Sunday, April 13, 2008


Pottering in the House

The works to upgrade Duleek sewerage system continues. Over the last few weeks residents in High Meadows Station Road Duleek have had to put up with road closures and diversions. I met with some of the residents on Monday night. They were livid that the Council didn't inform residents about the road closure in advance. As a result a lot of people were inconvenienced. Coupled with that the diversionary route was down narrow lanes behind The Commons - totally inadequate.

The work is going to continue throughout Duleek village for the next year (at least!). I spoke to the engineers and called for more communication, better management of the roadworks, proper notification to businesses and residents and adequate diversions to be put in place. Hopefully they will learn for the messy situation that arose over the last few weeks.

I was called to a meeting with residents from Kilegland House and Killegland Hall in Ashbourne, who are experiencing anti-social behaviour in their car-parks. It seems like a lot of the behaviour is alcohol related. I brought the matter up in the Seanad the following day,

On Tuesday the Seanad was addressed by the President of the European Parliament, Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, MEP. He spoke on a wide range of issues, including the European Reform Treaty.

I repeated some of his remarks at a meeting in Laytown that evening. The meeting was held to discuss and explain the changes and benefits that will arise from the adoption of the Treaty. The feedback from the meeting was that in general, it appears that people feel they don't have enough information on what the Treaty proposes, a point I made in the Seanad on Wednesday.

This week a delegation of Algerian parliamentarians came to visit Leinster House. On Wednesday I was asked to meet them for a half an hour. I had imagined that the event would be quite informal, maybe myself and another half dozen Irish parliamentarians grabbing a coffee and moving around the room chatting to them. However, when I arrived at the room a lady from the Department of Foreign Affairs stopped me from going in.

"Enda Kenny's not finished speaking yet" she said.

I noticed that I was the only one waiting to enter the room. Alarms bells started ringing.

"Just what exactly is the format here" I asked.

""Oh, has no-one told you? Deputy Kenny is speaking for 30 minutes, then you are on for 30, then they go for an audience with An Taoiseach" she replied.

I'm afraid my language in response was less than Parliamentarian, and I turned the air blue. I had nothing prepared at all. However, needs must, and so when Enda came out I went in.

There were about ten senior Algerian parliamentarians around the table. I took my place opposite them and proceeded, with the help of a translator, to chat to them until it was time for them to go to the Bert.

For my efforts I got an invite to Algeria and a large tray of fresh dates!

From there I went down to a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tibet. We were given a presentation from the Irish Tibet Solidarity Group. Their delegation included a young lady who had escaped from Tibet. She gave a heart-wrenching account of some of the atrocities visited upon her and her family. At one stage she broke down, but managed to recover to finish her presentation. Myself and Senator David Norris co-sponsored a motion calling for dialogue between the Chinese and the Tibetans, a motion which was carried unanimously. The following morning I brought up the issue of Tibet and China in the Seanad.

The race to be Mayor of London is hotting up. With just a few weeks left until polling day the main contenders, Ken Livingstone (Labour) and Boris Johnson (Conservative) are reputed to be neck and neck. Myself, Cllr Dermot Lacey and a few other Irish members went over to help with some canvassing in Kilburn on Saturday. Ken's reception on the streets was mixed. After being Mayor for eight years everyone knows him and they either love him or hate him.

Dermot, Ken & Dom
Myself, Cllr Dermot Lacey and Mayor Livingstone in Kilburn Irish centre.

The week ended on a sad note with the death of President Hillery. I met the man briefly once, in the late '70s. He came down to a scouting event (Jamborora) in Mount Melleray, Waterford that I was at. He always struck me as the epitome of what a President should be - dignified, gracious, accessible. May he rest in peace.

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