Sunday, November 25, 2007


Action on Management Companies at last?

Many people in Meath, Louth, Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow are living in estates which are run by Management Companies. Whilst the majority of these companies are well run, there is unfortunately no legislation governing their regulation. I have been pushing for better regulation for some time and raised the matter twice on the Order of Business in the Seanad. This week I put down an Adjournment Motion calling for the Minister to outline what he intends to do about the situation.

The Motion was put down on Wednesday night. An Adjournment Motion is heard at the discretion of An Cathaoirleach (the Chair) and it takes place after all of the rest of the day's business has been concluded.

I had been told earlier in the day that my motion would be heard, so I waited around as the other Senators left the Chamber at the end of business. Next thing I saw was Brian Lenihan walking in to the Chamber. Usually an Adjournment Motion is taken by a Junior Minister, so I was surprised to see one of the key Ministers coming in for the Motion. I reckon it shows that they are serious about the issue and so hopefully something will be done.

I spoke about the problems and pitfalls faced by residents and the Minister responded with his plans for regulation in the area. I will keep on at them to deliver on these plans.

I also spoke on the debate on An Post in the House. I pointed out that the postal service is essential to people living in smaller communities and that in the last 7 years they have been closing at a rate of one every 5 days. You can see my full contribution here.

Because of the constituency boundary review myself and my branch are now members of the LOUTH constituency. Whilst I have yet to decide on how this affects my own arrangements for the next general election, it is important for the branch structure to be re-organised as soon as practicable. Myself and two of the Jimmy Tuly / Laytown branch officers were invited to attend a meeting of the Laurence's Gate Branch in Drogheda on Tuesday nights.

The event was well attended, and the audience including former Louth TD Michael Bell and former Mayor of Drogheda Cllr Gerard Nash. I outlined the logistical changes being suggested by the review and then took some questions from the floor.

Drogheda branch flag

Michael Bell presents branch Chairman Gareth Fitzpatrick with the branch's flag.

Thursday evening saw the launch of a new book at the Bettystown Court Hotel. Compiled by local man Brian Langan, the book is called "Remembering the Future" and is a selection of stories from local people about their memories and hopes for the Coastal Area. The book is on sale in all local bookshops and proceeds will go to the Meath East Community Association (MECA) fund for a new Community Centre. There's one Christmas present decision made a lot easier!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Wexford Conference

I had my first outing on RTE 1's new show "The Late Debate" on Thursday night. It was my first time in the RTE radio studios in Montrose (although I have been in the TV ones before). On the show with me were Michael O'Reagan from the Irish Times and a couple of other guests. The main subjects were whether the Oireachtas should have its own TV channel (I'm not convinced) and also a look forward to the Labour Party Conference in Wexford at the weekend.

The Conference itself turned out to be a blast. I think a lot of people might have expected it to be a wound-licking exercise, after the general election result. Instead it was really upbeat and I'd say that everyone came away happy. Congratulations to Mary Quinn from Dunboyne and to Paul Dillon from outside Duleek, both of whom got elected to the National Executive Committee.

I spoke at the fringe event on Northern Ireland and also on the need for a Dublin Transport Authority. The rest of the time was spent chatting to other delegates and attending various meetings. Both nights were extremely late and great fun.

I got intereviewed by Graham O Maonaigh for postings on the party's youtube home page. He asked me about congestion in Dublin and about the 21st Cetury commission (set up by the conference to help plan the party's future). These are posted here.

Wexford Conference
Cleaning up after the Conference

This week in the Seanad I got to speak on the subject of Road Safety, particulary in relation to the situation outside of our schools. I also spoke about the need for more help to be given to young carers in Ireland.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Are we doing enough on Climate Change?

The government put down a motion this week asking for their actions on climate change to be lauded.

As the Party's Spokesperson on the Environment in the Seanad I was tasked with responding to the government. I made the point that we were still not doing enough in areas such as emissions from housing, from energy pollution and from transport.

On Thursday I attended lunch with the Leinster House political correspondents. Our national conference is next week so we wanted to brief them on the forthcoming event.

This year the event is in Wexford in White's Hotel. I went down there on Friday for the night to check out the hotel and have a look at the facilities inside and outside the venue. It's a great setting and I'm looking forward to a successful conference.

I gave my maiden speech to The Philosophical Society of Trinity College on Thursday night. I was speaking in favour of a motion stating that "Ireland is a gay-friendly country". It was a well attended debate - perhaps two hundred students. I enjoyed it but had to leave early to attend a branch meeting in Ashbourne.

One of the subjects that was discussed was the massive port proposal at Bremore, on the Meath / Fingal border. It's going to be about three times the size of Drogheda port and will have significant implications for people leaving on the east side of Meath. I also brought the issue up in the Seanad, calling for care to be taken in the planning of the port.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Broadband switched on in Stamullen

Eventually it appears that broadband has been switched on in Stamullen. It´s taken a long time for the network to be updated and it´s great that things are now ready. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this. It will bring great benefits: improved speeds mean it´s easier to use the web for business and leisure purposes.

I brought up the issue of housing in Meath in the Seanad this week. I mentioned the fact that some local authority estates are waiting years for a refurbishment, noting in particular that Alverno Heights in Laytown has been waiting for a few decades now. My contribution was as part of a debate on Housing in Ireland.

This week I got my first opportunity to introduce a Private Member´s Bill in the Oireachtas. The Labour Party gets about 6 opportunities each year to introduce a Bill. We decided this time to introduce a bill to set up a Witness Protection Programme. Since I am the Seanad Spokesperson on Crime it was my responsibility to introduce and propose the Bill.

I did a bit of reseacrh on how such programmes work worldwide and included a few examples in my speech . The debate was interesting, but I knew fairly early on that it would not succeed. When I said that I hoped the Bill would receive the support from both sides of the house I was eyeballing the Minister of State, Deputy Sean Power. He gave me a grin which more or less said "yeah right".

The Bill was defeated on a roll-call vote by 19 votes for and 28 against.