Three public meetings were held in recent weeks, one in Kilteel and two in Kill, following the Garda station closure, and positive outcomes have been achieved.
The meetings were organised by Fianna Fáil’s Naas Area Representative, James Lawless, to allow the community discuss the issues and explore the options. “We have made some progress” said James “amidst concern and alarm at the outset when the village was left exposed, we have now taken steps as a community to advance measures of self-help”.
Speakers at the Kill Public Meeting
“Any doubts about the strength of local concerns were dispelled when we collected over 400 signatures on a petition in the space of a few days” said James. “However these closures are a government decision and whilst we oppose them, they remain outside our control – how we respond to them however is in our control and I am satisfied we have made positive progress in playing the hand we’ve been dealt.”
The first of the public meetings saw Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesman Niall Collins TD outline party protest to the closures nationally and the second public meeting saw Superintendent Pat Mangan from Naas Station offer Garda guidance on the new arrangements. “The Superintendent outlined measures which he will oversee to ensure a continued policing presence in the area and I want to thank him for his attendance on the night and engagement with the community” said James. “I would also like to thank Fr. Willie and Kill parish for very kindly making available a location where we have organised a weekly Garda clinic can be held for people to get forms signed or have access to a local Garda on a scheduled basis.”
A community alert is now being established also and a committee now begins the work of setting up the scheme. The committee will be seeking input from each of the estates and townlands to a achieve coverage across the village so as to maximise efficiency of the scheme.
A final meeting took place in the Kilteel Inn with speakers from community alert schemes elsewhere and an alert scheme is to be setup covering Kilteel / Eadestown / Rathmore following on from that meeting also.
Any interested parties are invited to contact James Lawless on 086 834 8869 to find out more information or to join up to the alert schemes in either locations.
I was delighted to host a very productive meeting last Tuesday night in the Dew Drop Inn, Kill, to discuss the fallout from the planned closure of Kill Garda Station and neighbouring stations along the Kildare / Wicklow border. I organised the meeting because I have major concerns that the government is taking away Garda resources at a time when commuter belt crime levels are clearly on the increase. People needed real reassurances that they will not be left high and dry. The government are closing stations at Kill, Ballymore Eustace, Hollywood, Donard and Ballitore which to my mind leaves a whole belt of territory wide open and vulnerable to attack.
The meeting drew a crowd of about 50 locals and guest speakers were Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil spokesman on justice and Jim Brady, a Newbridge based home security expert. Representatives from Kill Tidy Towns and most of the estates in the village also were in attendance at the meeting.
Fianna Fáil party policy remains very much against these closures and as said, I am not convinced at all of the rationale behind these closures, we have heard figures as low as 2,500 euro a year to keep Kill station open, yet the government seem intent on dismantling the garda network here and elsewhere across the country. It’s quite stark when the Garda Representative Association have had to raise their concerns about a running down of the force.
I do think it’s very important however, that there is a need to more than just bang the table, but rather to work with the local community to find solutions also. One very productive action from the meeting was that we would setup a community alert scheme in the village. That process is now in train and everyone signed up on the night. McGreal’s pharmacy kindly agreed to host a signup sheet and I would invite anyone with an interest in these matters to drop in and leave their name and details and get involved or people can contact me directly using this link if they want to get involved.
I will be scheduling a second, follow up meeting, over the next couple of weeks to get the alert scheme off the ground and I am also in ongoing contact with Superintendent Pat Mangan in Naas station on these issues in Kill and surrounds.
Fianna Fáil’s Naas Area Representative, James Lawless, has expressed concern over the government’s choice of site for the childrens’ hospital and has expressed reservations on the city centre location chosen in Dublin 8.
"Accident and Emergency" Corridor?
“A great many people from the Naas Area and across North Kildare will have had occasion to visit Tallaght hospital with their children and most will have found it accessible, clean, efficient and convenient” said James. “I have been to Tallaght hospital on a number of occasions with my own children” James outlined “and the location served North Kildare very well. I am concerned at the impact the new city centre site will have on accessibility. As far back as 2008 I wrote to the then childrens’ Minister, Barry Andrews, to express my concerns over the impact on North Kildare of taking childrens’ services out of Tallaght and into the city centre. Now we have a different site but the same issue and I feel an opportunity has been missed to site it so as to serve the whole country. I have concerns about the additional travel time and accessibility difficulties now that a city centre location has again been preferred”.
My own view would have been that the Connolly site at Blanchardstown would have been a better bet not just to serve Naas, but the entire rest of the country who could have accessed it via the motorway network. Burying it right in the middle of the city is going to make life so much more difficult for all those travelling from outside Dublin compared to the convenience of any of the competing sites situated along the M50. Especially given that Naas hospital does not admit children into A&E – will emergency child cases now have to be battle through traffic into the city centre to be seen?” asked James in conclusion.
So Big Phil finally published his ‘opus magnus’ yesterday with all the detail on local government reforms including abolition of town councils, levelling of councillor ratios across the country and creation of much bigger wards in Dublin and the commuter belt.
Still trying to digest it all (it’s a big document!) but my first impressions are as follows:
The changes to standardise population to councillor ratio across the country are very welcome. Kildare will benefit from this – previously Kildare had far few representatives per population while much smaller counties had more.
The Town Council system had too many anomalies to continue as was; some towns had councils, others didn’t with little regard for population size –was all based on history. It was either expand or abolish. Though I am not convinced of the cost savings – I considered Town Councils fairly harmless but they did provide 9 dedicated representatives at low cost to each town and are now gone.
Moves to provide direct government funding/taxation are welcome and positive – but any new taxes must be progressive and based on ability to pay – not like the household charge etc. Essential that councils run the collection properly also again unlike the household charge.
More power for local government is welcome as is more accountability.
“Family friendly” measures are mentioned mainly targeted at women. Reform would be welcome for anyone who has to work outside the council; current structures mean majority makeup of councils are self-employed or retired people; very hard to combine involvement in politics with a regular PAYE job (which then limits the type of decision makers we elect). See here for previous thoughts on this.
We will see changes all across Kildare – every council ward will gain councillors as the town councils will go. Will do some numbers on this but looks like Naas going to 8 or 9 seats (but Naas town council gone of course), Clane could double to 8 or 9, Celbridge already at 6 may grow to 7 (losing Maynooth to Clane area) and Kildare and Athy becoming 7 or 8 seaters also as Athy and Newbridge town councils are subsumed into the new structures.
References to Mahon and planning corruption are a bit self-serving; If Big Phil really wanted to tackle this he wouldn’t have cancelled the planning inquiries right around the country including his own back yard. But still, politics aside, it all appears to be a step in the right direction.
FF Appoints Local Area Representative for Naas Electoral Area – Martin
Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has announced the appointment of James Lawless as a Local Area Representative for the Naas Electoral Area as part of the party’s ongoing renewal strategy.
Deputy Martin said: “I am delighted to announce that James Lawless will be a Local Area Representative for the party in Naas. The Kildare North constituency is a key target area for the party and I recently announced the appointment of Áine Brady as a Local Area Representative for the Clane Electoral Area.
“I have been delighted to see the energy and commitment displayed at all levels of the party at meetings I have held in Kildare and around the country. I am committed to ensuring that Fianna Fáil renews from the grassroots and that all levels of the party have significant input into policy development. It is essential that Fianna Fáil continues to play a constructive and positive role in politics, bringing forward policies and solutions to the problems being faced by people in their daily lives and ensuring there is a strong team on the ground in all communities.”
James Lawless lives in Sallins where he is married with a young family and is involved with several community groups. He is a campaigner and spokesperson for the commuter group Naas and Sallins Rail Users, he is also involved with Sallins GAA and several local community organisations.
James studied Maths and Finance at Trinity College and has over a decade’s experience working in systems development. James is now training as a Barrister at Kings Inns. He is a member of the Fianna Fáil Ard Comhairle and was recently appointed to party’s internal Justice Policy Committee.
James Lawless said: “It is an honour to be appointed a Local Area Representative for Fianna Fáil in the Naas Electoral Area. I see this as an important step in the party’s local and national renewal strategy. I am looking forward to working alongside Councillor Willie Callaghan who has been elected as Mayor of Naas. Willie is playing a crucial role in representing the community and Fianna Fáil on Naas Town Council and Kildare County Council.
“James has actively campaigned for community facilities including the successful zoning of lands back to amenity use in the last round of local area plans. James was very involved in flood relief efforts when Sallins and surrounds were hit by severe weather and flooding in late 2009.”
Cllr. Callaghan commented: “There is a genuine commitment from grassroot members of Fianna Fáil to make sure the party is rebuilt and that the voices of ordinary people in our communities in Naas are listened to as we go about that process. I welcome James’ appointment and I think he will be an important asset to the party in Naas Electoral Area.”