Sunday, June 01, 2008


Accident Clear-ups are taking too long

Many people will have been stuck in their cars on Thursday morning on the way to Dublin. Because of an accident on the M1 at 2am, there was a closure during the rush-hour period. I don't know the exact details of the accident, and sympathise with the vehicle occupants, but I am concerned about the length of time it takes to clear up after accidents in general. Other countries seem to manage much better. This is a point I made in the past, and repeated again during Thursday's Order of Business.

We need to improve our Emergency Response Procedures

Everyone knows that Ireland is one of the largest givers, per head, to aid for the developing world. However, we still have not reached the target of 0.7% of GNP. Although all parties are committed to reaching that figure within a short number of years, there is a worry that the downturn in the economy may in some way affect the timescales. I spoke on the matter at the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee during the week.

Our campaign in favour of the Lisbon Reform Treaty continues. An increasing number of people are engaging with us on the matter, whether its at their front-doors , over dinner, or at supermarkets. At this stage I think it's going to be a very close vote. Turnout will be the deciding factor.

There's a lot of confusion out there about what the Treaty means. Lots of people have been asking whether the result will affect fuel prices. Many want to give the government a kicking over the level of petrol and diesel prices. We're telling people to refrain from kicking the government on this occasion and to vote for the Treaty.

I raised the issue of prices in the Seanad on Tuesday. It's clear that the issue is of major concern to people across the country.

The proposed prison at Thornton Hall was discussed in the Seanad during the week. I've been attending meeting about the proposal for over three years now, and so I was glad to have the opportunity to speak about it. I am not convinced about the decisions to co-located the Women's prison and the Central Mental Hospital on the site. However, when it comes to the size of the prison, I have heard strong arguments from both sides of the debate. Some say a maximum size of prison should be about 700 (the proposal is for 2,200). Others point to the success of prisons like Riker's Island and the proposed Titan prisons in the UK. I asked the Minister for a justification as to why the proposed size was optimal. I'm posted up my speech on my homepage and on youtube.

The weekend brought some fantastic weather and it gave me an opportunity to get out and do some leafleting for Lisbon. I delivered to lots of houses in Duleek on Friday and finished off the last of the Kentstown houses on Saturday. My legs haven't seen his much work on ages - I was exhausted at the end of both days. But it did guarantee an uninterrupted sleep on both nights!

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