Question to the Taoiseach on Green Policies

I had the opportuntiy to ask the Taoiseach about his thoughts on emmulating some of the successful Green policies implemented in other countries and if he had discussed environmental policy during a recent conversation with President Macron of France.

While I was asking about positive measures that he could implement, he defended theemission heavy livestock sector, suggested paying EU emissions fines with increased carbon taxes and committed to Ireland's ongoing use and exploration of oil and gas.

VENUE CHANGE:

Tomorrow’s public meeting on Community Development which was to take place at the Dublin Food Co-op will now take place a 3 minute walk away at The Fumbally Stables, Fumbally Ln, Dublin 8, due to a construction accident that has caused the cancellation of events in the Co-Op building.

The event will proceed as planned at the slighly later time of 7:15pm so come along and have your say on how we can re-imagine community development.

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You are cordially invited to a Public Meeting with Eamon Ryan T.D. and Councillor Patrick Costello looking at how we can: Re-imagine Community Development in Ireland.

Join us on :











 

The story of Community Development in Ireland is a compelling tale of what can go right and what has gone wrong in our approach to development in Ireland over the last 30 years.

Led by experienced Community Development practitioner Tony O’Grady of Partners (Training for Transformation) and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan T.D., this interactive meeting will give a brief history of Community Development in Ireland from a practitioner’s perspective, and the key principles and policy areas to consider for the development of resilient and more self-reliant communities.

For more information and to get you free ticket click here

Planning framework for Climate Change

I addressed the Dáil on the National Planning Framework. There was no plan at all for seriously tackling climate change.

I asked the government where the plans for offshore wind farms are and why we are not taking the lead in the solar revolution.

 I asked why there are no plans to push electric vehicles; no plans to ramp up the use of heat pumps, rather than burning oil and gas in our homes; no plan to increase retrofitting and insulation.

The Taoiseach said when he was elected that addressing climate change was one of his top priorities. So far he has talked the talk but hasn't even begun to walk the walk.

We need a Cycling Revolution

After 25 years of polite argument and positive suggestions it’s time for the cycling campaign to step up a gear.

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS I joined the Dublin Cycling Campaign to try to make our city a safer and better place. Cyclists were losing out at the time as car sales surged, councillors were bribed by developers, and city managers were still intent on knocking the old town down.

We wanted Dublin to be more like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where they’d shown that designing streets around vulnerable road users worked out better for everyone in the end.

Rather than just shouting from the sidelines, we got stuck in by talking to officials, and working with engineers on what could be done. It was a street by street fight and bit by bit we started to make progress. Short sections of cycle lane began to go in and while the quality of the design and the lack of continuity would make you cry, there was at least a sense that change was coming.

I kept repeating the same message: “Dublin is about to change. A safe cycling network is on its way.”

95,000 Dubliners cycle every day

Sure enough we got the Bike to Work scheme introduced and the Dublin Bikes were a runaway success. The Grand Canal and Howth greenways showed what could be done and similar paths were planned for the rest of our canals, rivers and coast. Cycling numbers increased and there are now 95,000 of us Dubliners out on a bike every day. Double those numbers again and suddenly our city will be something wonderful to behold.

I am afraid though that my confidence in that outcome is now somewhat shot. Despite all the positive developments of recent years, the truth is that we are back to square one.

Cycling infrastructure for Dublin is underfunded, lacks political support and is stuck in a never ending design process. We are due to host the big international “Velocity” conference in 2019, where we should be a showcase of how you can turn a city around.  Instead we are going to be a worst case example of what can go wrong.

Pulling of funding for Liffey cycle route

The pulling of funding for the Liffey cycle route last week is just the latest example of what is happening. It is meant to run along the North Quays from the Phoenix Park to Dublin Port, which is currently a nightmare to ride. It’s been on the drawing board for the same length of time it took NASA to design, build and execute the whole Voyager space programme.

They sent a spacecraft around four planets and out into the universe while we seem unable to achieve the rather more simple task of running a cycle lane five miles along a gently flowing river.

It is even worse when it comes to the building of the south side coastal cycle route. That project has been ten years in planning and we are no nearer ready to go. All sorts of excuses are being offered but if we really wanted it we would designate it as a critical infrastructure project and get it built in the next five years. This is not rocket science. It’s a three or four metre wide path that everyone agrees would be a real boon for our city.

It is worse again when you look at what has happened with the building of the Luas Cross City project. The Cycling Campaign pleaded for the engineers to take cyclists into account and use the introduction of the tracks to allow all sorts of new safe cycling movements in the city centre.

They were ignored and we are only starting to see how bad the outcome will be for anyone on two wheels. It is not just that your tyre can get caught in the tracks but also that you are being forced into narrow bus lanes at critical junctions around College Green and Stephen’s Green.

Nothing is happening

I could go on. We aren’t developing safe routes to school, despite all the talk about combating childhood obesity. A simple proposal for a quiet cycling route connecting schools in the south side suburbs was immediately shot down. Nothing is happening with the myriad of the cheap design fixes we have been pointing out for years.

Meanwhile car sales are on rise once again. The M50 is gridlocking and traffic jams are back to their Celtic Tiger best. The biggest threat to the future success of our city is that it will be increasingly hard to get around. Getting people cycling is one of the few immediate solutions we have but no one in office seems to care.

Paschal Donohoe says everything is fine, while Shane Ross doesn’t seem to realise he’s Minister for Transport. Our Taoiseach is into high end triathlon cycling but I’ve never heard a single idea from him about making the city a better place for the everyday cycling commuters.

After 25 years of polite argument and positive suggestions it’s time for the cycling campaign to step up a gear. We are fed up and shouldn’t take it anymore. It’s long past time for a cycling revolution.  

EPA report shows ongoing decline of pristine water in Ireland

The Water Quality report published by the EPA today confirms the ongoing decline of pristine water quality areas, which is one of the great environmental failings of our time.  The number of river locations with pure clean water has fallen from 500 sites in the late 1980s to only 21 locations today.

To turn these figures around we need a new national land use plan.  We have to move away from the current intensive farming model and adopt 'High Nature Value' agriculture instead. This has to benefit the farmer as well as the environment.  In the West and Southwest of the country we will have to pay for protecting biodiversity, storing carbon and managing floodwaters.  In the rich grasslands to the south and east we need more precision grass, nutrient and water management, to reduce the use of fertilizers and cut out the pollution at source.

We must also stop the inappropriate spread of manures from farming and the runoff of sewage from leaking septic tanks and faulty sewage systems. We need to match such an approach with an end to the destruction of our bogs and the clear felling of forestry, both of which are silting of our rivers and lakes.

It is not impossible to turn this around but we will have to look to ourselves for best case example. The Danes, Dutch and Germans have ruined their waters by developing an unsustainable agricultural model. For once we have the chance of showing them what to do. We can start by setting the restoration of pristine clean rivers and lakes as a national goal. The Green movement needs every farmer, forester and land owner on board. We have 70,000 km of rivers to look after, we want them to run clean and free of the pollution as was commonplace only a few decades ago.