Minister must address concerns about Leixlip Water Treatment Plant

Following the boil water notice which was in place for several areas in Kildare North, I have asked Minister Eoghan Murphy to advise on the measures being taken to reassure the public that water is appropriately treated and fit for consumption at both the Leixlip and Ballymore Eustace water plants.

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed last weeks incident and recommended that Irish Water use extra disinfection techniques at the Leixlip plant as added protection. It is very concerning that alarms at the plant were not responded to and Irish Water have some serious failings to address if the public are to have any confidence in their water supply.

The Minister must act on this report and ensure that Irish Water improve their management of plants and response to emergencies.

Extra Bus Service to Sallins Station Secured

I was delighted to secure a change to the 139 bus route which will provide Clane commuters with a new public transport link to Sallins train station. I recently wrote to the NTA suggesting that the 139 route should be allowed to be used for short hop journeys between Clane, Sallins and Naas, therefore providing support to the train service. The NTA has agreed to these changes and they informed me that they were effective from August 2019.

I am delighted that the NTA has agreed to implement my suggestions. The severe pressure on parking facilities at Sallins train station is well recorded. While there is work underway to provide a second carpark it has always seemed to me that more public transport links to the station was an obvious solution to the dependency on parking spaces. The 139 was introduced a cross county route and it was a positive development, however the prohibition on short hop journeys meant that it offered little support to commuter rail services. I am pleased that this has now changed, and I am hopeful that this, along with the eventual opening of the new carpark, will soon lead to an improvement in the current situation.

I also raised the need for bike storage and parking facilities at Sallins station with the NTA and they have committed to providing more bike stands while also looking into the option of more secure bike lockers if there is sufficient demand for them. Additional facilities for cyclists are a crucial part of the solution to the parking shortage at the station. While better cycle lanes and safer roads are also needed, more bike storage facilities are something which can offer an improvement to the commuter experience in the short term.

M7 Widening and Sallins Bypass Update

I am delighted to see three lanes open in both directions on the M7. This will be a huge help to commuters who face lengthy journeys and congestion on the M7 every day. The M7 widening project is vital to improving journey times and I am glad to see it move closer towards completion. This represents a €110 million investment in the area and the last phase of this is the Sallins Bypass, completion of which is expected by Quarter 1 of 2020 and I am delighted to see these infrastructural improvements become reality having campaigned for them for a number of years.

Expansion of Naas Hospital must be Prioritised

Kildare County Council recently allowed the HSE to extend the planning permission for an extension to Naas General Hospital. The proposed extension includes new endoscopy and day services units. Physical medicine and oncology departments would also be constructed.
The extension of planning permission is welcome. However, it highlights how the HSE have stalled on this project since planning permission was first granted in 2014. I have visited the hospital to inspect existing facilities and I have raised this in the Dáil with Minister Simon Harris. It is clear how badly needed the endoscopy unit in particular is needed. Therefore, I welcome this decision but it is imperative that the HSE present concrete plans and funding as soon as possible to develop this much-needed extension.

Unacceptable 14 Week Backlog in Disability Allowance Applications

Disability Allowance applicants are facing a long delay in having their application processed. Constituents have contacted me as they have been waiting weeks since applying for Disability Allowance. Applicants are unable to work and are facing the added stress of delays in payments being approved.

Following my enquiries, it emerged that the office was processing applications received 14 weeks previously. This delay is probably the result of the poor resources available to a limited number of staff.

The Government does not seem to realise that lives are affected by this backlog. This is typical of the dysfunction that has become evident in the Department of Social Protection. Between delays in illness benefit payments and delays in the contributory pension review, it appears that the Government is not properly resourcing the Department and this has to change.