One of the greatest honours of my political life came this week when I was elected Mayor of the Naas municipal district. In assuming the role at our meeting on Tuesday 21st July 2015, I thanked my predecessor, Cllr. Seamie Moore, as outgoing Mayor who has laid the foundations for many of the projects I hope to pursue. I thank my party colleague Cllr. Robert Power for proposing me and I also remembered a recent Mayor, sadly no longer with us, Cllr. Willie Callaghan.
The town of Naas has a proud tradition of Mayoralty and I believe the role is very important, befitting its status as county town, a proud town, a trading town and one I will work hard to represent. Also now for the first time the wider Naas district can also lay claim to a Mayor as the new local government district includes Sallins, Kill, Johnstown, Kilteel, Eadestown, Rathmore, Ardclough, Ballymore, Kilcullen and Caragh.
Recent figures I obtained have revealed Kildare has some of the lowest numbers of IDA Ireland sponsored site visits over the last four years. The IDA visits, which can lead to direct investment and employment opportunities in the county, have been severely lacking in Kildare since the current government took office. I have highlighted the lack of strong representation from the incumbent Kildare government T.D.’s on this issue for some time. Kildare has only received five IDA visits over the past four years. For the fourth largest county in Ireland with a sufficient motorway links, infrastructure, and a willing workforce it is disappointing more visits have not been made.
Every five years the council publishes a Local Area Plan (LAP) for towns and villages which sets out a roadmap for how they will be developed over the coming years. In particular these LAPs set out where future building development can take place, the density of such development, and the type of development, e.g. residential, commercial, amenity/green space etc. At this point in time, the draft of the Sallins LAP 2015-2021 is now on public display until 11th August 2015. While on public display, the public are offered the opportunity to make submissions regarding the LAP. This is an important occasion in the lifetime of every town. I would always encourage that people get involved in this process and make their opinions about the future development of Sallins heard.
It was announced recently that 5 new garda recruits were to be allocated to Kildare. The latest figures made available to Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins shows there were 300 gardaí attached to Kildare in February this year, down from 324 in April 2011. The loss of 24 gardaí to police our communities cannot be undone with an additional 5 garda recruits.
It is extremely important that Garda recruitment and the training of new officers is continuing but I think the Government needs to ramp up its efforts in this regard. The strength of the garda force nationally is now around 12,500 and there are a further 1,498 officers eligible to retire this year. This would leave the force at a seriously diminished level.
I recently met with Irish Rail to raise concerns regarding the rail services in North Kildare. In what was a positive meeting I discussed the main issues that commuters who use the train services daily, including myself, have found need improving. Irish Rail were receptive to these opinions and a number of improvements and reviews were agreed at the meeting.
- A new timetable is due for publication in early 2016. This new timetable will address the evening gap in both Hazelhatch and Sallins train stations. A draft version of the timetable will be made available and commuters will have the opportunity to have their say.
- Irish Rail agreed to review the 23.10 last train time.
- The issue of lack of awareness of the shuttle bus from Celbridge to Hazelhatch station was brought up. Irish Rail made the point that the shuttle timetable is on their website and has been running this facility for a long time.