Saturday, September 09, 2006


New Community Centre Opens in Ratoath

This week saw the official opening of the new Community Centre in Ratoath. It’s a fantastic achievement for the village and is down to a considerable amount of hard work by the residents of the village. Since I was elected in 2004 I have witnessed the tremendous efforts made by the fundraising committee to get this centre built. They are an example to us all.

Party leader visit to Meath East
Myself and Pat Rabbitte outside Ratoath Community Centre

The official opening was performed by President McAleese and it seemed like the whole of Ratoath had come out to meet her.

Ratoath Opening 2

Crowds enjoy the sunshine at the Official opening of the Community centre.

I moved around the crowds and chatted to a few people about how much this means for the growing village. When I was at school down the road Ratoath was a tiny place. I don’t think any of us would have believed that it would grow so large so quickly. The opening of the centre is a welcome and much-needed boost for the village.

Ratoath Opening 1
Martial Arts on display after the opening ceremony.

Local Councillor Nick Killian is the manager of the centre. I know from my experiences with Nick that the centre will be well-run and the whole county wishes Nick, his staff and the people of Ratoath the best.

During the week I attended a briefing on the political situation in Northern Ireland. The Conference was held outside Newry Co Down and was hosted by the SDLP. It kicked off with an analysis of the current state of play from Mark Durkan MP MLA and Leader of the SDLP.

It was interesting to hear his views on how each of the parties in the north had worked together over the summer to try to iron out differences. Both governments have stated that unless an agreement is reached by November then they will bring the curtain down on things. If that were to happen then devolved government may be off the agenda for a generation.

SDLP Conference

Mark Durkan, Liz McManus and I outside the Conference Hall.

Attending from the South were Deputy Liz McManus, my party colleague Hughie Baxter and Councillor Ged Nash from Louth. Also there were members of the Oireachtas including Seamus Kirk TD (who is set to lose out to Cllr Nash in the General Election), Damian English TD, Seymour Crawford TD, Dinny McGinley TD, Senator Brian Hayes and Pat Carey TD (Deputy for Ballymun, who lives in Ashbourne and is thus one of my constituents). I told Deputy Carey that I had been in contact with the council to try and get some additional funding for the road outside of his house. I’m hoping that I might get a number 2 off him!

In the discussion that followed much debate was had over the impact of the General Election in the South and the current uncertainty with Blair’s leadership across the water. I wish that I could say that I found the outlook positive but I came away from Newry feeling that there’s quite a bit of distance to travel yet before we get to a workable solution.

At this week’s council meeting we agreed to introduce a special levy on all new houses within 1 km of the proposed rail link from Dublin to Dunboyne. Developers who build within this area will have to pay several thousand euro for each house constructed, corresponding to about 1% of the price of each house. This money will then be placed in a special fund which will be used to contribute towards the capital cost of constructing the line. The adoption of the scheme brings the opening day of the line a little closer, but the reality is that it must be at least four years away.

I notice that you and Ged Nash are working closely together on issues of common interest to the people in Meath East and in South Louth, particularly on the incinerator. This makes so much sense. Well done Dominic, and keep it up.

I think you're right - I've lived in Louth all of my life and it looks like Kirk's on his last legs - and your man Nash seems set to be the likely beneficiary.

Some of the pundits (and bookies!)are predicting a Labour double. I must say I like a bit of a flutter and I've put a few euro on this one in a local bookies in Drogheda who are running a book on the election.

So, what odds then for a Meath East/Louth double next year?
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