Sunday, November 16, 2008

 

Ag deanamh mo obair baile

I go to Irish classes at 9am every Thursday morning in Leinster House. Our obair baile this week was to find an occasion before Christmas to give a speech as gaeilge. I managed to get my homework done on Friday night, at the launch of the Strategic Plan for Gaelscoileanna in Bettystown.

I know some of the driving forces behind the event very well. I was at school with the organiser, Michael O'Broin and when he asked me to say a few words I was delighted to accept. I kept the address short - about three minutes in total. The audience was made up of about 100 muinteoiri, so I was suitably nervous! I knew a few others in the audience, including our own Councillor Sean O' Hargain from Kilkenny and Seosaimh, who was my muinteoir when I went to Gleann Finn in the Donegal Gaeltacht during an samhradh.

I got a clap at the end of the speech, and one half-way through when I told them that there are many TDs and Senators that are taking lessons to try and improve our Irish, so I think they managed to understand me!

The announcement of the new funding programme for Meath Partnership offers some positive news for rural life in Meath. From my time on the board of Meath Partnership I know that this will mean that more residents of rural Meath can be helped, and more rural projects will get underway. I mentioned this in my speech in the Seanad on Wednesday.

I also raised the issue of new Post Offices to Minister O Cuiv. I am pushing for an assessment to be carried out to see whether one could be opened at Donore - I believe that it would be of great benefit to the community in and around Donore. I asked that the Minister should look again at how we support rural post offices.

We had an interesting debate on Thursday about the effects of radon gas. It's the second highest causes of lung cancer (after smoking) in Ireland, and claims the lives of about 8 Meath citizens every year. Certain pockets of the county, such as Ashbourne, Stamullen, Ratoath and Dunshaughlin are more likely to suffer from radon contamination. I called for a major communications campaign to be launched to alert homeowners of the dangers. A test cost just €56 but could help to save lives.

On Thursday evening I accompanied our Navan Area Representative, Eileen Drew in Kentstown. We wanted to get peoples' views on the dump at Knockharley, and about general issues in relation to the area. We spoke to quite a few villagers. Many have concerns about the dump, as well as traffic speeds through the village. This is something Eileen intends to follow up on.

Councillor Brian Collins, Joe Rourke and myself went into Carlanstown on Saturday to ask for views on life in the village. We got a very warm welcome from the doors - even at those who were looking at the rugby match. Of course Carlanstown has always had strong links with the Labour Party - Meath Labour TD Jimmy Tully hails from the village.

Later that evening I met Jimmy Tully's daughter, Margaret, at an event in Drogheda. Margaret was one of the exhibitors at a painting exhibition organised by Richard Moore in St Peter's Church. I was under strict instructions to leave by 7:55pm as I had to meet family for a family event. I was just about to leave when a glass was chinked and the Mayor moved forward to make an announcement. I decided to make a dash for the exit, moving swiftly past Mayor Frank Maher, who gave me a somewhat quizzical look. I hope he didn't think I was leaving because of his impending speech. I would have loved to have stayed but would have been murdered if I was late for my sister!

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