Dáil debate on Insurance Costs

I contributed to the Dáil debate on Insurance today with the following speech, my second in the chamber:

“I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the insurance costs. I want to concentrate on the areas of public liability insurance, health insurance and general insurance. On public liability insurance, much has been made of the recent decision to award €40,000 to a hill walker, which was referred to by my colleagues in their contributions. That has generated a general concern about access to the countryside and walking routes and the fear this may be curtailed with attendant loss to the community and the tourism sector. That would be lamentable but I believe it need not happen. Continue Reading →

Policy Priorities

James Lawless NaasHere 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.

Local services

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.

Housing crisis

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.

Public transport

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.

FG Silence On Constitutional Crisis Deafening

Dail EireannFine Gael silence on the parliamentary privilege issue is deafening. The right of elected parliamentarians to make statements in the house without fear of litigation is absolute. Article 15.13 of our constitution enshrines that right and it is a pillar of modern democracy, not just here in Ireland, but across the common law world. If there are abuses of it, and that can happen, the answer is not to injunct half the national media, but to tackle it in the proper manner, through the internal procedures of the house. This is an absolute right and only the citizens of Ireland can alter that in any way through referendum. It is an assault on parliamentary democracy and on our constitution to even humour any other scenario.

Continue Reading →

Lawless Calls for Government to Deliver on FOI Promise

The government’s last minute climb down on attempts to limit the new Freedom of Information (FOI) bill it is currently bringing into law has to be welcomed. Having used FOI on local issues myself it is a vital part of democracy.

Fine Gael and Labour had promised to reform Freedom of Information when they entered government. They promised to make government more open by removing fees and making the business of state more transparent. However they actually tried to do the opposite when at the last minute Minister Howlin added a number of amendments to the Bill which would have had the effect of putting FOI requests out of financial reach for most journalists and requesters.

Continue Reading →

Success on Garda Clinic for Kill

Following the Garda station closure earlier this year, I have been working with local Garda management to provide alternatives for local policing in Kill village and surrounds. The great news is that Superintendent Ian Lackey in Naas Garda Station has now committed to the provision of a Garda clinic in Kill to be held weekly.

The clinic will be located at the Parish Office and will be held every Tuesday from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. The clinic is on a trial basis and will be reviewed again in the new year based upon levels of activity and on demand from the community. Many thanks to Superintendent Lackey for agreeing to the clinic and further thanks to Fr. Willie and the parish for use of the room.