I spoke in the house today during the debate on Irish Water. My full contribution is below:
“Deputy James Lawless: I thank the Acting Chairman for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate, although with only two Members on the Government benches, I am not sure it qualifies as a debate. I am glad, however, that this issue is now being brought to a head. It is an important issue but by no means the most important. The amount of airtime it has received in recent weeks has been disproportionate. Other matters such as health, education, transport, energy, broadband and housing are huge issues that have suffered owing to the inordinate focus placed on water provision in the set-up of this Dáil. Nonetheless, it is an important issue, one that has united and divided both this House and the wider public.
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The Sallins Local Area Plan has almost concluded its rounds of consideration in the council and has been sent to the Minister for final sign-off. As expected the Minister has raised a concern over Alteration 20 relating to the additional residential zoning on the Bodenstown road. However the key piece of this jigsaw is the 40 acres of Amenity land that come with it. This was supported by all Councillors unanimously when the plan was going through as the community gain behind this proposal will allow for development of multiple playing pitches, running track, a new community building for all the different groups in the village. It will bridge the gap which has long existed of over development without any facilities in the village to go with it. The Minister has invited submissions on the Alteration before he makes a ruling and I include my submission here.
I gave my “maiden speech” in the Dáil last week, in what was the second day of sitting of the 32nd Dáil. My first speech was a contribution to the debate on Housing and Homelessness.
In summary the points I raised are as follows;
-Need for a restart of social housing building programme(currently 19,000 individuals on Kildare housing list).
-Review of rent allowance to combat the rising rental costs.
-Review of the Central Bank Mortgage deposit rules.
-Derelict sites refurbished and brought back into circulation.
-Rates initiative for living above shops (to bring more buildings into use for accommodation and knock on positive affects for our main streets).
-Account of consistent rental payments given more credibility when looking for a deposit for a home.
The full text of my speech is below:
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Here are some of my main policy priorities I would pursue if elected to Dáil Éireann. I’ve been outspoken on these issues over the years, however, there is only a limited amount I can achieve as a local community activist and county councillor. Most of these issues need to be addressed at national level.
Kick starting investment in infrastructure
While critical infrastructural projects like the Sallins bypass and M7 widening to 3 lanes are continually stalled, costing commuters valuable time and communities frustration through traffic delays, a voice at national level is needed to secure funding. If elected I will continually put forward the case for these projects until we see work underway.
Policing & crime prevention
Over the years I have worked with local groups setting up text alerts and community clinics in the wake of Garda station closures, however, the fact remains that Kildare now has the lowest number of Gardaí per capita of any county in Ireland, and absolutely no community Gardaí at all, and this can be tackled only at national level.
When I raised the scandal that many estates not taken in charge were not receiving local services, despite being levied with the full property tax, the reality was that only national legislation can address this – and the many other unfair aspects of the local property tax system.
The housing crisis is obvious at every clinic I hold as so many people struggle to find a place to call home. Yet Kildare County Council can only build houses if the government provides funding, and so far it is all just talk from Ministers. This country always had a strong social housing policy under previous governments, however, in recent years we’ve gone backwards on this serious issue.
Investment & job creation
Despite the critical importance of inward investment and attracting employers, across all of County Kildare we received just a single IDA visit in 2014, almost the lowest in the country. This must change if we are to create new jobs in Co. Kildare. I will support and pursue investment and job creation initiatives and try my best to ensure that Kildare isn’t lagging behind as the economy grows.
As a commuter myself and as spokesperson for the Naas and Sallins Rail Users Group, I am a long standing advocate for better train and bus services. I believe we must invest to ensure our public transport and motorways can handle capacity as the economy recovers.