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.

Winter Pride 2019

Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride’s first ever Winter Pride festival, focusing on physical & mental health and well-being in the LGBTQ+ community, will take place from 25th November – 1st December this year! The festival will include musical events, discussion panels, workshops and a Community Day on Saturday, 30th November.

Winter Pride is a new festival brought to you by Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride to bring the community together, reconnect friends and showcase all the resources and supports available at a time when people often need them the most.

Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride has created the webpage so you can easily keep up-to-date with all the Winter Pride events and information over the next month. The Community Day is free to all who would like to attend, but if you are interested please ensure to book your free ticket to secure your place.

You can find an Agenda for Winter Pride below.

Monday November 25th – 50 Years of Pride – “Songs & Stories”

Hosted by The Queen of Ireland, Panti Bliss, sit back in the impressive surroundings of The National Concert Hall on Earlsfort Terrace and enjoy a journey through 50 years of gay anthems and LGBT+ stories with a special guest cast including: The Queen Mother – Mr Pussy (Alan Amsby), Gloria, Paul Harrington, Veda featuring Lady K, Sparkle, Brew, Phil T Gorgeous, Bunny, David Gough and more to be announced.

8.00pm, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. Tickets €25

Book here now!

Tuesday November 26th – LGBT+ Seniors Day

Afternoon Tea with the Lord Mayor, a tour through the National Gallery and maybe a gin & tonic or hot port afterwards, this is a day dedicated LGBT+ Seniors in the community. If you’d like to be included or know someone that should be invited please contact

Friday November 29th – Pride in the Workplace

The must attend event for all companies planning to take part in Dublin Pride 2020. This is a full day training course and networking opportunity aimed at HR and CSR professionals from corporate, statutory and NGO backgrounds.

Location: The Convention Centre Dublin Time: 9.30am to 5.00pm

Tickets and more information

Saturday November 30th – Pride Community Day

Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride has taken over the Wicklow floor in The Convention Centre and are queering the space for the day to create the biggest ever LGBTQ+ support and services exhibition.

There will be stands from a variety of LGBTQ+ suport and social groups, so if you’re interested in volunteering, joining a sports or social group or you’d like to know more about your community come on down. There will also be a schedule of workshops, panel discussions and talks scheduled throughout the day.

Location: The Convention Centre Dublin Time: 10.00am to 6.00pm

This is a free event, however a donation for some of the talks or workshops may apply. To book your free ticket click here. Full details of workshops and talks will be listed in the coming days. If your community group would like to get involved contact

Transgender Healthcare

Recently, I was shocked and disappointed to read that people waiting for transgender healthcare spent up to three years on the wrong waiting lists after the HSE “misplaced” their referrals. The National Gender Service (NGS) at St Colmcille’s Hospital in Dublin, which runs transgender healthcare for the HSE, recently confirmed that 109 patient referrals were misplaced on the wrong waiting lists.

I immediately drew this to the attention of the Minister for Health, and asked about his plans to ensure the necessary resources were immediately put in place to resolve this issue and to ensure redress is provided to those affected.

In his response, the Minister for Health said:

“Last week Ireland East Hospital Group notified officials of my Department of an incident whereby over 100 patients of the National Gender Service at St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown who should have been given an appointment for their initial visit, had not as yet received an appointment date.

“This is a serious incident which has resulted in regrettable delays for patients waiting for their initial appointment to the Service. However, I have been advised that the National Gender Service at St. Columcille’s Hospital has conducted a full review of their service and put a plan of corrective action in place. All of the patients concerned have been contacted to advise them of the incident and to assure them that they have been reinstated correctly onto the waiting list.

“The Service has also arranged for each person affected to be assigned a case manager over the coming weeks.

“Furthermore, the Service will also be arranging extra clinics in order to minimise any increase in waiting times.

“Finally, I wish to assure the Deputy that officials of my Department will continue to keep this matter under review through the regular governance meetings which are held with the HSE.”

If you are in crisis or need urgent support, you can call the LGBT Helpline on 1890 929 539. You can also contact the Samaritans at 116 123 or Pieta House at 1800 247 247.

For family members of trans people, Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) runs a Gender Identity Family Support Line, which runs every Sunday from 6pm to 9pm on 01 907 3707.

Photo of pouring water out of tap

Update: Boil Water Notice Lifted

Following consultation and in agreement with the HSE, Irish Water and Fingal County Council can confirm that the Boil Water Notice for residents supplied by Leixlip Water Treatment Plant has been lifted with immediate effect.

The EPA’s audit of the old Leixlip Plant and the satisfactory results of a number of water samples were factors in the decision to lift the Notice. The EPA conducted their audit of the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant on Friday 8 November. Irish Water, Fingal County Council were on site to support the audit and the HSE were also present. The EPA, who are expected to publish their findings next week.

Irish Water, the HSE, EPA and Fingal County Council will continue to liaise on the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant, the protection of public health being the number on priority.

Should people have any queries regarding this Boil Water Notice and the lifting of it they should contact Irish Water directly on their customer care helpline.

Updates are available on the Water Supply Updates section on their website, on Twitter @IWCare and via their customer care helpline open 24/7 on 1850 278 278.

“The Meaning of Life” – Gay Byrne Interviews Joan Burton

The Meaning of Life” – Gay Byrne Interviews Joan Burton, September 2015

Several years ago, I was interviewed by Gay Byrne for “The Meaning of Life”. A programme in which Gay Byrne interviewed people from different walks of life about spirituality, God, and how they tried to live a good life.

In the aftermath of Gay’s death, I re-looked at his interview with me. It is stunning how much he put into interviews – the research, the thoughtfulness of the questions, the low key but very determined interviewing style.

If you would like to watch my interview with Gay Byrne, you can do so here.

Fingal Inclusion Week Launched

The first-ever Fingal Inclusion Week, which will see over 100 events take place across the county of Fingal, runs from Monday 11th November to Sunday 17th November 2019.

Co-ordinated by the Fingal Public Participation Network (the PPN) and the Council’s Community Office, Fingal Inclusion Week aims to highlight the positive work that communities, agencies and other organisations are involved in to reduce social exclusion and poverty in Fingal.

It also seeks to raise awareness of the barriers experienced by citizens of Fingal that lead to social exclusion and promote an understanding of inclusion in Fingal which will celebrate diversity across the county.

As part of the week-long activities, a Fingal Community Directory, an initiative of Fingal PPN and the Community Development Office of Fingal County Council, has also been launched. It is an online searchable and filterable database with profiles of Community Organisations across the county who are members of the Community County Register.

Over 700 community organisations are part of the online directory which went live on Wednesday (November 6). The directory will facilitate an online presence for community groups, act as a resource for citizens living in Fingal wishing to get involved in the local community and provide a platform for researchers interested in the community demographics of the county.

In conjunction with the Fingal Inclusion week, Fingal County Council is also launching the new Fingal County Council Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Strategy 2019-2024 today (November 8), which aims to make sure services meet the needs of the diverse population of Fingal.

Photo of pouring water out of tap

Update: Boil Water Notice

Boil Water Notice remains in place for customers supplied by Leixlip Water Treatment Plant as EPA due on site for audit

In consultation with the HSE, Irish Water and Fingal County Council confirm that the Boil Water Notice to protect the health of customers supplied by Leixlip Water Treatment Plant remains in place. The EPA are due to audit the Leixlip site Thursday morning as part of the process to lift the Boil Water Notice. The HSE and senior management from Irish Water and Fingal County Council will also be in attendance.

Irish Water have additional staff at the Leixlip Treatment Plant now to assist and support staff from Fingal County Council. Working together the engineers are looking at ways to optimise the operation of the old Leixlip plant, making it more resilient at times of adverse weather and throughout the period of the refurbishment of the old filters.

Should people have any queries regarding this Boil Water Notice they should contact Irish Water directly on their customer care helpline on 1850 278 278

You can find advice on what actions to take during a Boil Water Notice on the Irish Water website  –

Updates are available on the Water Supply Updates section on their website, on Twitter @IWCare and via their customer care helpline open 24/7 on 1850 278 278.

Boil Water Notice Advice:

Water must be boiled for:

  • Drinking
  • Drinks made with water
  • Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
  • Brushing of teeth
  • Making of ice – discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

  • Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads)
  • Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling
  • Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink
  • Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water
  • Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. If bottled water is used for the preparation of infant feeds it should be boiled once and cooled. Bottled water can also be used to make up infant formula. All bottled water, with the exception of natural mineral water, is regulated to the same standard as drinking water. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals, although it rarely does. ‘Natural Mineral Water’ can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated.
  • Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Inclusion of Artists from the Traveller Community

I recently asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht about her Department’s approach to the inclusion of people from the Traveller community in funding for the arts. When I previously tabled a question in this respect, the Minister refused to answer, and it was referred to the Department of Justice and Equality.

Yet after taking the matter to the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil and re-submitting the question about funding for artists from the Traveller community, the Minister finally responded. She proceeded to quote extensively from documents and publications by her Department concerning funding for artists from the Traveller community. I found this highly unusual considering she had previously refused to answer my question. I believed the Minister should apologise to the Traveller community for refusing to take pretty much the same question on 19 September and having it inappropriately transferred to the Department of Justice and Equality.

In response, the Minister expressed that she had nothing to apologise for, and thus, I found her statement to be seriously deficient, as well as an insult to artists from the Traveller community.

From what the Minister outlined in response to my questioning, I noted that she is now going to establish a committee on Traveller culture in the National Museum. But what Travellers really want to see, is a sub-committee established within her Department to address issues affecting musicians, performers, playwrights and other artists from the Traveller community.

I want to know the reason the Minister refuses to engage with Travellers? When other artists the Department deals with raise issues, are they also referred to the Department of Justice and Equality?

The Minister herself has made remarks on previous occasions about Traveller housing and other issues related to Travellers. As the Minister with responsibility for culture, why will she not directly answer questions on Travellers? When asked the first time, why did she reject my question? Why will she not set up an interdepartmental committee in her Department to bring together musicians, actors and writers, as well as other Travellers who are artists?

It is imperative that the Traveller community gets these well overdue answers.

BusConnects Public Consultations

BusConnects are holding a 2nd round of Public Consultation on their plans to revise Dublin’s bus network.

As part of this, BusConnects will hold a two-day public information event in The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, on Wednesday, 6th November (from 11.30am to 5.30pm) and Thursday, 7th November (from 9am to 4.30pm). Their design team will be there to go through the proposals and answer queries.

I want to stress this is a consultation about a proposed plan, and not set in stone.

I would really appreciate anyone with observations or concerns to contact me about your views. I want to know do the plans improve your public transport options? Does it make your commute easier? Do you think it will help reduce our reliance on private cars? Do you think it will result in a well-run bus service for the Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 areas?

As part of representing you as your local TD, I have met BusConnects, the National Transport Authority, and only last week, I met with Dublin Bus, to go through a detailed evaluation of the proposed routes. I have expressed several concerns about the latest version of the plans. Several of which are set out below.

70 Route

The no. 70 route going from Dunboyne via Littlepace and onto the city centre via the Navan Road is to be significantly changed. It is to be replaced by a peak time bus that will travel to the city centre bypassing Littlepace. For people in the Littlepace area, there will be a secondary bus service that will cover Littlepace, and via a new bus gate at Huntstown, will travel directly to the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, where people can change to a city centre bound route via a new central Hub (it is expected the new Hub will be located at the same location as current bus stops).

39 Route

I am concerned that the proposed changes to the no. 39 route will offer very little to the residents of Brompton, Delwood, Glenville, Roselawn and Coolmine, and may in fact result in greater numbers of people having to walk longer distances to reach a bus stop. The plans for Blanchardstown Village are unclear and BusConnects needs to better explain to residents how the new bus service will work.

37 Route

The no. 37 bus route will continue broadly as is through the Dublin 15 area. From the Halfway House, it will continue onto the city centre via the New Cabra Road, Phibsborough and the Mater Hospital. The revised bus route would no longer serve either Skreen Road or Blackhorse Avenue. These areas would be serviced by a new local bus route.

Navan Road

The proposals include several new peak-time bus routes, originating from the Dublin 15 area. However, it is unclear whether these peak-time buses will stop on the Navan Road, if people from the Navan Road will be allowed board these buses and if so, where. This remains to be clarified. It is essential we receive confirmation that people from the Navan Road, areas like Ashington and Villa Park, will be able to get buses on the Navan Road and travel to the city centre and the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre.

40E Route

The proposals are unclear in relation to Hollystown and what direct services will be provided for the area. However, the current bus route, no. 40E, will continue to serve Tyrrellstown and travel directly to Broombridge.

Concluding Remarks

I would be very grateful if you could have a look at the brochure on the Bus Network redesign which is currently being distributed to every house in Dublin 7 and Dublin 15. There are many good things about the plan, but people need to be assured that they will have a local bus service that will be available to them within a reasonable walk of their home, and that will take them to and from the city centre and other key parts of the city, whether for leisure, shopping, work or study. So, if you or a family member or someone from your resident’s association could attend the information sessions, it would add vital local knowledge to the process.

Please let me know your ideas on the proposals, as I will continue to meet regularly with BusConnects, NTA and Dublin Bus to ensure that the interests of our communities in Dublin West are best served. I propose to hold a series of meetings as more detailed information on routes becomes available.

Government Should Start ‘Green Dublin’ Campaign to Improve Air Quality

Speaking recently to The Irish Sun, I called on the Government to start a ‘Green Dublin’ campaign to improve air quality in our nation’s capital. You can read more here or below. You can also watch my speech in the Dáil on air quality here.

Government urged to start ‘Green Dublin’ campaign to improve air quality in the capital

The Government has been urged to start a ‘Green Dublin’ campaign to improve air quality in the capital.

Calls have come as the Environmental Protection Agency warned that increased traffic is dangerously polluting air.

The EPA recorded eight times more air quality breaches in Dublin so far this year than in all of 2018.

The environmental watchdog recorded 78 breaches of air containing too many pollutants in Dublin so far this year — compared to just nine in the whole of 2018.

The Davitt Road area in Dublin 12 has recorded 15 air quality warnings so far this year followed by 12 in Ringsend and 11 in Blanchardstown near the M50.

Two breaches were even recorded in the Phoenix Park which is one of the greenest areas in Dublin.

Traffic Hell

In a statement to the Irish Sun, the EPA said traffic volumes in Dublin caused a rise in the number of breaches this year along with weather conditions that brought more pollutants to Ireland from abroad.

The group also attributes part of the spike to an increase in the number of monitoring stations that have been introduced as part of the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme.

The group has warned pollutant particles in the air can cause pulmonary and respiratory issues for people who breathe them in.

The Labour Party’s Joan Burton is calling on the Government to introduce a ‘Green Dublin’ strategy to reduce traffic congestion and increase the number of trees.

Greening Programme

The Dublin TD told the Irish Sun: “I met with the Asthma Society of Ireland and spoke about this. People with asthma are among the worst affected. Essentially what we need to do is green Dublin.

“Bus Connects have come up with some good ideas but they’re proposal for large scale downing of trees is just not acceptable.

“In air pollution terms it would be a disaster. We can’t afford to be cutting down trees.

“We need a comprehensive greening programme for Dublin and particularly around busy roads. We need a green scheme councils can work with residents associations on.”

Fianna Fail’s Dublin spokesman John Lahart told the Irish Sun the Government has done next to nothing to combat Dublin smog.

He said: “If you go up to the Dublin Mountains and look at the city, you can see the outline of the M50 as it snakes around the city.”

In a statement to the Irish Sun, the Department of Climate Action and Environment said they are working on a National Clean Air Strategy which will be an all government response to air pollution.

Auto-Enrolment Pension Scheme Must Remain in State Control

This morning, I appeared on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to discuss the implementation of the long-awaited pension auto-enrolment scheme. The Government must ensure the newly announced pension scheme remains in State control, as I am concerned that privatising the scheme would lead to significantly higher charges and costs for workers.

You can listen back to my interview here:

There are a number of key questions that must also be answered by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and Finance Minister Pascal Donohue, relating to this scheme.

The scheme is based on very successful models in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, where workers, employers and the State contribute, to give workers a significant savings amount when they reach retirement age.

So, we need to know what the Government plans to contribute to this scheme? It is notable that neither Minister Donohue nor the Taoiseach were at the press launch, as all schemes of this nature involve a significant government contribution. It is bizarre that such a scheme would be announced just a few weeks after the budget where none of the publications referenced the long term financial cost of this proposed new scheme.

Currently people on private pension schemes get a Government contribution through the tax breaks that these schemes attract, and it’s important that the workers in the new scheme are treated equally.

It’s important the scheme remains a State scheme that could be managed by the NTMA. If it were to be privatised there is a real concern that workers would face very high charges and costs.

It’s also necessary to ensure that each individual contribution remains in the worker’s name over the period of their contribution, and can be identified upon retirement.

The Government needs to confirm that the scheme is a standalone scheme, seperate from the current state contributory retirement pension, which is based on PRSI contributions.

The Minister needs to reassure workers contributing to the new scheme that it will not be used to means test the state retirement scheme in the future.

The sooner the Minister’s proposals come before the Oireachtas for detailed examination, the more assurance can be given to workers that their savings can be properly safeguarded under the new scheme.

My comments were also covered by RTÉ and this can be read here; and in the Irish Examiner, which can be read here.