Power: Government have questions to answer on reducing Kildare housing targets

This morning the Taoiseach doubled down on comments Eoghan Murphy made yesterday and attempted to deflect blame to County Councils saying that they are not doing enough to tackle the housing crisis.

The reality of the situation is that Minister Murphy’s department published guidelines in June which will effectively mean dezoning swathes of residential land in Kildare and the greater Dublin area. This was done without consultation on the impact at a local level.

It will mean that 6,000 houses fewer will be built in the next five years in Kildare alone.

The guidelines will also mean reductions in Meath, Wicklow and other counties currently bearing the brunt of the housing crisis. The guidelines have also instructed councils to stop working on their County Development plans. Six weeks ago Kildare County Council passed my motion agreeing to ask the Minister to explain how this plan would impact on our county. It’s extremely frustrating to be sitting hear six weeks later listening to an Taoiseach and a Minister criticise local government when he is yet to address the real concerns we’ve put to him.

On Friday 3rd August I joined Shane Beatty in studio to discuss the details of this plan and how it will impact on County Kildare. (Interview begins at 4 minutes in).

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“Larceny of Racehorse”

This week, 35 years ago, just before midnight on February 9th the Dáil sat to hear a special Private Notice Question from Deputy Paddy Power on the issue of “Larceny of Racehorse”.

The one and only Shergar had been stolen from his box in Ballymany Stud. Raising the issue with Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, my grandfather was met with cynical jeers from TDs across the aisle to which he responded:

The loud laughter bespeaks the vacant minds on the opposite benches. This assures me that there is a great lack of knowledge of the seriousness of this case on their part…I am not in a position to make the Deputies opposite take the matter seriously, but I hope that they will, because I do.

The full debate from the Dáil records is chronicled below… Continue reading

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Digital Hub Announced for Naas

Today I’m delighted to see the approval of Enterprise Ireland funding for a digital hub in Naas. The Mid East Regional Innovation Think Space (MERITS) is a new build project that will cluster Irish and international new technology companies in a collaborative space in Naas town centre.

I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve secured the funding for this project. Establishing a Digital Hub in the town not only secures short and long-term employment Continue reading

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Community Mapping App for Naas

There was a great turnout at the Naas Wild Food Festival on Saturday where I had the pleasure of launching the “Naas Engagers” App. This is an innovative new community mapping project and will provide an opportunity for the people of Naas to put forward and share ideas for the revitalisation & regeneration of Naas. A key part of this pilot project is a mobile phone App that has been developed by Space Engagers, supported by the Social Innovation Fund Ireland in association with Google.

The Naas URBACT Local Group, is leading this project as part of an  European Union initiative, called “ The City Centre Doctor Project”, the aim of which is to develop a Naas Town Team and to plan for the regeneration of Naas .

Naas Engagers will enable local people to share stories and information about places in the town and to make suggestions as to how some of them could be reused or improved. The aim is to encourage people to think about their town and how they would like it to develop.

I’m really proud that Naas is one of only 4 towns in Ireland to trial this digital solution to help rejuvenate town centres.

Search the App Store for “Space Engagers” and get tagging your ideas for Naas!

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Kerdiffstown: From Environmental Nightmare to Public Park

Last week was another step forward in cleaning up the environment in Naas. Three pictures below from 2011, 2017 and the last is a plan for 2023.

Six years ago noxious gases filled the air in Naas, Johnstown and surrounding areas.

The fire at Kerdiffstown dump was a very serious threat to the quality of the environment for residents nearby.

Since then, lots of work has gone into securing the site and making plans to ensure this dangerous situation is never repeated.

This week I was proud to oversee the signing of the Compulsory Purchase Order and planning files to change this 74 acre landfill into a public park with all purpose pitches, walking routes, planting and a playground.
Still a long way to go but huge credit due to the team in KCC who have taken the project to where it is today.

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My Priorities As Mayor of Naas Municipal District

The Naas district covers an area from the Dublin border in Kilteel, south to Kilcullen and Ballymore taking in Naas and the surrounding villages and townlands. The CSO tells us it has a population of around 50,000 of which the average person is only two years older than they were at the last census five years ago! We are the only district in Kildare that has a net inflow of commuters each day. We are a district of 18,000 houses but as I write this, only 25 for rent. There are certainly both challenges and opportunities facing our district and I’m honoured to have been elected Mayor for the year ahead.

With the short time available to me in my role as Mayor I’ve tried to bring structure to my priorities. I’ve distilled my focus into three areas under which Continue reading

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Publication of Comments on Sallins Plan

In issuing a draft directive, the Minister states that he believes that Councillors have  ignored, or have not taken sufficient account of submissions or observations made by the Minister to the planning authority. In my statement last month at the council meeting I made it clear why we were making the decision against the Chief Executives advice and dealt comprehensively with the idea that we were ignoring the Minister’s advice.

Below are the comments made by me at the special meeting of the Naas Municipal District in considering the Sallins local area plan.

Continue reading

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Spread The Recovery by Creating Regional Digital Hubs

Last year I wrote a policy document on supporting the Technology Sector with some fellow Fianna Fáil members who were also working in that area. One of my main proposals within that document has now been announced as part of the Fianna Fáil manifesto under Creating Jobs and Supporting Enterprise. Fianna Fáil have committed to the “Development of Regional Digital Hubs”.

Cllr Rob Power speaking at the Ogra conference which supported the development of Regional Digital Hubs

Cllr Rob Power speaking at the Ogra conference which supported the development of Regional Digital Hubs

My proposal tackles two issues which I’ve spent a lot of time on over the last few years; reinvigorating town centres and supporting the tech sector. It proposes to:

“Provide up to €1m of funding to each local authority to develop Regional Digital Hubs. This will support entrepreneurship throughout the country, bring businesses back to the main street and enable tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to grow businesses and jobs in their home county.”

Through my work in Digital Marketing and in Kildare County Council I know the benefit this proposal could bring. Not only does this have the potential to create 7,000 jobs and hundreds of new companies over the next ten years, it will also give county councils a role in their own local economies and revitalise empty shop units bringing this so called ‘recovery’ out of the capital and into the town centres that continue to struggle.

The Regional Digital Hub will act as an office space for digital focused firms. Having a hub allows for a concentration of necessary resources such as high speed broadband, meeting rooms, office facilities, mentoring workshops and so much more that is currently out of reach for many “kitchen table” entrepreneurs.

Running this programme through the network of local authorities has additional benefits; it allows for a close link to existing Local Enterprise Office expertise and resources and encourages councils to incentivise business start-ups in their area.

While this is something that will be managed by County Councils, it will require government to kick start the fund. Just like I worked to see the policy published ahead of the election, I’ll continue working to ensure it’s implemented after the election!

The Fianna Fáil manifesto is available at: fiannafail.ie/an-ireland-for-all/

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Kildare Gets Less of the Pot Again…And Your Local Fine Gael TDs “Welcome it”

On Tuesday Januray 26th, Minister Paschal Donohoe announced €298million of funding for regional and local road maintenance and improvement. This money is distributed to county councils around the country and once again Kildare has lost out.

Although the total amount available has increased by €4m nationally, Kildare’s allocation has dropped from €10.7m in 2015 to €9.9m for 2016. That €800,000 drop is equivalent to 95% of the budget for footpaths in 2015.

But we have to ask, is it any wonder we lose out on funding when our government TDs are asleep at the wheel? On the back of Tuesday’s announcement we have press releases from Tony Lawlor, Emmet Stagg, Bernard Durkan and Fiona McLoughlin-Healy (clearly not a subscriber to this site) all stating their delight and welcoming the funding.

Fine Gael TDs Welcome funding - when in fact it's a drop of €800,000 on last year

Fine Gael TDs Welcome funding – when in fact it’s a drop of €800,000 on last year

Not one of them mentioned the fact that the funding is down from the 2015 allocation.

In particular, I’ve called Tony Lawlor out on this before. Last year he welcomed Leader funds with open arms only to find out afterwards that Kildare was at the bottom of the table!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that these guys have been resting on their laurels since elected. There’s been no effort to promote our county nor even the slightest attempt to influence the senior decision makers.

Perhaps there’s a very valid reason for Kildare to lose out on funding to Mayo (where Michael Ring was able to announce increases in Road Maintenance & Improvements five days before the Minister officially announced it! – see picture below).

Is Mayo getting special treatment ahead of the General Election?

Is Mayo getting special treatment ahead of the General Election?

But the fact remains, our “representatives” in Kildare are far more worried about getting their press releases out than asking the tough questions when they need to be asked.

Kildare deserves better representation than this.

Update: Of the 2,000+ people that saw my social media updates on this and heard my comments aired on KFM, it seems Fiona McLoughlin Healy was not one of them. She has also “welcomed” this drop in funding: 

We shouldn’t be surprised of course, with a general election due in just four weeks we can expect plenty of politicians falling over themselves to get their press release or Facebook post out well before they check their facts!

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Caragh Bridge – November Update

Caragh Bridge over the River Liffey - Repairs will restrict HGV use of the bridge.

Caragh Bridge over the River Liffey – Repairs will restrict HGV use of the bridge.

The good news is that the end of the bridge repair works is finally in sight. Kildare County Council expect the contractors to complete on schedule and should be re-open within the next two weeks. An official re-open date will be announced as soon as possible.

The works have caused huge disruption to the village and to residents throughout the Caragh area, including of course, residents in Raheens, Yeomanstown and Thomastown who have seen a huge increase in the level of traffic travelling their road over the last three months. Last night I attended a meeting organised by residents living along the detour route where we discussed what’s happening. To keep as many people informed as possible, I’ve provide an update below focusing on three things:

  1. What’s happening at Caragh Bridge?
  2. What impact will these new measures have?
  3. What happens next?

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