Speech on the Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016

This is not my first time speaking in the House but it is my first time to speak on a Bill and it is an honour to do so. I begin by congratulating the Minister on her appointment. I am not sure if she is aware that she is a constituency neighbour of mine as the steps of Killinarden run up to the hills of Kilteel as Kildare North and Dublin South-West border each other. As such, I extend my best wishes to her on her appointment and wish her continued success in the role.

In terms of the matter before us, Fianna Fáil as an opposition party will freely oppose the Government on issues when merited but equally, as a constructive party and mindful of the minority Government framework which can only work when all sides play their part, agree on areas of common ground. Continue Reading →

Additional pressure on Minister for Naas Community College

This past week I called on the Minister for Education to act now before schools in the Naas area face an accommodation crisis.  There is an urgent need for the Minister and his Department to issue the tender to commence building the new site which will be used by Naas Community College. This is the major delay and as a result of the Ministers lack of action, by 2020, 800 students in the Naas area will be affected. Continue Reading →

Waste Reduction Bill to be Supported at Committee Stage

Compostable Cups from Zeus Packaging Leading the way in innovation

Compostable Cups from Zeus Packaging Leading the way in innovation

I was delighted to speak in support of the Waste Reduction Bill at Committee Stage last week. You can read my full transcript here. I support the principles of this bill, and we have consistently been and remain a firm defender of Ireland’s natural environment. We firmly support efforts to encourgage recycling and reduce waste. Continue Reading →

M7 Widening to Begin January 6th

M7 near Millennium Park where Sallins bypass will intersect with new 3-lane motorway.

M7 near Millennium Park where Sallins bypass will intersect with new 3-lane motorway.

I can confirmed that work has begun in earnest for the widening of the M7 motorway. The works have begun on the M7 at Johnstown to the Naas South exit which will see the motorway expanded and the Sallins bypass installed. The works will fully begin on January 6th.

This is a great start to 2018. I have campaigned for many years for the project to go ahead. It is a vital piece of infrastructure which has been badly needed. Now commuters and residents alike will see tangible evidence that the work is well underway.

Once completed in 2020 the final project will see extra capacity on the M7, a new interchange, and bypass of Sallins. Continue Reading →

Bus Éireann Delays Raised in Dáil

Debating with the Minister for Transport I rasied the delays and inconstitenties which have plagued Bus Éireann passengers in recent weeks. In north Kildare, in particular, places such as Kilcock, Clane and Properous, buses are literally not turning up in the morning to collect people. When they do turn up they are delayed, but people are being left stranded at the bus stop.

I have engaged with the stakeholders, the National Transport Authority, Bus Éireann and other authoritative sources. There appears to be an unofficial industrial dispute, a form of blue flu, amongst the drivers. I put it to the Minister for Transport who has fobbed it off to the NTA.

Commuters trying to travel to work, hospital appointments, college or school are being left stranded in towns were Bus Éireann general is the only mode of public transport. The Taoiseach must direct the Minister to take action and show leadership in this crisis.

University rankings highlights need for greater emphasis on research

As Fianna Fáil Science, Technologyh, Innovation and Research I beleive the publication of the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings highlights the need for a greater emphasis to be placed on developing Ireland’s third level research sector.

It’s important to note that there are multiple parameters driving these figures and no league table should be the primary focus of university activity. However these rankings nonetheless offer a good insight into how Irish universities are perceived internationally.

It’s positive to see TCD moving back inside the top 200 ranked universities in the world while three other Irish universities, namely UCD, RCS and NUIG, have made it into the top 250. However Ireland should be aiming to have multiple universities placed within the top 200 universities worldwide.

Ireland should be aiming to emulate the success of our near neighbour Scotland which has five universities in the top 200. Questions have to be asked as to why Irish universities are not, as a bloc, punching to that weight internationally. While the Taoiseach is busy opening SFI centres, his Government continues to underfund the third level research sector. This is preventing Irish universities from achieving their true potential.

Previous Fianna Fáil led Governments launched several successful funding initiatives for high end research, however this commitment has not continued under Fine Gael. The research sector has experienced a retrenchment under Fine Gael as there is an unhealthy focus on promoting commercial activity. This is preventing universities from focusing on progressing important research that does not necessarily have an immediate commercial application.

It’s imperative that this shift in emphasis is reversed and rebalanced in order for Ireland to continue its great tradition of pioneering research and academic excellence.

With Brexit on the horizon there is a huge opportunity for an open, welcoming nation like Ireland to attract world class researchers who are seeking a new academic home.