Sunday, February 11, 2007


Conference Weekend at The Helix

This month’s council meeting kicked off an hour late, all because of a bit of a rumpus over the €1.5 million announcement for the Community Centre in Ashbourne. Councillor Joe Bonner had claimed that it was all down to him, and erected posters on the way into Ashbourne announcing this. The other Councillors in his patch were having none of it. They said that the money had been available for years and that Joe had actually held up the process.

A row ensued and went on for an hour. For me, who was right or wrong was largely immaterial. The two things to come out of this were that the people of Ashbourne will get another €1.5 million for community facilities (great) and Joe Bonner proved once again that when it comes to a political stroke, he can outwit some of the more experienced councillors in his area. I’d have to say, hats off to Joe!

I had a question down about the Barcelona Declaration. I was trying to find out what Meath County Council has done to implement the Declaration in relation to disability rights. The Manager has promise a full report at next month’s meeting.

The saga of unlit public lighting in estates continues. I am currently working on three different estates which are without lighting. Trying to get to the bottom of things proves to be difficult, with the ESB, the developers and the council all blaming each other for the delays. Meanwhile, people leave their estates in the dark and come home from work in the dark.

Of course, maybe it’s the ESB’s way of cutting back on energy consumption. Because according to Duncan Stewart, that’s something that we all have to take a lot more seriously over the coming years. Report after report is being published to show categorically that life on earth is on a knife-edge. Tough decisions about how we live out lives will have to be made by the next government.

Ireland can do better with Labour
Duncan Stewart on Global Warming, speaking to the Labour Party NEC and Dail Candidates

Duncan gave a passionate speech to about 50 Oireachtas members, Dail candidates and NEC members on Friday night in The Helix at DCU at the opening of our Annual Conference. His speech was excellent and left none of us in any doubt as to the difficulties we face to counter this global threat.

At the meeting Pat Rabbitte completed his announcement of his 5 commitments to change.

Ireland can do better with Labour
Myself and Harry Barrett listen to Pat announce his 5 commitments.

Conference itself was great fun. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces and touch base with old friends.

I got to announce our policy to provide all under 5’s with a free GP card. My speech went out live on RTE 1 TV and I was happy with the reception it received. Also, a clip was shown on the lunchtime news, so about 250,000 people got to see a bit of it. You can read the speech here

Extracts of my speech to Conference

In the afternoon I attended a few workshops on media strategy, canvassing etc. It was all election, election, election stuff. I sneaked away to listen to a fascinating talk on the new Venezuela, and the changes that Chavez is introducing. Mark Langhammer gave a wonderful insight into what is being achieving on the ground. I spent some time in Caracas a couple of years ago, so it was good to get an update on the political situation in the country.

Afterwards I bumped into my Director of Elections.

How was the Campaign Strategy session?” I asked.

I decided not to go. I went to the session on the European Constitution instead” he replied.

And what good is that going to do us in Dunshaughlin? I teased.

Well, if anyone asks what the European Anthem is, I’ll be able to hum Ode to Joy to them” he snapped back.

Ninety days out from an election and he’s worried about when to celebrate Europe Day. He should be careful we don’t review Article II-62.2

I had to leave the conference a bit early, as I had a long-standing engagement at The ABACAS Annual Ball in The Boyne Valley Hotel. The Ball is run every year to raise money for the local school for Autism. It’s a wonderful event and a great chance to have an enjoyable evening out for a good cause. I’ve been going for the last few years and I share the same table every year with old friends.

About 300 people attended the event, and once again the event was a tremendous success.

Ball Organisers
The Ball Committee on Sunday morning at The Boyne Valley Hotel

Congrats to Anne, Cathy, Jacinta, Linda and Ruth for a great evening!

Finally, I got nominated for the Irish Political Blog of the Year award. If you want to vote for me click here

Dominic, Congrats on your speech on Saturday. Pat's tax announcement has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. It is certainly being well received here in Waterford. It has also succeeded in people talking about the conference and his speech. Anyway best of luck with your campaign.
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