Sunday, October 01, 2006

 

Blue Flag for Bettystown Beach?

We had a special meeting this week to discuss gaining Blue Flag status for Bettystown beach. The meeting on Wednesday morning included presentations on Coastal Erosion, Beach parking, traffic management plans, the proposed boardwalk and the proposed amendments to the beach bye-laws.

I was impressed by the scope of work that the engineers have completed. All it needs now is money from the County Manager and all of the councillors will be pressing for funds to be made available.

East Coast Foreshore Bylaws
Laytown & Bettystown beaches are a major tourist attraction for East Meath

We agreed to return to the discussion of the bye-laws at the next area meeting. I’ll also be bringing up the subject of drinking on the beach. It’s an issue that concerns a lot of the local residents. I got a phone call at 10pm one night last week from a resident to tell me about a gang of youths breaking bottles against a wall. The resident had called the Gardai but had not at that stage seen a response from them.

I was in my car at the time so I drove over to the beach. There were a bunch of about 30 teenagers drinking just off the beach. I could see that the sheer size of the group alone would probably intimidate people.

Later that evening someone was beaten up in the village centre. It all goes to show that we need extra gardai in the area, something that I will keep on about until we get additional resources. We also need more facilities for our teenagers and young adults as well.

The local political temperature picked up this week with the developing news about Bertie. I was in the Dail on Thursday and had a chat with a few of our TDs. There was general agreement that the possibility of an early election was now more likely.

On the way back to Bettystown I got a call from my Director of Elections.

Have you got the cable ties sorted yet?” he asked me. The cable ties keep posters up on the poles. We had agreed at our last planning meeting that I would purchase these asap.

Not yet, but I think I know where we can get them” I replied.

Well, we might need them sooner than you think. We could be going to the country within a week!” he responded. The last thing he wants is to be a few days into a campaign with all of our posters keeping warm in a shed while he has to frantically search the country for cable ties, as I sip coffee at some local coffee morning.

Hmm, my sense is that we won’t have an election this side of Christmas. They will want to keep the show going,” I replied; possibly my tone was a bit relaxed.

What does your sense tell you about what my state of mind will be on Tuesday night, if Bertie calls an election and we have no poster ties?” he bellowed.

It didn't sound like he wanted a lengthy conversation on this one! I made a few phone calls and within a couple of hours I was able to ring him back and tell him that we now have thousands of cable ties and indeed we’ve probably cornered the market on them. So, if any other candidates need some ties, I might be willing to part with a few spare ones, with a suitable profit margin added in, of course.

And the positive thing is .... we are now ready to go!

Comments:
Oh Councillor Hannigan,
I really wouldn't worry too much about those cable ties, and I certainly hope you haven't spent too much on shoe leather for the upcoming election, because if I were you I wouldn't darken any doorsteps in the Laytown, Bettystown, Mornington area! You have upset many by your complete inaction in the Laytown National School Crisis.
It's quite humorous to read you complain about the teenagers drinking on the beach....given that Meath CoCo and have supplied absolutely no social infrasture in our area. While zoning for houses, hotels and gaming facilities seem to slide by problem-free, we can't even get a playground, community centre, play fields or classrooms!
It's nice to hear you'll be pushing for funds for Blue Flag status for the beach. But given that Meath CoCo cannot afford 34 Euros a day for a lollipop person, I can't imagine they'll come up with much for the beach!!
 
Well said Concerned Parent, as someone who is responsible for voting to elect Clr Hannigan I am really looking forward to his next visit. I wonder did Clr Hannigan have any feeling of shame or guilt when he viewed the 30 teenagers drinking that no party including labour bothered to provide any social infrastructure or amenities for a generation. Maybe you could as Pat Rabbitte about what changes he made in government to the current system of social infrastructure provision?. You are correct we do need more gardai but we will also need more prison spaces because the politicians including labour and fine gael has chosen to the policy of criminalizing our children rather resource our children from birth.

As long as you got the cable ties that is all that really matters i.e. getting elected. If you are the future we are screwed as a community.

P.s. off-licenses don’t count as social infrastructure but I understand prisons do.
 
Why not a Guinness Flag? Just like the proposal for the blue flag it would work like this - when the kids are drinking on the beach we could fly a Guinness flag to let walkers on the beach know that our kids are drinking and maybe dangerous. I wonder how many beaches in Ireland would qualify for a Guinness Flag? Hundreds I guess but if we extended it to parks, playgrounds and open spaces the count would go into the thousands. The idea would be to lose your Guinness flags, so a decent community would have say no flags. Maybe it should be a Carlsberg Flag because I am straying into fantasy land in thinking the people who represent us could help create a society that actually cares for its children, the last people who believed in that were shot in 1916 along with James Connolly.
 
Well said, obviously a lot of parents are sharing the same views ie who in power actually cares about our children? Did you feel a pang of guilt Clr Hannigan when you viewed the teenagers, did you consider for a moment that last year you and your cohorts on Meath CoCo voted against a proposal from a local landowner that would have seen this community receive 14 free acres for school and recreation?? You slipped up there didn't you Clr, lets hope you don't slip putting up those posters!!
 
As George Galloway said on the late late this Friday; "If an arse had three cheeks, you'd be the third" of the arse cheeks behind the other two parties, that are the weak opposition against the process that is failing us all in this community. Blue Flags my arse. The only flag around here is the one flying high saying "Dominic Hannigan is ineffective as a public representative like all of the rest of them. Infrastructure works, blue flags only remind us about how depressed we are at the lack of any infrastructure. You don't have much time left.
 
Cllr Hannigan,

Teenagers binge drinking on beach?? shocking I agree and they are the ones who got to attend Primary School.... What will we tell our babies who have no school places, no playgrounds or community centres?? Admire the Blue Flag on Bettystown Beach?? Surely by now you realise that you are going to have to take some responsibility (along with your fellow councillors) for blowing the chance this community had to obtain 14 acres FREE OF CHARGE over a year ago!! Easy to tell that you don't have children yourself or you might be just a little bit more concerned with the need to get some basic infrastructure right..
 
Dominic, as a local resident can I say I am sick of the negativity as demonstrated by some of these comments on your blog. It also seems some of the other candidates are taking this line as well, running down the local area and everything that happens here. I heard one of them refer to Meath County Council as "a do nothing council", I have a friend working for Meath County Council, she was upset by that, felt it was an insult to the hundreds of people working for Meath County Council. That candidate will get a rude awakening if he calls to her door.

I say well done for highlighting blue flag status, its good for the local community and economy if we have it.

I am tired of hearing how bad things are here, yes East Meath is not perfect and has its problems, but we have many positives as well. Even from a financial point of view some people are destroying the value of all our homes in the area, I hear prices of houses here are declining.

OK, the local councillors and Meath County Council is not perfect, but the central issue here is the National Govt, for 9 and a half years FF and the PDs have looked after their friends, particularly the builders and all the others who have made millions in the housing market, such as the banks, speculators, solicitors, auctioners etc while providing hardly any resources for communities facilities etc.

As for Laytown school, well we are supposed to have a Dept of Education looking after these things and a Minister who is ultimately responsible, but they took their eye off the ball. That in my view were the blame clearly lies, even though Mary Hanafin was trying to pass the buck.

What we need now is focus on solutions, acknowledge mistakes were made by all and work together on getting us a solution.

Keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us informed via your blog and newsletters, the other candidates only turn up at election time.
 
Isn't it funny how your supporters always wish to remain anonymous. Is it you, Clr, writing these ones...or some relative trying to boost support.

I haven't heard anybody running down the area. I love where I live. It's just a shame it's also home to some serial objectors! Anyhow, don't worry anonymous, those of us directly involved in the school issue and who have been forced to bring our babies to the less than sub-standard accommodation offered with horrific toilet facilities, will always remain positive. Unless we out our waste-of-space coucillors, we'll never make progress. Thank God election time is coming, we can make really informed decisions on what way to vote now!! NO to Hannigan, NO to Cudden and NO to Anne Dillon Gallagher!!!! (And the other 2 eejits as well, Boshell and ranting Kelly)
 
The message from #7,"IT'S NOT PERFECT" is exactly the problem Dominic. All politicians look for something in return, few are vocationally in it for the people anymore. Solutions and working together?? If there had been more of this, then we wouldn't be in this position in the first place, having to bring infants into the fray. Discussion about house prices inside this debate is far from relevant if even accurate and demonstrates a complete lack of community whilst these poor parent's children finally attend school under such awful circumstances. If anything, the complete lack of infrastructure would have far greater impact. There are good people in Meath Co Co of course but it obviously lacks any leadership. The sooner the country rejects 'it's not perfect' and raises it's expectations up from the gutter, the sooner we'll see some decent representatives working for us, instead of themselves, around here.
 
Commenter Number 9, I accept and agree with the valid point you make re house prices, obviously a proper school for our kids should is the most important issue, but I am just reflecting what I hear informally, some people are thinking of moving out but are scared that they won't get what they paid for their houses because of all the mess with the school and all the subsequent problems.

I understand that people are frustrated with all the politicans and rightly so, but for the childrens sake in this area, lets focus on solutions and not knock everything in our communuity.
 
Comment No 10, you are missing the point...there is nothing in our community for us to knock! Yes, we have fantastic people living in this area who are willing to devote their time and energy into our children, but unfortunately they struggle without the proper resources ie community centre, playfields, girl guides, boy scouts. Surely we should be insisting that Meath CoCo put a complete freeze on the building of any more houses until these facilities and playgrounds are provided for the families already living here. Surely, they cannot be allowed add hundreds more families to an already escalating problem?
If we keep working together as a community, and keep putting pressure on the people in power (such as Clr Hannigan) whose responsibility is to serve us, then WE WILL HAVE ALL OUR AMENITIES and be the wonderful community we aspire to be!
 
Concerned parent - as a new face in the area, my understanding regarding social activities for children in East Meath is that the idea for a proposed Foroige club in the area had to be abandoned when the aspiring members of your perceived 'wonderful community' could not be counted on to rally the minimum number of volunteers needed (ie 4) to give 2 hours a week supervising the children....Oh and for future reference - if you simply call yourself 'concerned parent' then technically you are remaining annoymous as well!
 
I think people forget that Councillors have virtually no power. All they can really do is vote on the development plan and do "part 8s" where the council undertakes development. Even the development plan must operate under central guidelines, and councillors have little power regarding implementation after it is adopted, especially with regard to planning permissions.

Bottom line: the real power rests in central government and in unaccountable County Council Officials. The councillors can only do so much and it really is through brokering/access to decision makers eiher via the council buracracy or TDs from their party. Not a word from Boshell or Mary Wallace who have DIRECT access. At least Hannigan is making an effort.

Lobby your TD to give more decision making power to locally elected reps and then look for results.

If Hannigan gets elected, and if Labour are in government, that's where the real test will be seen.
 
In response to all comments I welcome any positive action towards the community even if only a blue flag. Promoting the beach as a tourist destination though is off the wall. It is a natural amenity to be enjoyed by locals and fairly local daytrippers,just like Dollymount or Portrane are within the metropolis that has now spread up the coast. We stopped being a holiday destination in the 80's just before the erection of the Anchorage under the seaside renewal property scheme which saw holiday cottages built nationwide. We were a suburb of Dublin/Drogheda long before that point and have the amenity needs of any big suburb rather than those of a quaint tourist destination.

I also don't like too much negativity but there is little to be positive about looking forward because all we see in the pipeline are more houses already sanctioned under the East Meath Plan. Julianstown correctly states that councillors are powerless after they sanction a development plan. Up to that point they are omnipotent. Why so did they vote to further overload an area without explicit provision for all the necessary infrastructure, social and physical. Their agenda seems largely driven by money. The council don't get enough from central govt to run a county that is now supporting a huge no of residents sleeping here but working in businesses who pay rates in Dublin. To avoid bankruptcy they allow houses to be built all over the place to get the levies. There may be other money matters involved when landowners/developers become wealthy overnight but these are generally totally unknown persons to those in power. It would be much better if the council declared bankruptcy - central govt would no doubt bail it out. Instead the councillors have acted at times as if they are morally bankrupt.
Again, I don't want to tar all with the same brush. Just as many people working for the council do great work, they must be able to see from within where the system isn't quite working, and this is why abuse is directed at the council as a whole, not them personally. Likewise all councillors are not equally at fault for the mess we're in. Some may have got into politics to actually attempt to fix the mess others have created.
To those concerned, maybe it's time to come out of the trenches and volunteer for active service to make a difference. Unfortunately the council elections are about 3 years off. But as councillors have no power, maybe the imminent general election is where you should have your say.
 
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