Tuesday, February 26, 2008


435 Bettystown houses refused by An Bord Pleanala

The debate about the recognition of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) schools continues. Last Thursday we had the opportunity to discuss the matter in the Senate. I spoke about the local school in Drogheda, ABACAS which serves the south Louth and East Meath region. I also raised the subject of the costs incurred by the Ó Cuanacháin family in their recent legal case against the Department of Education.

There seems a groundswell of goodwill in favour of movement on the ABA issue. I know that Minister Hanafin has appeared reluctant to change her stance on the issue, but I would be hopeful that recent noises coming from rank and file FF backbenchers may get her to re-consider her policy on this occasion.

I heard at the end of the week that An Bord Pleanala had agreed with my appeal against a 435-house development in Bettystown. The situation was that the original application was approved by Meath County Council, despite the objections of myself and a large number of residents.

I lodged an appeal against this development and a number of submissions were also made by local residents. Although the Inspector recommended that the development should proceed, the Bord decided to go against their own inspector’s decision and REFUSED the development.

So what does this mean? Well, since last year’s adoption of the County Development Plan (CDP) only a limited number of houses will be allowed to be built in the East Meath area. The total number has been “set in stone” in the CDP and included the 435 houses referred to above.

This decision by An Bord Pleanala means that this allocation of 435 houses can now be “re-allocated” somewhere in the East Meath area by our local Councillors, according to where they see the priority to be. They could decide to keep the housing at the appeal site, or they could instead decided to allow 435 houses at the Eco-Residential site beside Laytown Station (in turn, getting a community centre for the area), or they could decided to prioritise another site, or they could decide not to use this allocation at all.

It will be down to the councillors to decide this one, but I'm sure they will get an ear-twisting from both developers and local residents before a decision is made!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Unite Against Climate Change

The news that a quarter of car divers who died in 2006 were NOT wearing seat belts is incredulous. I raised the matter in the Senate, and asked for better enforcement to be taken by the Gardai.

The law exists to prosecute people who don't wear seat belts. I did an arbitrary, random survey from the side of the road the other night and sure enough about a quarter of drivers weren't wearing their seatbelts.

Who are these muppets and what does it take to get through to them? The fact that they seem unafraid of any legal action from the Gardai indicates to me that enforcement of the matter is poor. But then, you just have to look at the amount of trucks overtaking in the Motorway fast lane (illegal), the amount of L-plates on the Motorways (illegal) to see that the Gardai are obviously very busy doing something else, somewhere else, to bother with mere matters of traffic enforcement. Would this happen in another country? I don't think so!

I spoke about the success of the brown bin experiment in Fingal during the week. The Senate was debating Waste Management issues. I called for a roll-out of brown bins across the North East, to try and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites.

The Labour Party organised a Conference in the Mansion House on Saturday about Climate Change. Sean Sherlock, our Spokerperson on Agriculture had a long-standing engagement elsewhere so he asked me to attend and to speak about Agriculture and Climate Change.

The Conference is part of our campaign to get government to provide leadership on this issue. We believe that a concerted approach is needed between Agriculture, planning, energy policy and transport policy and our Spokespeople on these portfolios all attended and spoke at the Conference.

Climate Change conference
Tommy Broughan speaks about Transport and Climate Change. Joanna Tuffy TD is in the foreground.

The Conference was fairly well-attended, considering it clashed with the Labour Youth Conference on the Lisbon Treaty (which voted to support the Treaty!). I called for more research into emissions, a review of the incentives for afforestation schemes and for further thought to be given to the use of bio-fuels.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


A New Plan for Slane

I attended the launch of the new planning document for Slane during the week. The document is about 18 months in gestation and has been put together by Professor Philip Geoghan on behalf of the Slane Forum.

Once again, as with most meetings in Slane, there was a big crowd - well over a hundred citizens attended. Slane village benefits from a great community spirit and that bodes well for the future.

The Plan seems well thought out and proposes various schemes that could help to revitalise the village, including a local park and the refurbishment of the Mill. I'm hopeful that this is not the end of the process, but the end of the beginning of the process and that we might see some much needed investment come into the village.

Over Christmas I visited Keyna and Tanzania. I was in Kenya on the day of the fateful election and saw at first hand the queues building up at polling stations. The EU needs to do all it can to bring peace back to this country, a point I made in the Senate last week.

We crossed over into Tanzania and I climbed the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro.

Taking a rest on the way to the summit.

The climb took seven days and six nights. I had a dreadful time. I vomited every day and for the whole week I couldn't keep any food down and I didn't sleep a wink. However, people from the North East don't give up easily; I managed to keep going and reached the peak, Uhuru, on New Year's Day.

At the summit on New Year's Day

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there, if you parden the appalling pun. By the time I got to the bottom again I had developed a severe bronchial problem, which has been with me ever since. Four weeks later I am just starting to recover. The doctors tell me I have a few weeks of recuperation to go yet. Not a great start to 2008!


We need to see more zebra crossings - I saw this one in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania