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19th November 2020 | Green Gazette

Council update: Green Party welcomes new Local Area Representatives as Councillors push for budget and housing reform

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At Dublin City Council, plans to transfer public land on the Oscar Traynor Road in Coolock to a private developer were voted down by Councillors from the Green Party, along with those from Sinn Fein, Social Democrats and Labour, over concerns that half the homes in the proposed development would go to the private developer rather than social housing.

Cllr Donna Cooney commented on Twitter on the Dublin Green group’s decision to vote against the sale. “The Green Party Councillors on Dublin City Council will be voting against the land sale, instead calling for the public development of the Oscar Traynor site. As part of the Dublin Agreement we are committed to a policy of building public housing on public lands.”

Green Party Councillors in Cork had a number of proposals accepted at a recent Cork City Council budget meeting. These included the restoration of funding for the Traveller Accommodation Unit, the Tidy Districts budget, Climate Action and Air Quality Management. They also pushed for the position of Trees and Biodiversity Officer to be filled.

Speaking to the Council, Cllr Colette Finn commented on the Green Party priorities for the budget:

“This budgetary process has been very useful, and I want to thank John Hallahan and his team on the level of engagement and detail that he has been asked to give. Minimising the impact of the pandemic on the council’s loss of revenues has been the biggest challenge. Last year the Green Party had looked to increase the LPT by 15% because we knew that the time to build up a rainy-day fund was in the good times. What a different year this has turned out to be. This year we agreed to the 7.5% increase as a way of minimising the cuts to council services. Council services support everyone but especially the poor and we looked to maintain as many services as possible.

“We recognise the important work of Tidy Towns in building community spirit and being an on the ground force for improvements in local areas, so we looked to protect that funding.  We are also pleased that a Trees officer will be appointed. This will build the capacity of the council to protect and build a green city. The climate action unit will continue to build on the council’s best endeavours to deal with the changing climate by having a 3rd level bursary of €20,000 and €50,000 for civic engagement. We are also pleased that monitoring and improving air quality will continue. Whilst reluctantly agreeing to a small rent increase we looked to have a percentage increase rather than a flat rate.”

Cllr Mark Hackett has reflected on experiences in his first year as Councillor on Offaly Country Council, and the issues he has encountered in the role.

“Issues in relation to planning permission have my phone hopping most of the time. I have built up a good work relationship with the officials in the council, and I am grateful for their help and patience. Most of the queries I get are in relation to environmental and heritage concerns, such as hedgerow removal and agricultural buildings being put up in the wrong location. Sometimes there is little that can be done, and with negligible fees for retention permission in Offaly, there is little disincentive for applicants to adhere to the planning regulations. This is something I wish to pursue further.

“The issue of housing availability is ongoing in Offaly, over the past number of years I have got a real insight into how people live, and the huge challenges they face each day – be that domestic violence, concerns with drug abuse, living with a person with a disability, or overcrowding – I really would not have been aware of many people are affected by these issues, but am appreciative now, and will always do what I can to help.”

The Green Party has welcomed three new Local Area Representatives, chosen at the recent AGM of the Laois-Offaly branch. Sean McManus will represent Portlaoise, John Holland will represent Graiguecullen/Portarlington and Niall Pickering will represent Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick.

The Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, welcomed the three new representatives to her constituency group:

“I am delighted to welcome Niall Pickering, Sean McManus, and John Holland to the team in Laois/Offaly. Niall, Sean, and John are part of the new wave of people that have joined the Green Party in recent years with a view to shaping politics in Ireland for the future.

“They have the drive, ability, and commitment required to deliver for their local communities. By ensuring there is a strong team on the ground in all communities, the Green Party can deliver on its pledge to create a better future for all.”