Meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

I had the opportunity to meet Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his visit to Dublin. I discussed my Online Advertising and Social Media Transparency Bill to address electoral integrity issues as well as how to moderate harmful content to make the internet a safer place.

Facebook have recently introduced new regulations seeking to provide greater transparency in political advertising, which is welcome in the run up to the EU elections but myself and Mr Zuckerberg agreed that Governments need to set the agenda here.

I also raised my concerns in relation to Facebook’s recent appeal against their fine in the UK for data breaches and the 1.5 billion data sets which left Ireland on the eve of the GDPR. It was a very useful exchange which I hope to continue when attending the international parliamentary committee on disinformation in Canada in May.

Progress on Greenway Welcomed

The plan to develop a 221km greenway all the way from Dublin city centre to Shannon harbour and right across County Kildare progressed today. The Chief Executive of Kildare County Council published his report following the submissions process, during which both Deputy Lawless and his colleague Cllr. Carmel Kelly had assisted a number of local groups and residents in participating in the consultation.

The publication of the report is great news for the entire county, but particularly for all of the towns and villages along the greenway route including Ardclough, Sallins, Naas, Prosperous, Robertstown and beyond. This will compliment the great success of the Royal Canal Greenway through Maynooth, Leixlip and Kilcock in the northern part of Kildare. The boost to tourism, recreation and the local economy that greenway’s such as these bring to an area is significant.

James and Cllr Carmel Kelly pictured at their information event on the public consultation

Commenting, Deputy Lawless thanked all of the stakeholders for bringing it to this stage and all those who made submissions. He congratulated the council on moving quickly through the planning process and taking on board feedback from local residents.

The changes made after the consultation phase are as follows:

  • Sallins village – following significant local feedback the route will now not go down Chapel Lane and across the main square. Instead it will more closely follow the path of the canal past Lock13 & Bridgewater. This will enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety while better integrating with local business and hospitality premises. A Village Centre Traffic Management Plan will also be developed to compliment the new routes.
  • The spike of the route from Sallins into Naas harbour is covered under a separate planning proposal which is at an advanced stage and will go on display in April. This will allow the Naas section to be integrated into the full route.
  • All signage will be bilingual and will also contain heritage information packs.
  • The route will be fully wheelchair and buggy accessible.
  • Marker distance posts will be positioned at 5k intervals along the route.
  • The proposed pedestrian bridge at Sallins will be a high level fixed bridge. The width of the canal will not be reduced at this location and the proposed bridge will have a width and clearance sufficient to permit passage of boats with larger wheel houses.
  • The proposed new swing bridge to the west of Landenstown may be replaced by a mechanically operated lifting bridge (similar to that at Levitstown on the Barrow Navigation) subject to consultation with Waterways Ireland and Canal user groups.
The planned route of the new greenway.

Intel plans for Leixlip welcomed as further commitment to the area

James Lawless T.D. at a recent event in Intel, Leixlip. Pictured with Cllr. Paul Ward.

James Lawless T.D. at a recent event in Intel, Leixlip. Pictured with Cllr. Paul Ward.

It is welcome news that Intel has begun preparations for significant expansions to their Leixlip site. It is very welcome news to those employed and living in Kildare North that Intel are about to begin to take the next steps to commence a possible expansion of their base in Leixlip. With two caps on, as a TD for the area and my party spokesperson on Science and Technology, I have regularly engaged with the microchip manufacturer. I am well aware of their commitment to our area and this will be another significant act of this assurance.

I believe the plans are part of a wider global manufacturing move by Intel. I am aware they see Ireland playing a significant role in this. Continue Reading →

New rail carriages not due to be delivered until end of year

The allocation of funding to provide new rail carriages will do little to alleviate the overcrowding challenges faced by passengers in the short and medium term in Sallins, Hazelhatch and further along the Kildare line following reports that Irish Rail is expected to get approval from the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the purchase of €100 million worth of new rail carriages.

I welcome this long overdue investment in Irish rail services, which is now serving a record number of passengers each year. It is vital to invest in Ireland’s public transport, if we are to reduce the congestion and environmental pollution that is plaguing our country. Continue Reading →