Social Media Transparency Bill 2017

We are all aware of the substantial and increasing role of social media and online fora on our public discourse and in the political sphere. Yet the many rules and safeguards which have emerged in the traditional spaces, everything from disclosure of donations to campaign fund caps, to a requirement that all printed materials must carry a label saying who printed and published them. None of these checks are present in the online space as the legislation has not kept pace with technology.

I introduced my social media transparency bill in the chamber today. The bill applies only to 1) paid political advertising 2) deliberate usage of multiple fake accounts for political purposes (bots).

The main provisions of the bill are:

– The requirement for a disclosure statement on any online political advertising
– The disclosure statement is similar to that already on printed flyers and election posters
– The disclosure statement will state exactly who published and sponsored the post and the target audience
– The social media platforms will be required to capture this information when the ads are purchased
– Failure to provide accurate or truthful information in the disclosure statement will be an offence
– Separately, deliberate usage of multiple fake accounts, for political purposes shall be an offence
– The prohibition on the use of public money for party political uses is re-stated (as per the McKenna judgments)

A link to the bill is Online_Advertising_Social_Media_Transparency_Bill_2017 and my speech earlier today, introducing the bill, is below.

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Pressure ramped up on new Minister to progress Naas Community College build

I have increased pressure on the new Minister for Education to ensure the tendering process is progressed quickly for the new school build in Millennium Park, Naas. I have asked the Minister to detail the construction timeline for Naas Community College. You can read his reponse here.

It was important to put the new Minister for Education on notice. This is a vital piece of infrastructure for Naas and the wider area. Anymore delays are completely unacceptable. I asked the Minister to detail a timeline for the build.

We need to move to find a tender so construction can be built. This is the next step. I will continue to work with the school, parents, and lobby the Minister and his Department to ensure the project moves to the next stage without delay.

Grand Canal Greenway Application Being Prepared

canal_pic1It is welcomed that progress on the greenway proposed for the Grand Canal has been made. The greenway will go from Spencer Dock and includes the Kildare portion of the route including Hazelhatch and Sallins.

This project is something I first raised at council level while serving on Kildare County Council. Since then I have repeatedly brought this up in the Dáil. I have also set up an action committee consisting of Cllr. Ed O’Brien from Dublin, Cllr. Carmel Kelly from Sallins and Tidy Towns volunteers from Naas and Hazelhatch. This committee has worked hard to put the spot light on this on project.

There is massive potential for a growth in tourism for Celbridge, and the Sallins and Naas areas when the greenway is developed. Continue Reading →

Kildare tourism businesses must receive additional supports in light of VAT increase

kildare-townAdditional funding allocated to the tourism sector must be targeted to support areas of the industry potentially affected by the increase in the VAT rate in Budget 19.

This increase in VAT will be devastating to those small hoteliers in Kildare. Places like Leixlip, Naas, and Johnstownbridge all have fantastically successful hotels who will see a significant increase in their tax bill. However, unlikely the surge in booked up hotel rooms in Dublin this has not extended to Kildare at the same level. The increase in VAT for hotels across the country is unwise. Continue Reading →

Double the car parking capacity for Sallins train station

Artist impression of the new car park.

Artist impression of the new car park.

270 new car park spaces are incoming for a significant extension of the car park at Sallins and Naas train station. The new car park will be located on the Sallins side of the tracks in what is known locally as the parish field.

The extension is badly needed and something I have been seeking for years including many debates with the Minister for Transport. The extension became all the more urgent after I secured an extension of the leap card zone to Sallins along with the Phoenix park tunnel allowing services direct to city centre. These improvements saw a massive increase in usage of the station. A much better service but much greater demand as a result. Continue Reading →

Budget 2019 disappointing for Science Industry

On the March for Science last year.

On the March for Science last year.

It is welcome to see the Government commit to further participation with the European Southern Observatory. This something which I lobbied for in last year’s budget and will be welcome news for the industry this year. In addition to this the new disruptive technologies fund of €500 million is very welcome in the changing technology industry.

However beyond those two items it is a disappointing budget for the science and technology sector. There has been a failure to engage with CERN. In my opinion this is an opportunity missed. The Government’s failure to commit to CERN is a strong blow to the scientific community in Ireland. Earlier this year, I visited CERN in Geneva to explore the possibility of Ireland joining the organisation and to build relationships with their executive team. It is clear that the opportunity for Irish researchers to work in CERN is a phenomenal one. Continue Reading →