Sunday, March 16, 2008


Are Ministers milking St Pat's Day?

St Patrick's Day approaches and once again our national day is celebrated across the five continents. It's a great opportunity to raise our country's profile and in the process generate additional jobs and tourists to our shores. Therefore it's important to milk the day for all it's worth.

There was a lot of debate about whether some of our Ministers are milking the day in the wrong way. I raised the issue in the Seanad about whether it was really necessary for our Ministers to stay in rooms costing €1,650 a night in Italy. I've stayed in Rome on a few occasions and I know that you can get a fantastic room for €300. Why does a Minister need to spend like Madonna just because he has access to the taxpayers money?

I agree that these foreign trips, although they might sound like great fun to many, can be hard work. I don't begrudge any Minister a bit of privacy and comfort at the end of these days. But really, there has to be some sort of limit brought in for the sakes of decency.

This week the Labour Party introduced a Bill to try and provide increased protection in the workplace for Agency workers. I spoke on the matter on Wednesday night. My worry is that the proposed legislation by the Government will not go far enough. Our Bill was voted down, but myself and the Party expect to table amendments to the government Bill, if it isn't up to scratch.

Some positive developments this week for the residents of Bellewstown. Meath County Council agreed to issue a notice asking a local quarry to cease operations - concerns had been expressed as to whether the quarry was operating legally. My belief is that we need to see a review of the current legislation quarries, a point I made again in the Seanad on Thursday. Well done to the local campign group for their efforts on this.

The good news of the week is the launch of the new Youthreach centre in Bettystown Square. I attended the launch on Friday and spoke to the staff of the centre. It's not before time that this has come to the area. We have one of the highest rates of early school leavers in the country. Full credit has to be given to Peter Kierans and his staff at the VEC. The building also hosts an Adult Education Officer, who is keen to talk to anyone who thinks they have a need for courses. I am confident that the centre will be a big success!

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