All posts by Joan Burton

Joan Burton TD is an Irish politician who has served her country as Leader of the Labour Party, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and in a number of ministerial roles - most recently as Minister for Social Protection from 2011 to 2016.

bus connects update

BusConnects Core Bus Corridor – Community Forum Next Round of Meetings starting in September

Please be aware these Community Forums are for the Core Bus Corridors – Bus Lanes & Cycle Tracks/Lanes ONLY

There will be a separate 2nd round of public consultation for the Network Redesign – Bus Services later in September

Dear Public Representative,

The NTA is fully committed to working with all interested parties in the development of the Core Bus Corridors Project (Bus Lanes and Cycle Tracks/Lanes). We want to keep everyone on the proposed bus corridors fully informed at all times. You may recall that during the first round of public consultation, we established a Community Forum for each corridor. The first round of the Community Forum meetings took place earlier this year and we would now like to schedule the second round.

The Community Forums were established for the following Core Bus Corridors:  

  • Clongriffin to City Centre
  • Blanchardstown to City Centre
  • Swords to City Centre
  • Lucan to City Centre
  • Liffey Valley to City Centre
  • Clondalkin to Drimnagh & Greenhills to City Centre
  • Tallaght to Terenure
  • Rathfarnham to City Centre
  • Kimmage to City Centre
  • Ballymun to City Centre & Finglas to Phibsborough
  • Bray to City Centre
  • UCD Ballsbridge to City Centre & Blackrock to City Centre
  • Ringsend to City Centre

Membership of each forum comprises of representatives from resident and community associations, disability and special interest groups as well as business organisations on the corridors along with public representatives.

As there is no central resident association directory available to the NTA, we would be grateful if you would make any groups and associations within your constituency, who may not already be registered with us, aware of the community forums.

Places are limited, however, we do our best to accommodate at least one representative per group and can facilitate up to two representatives if requested. Groups who would like to participate in their local community forum can send their name, contact details of the nominee as well as the name of their respective association to cbc@busconnects.ie. Please be aware that places will be limited at the event so only registered attendees will be able to attend the forum on the night. We will be in contact in due course with details of the exact dates and venues for the upcoming forums in September.

Yours sincerely,

Bus Connects Team

Dún Scéine

Harcourt Lane

Dublin 2

D02 WT20

Web: www.nationaltransport.ie

Library

Autism-Friendly Libraries

Fingal Libraries has annoucned funding for the roll-out of the Autism Friendly Schemes across Fingal. To date, the Autism Friendly Libraries project has been operating at Blanchardstown Library on a pilot basis.

Nine libraries across Fingal will implement designated autism-friendly sessions each month, and regularly schedule ‘quiet time’ and ‘relaxed programming’ events which cater to people with autism. Furthermore, the “In Your Shoes” Autism Experience Exhibition by autism advocacy group AsIAm will be hosted in six libraries which will encourage visitors to engage with and understand living with autism.

The project will involve working closely with both national and local autism groups. Training will be delivered to staff from all branches, and a review will be carried out after six months.

Picture of Royal Canal

Emerging Preferred Route of the Royal Canal Urban Greenway

Fingal County Council has recently announced plans to develop an Urban Greenway along the Royal Canal that would serve Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Coolmine and the wider Dublin 15 area. As a long-standing supporter of developing the Canal for leisure, walking and cycling I am pleased to see these proposals from the Council, however the proposed route between Castleknock and Coolmine is unsatisfactory to local residents.

I have recently been in contact with Fingal County Council to outline local residents concerns. In response Paul Keane, from the Planning and Strategic Infrastructure Department at Fingal County Council, has provided the following statement:

“Earlier this year, Fingal County Council undertook a public engagement exercise for the Emerging Preferred Route of the Royal Canal Urban Greenway project, during which some 600 submissions were received. These submissions are currently being reviewed by the project team with a view to addressing the issues raised.

“As part of the development of the Emerging Preferred Route, some eleven different route alignments were investigated, all of which presented various technical and environmental challenges. The route options were assessed and then ranked in order of preference, thereby leading to the identification of the Emerging Preferred Route.

“For the Deep Sinking section, the route options stage included route options on both sides of the canal. The provision of a route along the southern embankment was assessed based on a boardwalk structure, partly sitting on the existing towpath and partly overhanging the canal bank. There were various reasons why this option did not perform favourably in the assessment, notably in terms of potential impacts on: the integrity of the Royal Canal as a protected structure and on individual protected bridges; canal navigation; biodiversity; and railway operation.

“However, many of the submissions did specifically request that the greenway be routed along the southern bank. Accordingly, in response to these concerns, Fingal County Council is now undertaking more detailed assessment work including ground investigations, surveys and design work, to conclusively identify the “Preferred Route” for the scheme at the Deep Sinking.  This additional work will take into account the submissions received to date and a further project update will be given to the members at the September ACM.”

Update on School Construction

Edmund Rice College

I questioned the Minister for Education about the progress on the acquisition of the Phoenix Park Racecouse site for Edmund Rice College and when he expected construction of the new permanent school building to commence.

In reponse, the Minister replied:

“The first step in the process will be the application for planning permission which is expected to be lodged in quarter 3 of 2019. Thereafter, the timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission. My Department is working to deliver the school’s permanent accommodation at the earliest possible date.”

Pelletstown Educate Together National School

I asked the Minister for Education to provide an update on the progress on constructing a permanent school building for Pelletstown Educate Together National School.

In response, the Minister said:

“A planning application for the project was lodged in January 2019.  Additional information sought by the Local Authority was provided and a notification of decision to grant planning permission was received on 24th May 2019.  It is intended that the project will proceed to tender shortly and a contractor  will be appointed to commence work in quarter 4 of 2019.”

St Patrick’s National School

I asked the Minister for Education to provide a timeline for the delivery of new permanent school buildings for St Patrick’s Junior National School and St Patrick’s Senior National School.

The Minister responded:

“A building project for the school is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

“The project is at an advanced stage of the tender process, and subject to no issues arising it is anticipated that works could commence in the final quarter of 2019, with an anticipated contract duration of 24 months.”

St. Luke’s National School & Tyrrelstown Educate Together

I questioned the Minister for Education about the timeline for works at St. Luke’s National School and Tyrrelstown Educate Together. It is important that these schools have full possession of all their facilities and school buidlings as soon as possible.

Responding to my question, the Minister said:

“Permanent remediation works in the schools to which the Deputy refers commenced earlier this month as part of a wider programme to carry out permanent structural remediation works in 14 schools, detailed structural investigations in 17 schools and fire safety works in 8 schools during the summer holiday period.

“The timetabling for all of the elements of the programme is designed so that the schools involved can re-open at the end of the summer holidays.

“My Department will be keeping schools and their Patrons up to date on the position.”

Photo of Joan Burton outside a school

Secondary School for Dublin 7

There is a need to extend the provision of co-educational, multi-denominational education in the Dublin 7 area. At Pelletstown and Ashtown, 3,000 units of housing have been built in the past ten to fifteen years.  There is one primary school but there is no secondary school for the families who make up a large proportion of those 3,000 households.  There is a massive need and want for an accessible secondary school for local families.

The Minister for Education has indicated that talks are ongoing between the City of Dublin Education and Training Board, and Educate Together in relation to extending the co-educational and multi-denominational educational provision at Cabra Community College. I am supportive of these talks and asked the Minister for an update of their progress.

In response, the Minister said:

“The Cabra_Phibsboro_Dublin 7 school planning area is currently served by eight post-primary schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy which is currently under the patronage of City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB).

“This school, which has a current enrolment of some 120 pupils in the 2018/19 school year, is co-educational and multi-denominational in nature and provides for the local community and could potentially bring additional capacity of this nature to the area.

“As the Deputy has indicated, CDETB and Educate Together have been working together in relation to extending the co-educational and multi-denominational educational provision at the school referred to in a partnership patronage arrangement. While the discussions are a matter for the bodies concerned in the first instance, I understand that significant progress has been made in this regard and work is continuing over the summer period. I have indicated my support for this initiative and my Department will continue to engage with the bodies concerned in this regard.”

Photo of jigsaw puzzle

Update on Special School

I questioned the Minister for Education about the progress on establishing a new school in Dublin West for the provision of autism specific education. It is important for the families involved and the students themselves to know that they will have a school place come September.

The Minister in his reply said:

“Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB have agreed to act as Patron for this start-up special school and it is progressing recruitment and other arrangements with a view to ensuring the school opens in September. Temporary accommodation has been secured to facilitate the school’s starting up in September.

“DDETB have appointed a school Principal and the recruitment process for other staff is underway.

“I am anxious that the Principal, teachers and SNAs in the new school are appropriately supported. My Department, through the NEPS, the NCSE and with the input from the Middletown Centre for Autism are developing a programme of professional learning for school staff that will be available early in the next school year.

“This will include up-skilling before the students commence school on a phased basis and ongoing mentoring, coaching and in-school support during the challenging start-up terms.

“The enrolment of students is underway and a plan is being finalised for the opening at the commencement of the 2019/20 school year. The NCSE is keeping in regular contact with the parents of the children concerned and will continue to advise them of progress.”

Who Will Take Responsibility for Tracker Mortgage Scandal?

Labour Finance spokesperson Joan Burton responding to the final examination report from the Central Bank on the tracker mortgage scandal said we still don’t know who will be held responsible for the decisions that caused this, and called for an independent investigation now to tell us how it happened.

Deputy Burton said:

“The examination action by the Central Bank is now completed, but we need to know who will take responsibility. After long investigations the facts on those affected have been laid bare. There were over 40,000 customers affected, nearly €700 million paid in compensation and redress, and most distressingly, 99 families lost their homes due to the failures of Irish banks.

”However not one person in an Irish bank has been held responsible for this scandal. Despite the same behaviour being uncovered across the banking sector here, it would appear as though this all happened by accident.

“The Central Bank in their latest report do say that they are undertaking enforcement investigations as to how and why this happened but we have had no further details made available to us on this.

”In December 2017 I called for an independent investigation to find out who was responsible and how such similar behaviour was replicated across so many banks. This scandal has caused real damage to the lives of customers especially those who lost their homes, and the thousands who sacrificed other spending to meet more expensive mortgage payments.

“Why was it so widespread, who authorised it and how did it happen. Enforcement action alone is not good enough.

“These are the same banks that are calling for the €500,000 pay and bonus cap to be lifted but it is clear that the Irish people have sadly once again learned that our banks cannot be trusted.”

Greener Communities Competition

Fingal County Council has announced new categories in the 2019 Greener Communities Competition.

The focus this year is on increasing pollinators and biodiversity and on fostering sustainable communities, a key role we can all play in creating a more sustainable future.

Biodiversity is a critical part of the web of life on our planet and over the past few decades our activities have led to a major decline in many of our native species. Communities can play an increasing role in our environmental response to climate change and environmental improvements.

Fingal County Council’s Environmental Awareness section is encouraging applicants from both new and existing projects that are ongoing to improve our environment to come forward and get involved.

The various categories are listed below and further information, as well as details about what the judges would like to see is contained on the Fingal website.  

  • Community Climate Action/Environmental Initiative
  • Biodiversity Project
  • Adopt-a-Patch Project
  • Business & Community Environmental Initiative
  • Upcycling Project
  • Coastal Area
  • Heritage Property
  • Front Garden
  • Housing Estate/Apartments < 100 properties not managed by a company
  • Housing Estate/Apartments >100 properties not managed by a company
  • Housing Estate/Apartments managed by a company
  • Fingal Village (population up to 2,500)
  • Fingal Town (population of 2,500+)

Submissions can be made online through the portal link on the www.Fingal.ie homepage or http://www.fingal.ie/environment/clean-community/greenercommunitiescompetition2019/

Submissions can also be made by post or hand delivered to Fingal County Council main offices at Swords or Blanchardstown. Download the application form in Word format or PDF from the above link. Queries on the competition (not submissions) can be emailed to greenercommunities2019@fingal.ie or call 01 890 5453.

The closing date for submissions is Monday August 5th at 4.30pm.

Joan Burton Canal

Pollution of Royal and Grand Canals

I have recently been in contact with a number of people who have expressed concerns about pollution in the Royal and Grand Canals. I contacted the Minister responsible about this and I attached her response below. I will continue to follow up the issue and others related to the Canals, such as the proposed Royal Canal Urban Greenway.

Minister’s response:

Waterways Ireland is responsible for maintaining the ecological integrity of the Royal and Grand Canals. Waterways Ireland has assured me that this responsibility is taken very seriously and environmental monitoring of these canals has been carried out for over twenty five years to ensure their protection as natural heritage corridors and as high quality public amenities.

As a result of recent enquiries from RTE concerning alleged contamination along the Grand and Royal Canals, Waterways Ireland conducted an internal review of historic records. This review and the Body’s on-going operational and monitoring protocols have not detected any contamination of significance excluding a single, known incident which occurred in the period 2012-2014.

Waterways Ireland advised RTE of this known incident which involved the leakage of cable oil from ESB Networks cabling. Subsequently following further claims from RTE of alleged repeated contamination, Waterways Ireland sought clarification and assurance from ESB Networks regarding the alleged leaks onto the Body’s property. This enquiry is on-going and I am unable to add any further information at this time.

I can confirm that Waterways Ireland made my Department verbally aware at its 29 May 2019 Monitoring Committee Meeting of the planned RTE Investigates programme scheduled for broadcast on 3 June 2019. Waterways Ireland updated the Sponsor Departments on 3 June 2019 in advance of the broadcasting of the RTE programme. This Department remains in communication with Waterways Ireland on the matter.

In relation to your question referring to protecting the wildlife corridors that exist along the canals, Waterways Ireland places a strong emphasis on stakeholder communication with regards to all aspects of waterways’ heritage. As part of the Waterways Ireland Heritage Plan 2016-2020 there was detailed and extensive consultation across a wide range of stakeholder groups including Non-Governmental Organisations, interested individuals and State Agencies. For any towpath proposal, Waterways Ireland either commissions, or insists on third parties undertaking detailed ecological impact assessments of the canals where recreational paths are proposed to assess impacts on natural heritage.

Furthermore, a detailed Cumulative Impact Assessment is required to assess any proposed or anticipated towpath projects to assess potential cumulative impacts. This has been agreed in consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service of this Department.

Community Projects to Crack Down on Litter and Graffiti

Funding for community projects to crack down on litter and graffiti has been recently announced. €771,500 in grants is available and grants can cover a broad range of measures to raise public awareness and to stimulate anti-litter and anti-graffiti activity at local level – measures such as local community clean-ups, primary/secondary schools competitions, anti-litter/anti-graffiti materials, videos, posters, information leaflets, and anti-litter/anti-graffiti exhibitions are eligible for grant aid. Interested parties can apply to their local authority.

Criteria for Local Authorities in selecting Litter and Graffiti Awareness Projects

  • Projects/activities should seek to promote greater public awareness and education in relation to litter and graffiti, and should, as far as possible, have a particular focus on involving schools and young people in anti-litter and anti-graffiti action and on voluntary initiatives by community and environmental groups
  • Grants should be used, where possible, to leverage local business co-funding of anti-litter and anti-graffiti education/awareness measures.
  • The maximum grant available in any individual case may be up to 70% of the overall cost of the project, with the balance being met by way of local contribution.
  • Where a Local Authority is not directly involved in a project, it must be fully satisfied that the project will be satisfactorily implemented.
  • Projects should be to a high standard and should aim at establishing or replicating best practice in relation to litter education/awareness measures.
  • Projects in receipt of monies under the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund are excluded for grant purposes.
  • Local Authority staff/plant costs and projects that involve substitute financing of existing programmes are excluded for grant purposes.