Sunday, July 13, 2008


Liquor Act is rushed through

I got a call from The Pat Kenny Show on Monday morning. They wanted to know about the situation in relation to signs to Newgrange. It was a story that appeared the previous week in most of the national press, so I was able to go on the show and explain the problem.

The visitor centre and car park are located on the south-side of the river, from where visitors use a footbridge to cross the Boyne and enter the tomb on the north-side. The vast majority of the 250,000 visitors that come to Newgrange every year make their way here. However, almost 10,000 end up at the the "front-door" of the tomb, due to poor local signage and a dependence on SatNav systems. There's no parking there so they have to turn abound and cross the river at the next bridge and make their way to the visitor centre, a journey of almost 7km. Many don't bother and just move on to the next tourist attraction in the Boyne Valley.

I'm hoping that with the issue now aired we might get an improvement in signage in the area.

In the Seanad on Tuesday I spoke about the need for more affordable and social housing and criticised the government for not providing more over the last ten years.

Wednesday saw the opening of the new pedestrian bridge in Laytown. The bridge replaces the old wooden bridge and was named after the late Jimmy Tully, TD for Meath for decades and also the Deputy Leader of the Party in the early '80s.

The rain held off long enough for the naming ceremony to take place. In attendance were council staff and the local councillors and most importantly, the family of Jimmy.

In the afternoon the local branch of the party held a private reception at the bridge and we were joined by Jimmy's family and by branch members from across county Meath. We made a few speeches in tribute to the work Jimmy did. Then we boarded a bus to Leinster House for a meal in the restaurant. Whilst my guests were having dinner I spoke about Ireland's dependency on Fossil fuels.

Speaking about Ireland's dependency on fossil fuels

Afterwards I took the group on a tour of the House, and we dropped into both the Dail and the Seanad to listen to debates.

The Seanad broke up on Thursday but before we did the government managed to railroad the new Intoxicating Liquor Bill through the House. Debate was limited and the Minister refused to take any of the amendments tabled by the opposition.

One main point of concern is that from now on all night clubs must close at the same time in the early hours. That means masses of people spilling out onto the streets at the same time, trying to find taxis, get food in take -aways etc. It's a potential recipe for chaos on the streets, a point made by the scores of people who contacted me on this issue and one I made myself in the House.

Unfortunately, despite our opposition, the Bill passed through all stages. It was a bad-tempered Seanad that went into the recess.

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