dublinbikes & Innovation
It’s been a hectic few weeks in the Mansion House & it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. In fact I’ve been informed it gets busier as we get closer to Christmas. I am enjoying every aspect of the job of Lord Mayor, even the challenges!
I received great news regarding dublinbikes last week – a new daily record for journeys taken was set. dublinbikes’ members took 7,052 journeys on Thursday 13th October, marking another milestone in dublinbikes’ incredible success. There are now 550 bikes in the scheme. It shows once again the demand for the scheme and for cycling in the city. When we first launched the scheme in 2009 there was a lot of worry that it did would not work. dublinbikes is now one of the most successful schemes in the world and we are planning to increase the number of bikes from 500 to 5,000 in the next five years. Between now and 5pm on 26th October you can give your views on dublinbikes and its proposed expansion. The survey can be found at www.delve-surveys.com/dublinbikes & you are in with a chance of winning an Ipad2 on completion!
What a great weekend for Irish sport! Not only did the rugby boys do us proud against Australia on Saturday, but yesterday the boys in blue were victorious, beating Kerry in a nail-biting finish. Dublin has waited 16 years for the Sam Maguire to return and no doubt we will enjoy every moment. Congratulations to Pat Gilroy, Bryan Cullen and all the players.
I hope everyone will come out and welcome home the Dublin team and Sam Maguire tomorrow evening in Merrion Square. The event starts at 7.00p.m., with access from 6.00p.m. Access via Merrion Square East, Merrion Square South and Fitzwilliam Street Lower. See you there!
Speech to Labour Party Conference on SR Technics and Social Welfare
28th March 2009
For many people this recession brings real fear. Will they face a pay cut? Will they lose their job? Or worse still, will they lose their family home. But for others that fear has turned into a sickening reality.
SR Technics is one of many companies that is closing its doors. But in North Dublin, SR Technics is more than just a company. It is an entire industry. And many believe the government has not done enough to save these jobs.
But it's not just those that worked directly for SR Technics that have lost out. I met one man in Coolock that was a self-employed, skilled tradesman, with a long term contract with SR Technics. He too has lost his job.
After a delay of nine weeks he finally received a social welfare payment of €100 to top up the €300 his wife earns working in the local shop.
This couple have children, an income of €1,600 per month and a mortgage of €1,800 per month. They face a tough battle to save their family home.
If the mother in this family wasn't working, social welfare would pay the interest on their mortgage. But because she earns €300 per week, they get no such help. This family is being penalised for their hard work.
Labour would scrap this perverse rule that discourages families from working.
But this is the legacy of Fianna Fáil. This is the legacy of Bertie Ahern. This is the legacy of Brian Cowen. This is the legacy that Labour, under Eamon Gilmore, must end.
Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership
23rd February 2009
The Ballymun Partnership officially extends its boundaries today to cover Santry and Whitehall. The newly designated Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership will address issues such as childhood development, employment, community development and education across its new area.
Partnerships are community based organisations that were originally set up by government in the early 1990's to address a range of employment and development issues in disadvantaged areas. The Ballymun Partnership was one of the original 12 partnerships and it opened its doors in July 1991.
Download the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership brochure for more details of their work.
Planning for our Future Recovery
17 February 2009
The current economic crisis is having a devastating impact on families and communities. Every day brings more news of financial scandals, dodgy deals or major job losses. This situation will continue until we develop a credible Recovery Plan to give confidence back to communities, to families, to investors and employers.
This plan must have key principles at its core:
- Fairness - those on the lowest incomes should not be expected to pay for the mistakes of our financial elites
- Accountability - those that cheated and abused our financial system should pay a price (up to and including prison). They should not be waved off with a golden handshake and a bulging pension package
- Maximise Employment - we must do everything in our power to keep people off the dole and restore our economic competitiveness. Recent experience teaches us the disastrous social consequences of mass unemployment.
- Imagination - we must use our ingenuity and creativity to dig ourselves out of this mess. In lieu of layoffs one company has offered three years unpaid leave to any of their workers that wanted to take a sabbatical. Why can't we apply this across the board in the public service?
- Sustainability - the issue of climate change hasn't gone away. However, this economic crisis provides us with an opportunity to tackle our reliance on imported oil and gas. By investing now in wind and wave energy, and by developing a programme of insulation for our older homes, we can create jobs and help sustain our long term development
- Community - investment in communities is most important in times of crisis. We must continue the regeneration of Ballymun and get the regeneration plans off the ground across Dublin in places such as O'Devaney Gardens and St. Michael's House.
As a politician I'm conscious of not using the current crisis to score easy political points. The situation is far too dire for that. Fortunately, on Dublin City Council there is far more co-operation across party lines than is obvious in Dáil Éireann. I'll continue to work with my colleagues in all parties for the good of my constituents and all of the residents of Dublin. However, I will not stop fighting against bad decisions such as the recent cuts in the numbers of special needs teachers.
Canvassing in Darndale. Lessons for Poppintree in Ballymun
21st February 2009
I canvassed Darndale last night for the first time and I think I was able to get a feel for the issues in the area. As usual, I received a very warm welcome from residents - most of whom didn't know me from Adam. They were delighted to see a politician at their door, rather than just a leaflet in their hallway.
I was very interested in the layout of the estate. When Darndale was built in the early 1970's it was set-out as a series of "Courts", which are houses that face on to an inner court-yard with a series of back-lanes to allow car parking. This layout was designed to foster community spirit, but in reality it didn't work. Residents could not see out into their back alleys, and the lack of supervision led to increased anti-social behaviour. Eventually, in the 1990's the layout was "reversed", the alleys were closed down and people's back doors became their front entrances.
The residents that I talked to last night in the Marigold courts were unanimous that the new layout was a big step forward for their community.
In Ballymun, many Courts were built in Poppintree at about the same time as Darndale. These courts have never been reversed, but from the evidence I saw last night, I believe that a reversal has the potential to be a major benefit to the quality of life of the residents of Poppintree.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu Visits Ballymun
17 February 2009
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the President, Mary McAleese stormed through Ballymun today. Along the way they opened the new Community Music Room in St Joseph's school and the new indoor football facility in Trinity Comprehensive.
At a reception in the Civic Centre Archbishop Tutu had us all waving our arms in the air and shouting that we are all "VSPs" - Very Special People. I'm sure that many of the children in the audience didn't know who he was, but he charmed everyone with his wit and enthusiasm. He told us that some VIPs travel in motorcades with motorcycle outriders before turning cheekily to look at the President.
The President talked about the wonderful changes in Ballymun and she believed they were a tribute to its people.
Well done to Ronan King, the chair of the board of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) for arranging the visit. I also want to thank Ciarán Murray and his team (in particular Cian Harte) for bringing these great new facilities to Ballymun and delivering everything on-time for the visit.