18th February 2021 | Green Gazette

Council update: Cycling infrastructure, local legends and climate emergency declarations

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Calls for walking and cycling infrastructure in Portarlington

Green Party representative John Holland has called on Laois County Council to provide improved walking and cycling infrastructure, arguing Portarlington has been underfunded for years. In his submission to the Council, Mr Holland highlighted the Council’s obligations under the Smarter Travel Scheme and the change in working and commuting trends in recent years.

“Portarlington is designated as a Key Service Town within Laois and should be treated accordingly,” Mr Holland said. “Portarlington and its surrounding areas need to be more pedestrian and cycle-friendly and more accessible for local residents of all ages and abilities.”

“We need to see Portarlington more as a place and less as a thoroughfare. The key consideration needs to be the vulnerable road user. This is clearly not currently the case in Portarlington where cars are the primary consideration in current planning and infrastructure.”

Senator Pippa Hackett supported this call, commenting that the Government has made funding available to local authorities for Active Travel infrastructure. “Giving Portarlington a good public realm in its town centre and good access for walking and cycling could dramatically change the town for the better,” Senator Hackett said. “It has a particularly young population – 53% of the population is under 35 – and we could eliminate a lot of short car journeys by offering them better routes to the town centre.”

Waterford Greens propose statue in honour of local entertainers

A statue of three Waterford entertainment legends, Brendan Bowyer, Val Doonican and Gilbert O’Sullivan will be commissioned following a proposal by Green Party Councillor Jody Power.

“Let them occupy a place of honour and accompany William Vincent Wallace in our annals of musical greatness,” said Cllr Power. “It is time for us now to redress the imbalance by honouring them in their native city. An appreciation is optimal now as many are still alive that have experienced the joy and the rapture they brought – an appreciation that may not be as fulsome in generations to come.”

Mayo Greens condemn attempt to revoke climate emergency declaration

A move to revoke a recent Mayo County Council motion declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency has been condemned by local Green representatives, describing it as ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘irresponsible’. The motion declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency was proposed by Independent councillor Mark Duffy and was passed by the Council in January.

Mayo Green Party chairperson Liam Heffron said the Councillors’ attempt to invalidate the motion made “no sense at all”, calling it “a disservice to the people who have elected them.”

“It’s shocking that councillors in this day and age would make the claim that a declaration like this is a step too far because we are a ‘highly rural county on the western seaboard’ – like we are in some way disconnected from the rest of the country or the world,” Mr Heffron said.

“This declaration was a welcome statement of intent. It told us that Mayo County Council accepted that decisions made for the county in the future would be hardwired to the climate emergency we are already living with. That’s the sentiment that is already on almost every page of the new county development plan.”

Cork Greens welcome new legislation on Quad Bikes and Scramblers

The Green Party in Cork have welcomed new legislation to deal with the misuse of quad bikes and scramblers in places like the Glen River Park.

New legislation announced by the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, will give An Garda Síochána new powers to stop the use of scramblers and quad bikes in places such as parks, green areas, waste ground and beaches. Use of vehicles on private lands such as farms will not be affected. An Garda Síochána will be given powers to detain a vehicle and to enter private premises to remove a vehicle suspected of having been used illegally.

Cllr Oliver Moran commented that scramblers and quad bikes were a source of regular danger and annoyance to people using the Glen River Park: “These new powers will be good news for users of the Glen River Park. I don’t think a weekend has gone by when there hasn’t been a scrambler or quad bike racing through the park. It’s a danger to everyone, not least children using the park.”

“The Glen River Park is coming into its own, with more visitors and a community building up around it. It’s a fantastic resource. This new legislation will be a boost for the community there that have worked so hard for that. It provides clear powers for the Gardaí to stop and confiscate these kinds of vehicles being used in public parks”, Cllr Moran added.