04 December, 2005

Civic Forum on Climate Change


Climate Change Ireland (a Green Party initiative as you might well imagine) is hosting a Civic Forum on Climate Change in the Round Room, Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 at 8pm, Monday 5th December 2005


The Forum will addressed by scientific, civic, economic and political leaders and have a live link to United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Canada.

The Forum will chaired by Chair: Olivia O’ Leary

Speakers who will address the Forum include:

John Sweeney (NUIM) - The Global & National Impact of Climate Change
Mary Kelly (EPA) – The Challenges We Face
Gerard O’Neil (Amarach Consulting) – Peak Oil
Richard Douthwaite – Making sense of carbon tax
Eddie O’Connor (Airtricity) – The role of the Energy Sector
Gerry McCaughey (Century Homes) – The role of the Construction Sector
Henk van der Kamp (Irish Planning Institute) – The role of Planning & Transport
Danny McCoy (IBEC) – The Role of Employers
Oh, and
Fine Gael Representative
Eamon Gilmore TD, Labour Party Spokesperson on the Environment
Fiona O'Malley, Progressive Democrats Spokesperson on Energy
Ciaran Cuffe TD, Green Party Spokesperson on the Environment
Arthur Morgan TD, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on the Environment
Catherine Murphy TD, Independent

The Minister for the Environment has strong views on the Green Party's response to Climate Change...

"While we should not be surprised by the Utopian fantasy land inhabited by the Green Party, the most incredible aspect of this madcap legislative proposal is that it was supported actively by Fine Gael and Labour.

This is the first foretaste that Ireland has of what could happen, and what would happen, if a Government made up of the Green Party, Fine Gael and Labour, were ever to see the light of day.

It is incredible that the Fine Gael Party, which spends so much time cautioning us to the necessity of carefully judging value for money in every proposal, have swallowed the Green Party bait hook, line and sinker."

Here's the Minister's full release

18 October, 2005

Boys and Girls in Blue


Finally got the opportunity to spend a day in Templemore at the Garda Training College. "In Scientia Securitas" is the motto - "In knowledge, safety." Met briefly with Chief Superintendant Kieran McGann who runs the show. It was Minority recruitment day yesterday, and Muslims, Sikhs, and Travellers were listening to the sales talk.

Human Rights are on the curriculum, but there's a long way to go to reform the Gardai as the drip-feed from the Morris Tribunal in Donegal continues.

One step would be to publish and revise the Garda Code. It is by all accounts an antiquated document that bans members of the force from living within ten miles of a relative, or spouse's relative! It also, rumour has it, bans the keeping of chickens by members of the force.

I met Sargents Michael Byrne and Sara Moylar who are working with the Human Rights Initiative. Not an easy task to adapt the force for the challenges of policing a new Ireland. Perhaps some mechanism can be found to place part of the training (perhaps a law module) within another third level Institute so that recruits are exposed to other students in a learning context.

14 October, 2005

Dun Laoghaire Baths Saved?



Some good news from the October County Council meeting about the Dún Laoghaire Baths. Eight options were presented to the Councillors ranging from grandiose plans, to the option of demolishing the existing derelict Baths buildings.

At the meeting on 10 October the Council dropped the proposal that involved building apartments and super-pubs on the site. Instead they have set up a committee of councillors from Dún Laoghaire to look at the remaining proposals. The Green Party would have preferred a clearer decision, and we put forward our own proposal as follows.

“That development proposals be prepared for the Dun Laoghaire Baths site along the following lines:

§ Provide a publicly owned swimming amenity fully accessible to the general public,
§ Provide a new building of no more than 2/3 storeys, in total, containing an indoor heated 25m pool,
§ Provide a small number of related amenity elements including, for example, a toddlers’ pool, sea-weed baths, gym and modest café/restaurant with viewing area,
§ Provide other appropriate cultural facilities in keeping with character of the town of Dún Laoghaire.
§ Renovate and re-landscape the existing walk-ways and maritime gardens between the Baths and East Pier in an environmentally sustainable manner and without any interference with the existing coastline beyond that absolutely necessary for the protection of the leisure amenity: and that the Manager prepare funding options for the proposal, and provide bimonthly updates to the Council on the issue.”

This plan would cost between ten and twenty million Euro to build. However the Council is also moving ahead with the Monkstown ring road, which will cost thirteen million Euro. We feel its time for the Council to change its priorities. They should build the pool instead of the road.

There was a carnival atmosphere as residents protested outside the Council chamber on the night of the Council Meeting. It was a clear success for people power.

21 September, 2005

Sooner, Safer, Cheaper


Sellafield 20 September 2005. Lots of stiff upper lip and asssurances that things don't go wrong. As it happened they did inform us that there had been a leak a couple of days previously that was being attended to. However it wasn't so much of an 'incident' as an 'event'. Anyway it was in a sea discharge pipe, so there shouldn't be cause for concern. In fact it was close to where some Greenpeace protesters had damaged the pipe some years previously. Those dammed protestors, they really are threatening the safety of the nuclear industry. Oh - and the new motto from John Clarke, head of THORP and the Mister Burns of the Sellafield Complex- 'Sooner, Safer, Cheaper' You don't know whether to laugh or cry!

13 September, 2005

Chasing the Dragon


...The monster in question being of course the sculpture in the front lobby of the Environmental Protection Agency's Headquarters in Wexford. It's by Bill Fallover and depicts a dragon like creature made entirely of waste materials that are bonded together to depict a animal rearing up over the island of Ireland. If you look carefully you can see the footsoldiers of the EPA struggling to control the creature with what look like rather ineffective strings. I suspect the beast is being driven into paroxyms of rage by the attempts to bring it under control.

Not a bad analogy for the work of the EPA in trying to get on top of the waste and other environmental problems that challenge Ireland.

Thanks to Mary Kelly the EPA's Director General who invited me down to Wexford to have a look at their work. It was impressive to see the range of research work that they're funding, but they have their hands full in trying to get the dragon onto its leash in the years ahead

29 August, 2005

Festival of World Cultures


Fun, sun and culture. What more could you want? Derek Brady summed it up: "God is obviously multicultural," a nice quote from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's Manager as he retires. Methinks he won't disappear quietly into the sunset. Whatever happened to that proposal for a super authority to keep an eye on all of Metropolitan Dublin? It would be no harm to have someone of Derek's calibre to keep an eye on Wicklow County Council to stop it granting permission for dumps upstream from our water supply at Poulaphuca Reservoir in Blessington...


But back to the festival. Fun ‘Da' Mental and the Mighty Zulu Nation were brilliant, and it was great to see them being presented in partnership with the British Council, the UK's cultural relations organisation. KÍLA & Oki from Japan had a great set in Monkstown Church on Friday Night. As a volunteer for the weekend I wore my white T-shirt, and whenever there were problems I could dutifully refer people to the Yellow T-shirts who were higher up in the pecking

05 July, 2005

White Bands in Edinburgh

And a great time was had, along with 225,000 others. Four hours queueing to join the March, and then an exhilerating walk through Edinburgh before doubling back to address a gathering of the Scottish Greens. Then back to Mark and Mary Catherine's house to watch Pink Floyd, The Who and Robbie Willliams belting it out in London, along with Jonathan Ross's commentry.

29 June, 2005

Death to Frontpage!


Welcome. I've just moved the blog over from Frontpage to Blogger. I try to cover Dún Laoghaire, Environmental and Justice issues. Feedback is always welcome, Ciarán

Constraining Progress


Under the 'Sustaining Progress' Affordable Housing Initiative the Government promised to deliver 10,000 affordable homes. Much fanfare from Junior Minister Noel Ahern. How much has been delivered to date? 30 units. Hmm. Here's a snapshot of Minister Dick Roche, Noel Ahern and his colleague Batt O'Keefe presiding over Environment Questions in a not so packed Dáil chamber

27 June, 2005

Dún Laoghaire Baths

Something has to happen to the Dún Laoghaire Baths. The site should be developed, but at a modest scale. The coastline is a precious resource and the opportunity to provide a building that respects the scale and grain of town should not be squandered. The current proposal should be put to one side. The Council should draw up various options for the site ranging from doing nothing and leaving a ‘noble ruin’ on the site to the extreme of the current proposals. They should also provide indicative costs. The public should then be asked for their views.

27 May, 2005

Softer Options

And this is one of the alternatives to the nuclear option. Of course wind power won't solve all our problems, but this pic that my colleague Eamon Ryan took yesterday at the Inauguration of the Arklow Bank wind farm project by Airtricity shows what can be done. Apparently the eight turbines installed to date feature a rotor diameter of 104 meters and a hub height of 73.5 meters. They have permission for 520 megawatts on the site, and the first 7 turbines have an output of 25 megawatts on a good day. A little bit of back of the envelope maths means that the full farm would give half the output of Wylfa Nuclear Plant if the wind was blowing. Interesting.

24 May, 2005

Belly of the Beast

And that's what the inside of a nuclear reactor looks like... Wylfa is the UK's largest nuclear power station, and Trevor Sargent and myself paid a visit there yesterday to meet with plant management and express our concern about the Plant's continued operation. It's only 60 miles from Dún Laoghaire and is on Anglesey Island near Holyhead. Their Head of Information John Byast accompanied us. He is also chairman of the Isle of Anglesey County Council. They brought us into the reactor and allowed us to take photos. I think I have a "what am I doing in the Reactor Building of a Nuclear Power Station" expression in the last shot. We didn't get a chance to sample the bacon baps in the Visitors' Centre even though they come highly recommended by BNFL!

29 April, 2005

Booterstown Helicopters


Now that was interesting. I had brought along a letter of complaint to give to the pilot of Bernard McNamara's helicopter (EI DJO) which insists on landing next to Booterstown Bird marsh and annoying the birds and nearby residents.

However I didn't really want a haircut so I stayed away from the rotating blades and took a snap instead.

Happily Frank Miller a photographer was out taking photographs of the birdlife nearby, and he took some pix of me taking photos which made for a good story the next day in the Irish Times.

Hopefully some enforcement action will result.

15 April, 2005

Donnelly Gallery on the Vico Road


And that view is one of the reasons why people want to live on the Vico Road between Dalkey and Killiney.

Incidentally why not plan ahead for a visit to the Donnelly Gallery, just off the Vico Road. Its inaccessibility to the public is a matter of some controversy, but I'm delighted to say that you can apply to visit by calling Penny Grey the Administrator on 676 8200

Every effort will be made to ensure that visitors to the Gallery have a rewarding and memorable experience. (Or so I'm told)

06 April, 2005

Good to have you back Kunle!


Olunkunle Eluhanla made a brief appearance at the Residents against Racism rally on O'Connell Street last Saturday 2nd April 2005. Here's my press statements on the issue
I made a comparison between Martin Luther King's 'Red Hills of Georgia' Speech and the Green Hills of Ireland, hoping that 'little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers' ... without fear of being deported with no notice.
There was a crowd of around 300 people, with many parts of the country and the world represented.

18 February, 2005

Oxigen









Oxigen Plant in Dublin The Oxigen plant in Coolock on a bitterly cold Friday Morning. The smells from the Cadburys Chocolate Factory and Tayto Crisps are in the air down in the village, but here in the Industrial Estate off the Oscar Traynor Road there's barely a whiff coming from a pile on the floor that represents today's contents from all of Dublin's Green Bins.

€9.50 an hour for the Professors and teachers from Eastern Europe working on the sorting line. The plant can deal with 10 tonnes an hour and is operating 24/7. A new plant in West Dublin will have 5 times the capacity, once it opens later in the year. The worst contents of the green bins so far have been dead cats, and grass clippings, oh, and a back boiler that almost broke the conveyor belt.

16 February, 2005

D-Day for Climate Change

It’s D-Day for Climate Change. Today the Kyoto Protocol comes into force. Named after an ancient city in Southern Japan, the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change is a United Nations Treaty that tackles Global Warming. In Ireland this may bring warmer drier summers and milder rainy winters. It may also have contributed to the storms to our shores last January, and contributed to flooding in our rivers in recent years.

On Grafton Street Trevor Sargent addressed the shoppers under a giant weather balloon globe that symbolised the fragility of our planet

24 January, 2005

Going up


This model was on display in the County Hall of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on the Marine Road in Dún Laoghaire. It shows a Planning Application for the MJ Flood site next to the Luas Terminus in the Sandyford Industrial Estate.

It seems like only a few years ago that I went on a site visit with the Architectural Association of Ireland to view the newly completed MJ Flood Offices. I remember being impressed with the sharp 45 degree angles corners and curtain walling of the existing building. That must be 15 years ago.

It doesn't seem like the worst site for a tall building. It would be adjacent to public transport and overlooks the reservoir. Plus it brings residents into an area that's the legacy of Le Corbusier's mono-functional view of planning. Now if only we had a carefully considered policy for high rise buildings locations within the County...