Welcome to my Autumn Review- I hope it finds you well. It has been an extremely busy few months tackling issues across the South. I now have over 400 open files on my desk ranging from housing applications to start up businesses looking for help and everything in between. In addition, I have been pursuing the following local issues; Trouble with Town Hall Transparency, Christmas Market for the Town Hall, The Battle of the Green Road, The Great Connell Saga, Derelict Disappointments in Kildare Town, Suitable Skate Park Locations, Accountability in the Arts section of the Council, Promoting Business in Eyre St. and George’s St. and SKET’s Battle for another Second Level school, to name just a few! On a national level, as recently as last Wednesday, on my behalf, Senator Catherine Noone asked the Minister for Education and Skills for an update with regard to the Dept’s Review of Post-Primary Places required from 2017. I was also added to a list of General Election candidates by the Irish Independent last weekend dubbed #One2Watch in the General Election! So as you can see it has been ‘all systems go’ for Team FMH over the last few months.
Here are the details of some of the main issues and projects I have been working on, on your behalf. I welcome feedback all the time so please email, FB message, phone or drop into my office or Clinics in
Newbridge 9-4 Monday-Friday
Athy 9.30-10.30, Kilcullen 11- 12midday, Kildare 2.30 – 3.30 every Thursday.
Allen 1-2pm, first Thursday of every month
1. Town Hall Transparency
While I am delighted at the allocation of €400,000 last year to refurbish Newbridge Town Hall (see pictures at the link of the interior now being revealed inch by glorious inch) the veil of secrecy around its development is unacceptable to me both as a public representative and as a tax-payer. At a recent meeting, as soon as I attempted to take a photo of the plans of the Town Hall, Cllrs Doyle, Kennedy and O’Loughlin forcefully insisted that the plans or an image of the plans could not be taken from the meeting. This obsession with keeping the plans secret was completely at odds with the previous agreement to consult with the public around possible uses of the Town Hall. My concerns about the veil of secrecy around the development of the Town Hall doesn’t end there. http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/
The cost and funding of the Town Hall and the lack of progress and clarity around the setting up of it’s management structure all lack transparency. My question at Septembers Municipal District meeting asked; ‘Can the council give a breakdown of the entire funding of the town hall works and where it has come from, including the reasons for the recent increased budget requirement, bringing the previous €400,000 budgeted for completion of the town hall
(excepting exterior works) to €645,000, i.e. an extra €220,000?’
I didn’t receive an answer. It is entirely unacceptable to cover up /hide/ refuse to reveal where the funding of the entire cost of the Town Hall has come from. I subsequently submitted a formal question seeking clarification of the respective contracts and sources of funding. In advance of the Municipal District Meeting, I did not receive the usual written report to the question I had submitted. Instead, I was informed that a verbal report would be given at the meeting. Unfathomably, even the Official reporting at the meeting however, was unable to give a definitive breakdown of the cost or funding source for;
1) the initial contract – including the re-roofing of the Hall2) the current contract – to refurbish the Hall to a point at which we can open its doors to the public
3) the next contract – which may or may not include seating/kitchen/exterior works and for which €225,000 has been allocated according to the Director of Service.Funding sources need to be clarified. And the former Town Council’s role clarified and publicly acknowledged.
My quest for transparency and open public consultation continues unabated. https://www.facebook.com/
2. Christmas Market-The next step for our Town Hall
The Kildare Business Wisdom Council, who were responsible for the hugely successful Busk and Food Festival earlier this year, is in the process of planning a Christmas Market in the Town Hall for this Christmas. As a founder member of the group I am particularly eager that the development and the setting up of the management structure of the Town Hall continue to be kept on track. The current phase of the Town Hall development will be finished in the last week of November. Some months ago, I informed the CEO of KCC and more recently the relevant Director of Service, of Kildare Business Wisdom Council’s intention to hold a Christmas Market in the Town Hall. Although the Town Hall will not be fitted out completely, it will be finished to a point at which its doors can be opened to the public for a Christmas Market.
Since announcing details of our Christmas Market online there has been an enormously positive response! The Christmas Market has been proposed for December 5th in our beautifully refurbished Town Hall – thank you for the many shares, comments, likes, messages and expressions of interest which have been flooding in all week! This is set to be an Xmas to remember. For more information visit Kildare Business Wisdom Council’s page on Facebook. https://www.
3. The Battle of the Green Road
Following a petition, which we (parents and residents) signed and submitted last November to support my first motion regarding the dire conditions on the Green Rd., little progress was made despite a follow-up site inspection by the area engineer in December.
After a second motion which I submitted in June 2015, I received the following report from the council which gave a litany of reasons for the experienced delays. (Link below) Further discussions between my office and the Council have taken place since then and I am delighted to see at least that our concerns about safety on the Green Road are starting to be taken seriously. In September traffic calming measures were put in place for the opening of this academic year on the Green Rd. Road safety is paramount for our families and students.
Thanks to the residents and parents for their action (and patience!) with the petition-the hard work has finally paid off. I will be keeping an eye on the impact of the traffic calming measures on traffic and I welcome your feedback here too.
4. The Great Connell Saga
Farcical use of ‘In committee’ meetings to gag people-the Great Connell saga.
Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District has had ‘in committee’ meetings around the Town Hall, the Skate Park and more recently about the chronic issue with HGVs along Great Connell. “ In committee” means that no-one is allowed to discuss the content of the meeting once the meeting is over. The HGV traffic along Great Connell is an issue that I have been highlighting publicly for over 12 months now, working closely with residents. ‘in committee’ should only be used – as per the Local Government Act – if it is in ‘in the public interest.’ Instead it is being used by both officials and Councillors ‘to protect people from being reported on’ or ‘to stop an issue being discussed by one Councillor’ . This was the explanation given by Mayor Kennedy to residents at the start of a recent second meeting between the Council, residents and representatives from Lidl to discuss the chronic issue with HGV’s along Great Connell. It is farcical that I am now prevented from talking about the presentation by the Council in relation to the issue which I and the residents had freely talked about on radio and in the press before – a topic that I had put forward several Council motions on. Perhaps that’s the problem. I will not be silenced on this issue by the inappropriate use of the “in committee” mechanism.
Pictured with residents below. https://www.facebook.com/
5. Derelict building in centre of Kildare town –our heritage town.
Immediate Action needed for Kildare Town
I requested earlier this year an assessment of Grace’s Pub, Kildare Town for dereliction based on the state it was in at the time. After weeks the Council informed me that despite its condition (the urine and excrement on the wall, lines hanging at head height, broken signage, dilapidated paint-work and clear view of unkempt backyard through gates at the side) the building was not derelict.
Some improvements have been made including masking the view of the back and painting pictures on the windows. While I welcome the attempt to cover over a building that has been left uncared for in the middle of our Heritage Town, IT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH.
For my progress since then and before and after photos of the improvements visit;
6. Educate Together Divestment
South Kildare Educate Together 2nd Level Campaign, was acknowledged by the Minister for Education, Jan O Sullivan earlier this month. Our persistent emails, tweets, posts, radio and print interviews about the chronic shortage of 2nd level places in South Kildare are paying off. https://www.facebook.com/
On a National Level
1. # One2watch
The Irish Independent recently identified me as one of “ Six Candidates to Watch” for the General Election. I am certainly working to deliver for those who are watching and waiting for change in Kildare South.
2. Calling on the Minister for Education for another Second Level school in South Kildare
This week, on my behalf, Senator Catherine Noone asked the Minister for Education and Skills for an update with regard to the Dept’s Review of Post-Primary Places required from 2017. I am greatly concerned by the Minister’s answer that decisions around extensions vs new schools have already been made in anticipation of the outcome of that review. http://
Our campaign for #choice and #diversity will continue in earnest in South Kildare through the SKET campaign. On Facebook visit – Educate Together Secondary School Campaign for Kildare South or show your support on Twitter @sket2ndlevel.
3. Broadband Connectivity to Increase Market Share
Acknowledging the role technology has to play in supporting our local communities and businesses, I welcome the news that €275 million will be invested in broadband. This means that every house in the country will have access to 30 megabit broadband by the end of 2020. The funding for broadband was announced during September as part of the Government’s six year Capital Investment Plan. This will enable the overall strategy to restore all the jobs lost in the recession by 2018 and to get unemployment down to 6% by 2020. The provision of high quality broadband for every house and business in Kildare South and around the rest of the country will only fuel this recovery. The fact that over 750,000 addresses, 1.8 million citizens and 63,000 small businesses will benefit from the direct State intervention is a huge leap forward. http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/
4. Finding the Right Support for Your Business
Each year we seek to build the capacity of enterprise to create jobs. The actions being taken are making a difference. We need to make sure enterprise knows what is available. I have set out here important supports for:
- Starting Up
- Access to Finance
- Exporting and Innovation
Finding The Right Support for Your Business: Visit www.localenterprise.ie/
and answer a few simple questions to find out what supports are available to help your business. It helps you navigate in one location, information and guidance, on over 80 Government business supports. My full blog post on the available government supports can be viewed here; http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/
5. Ireland’s Ancient East Region-Tourism in Kildare on the Rise
Fáilte Ireland is making €29k in funding available for the Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park through its ‘New ideas in Ancient Spaces’ Capital Grants Scheme for attractions within the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative. The funding is part of Fáilte Ireland’s ‘New ideas in Ancient Spaces’ Capital Grants Scheme to encourage the development of compelling visitor experiences throughout the Ireland’s Ancient East region. The grant to Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park followed a call for submissions from interested parties across the region to apply under the scheme. http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/