir na nOg Park. The Council Management stated that the costings for putting lights along the pathway at the boundary of Tir na nOg Park and Castleknock Community College were currently being drawn up. The are reasonably confident that the work would be included in the works budget for 2015. This is a really positive development as previously, my efforts to call for lighting here were rejected out of hand.

The Council also confirmed that extensive tree pruning and thinning would continue, particularly around the entrance with CCC/The Carpenter.

I’ve also written to the Superintendent in Blanch Garda Station to get an update on the investigation into the particular crime, and to highlight wider issues of anti-social behaviour that has taken place in Tir na nOg over the last few months.

We are just entering the 2015 budgetary process at the moment, so I’ll keep up the pressure to ensure that money is allocated for the public lighting.

I’ll post again when I have more details.

Support Focus Ireland’s ‘Shine a Light’ Campaign

My bed for the night in the Iveagh Gardens

My bed for the night in the Iveagh Gardens

Last weekend, myself and a number of other councillors from Fingal slept out for the night in the Iveagh Gardens as part of Focus Irelands ‘Shine a Light’ campaign.

 

As a newly elected councillor, the homelessness crisis across Dublin is the most pressing and challenging issues that I and fellow councillors have to deal with. I decided to participate in Shine a Light this year to support the vital work that organisations like Focus Ireland undertake and to raise awareness about homelessness. Also, I wanted to get even a brief sense of what it is like for rough-sleepers in Dublin.

 

While the night started with lashing rain, by the time we were settling down to sleep he had cleared up and it was a mild night, with a bit of wind. As such, I avoided getting soaked. I couldn’t imagine having to manage like that night after night.

If you want to support Focus Ireland’s great work, you can sponsor my sleep-out here.

Serious attack in Tir na nOg Park

 

Over the weekend a serious assault took place on a young woman in Tir na nOg Park, Carpenterstown. I understand the specific issue is being investigated by the Gardai.

I’ve received extensive contacts for locals concerned about the risks to personal safety created by the current condition of Tir na nOg Park due to the lack of lighting and the overgrown bushes in the area. The issue of lighting is one I raised with the Council last year, prior to being elected.

I was in touch with Council management yesterday in the wake of this assault to see how can these security issues be addressed.

The Council have committed to continue to cut back any hedges/bushes that are a risk of concealing anti-social behaviour, with a particular emphasis on those at the entrances to the park.

Regarding lighting, the Council have been reluctant to install them within the park on the basis of cost and their argument that they do not wish to encourage people into public parks at night. This latter argument cannot be accepted as this pathway is the main route people use when walking between the Diswellstown Road and the Carpenter/Spar. Therefore, the Council has a duty to make it as safe as possible.

I’ve a motion coming up at the next relevant area committee meeting of Fingal CC and I will strongly make the point that there must be some lights installed in the park, particularly along the pathway.

I’ll post an update when I have more information.

Decision to abolish 80% Windfall Tax will do nothing to ease housing crisis

 

I’m shocked and angry at the decision by the Government to remove the 80% Windfall Tax on the profits land owners make when their land is rezoned for new development by county and city councils. It is a deeply regressive move and shows bizarre priorities on the part of the Government.

 

This tax was introduced in 2010 as part of the NAMA Act. It applies to the extra value that land gains when county councillors vote to change its zoning from for example, agriculture use to residential use. The land owner has done nothing to earn the sudden spike in the value in the land. Therefore, it is appropriate that the State should take back a significant proportion of that extra value.

 

This measure will do nothing to deal with the lack of supply of houses in the Dublin area. In the Dublin area, where there is the greatest demand for new homes, there is no shortage of land zoned for housing. This was shown in a recent report from the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland, which identified 2,233 hectares of land in Dublin, already zoned for housing. However, rezoning will start to happen over the next few years across the country and it is exactly now that we need this tax to recoup some of the financial gains from rezoning back to the State, where it can be re-invested.

 

This budget should have been about giving something back to those sections of society that have suffered most during the economic crisis. Instead, the Government has decided to give a tax break for landowners through the abolition of the Windfall Tax and deny it a source of future revenue. It is as if nothing has been learned from the financial crisis over the last few years.

Fingal CC accepts my motion to re-establish Liffey Valley Committee

St. Catherine's Park is a key resource within the Liffey Valley

St. Catherine’s Park is a key resource within the Liffey Valley

I’m delighted that Fingal County Council has agreed to my motion to reconvene the Liffey Valley Management Advisory Committee. I’ve been campaigning to have this committee re-established for a number of years. This committee has actually not met for the last four years, and prior to that, its meetings were extremely infrequent. The Advisory Committee is made of councillors from the Dublin 15 area and also councillors from the Lucan area of South Dublin County Council. It also comprises representatives from residents living in the valley.

 

A similar motion was recently passed by South Dublin County Council.

 

The Liffey Valley is a huge resource for the people of Dublin 15 and the wider Dublin area. However, the area still faces many challenges. Last year, a large parcel of land at St. Edmundsbury near Lucan was sold to a private investor. On a number of occasions in recent years, heavy rains have generated severe flooding along the Strawberry Beds. There is also the issue of extending the Special Amenity Area Order to a wider range of land.

 

In the longer term, the idea of the creating a Liffey Valley National Park should still be progressed. The Office of Public Works has already compiled a detailed report –Towards a Liffey Valley National Park – but this requires a strategic direction and coordinated progress between the local authorities and government bodies involved. The decision to re-establish the Liffey Valley Management Advisory Committee gives us the opportunity to achieve this.

Planning application at Hollywoodrath, Hollystown

Outline site plan of new development at Hollystown

Outline site plan of new development at Hollystown

 

A planning application for a large residential development between the southern side of the junction of the Ratoath Road and the R121 (Church Road), and to the north of the M2/N3 link road, has been submitted. The proposed development will consist of 435 two and three storey houses with a mixture of detached, semi-detached and terraced units. The planning application number is FW14A/0108. You can look it up here.

The deadline for objections or observations is close of business on Thursday 9th October. These should be sent to the Planning Department, Fingal County Council, County Hall, Main Street Swords, Co. Dublin. Include your own name and address, and you must use the number for this planning application: FW14a/0108.

 

You can also register online and make your objection/observation through the Fingal website. Remember, there is a €20 fee to make an objection.

 

If you have the chance, please forward on your objections/observations to me at rodericogorman@gmail.com.