Sunday, January 31, 2010


An Electrifying Meeting in Slane

Another busy week in Leinster House. I had a range of speeches to give and meetings to attend. I spoke about the new Dog Establishments Bill – it seeks to regulate puppy farms, and I also gave a speech on the aid relief effort in Haiti. We also had a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Haiti, which I contributed to, as well as a meeting with our Ambassador to Tanzania, Her Excellency Anne Barrington.

I asked the Ambassador a few questions about issues such as corruption, tourism development and the treatment of Albinos in Tanzania. There’s an old superstition there that the bones of albinos are good for the health. In recent years scores of Albinos have been murdered and cut up. Our Ambassador confirmed that she has raised the matter with parliamentarians in Tanzania, who are frustrated and angry that the practice continues. They vow to put an end to it.

On Wednesday I had the honour of hosting a group of second year students from Greenhills school in Drogheda. There were almost 30 girls in all, including the teachers. Father Iggy also attended. The girls were great fun and asked lots of questions about the workings of the house. One girl was particularly “exercised” about the state-subsidised gym that politicians and staff could use. She wanted to know if I used it. I explained to her that the gym was mostly used by staff, since most politicians had their own private gyms at home. (I quickly pointed out that I was joking on this point!).

One question that came up several times was whether there would be jobs for them when they leave school in a few years. I told them that my view was that we are coming out of recession and that by the time they leave school things should be a lot better.

It was great to entertain the girls, and once again you could see at first hand the intensity of the classroom experience. People probably don’t realise how intense and demanding a teacher’s career can be.

My assistant in Leinster House also helped to show the class around. For whatever reason he became the subject of some attention from the group. He was so exhausted and traumatised at the end of it that I had to send him home early, just in time to hear the request played for him on Spin FM from the girls.

On Saturday I attended a meeting in Slane in relation to the proposed route of the bypass. I was there to listen to the views of the 100 or so people who attended. Whilst one speech was being delivered I leant back and my hand touched a fence. Unfortunately for me it was electrified. I received a large jolt, and the sound caused everything to stop and stare. Luckily for me the shock passed quickly, and if anything I felt rather better after it!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Race Hill – No way for a through way

We held the AGM of the Ashbourne branch of the Labour Party on Thursday. The meeting was well attended and we talked about many local issues, including the proposed nursing home on Hunter’s Lane. At the meeting we elected the Chairman, secretary, treasurer and PRO of the branch. The branch is always looking for new members to get involved. If you would like to join then call my office at 01 835 3871 and we will sign you up!

One major concern for Ashbourne residents at the moment is the proposal for an industrial development in Ashbourne which would be served via the Race Hill Road. I agree with the local residents in Race Hill and in Tudor Grove – this access road is totally unsuitable for industrial traffic. I made that point to the residents who contacted me.

I also met with some Ashbourne residents and discussed the proposal. I also spoke to local councillor Niamh McGowan. Niamh lives very closeby (just off Hunter’s Lane). It’s clear that there is a depth of local dismay about the proposal. I am hopeful that the local planners will see sense and will reject the application. Not to do so would not only be a traffic nuisance, it could potentially be very dangerous to have trucks and the like travelling up and down this quiet residential road.

The issue of general road safety is also coming up a lot lately. Because of the recent atrocious weather the road surface in many parts of the county has been severely affected. For instance, the junction of Kilmoon Cross on the N2 has suffered significant rutting since Christmas. As a result you have to drive much slower than usual to avoid the potholes. I was driving home the other night from my Ashbourne office and was travelling particularly slowly to try and dodge them. Some other motorists don’t seem to worry about them – the bloke behind me decided to overtake me at speed. Maybe he can afford new tyres, or maybe my eyesight is getting worse, I don’t know! What’s clear is that more money is going to have to be found for repairs to our local road network. The current situation has to be improved on – a point I made in the Seanad during the week when I called on Minister Dempsey to make additional funding available for local councils to repair the roads.