Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
It is my firm belief that we need to take a twin track approach on this crisis, to steal a sound bite from Tony Blair, we need to be “Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”. Now everybody wants criminals locked up for long jail terms and I fully agree with that. However at that stage it is too late, they have already committed the crime and there are already victims. We need to be creating a situation where young people are attracted to play a full part in their local community.
We need firstly to get tough on crime, recruiting more members of the guards is a start. The guards need to be properly resourced with increased spending on specialised units targeting these criminal gangs. If we look at the US model, where the FBI target Mafia gangs, we can see the success of this approach. Here in Ireland with militant nationalist groups like the PIRA and the dissident groups, the Special Branch and Military Intelligence have kept these groups in check. The government brought in “The Offences Against The State Act” to tackle militant groups, under which if a Superintendent states a person is a member of an illegal group this can be used as evidence to convict that person. Criminal gangs now offer the same level of threat to ordinary citizens as the terror gangs and must face the same laws and the same level of effort to put them out of business. We also need to increase resources for the Criminal Assets Bureau, to take the ill-gotten riches off these thugs. In short the government needs to put the criminal gangs out of business, if this means new laws or more money so be it.
Merely getting tough on crime is not enough, we need to spend as much time and effort removing the conditions where young people get involved in crime in the first place. We need to start in the school and in primary schools at that. As communities, schools are vital to all our lives and this is where the focus must start. We need early intervention when children start falling behind in school. Schools, particularly in under privileged areas need extra resource teachers and class room help to make sure all children get a proper education. It is not good enough that schools in poor areas have a lower rate of children attending third level, compared to schools in wealthier areas. Money should not be a factor in determining children’s chances of reaching their educational maximum. We need to invest in after school clubs to make sure that all children get properly looked after. Already in our communities we have people giving up their time and effort to help young people. Prime examples of this are the people who help run the local GAA, Soccer, Rugby clubs and varying other clubs. These citizens give to their communities by helping to run clubs for young people and we as a state do not give enough back in my view. Money spent funding underage teams and programmes for young people is money well spent. Our political system should be increasing spending on local community groups like these. We need more early intervention for young people involved in petty crime. If you stop people getting involved in petty crime, you reduce the chances of people going on to join criminal gangs. In short we need to spend as much on removing the causes of crime as on fighting crime. With this twin track approach, I believe that we all can make a real difference and stamp out this evil criminal menace that is eating away at the core of our nation.
I do not mean to have a rant on the subject, however this is something I feel very strongly about and it is something that crosses all social and political groupings. We all want to live in a peaceful and prosperous country and I personal do not intend sitting by and watching thugs take over.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Some of that time includes bowling, golf, horse & mini-car racing, touring around London, eating in The Duck – or just slumming it in McDonalds or the Noodle Bar in Aylesbury. Shopping gets the ‘thumbs down’ though - unless, yes! there are exceptions to everything - unless we are in Hambleys. Hambleys is the world wide mecca for toys, based in Oxford Street in central London
Sorry though, that the familiar Routemaster Buses are no longer around. Alas! the last one was withdrawn last year. Hope you like the picture of a Routemaster in a typical traffic scene synomonous with London and its many attractions.
A lot has happened during my holiday, the budget which I will post my thoughts on later in the week and of course the killing in Kilkenny City.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I was delighted to see CIE have carried out upgrade work on the rail line running through the village. Fiddown used to have a station, however while the beautiful station house is still there, the train no longer stops in the village.
Later in the week I travelled to Dublin, where the Labour Party were marking Seamus Pattison’s 45 years service as a sitting T.D. A fitting tribute to Seamus who is now the longest serving T.D. in the State. Once I get the pictures of the night, I will post some of them on the Blog.
During the week, Grennan College invited me to an evening engagement, which I enjoyed greatly. This was a benefit night organised by the domestic science students to raise much-needed funds for the Carlow/ Kilkenny homecare team. A wonderful four-course meal, well done to the students and from what I hear well done on the amount you raised for this worthy cause.
Had great plans for later in the week to take a day off the canvas trail to get a round of golf in at my local golf club, Mountain View. Election campaigning is bad for the old golf game and I have not had the chance to get many rounds in this year. Anyone who has seen my golf game will tell you that I could do with as many practice rounds as possible.
With the amount of rain and high winds, these plans went out the window and so did canvassing as well. All the same got the chance to catch up on some of my day-to-day business as a local councillor.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Yet another busy week on the election trail, with Pat’s visit on Monday and my work as a local Councillor, I did not get much canvassing done this week. The weather and dark nights makes it hard to get to as many doors as you can during the summer.
Anyway the main news of this week was Pat Rabbitte officially launching my blog while in
As for next week, keep on canvassing and look for a new pair of shoes. You would be surprised how quick you can get through shoes on the canvass trail.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Pat Rabbitte paid a constituency visit to Carlow / Kilkenny on Monday to support the election campaign of both myself and my running mate Jim Townsend. The tour took in a visit to
The next stop on the tour was a meeting with Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce. This was a very interesting meeting and was I was glad to exchange ideas on what needs to be done to support local business. This is a discussion I intend returning to again soon with the Chamber. Also on the visit Pat, Jim and myself visited the local newspapers, where Pat conducted a series on interviews on local and national issues. We paid a visit to the local SIPTU office, where Denis and his staff made us very welcome, after which we got in some canvassing in
The Kilkenny leg of the visit ended with lunch in The Ground Floor coffee shop, which I would recommend for good coffee and nice food.
On Monday, I toured
It is great to see such an old and historical building full of life and having students fill its halls ways. The library within the college stands out as an impressive feature and is a credit to the staff and students. Particularly heartening was the number of mature students attending the college and reaffirms my belief in life long learning. Well done on all the good work to the staff and students and thank you for having me as a visitor.
As James Connolly once famously said “educate to liberate”.
I am glad to support a new campaign on the issue called Make Room, a joint initiative of the Saint Vincent de Paul, Threshold, Simon and Focus Ireland who are demanding an end to homelessness by 2010. This will mean that homeless people in this city and county should be catered for, and that we should provide homes for those who need them. Public housing is always built when Labour are in Government, and ignored when we're not. It needs a Labour Minister in charge of this area again, before the spiralling waiting lsits for housing will finally be cleared, and biulders and developers made to liove up to their responsibilities once and for all.
Log on here to support the campaign.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Attended the documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, staring AL Gore during the week and I would recommend everyone to go see the film. This is truly an outstanding production and really brings home the effect we are having on the climate through our actions.
When you see the government allow the Sugar plant in Carlow be demolished, when with proper investment, the plant could have been converted to produce Bio ethanol, which can be used as a fuel source for transportation.
Using sugar beet to produce the eco friendly fuels, would have had a positive impact not only on the environment, but also on local jobs and local agriculture. The potential of this industry to create jobs locally should not be under rated. However, without the foresight to see the potential we will merely repeat the mistakes of the past.
The best example of this has to be the railways, nationally we are spending millions to replace lines we destroyed in the past. In years to come, we will have to build bio fuel plants to replace the sugar factory's we demolished in the past. Will we as a nation never learn.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Another interesting week on the election campaign trail, so far I have been out canvassing for six months. It would look like Bertie is going to call the election for some time in May, so I am nearly half way through the campaign.
Glad to see that the papers covered my support for the pension rights for farm women. For a country awash with money, the government does not seem to be focusing on real issues. The pension right's of farm women is not just a farming issue. It goes to heart of what we should stand for, both urban and rural, it is about citizens being protected and cared for by the state. To see hard working families having to campaign for basic pension rights in a booming economy, shows up the huge weakness we still have in social infrastructure.
On a brighter note, I was delighted to be present at the formal launch of the rural walkway from
Took some time off the campaign trail this week to follow the election results in the
I was very interested to see John McCain express his intent to try and seek the Republican nomination to replace President Bush. The race to replace Bush is going to be very interesting. With Hillary Clinton making noises that she will seek the Democrat nomination, there will be fun times ahead. The most interesting race should be for the Democrat nomination and I believe Senator John Edwards will certainly strongly challenge Hillary. http://oneamericacommittee.com/, John Edwards site
Fun time ahead for all in politics, as the Chinese say, “may you live in interesting times”
Monday, November 06, 2006
(Pat, myself and Cllr. Liam O'Brien from Carlow. Liam has done some excellent work fighting to protect post office services in Carlow)
I spent last weekend canvassing in some of my old local election area and got to meet up with a large number of my old supporters. The villages of Windgap, Kilmaganny, and Dunnamaggan formed part of my old local election area before the boundaries were redrawn in 1999. After being a local councillor for these areas for twenty years up to 1999, it was good to get back canvassing these areas. It was nice to meet up with some old friends and supporters once again.
The issues in these areas are very similar to many of the other rural areas, which I have already covered. Yet again the status of rural post offices was raised again and again on the doorsteps. The lifeblood of rural village is the local post office and sometimes, I feel the powers that be in government over look this. On the upside, it was nice to see some new housing being planned for Windgap. It is good to see new houses going into this nice village.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Travelled to Dublin on Monday at the request of the party's Agriculture correspondent Mary Upton TD. There we launched the party's new policy documnet on faming and rural development which is very welcome. As I said previously, I grew up as the son of a farm worker, so like most people I'm not too far removed from the land. I've also represented a rural constituency foer all my time in politics. There are some really great initiatives in this document, the best of which is the sensible proposal to give 50% rates reduction to the last surviving shops etc. in rural villages. In places like Skeoghvasteen, Coon, Glenmore, Ballon, Ballinabranna and Newtown this could keep the remaining small businesses open. You can view the full document here.
The other benefit of attending was the bit of National publicity involved. We got the Six One News on RTÉ and a great pic in the Irish Times on Tuesday. Now it's back to knocking on the doors and explaining the policy and our commitment to rural life to local people who live in these areas. Also got coverage in the Kilkenny People. It all adds up!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I believe that politicians must always find new ways to reach out to voters and to communicate with the voters so I hope that you will follow my news and thoughts on life as your local councillor, election candidate and hopefully the next Labour Party TD for Carlow/Kilkenny. Let me know what you think, for better or worse.
Here goes now for my first pic. Here you see me, my party leader Pat Rabbitte TD, Cllr. Seán Ó hArgáin, the quiet lad from Kerry and now Councillor for Kilkenny city, and Cllr.Phil Prendergast, a Kilkenny native and our candidate for South Tipperary. We're at the recent world ploughing championships in Grange, Co. Carlow. Having been reared as the son of a worker on the now world-famous Mount Juliet estate, I have always been close to the land and rural people. You'll see in my next blog that I am playing an active part in the party's policy on rural Ireland.