Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Michael D goes international

What can you say Michael D takes his campaign to France. For some unknown reason, a Michael D poster has appeared in bus stop in Brittany. Good old Michael D always looking for the international angle.

Any way we are down to one day to go, I have been on the campaign trail for 16 months now and it all comes down to one day.

I spent this afternoon in Thomastown and the evening with a large canvas team in Kilkenny City. Seamus Pattison joined me on the canvas again this evening.

The Kilkenny Voice has tipped Labour to be battling for the last seat, so get out an vote we need every number 1 possible.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Over 3,000 and thanks

The hits on my blog have really taken off over the last few weeks, at the last count tonight 3,017 hits have come onto my site since I started. Over 60 so far today alone. Thanks to everyone for visiting and I hope it gives you a small idea of what goes on behind the scenes of a campaign.

You will hear it said that Irish people are not interested in politics, however come election time we Irish like to talk about nothing else. Thanks to everyone who have greeted me at the door and promised the No.1. (I just hope enough people follow through with their promise).

Also thanks to my many canvas teams across Kilkenny. Tonight we had seven different canvas team knocking on doors ranging for Glemore to Castlecomer.

Thanks to my poster team who were out again yesterday and finally to my back off team for organising. With out the back off guys the campaign would not happen.

We are in a dog fight for that last seat, so come Thursday lets get out the vote

Hope everyone is enjoying the campaign and just over two days to go, lets keep it up.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The final days

We are now down to the final days of the campaign. Friday was spent in North Kilkenny in and around Casltecomer with the local branch. On Saturday I spent the day with one of the Canvas teams covering the City area. I have included a few of the guys who were canvasing with me to the end on Saturday. Sorry for not including everyone, however some of the guys had to head off early. On Sunday, I joined the guys in South Kilkenny canvasing FerryBank.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Only one week left

Well we are in the final straight, with one week left. Over the last week, Pat Rabbitte was down on Monday to visit Kilkenny and Thomastown. We visited the A&e in St. Lukes, which LAbour want to us as a model for A&E's for other hopsitals.

On Tuesday, we canvased areas in Thomastown and Inistoge during the day. That evening, I canvased with our City members.

On Wednesday, I spent the day in Mooncoin and Piltown with some of our South Kilkenny members and Tomás Breathnach. Thanks for the guys for the cup of tea after the canvas in Piltown.

Today was spent in Thomastown and Graignamanagh with Cllr Anne Phelan and then onto KCLR FM to be interviewed on the Farming Show.

On the door steps, there is a real feel for a change in Government made up of Labour and Fine Geal. The one thing that I have noticed in the last week is a fall off in the Green vote because people considering voting Green not sure if that vote will put FF back in power.

The next week is going to be fun

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pat's statement when visiting the A&E in Kilkenny

Labour’s plan for ending the chaos in A&E, which we are highlighting today, sets out a comprehensive and deliverable set of measures to improve conditions in A&E and across the health service. In drawing up our plan, we taken on board many of the lessons learned in St Lukes Hospital in Kilkenny. St Lukes is known throughout the health service as a hospital that works, and which has avoided the worst problems experienced in A&E units across the country. As I have seen on my previous visits to Kilkenny, there are a number of elements in making A&E departments function effectively, that we need to replicate.
As I have repeatedly emphasised, bed capacity is critical, both in terms of acute in-patient beds, and in respect of step-down facilities. That is why Labour is committed to building 2300 hospital beds and 1500 step-down beds.
We also need better organisation of A&E units and better liaison with local medical practitioners. A particular feature of St Luke’s is its Medical Assessment Unit, where patients can be seen, assessed and if necessary admitted to hospital without having to spend hours in A&E. Equally, it is important to have strong relationships with local GPs, to speed up admission to hospital based on a diagnosis made in the GP’s surgery. Too many people are spending too much time sitting in A&E, waiting to be seen by a less experienced doctor, when their GP has already assessed their condition.
Of course, we cannot exactly replicate the St Luke’s model in every hospital in every particular, but we can learn the lessons. Labour’s A&E plan sets out a series of measures to be put in place in A&E units across the country. These include medical assessment units, separate queues to treat minor injuries, better liaison with GPs and better facilities for GPs to diagnose problems before people go into hospital in the first instance.
We also need rigorous enforcement of cleaning protocols to end the phenomenon of dirty hospitals.
With these changes, and with the team-work approach which is so evident in St Luke’s, we can make a real difference to the A&E situation.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Party Political Broadcast

Some people have being asking about the Labour Party Political Broadcast, which was direct and to the point.



Labours Battle Bus visit's Carlow Kilkenny

Pat Rabbitte and the Labour Battle Bus will be visiting Thomastown and Kilkenny City on Monday morning. So if you around on Monday look out for us and call over to us for a quick chat.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Backing the nurses

I was delighted to support the local members of the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association in their work stoppage on Wednesday outside St. Luke's Hospital. It sems ludicrous that Mary Harney, who's turning into a fine replacement for Thatcher, and the so-called negotiator we have for a Taoiseach have led us all to this mad point where virtually all the workers in our hospitals, from doctors down to ancillary staff are either engaged in or threatening industrail action. I stated plainly to the nurses that I fully support their claim for a 35 hour week, something that is long overdue. I see this evening that the Taoiseach is offering to carry out a feasibility study into providing this- nearly 20 years too late!!

What a joke that one of our most respected groups of workers are offered a study into a 20 year old demand. I also told the nurses that I support their demand for decent pay although not be easy to acieve while the nurses stay outside benchmarking. I agree with Michael D. Higgins that it is vital for bith the ICTU and the Taoiseach to get involved to ensure this dispute does not lead to long-term damage to the industrial relations climate. Hopefully we'll see Liz MacManus as the next Minister for Health to sort this out first-hand.

Mr Tayto


Taking a small break this morning from my campaign, I am across Mr Tayto and his election campaign. Great to see Tayto Crips bring a bit of fun to the campaign and we all look forward to Mr Tayto visiting Carlow / Kilkenny. Now to call and see if they are interested in talking about a vote transfer agreement.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Election debate

The Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce are hosting an election debate in Kilkenny City this evening. Sue Nunn of KCLR FM will be in the chair directing the questions.

The event starts at 8.00 so if you are around Kilkenny City this evening, pop in and take the opportunity to ask the candidates a question.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lance Armstrong and a Kilkenny hurling stick

Getting away from politics for a minute, I came across a excellent news story during the weekend. Tony Griffin the Clare hurler is cycling 7000km to raise money for a cancer charity.

http://www.tonygriffinfoundation.com it is a charity worth supporting.

What caught my eye was the photo of Lance Armstrong getting a hurl, which was made by Dowling's of Patricks street in Kilkenny City. Shows you that even the seven times winner of the Tour de France knows class when he sees it.

Log onto Tony's site and donate. I know that I will be.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Now 2,750 hits (2,500 hits)

Just checked the hit rate on my election blog and it broke the 2,500 mark this evening.

So a quick thanks to everyone who has logged onto the blog and I hope is gives a small insight into an election campaign.

Thanks to everyone,

Quick update the hit rate to the blog has really jumped this week. I have very good hit rate for http://www.mycandidate.ie.

Thanks to everyone for visiting

Mobile O'Brien

A Photo of my mobile advertising trailer. A nice idea that my campaign team thought up.

Behind this fencing is the sewage tank for a housing scheme in Gowran in Kilkenny. The developer is using a 40ft container to take the sewage for a new development in the village. This is not the only time this has happened in Kilkenny.

Any way we are off, a busy week canvasing, spent the week across Kilkenny.

Sunday was out with my poster teams getting the posters up. In most places we were the first party and in Kilkenny City it was ourselves and FF.

Monday was in Kilkenny with the City guys knocking doors.

Tuesday was in Thomastown and Graignamanagh, with Wednesday in Ferrybank in South Kilkenny.

Thursday was back into the City and Friday we covered Clogh and Moonenroe. I formally registered as a candidate on Friday as well.

Today it was back into the City with the City branch canvassing. Overall a very busy week getting out early and back to base very late at night. However the party members all over the county have been great turning out in force to help with the canvasing teams. A special thanks to my posters team who worked all day Sunday to make sure we got our posters out and up well before the other parties.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A picture tells a thousand words-See the pledge videos here

The Labour Party has really adapted to this whole blogging stuff, and here you see how we're now using Youtube to spread our message. This is my first venture into putting video clips on my site, so here goes. The point of these two video clips is to higlight two of Pat Rabbitte and my pledges to you on the key things we will deliver if you elect us as part of the Government for change. To those of you without broadband in Kilkenny, my apologies if you can't access these.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Marking Seamus Pattison's Retirement

In the coming week, we will see the dissolution of the government and an election called. For many of us this means the campaign to win a seat in the next Dáil, enters it final stages. However in Carlow / Kilkenny we are also marking the retirement after 46 years of Seamus Pattison.

Seamus has served both the Labour Party and people of Carlow / Kilkenny with great honour and dignity over these years. It is a credit to him that he was elected continually over many elections and through good and bad times for the Labour Party. I am proud to have worked on many of his campaigns and we had many long nights waiting for results to come in, but no matter what Seamus always pulled through.

It is only fitting that we thank Seamus and I personally am proud to be running as part of a strong team on behalf of the Labour Party to retain Seamus' seat and work for the people of Carlow / Kilkenny as he has done for many years.

It is popular now for varying vested interests to say that the people in each county should only vote and transfer to candidates living within their own counties. However Seamus is proof, if proof is needed, that it is the calibre of the person elected and not where they live that is important.

Seamus, thanks for the good years and I am grateful to you for the help and advice you have given so far in my campaign.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Call the Day Bertie

We had Pat Rabbitte down to visit last Friday and I would like to thank everyone who we met on the canvas trial. It is always nice to get a warn sunny day to get out and meet people, however the question on every ones limps was when will the big day be.

So come on Bertie call the election and come out and face the voters.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Extend the Line

As a former employee of Irish Rail, I have a great love and interest in railways and am fully supportive of the further development of the rail network in Ireland. However in South Kilkenny we have a situation of timber freight being transported into Waterford train station. It is then off loaded onto trucks and transported by road to the timber processing plant five miles away, near the Bellview Port. What makes this crazy is that the rail line passes within a mile of the timber plant and also when the timber is transported by road it passes through Ferrybank, which is a built up residential area.

It is time that Coillte, Irish Rail and Waterford Port Company to put their heads together and resolve this situation. The solution is so simple; all is needed is a small rail spur to be built directly into the plant. This would eliminate the need for the timber lorries to travel through Ferrybank. The Irish Exporters Association estimate that "One freight train takes 50 40-foot heavy good vehicles off the road, which results in a whole load of savings to the economy in the form of reduced road congestion, pollution and road accidents”

This should be a win win situation for everyone, the people of South Kilkenny get less lorries on the road and there is no need to pay the cost of transporting the timber by road from Waterford Station to the timber plant. Once again all that is lacking is the will and determination to make it happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Billboards every where

Just a quick foot note on the last blog entry. I am now told that the guys putting up the posters made another mistake. One of our billboard's with Jim and myself was put up in Cork City about two week's ago.

Goes to show you that we get our message around.

Any way Pat Rabbitte is visiting us tomorrow and I will blog an update over the weekend

Monday, April 09, 2007

Election Bill Board's

Thanks to the people who have complimented us on our bill boards. They have been very effective in raising our profiles across both counties. The fact that the person putting up the posters for our ad agency made a mistake and put one of my bill boards up in Carlow and one of Jim's bill boards up in Kilkenny has been fun as well. It is amazing the conspiracy theories that this has caused. I have enjoyed listening to people explain to me that they had it on "good information" that this was a secret Labour Party strategy to show favour for one candidate over another. One of the local newspaper reporters was printing this as fact this week. I now know what the expression savaged by a dead sheep feels like.

If we had known the mistake the guys made was going to cause so much fun, we would have had all the bill broads put up in the wrong places. Just goes to show that the truth should never stand in the way of a good story.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Health Survey Results

During January the as part of Labours National Health Survey we dropped 2,500 surveys into homes across Kilkenny and the results certainly make interesting reading. Seamus Pattison TD and myself launched the survey locally in mid January.

The national survey shows 42% of people wait for over 6 hours in Accident and Emergency services, but this is only 20% in the Kilkenny area. The same applies for those admitted to a hospital bed with 85% of Kilkenny respondents waiting less than 12 hours for a bed, compared with a national figure of 49%. Unfortunately, this seems to lead to Kilkenny being at the bottom of the pile for funding of the facilities we are demanding, rather than being rewarded. The good results are a credit to the staff in the hospital and we should be proud of them, however the government need to address the funding short falls.

The other national figures in the survey are truly shocking. The divide between public and private patients is astonishing. 84% of private patients are seen by a consultant within three months, compared to just 30% of public patients. 98% of private patients virtually all are seen within six months, compared to 58% of public patients. As many as 22% of public patients have to wait longer than a year to see a consultant, compared to 1% of private patients.

This proves to me that in this country wealth and not need determines a person’s access to health care. If there has ever been a reason to change a government this has to be it. Knocking on doors, you meet people on waiting lists and you see the suffering they have to endure because they cannot afford to buy their way up the queue. You cannot but be angry when you see people left to suffer and the state ignoring their suffering.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

INTO meeting

I attended an INTO organised meeting last night to highlight the governments failure to address the issue of class sizes. Great credit to the organising committee and it was great to see such a huge turn out of teachers and parents. The meeting was organised in the NewPark Hotel in Kilkenny and attracted about 800 people.

The latest figures for Kilkenny showed that, 58% of children are in classes of between 20 and 29 pupils and 30% are in classes with over 30 children. Education is so important and to have teachers trying to teach in classes of 30 and more is madness. Any child that needs a little extra attention will struggle in such an environment.

I am glad to say Labour have being trying to address this matter in the Dáil, however we have not being getting the support of the government. Needless to say that did not stop the government TD’s turning up last night and express their support for INTO demand to reduce class sizes.

When you think that the government is willing to spend €600 million to buy out a toll bridge and not willing to fully address the need to invest across the education system you can see where their priorities are.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Labour Councillor in Carlow

On Sunday I was in Borris in Carlow where the Labour branch was selecting the person to replace Michael Meany as the local Labour Councillor. Borris has always been a traditional Labour strong hold and Michael's passing has been a big loss to us all.

The meeting was very well attended and chaired by Jack Wall TD, who explained the procedure's and voting to the members. The two candidates seeking the nomination were William Quinn and Seamus Hayes both of the Borris branch. In a very tight race, William came out the winner by just one vote. Fair play to Seamus as he was the first to congratulate William and offer his full support going forward. William Quinn is a 49 self employed contractor and small farmer from Spahill and continues on the long tradition of small farmers in the Carlow Kilkenny Labour Party. William was widely involved coaching juvenile hurling and football and was a founder member of Borris Community Games.

Well done William and I look forward to working with you in the coming busy months.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Go on the Shamrocks

Well the election campaign has really started this week, from here to election day it is all go. My election campaign is now in full swing and our billboard adverts are appearing across Carlow Kilkenny. Thanks to my supporters for the complements. The canvas is keeping me from blogging as much as I would like, but I promise more updates on running an election campaign over the next few weeks.

However the week cannot pass with without sending my congratulations to two local hurling clubs on winning all Ireland honours. The Ballyhale Shamrocks had a great win this weekend in the All Ireland Senior Club finals. This was a really enjoyable match to watch and it is great to be in Croke Park to see a local club do so well over the weekend.

Danesfort Fort started the week off so well, by winning the Junior title the weekend before. I did not make it to that match but from all reports another cracker of a match.

To top it all off we got our national league campaign back on track by defeating Limerick today. Well done lads, the conditions in the stand today was rough enough for us fans, good work on the pitch in difficult conditions.

Then of course there was ireland beating Pakistan in the cricket, there was an upset.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another broadband failure

The failure to be able to supply broadband to rural Ireland was again highlighted this week. Over 150 local Kilmoganny residents have signed a petition asking Eircom to upgrade their local exchange to support broadband. It is ridiculous that local communities that are crying out for broadband have to organise petitions and campaigns. The people of Kilmoganny have rightly argued that a digital divide now exists between urban and rural area's. My parties Communications Spokesperson Tommy Broughan TD has contacted the Minister, Eircom and the Communications Regulator in relation to broadband for Kilmoganny.

What makes the matter worse is that Minister Dempsey scrapped the rural Group Broadband Scheme last month after investing more than €5million in it over the two years. He has admitted that the rollout of the rural broadband scheme had been ‘too slow’ after only 7,200 people signed up for the scheme out of a potential 400,000 subscribers.

I again make the point that is now up to the government to enter the wholesale broadband market. On the right of my blog you will see the varying ways broadband could be supplied to Kilmoganny. The government should via a semi state company upgrade the remaining exchanges or invest in other technologies to supply broadband. If the North of Ireland can claim 100% broadband coverage, it shows up what a mess we have left develop on supplying broadband in the republic

Another mortgage rate increase

The ECB increase of another .25% certainly was food for thought and came up on the door steps on this weeks canvas. For many young people around Kilkenny the increases are starting to hit home.With the latest reports from daft.ie for 2006 showing the average price for a three bedroom house in County Kilkenny reaching €277,000 the rate rises are being felt. The increases over the last year and a half have added €270 euro per month to a 30 year mortgage.

The total failure of Part 5 to provide social housing has left many young people with no option but to take on a huge amount of debt. More and more of my political representations are on housing.

As a country we need to take a long look at our housing policy and help young people hard pressed to make the monthly repayments. Merely hoping the market will somehow work itself out is not an option. Being in public life and knocking on doors you get a good feel for the mood on the ground. I can tell you the mood has changed, over the last year. The talk of buying property oversea's and multiple foregin holidays has being over taken by talk of repayments and when the rate increases will end.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Time to remember Elderly Irish living in the UK.

The plight of our former emigrants was again brought home to me when I accompanied President McAleese to the Good Shepherd Centre, sheltered housing project in Kilkenny City. We had the privilege of meeting some residents, of whom many are returned emigrants from the UK. During our visit I discovered that President McAleese's husband and I both worked in Walls Ice Cream factory, while we both lived in London. The factory was situated in Acton in London and gave employment to many young Irish like myself, who had to travel to the UK looking to make a living.

During the dark days of economic depression in Ireland many young people like myself had no choice but to emigrate. For most of us emigration was a fact of life and was seen as such. Between the years 1939 and 1969 alone, 800,000 young Irish were forced by economic necessity to leave. We mainly left with what few processions we could fit in our suitcases and headed for the major cities across Britain. However we did not forget the families and loved ones left behind. For many of us that was the hardest part, being away from your family, particularly at Christmas. Each week many of us sent a few pound home to help out the family left in Ireland. An estimated €3.5 billion was sent back to support those at home, which for many families put the food on the table. Many of my generation were lucky, we either made it back home or have made a good life of it in the UK. However not all were so lucky, some have fallen on hard times. As recent RTE documentaries have shown they are living in very poor accommodation and are suffering with poor health. It is now only fair that we repay the debt and help support these communities. A delegation from the Labour Party recently went to London and found that 60% of the homeless in that City were Irish and mostly elderly.

It is time that we pay back the debt we owe these good people, the least we can do is make sure the support services they need are fully funded. Also, nationally we should be looking at setting aside accommodation to allow those who want to come back to return with dignity and pride. My fellow Labour colleague Emmet Stagg TD, has been at the forefront of the campaign to get free travel passes extended to the elderly Irish in the UK. If you have elderly Irish relatives living in the UK, I would ask you to make contact with them. See how they are doing and just check in with them, reaching out will mean a lot. They were there when Ireland needed them, now it is Ireland’s turn to return the favour.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Services on ADHD and Autism Collapse in Kilkenny

Following a request from myself , to Liz McManus TD., our Spokesperson
for Health & Children, The Department of Health has now requested a Health Services Executive (HSE) investigation into the collapse of ADHD and Autism services in Kilkenny.

My question raised by Liz , “To ask the Minister for Health & Children when she will institute an inquiry into the collapse of child and adolescent psychiatry service in Carlow and Kilkenny; the reason the Health Service Executive has not advertised for permanent replacement posts for the two retired child psychiatrists; the emergency plans her Department is considering with the HSE south to immediately install the full range of medical and other professional services for ADHD and autism patients and their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter.”

In a written reply to Liz McManus TD from the Minister for State said ‘My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and have a reply issued directly to the Deputy’.

From meeting families throughout Kilkenny, who's children have ADHD and Autism, I know that the services they need are sadly lacking. Personally, I am only to glad to raise the matter for the families who show great love and affection for their children and are let down by the state due to lack of services to support the care needed to help these hard working families.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Are you happy

I have included links to Pat's webcast explaining our commitments to the voters, log on a see for yourself on what Labour in government are committed to delivering.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Health cover for kids

On Saturday morning, I had the privilege of addressing the Labour Party Conference and speaking on our commitment to provide health insurance to all children up to age 16. This is an intermediate step and ultimately, our goal is to ensure that everyone in the population is covered by health insurance.

Healthcare and its associated cost are a worry many hard working people in Ireland, particularly health cover for their children. As a councillor and from meeting people on the campaign trail, one of the subjects most raised with me is the health system. For so many, the expense of making sure their children get the best healthcare available can be huge. Even a fairly routine illness such as a chest infection can end up costing parents a significant sum, between the cost of a couple of visits to a GP and filling whatever prescriptions are required. When it comes to health and particularly children’s health, cost should not be a factor for families to worry about. Personally, I have come across cases where parents will neglect their own health care needs to make sure their kids get well looked after.

I am proud to be a member of Labour, bring this commitment to the electorate and offering them a real alternative.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Education, Education, Education

On Monday we hosted a visit from Party Leader Pat Rabbitte to Kilkenny, where we took in visits to important sites around Kilkenny. I would like to thank my fellow Councillors Marie Fitzpatrick for hosting us at a stay in school programme in Kilkenny.

Marie outlined how such programme struggle to get proper funding and is constantly under resourced. The is amazing to see the work and commitment the staff in the centre have to make sure all young adults have a proper access to education, I firmly believe that investment is such centres is money well spend. The right for every person to access to education at a level that suits their needs is a fundamental right.

We in Labour are committed to invest in education, be it from pre-school to adult learning, life long learning is the future of our knowledge economy.

Our first commitment to change is:
Free pre- school education for one year for our children.
Labour in government will provide one year of free pre-school education, amounting to five half days per week per child. This is a major project and will require a great deal of effort - we believe it to be an investment in tomorrow rather than a cost today.
It is a major project, involving building new facilities, converting existing ones, and training and deploying a significant number of staff. We would see it as essential to work through existing providers, so as, as far as possible, to knit pre-school education into the broader childcare infrastructure.

More details on the commitment.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ferrybank and the ABC of Arts Book

On Wednesday, with the help of some local members of the party in South Kilkenny, Cllr Anne Phelan and I did a mix of canvassing and leaflet dropping in some of the house estates in Ferrybank. In the evening Anne and I attended on behalf of Kilkenny County Council the launch of ‘Ferrybank & the ABC of Arts Book’ in the Parish Centre. The Ferrybank Community Development Group has done an outstanding job and is a credit to all the people in the area. Popular myth would have us believe that community spirit is gone and it is everyone for themselves in modern Ireland, however community groups this proves that people do still care and are willing to give their time and effort. Community groups across Carlow / Kilkenny do amazing work, often without the recognition they deserve. It is clear that funding must be targeted to these groups to help them continue this work.
On Saturday, I was again on the campaign trail in South Kilkenny, this time Mooncoin village. Mooncoin is a beautiful village and like many it has seen the local population increase rapidly with new housing developments. Again a very good reaction on the doors and issues were raised about facilities and resources needed within the village. Now that the election is drawing close you can feel people starting to focus more on how they will vote.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Death of a Colleague

The Labour Party in Carlow / Kilkenny received sad news on Sunday, with the death of Cllr. Michael Meaney at his home just outside Borris. Michael was a long standing member of the Labour Party and represented the Borris electoral area for many years.

Michael was one of the hardest working councillors many of us have had the honour of meeting and the fact that he regularly topped the poll in his area showed the feeling that the local population had for Michael.

As a mark of respect to Michael, I will not be posting my regular election update this week. I merely wish to mark the passing of a colleague and send my sympathy to his family.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Would you post a letter in this

Would you post a letter in this post box, by the looks of this box it would seem to be out of commission. However it is the post box serving one of the busy areas in Kilkenny City. After contacing An Post, I have received a positive response from An Post following my request for improved maintenance of letterboxes throughout Kilkenny and Carlow. In a letter from the Leinster Area Operations Manager in Naas, I have been assured that painting and replacement of nameplates will be undertaken 'early in 2007'

It is unacceptable practice for the postal service to allow its equipment to deteriorate to its present state. We are entitled to be assured of the integrity of the mail service, in what claims to be a leading country in the communication age.

Health Survey

Over the weekend Seamus Pattison and I took part in the local launch of the Labour Party’s health survey. Nationally Labour is distributing 52,000 questionnaires to households asking for peoples’ opinions and experience of our health system. Locally Labour members are distributing 5,000 leaflets to homes across the electoral areas in Carlow / Kilkenny. In Kilkenny I want to personally thank my council colleagues, Seán Ó hArgáin, Marie Fitzpatrick, Maurice Shortall, Anne Phelan and Tomas Breathnach for organising the questionnaires to be delivered in their local area. People will tell you that no one is interested in politics any more, well to see Labour members braving the elements to hand deliver 5,000 surveys to homes across Carlow / Kilkenny proves otherwise.

It was also great to launch the surveys with Seamus Pattison, Seamus has given 45 years strong and loyal service to the public in this constituency and I am proud that he is helping and advising me in my campaign, to also offer the same level of service to hard working families across both counties.


Iverk AGM

On Monday I attended the AGM of the Iverk Agriculture Show in the Piltown Community Centre. The Iverk show is 181 years in existence and is the showcase event for rural life in Kilkenny. The show itself allows all strands of rural life exhibit their wares and the event is a credit to the organising committee. There was mention of moving the time of the show to a weekend away from the traditional first Thursday in September slot to accommodate part time farmers and people in rural areas. It is important for rural Ireland that events like the Iverk show continue to grow and such a move would be a good idea taking into account the change in circumstances of many living in rural areas like myself.

From knocking on doors in rural areas people are rightly worried about the continued way of life we enjoy. Access to transport and rural services such as post offices are some of the many subjects brought up time and again.

I have included a link to the Iverk show, which is well worth a visit next September no matter what day it is on.

After the AGM, I visit some of my election team in Piltown and as usual they look after me well with a cup of tea, which was much appreciated.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Busy Weekend

Another very busy weekend, Saturday was spent in Glenmore and Rosbercon on the canvas trail, while one of my leaflet dropping teams were in action in Kilkenny City. With all the rain on Saturday, a lot of time was actually spent drinking tea in Labour supporters houses. Thank you all for your welcome and the tea was most appreciated. Thanks to the team who braved the elements in the City to drop a few hundred health surveys.

Sunday was spent in Kilmanagh canvasing and catching up with some of the Labour Party supporters as well. While the weather is cold this time of year, I am delighted with the warn welcome on the door steps. Kilmanagh like other rural areas, is crying out of rural transport and one householders quite rightly commented that rural Ireland needs a bus service during the day and not just at night to bring people to and from pubs, as put forward by some government Ministers. It is time for our government TD's to obtain funding to expand Ring a Link to the whole of Carlow / Kilkenny

Monday, January 08, 2007

Time for the government to admit their mistake.

Spent Saturday back on the canvas, which was my first day back after the holidays. My fellow Labour Councillor Anne Phelan joined me on the canvas in the village of Goresbridge. Goresbridge is within the local election area which both Anne and I represent. We both take pride in the fact that the Labour Party has the highest number of councillors in this area.

The main issue on the doors steps in Goresbridge was the closure of the local secondary school, St. Brigid's, a few years back. The local parents to their credit ran a very positive campaign to save the school and are now being proven correct in the fact that the school was needed. The schools in the surrounding areas are reaching full capacity and there is a need to cater for the increase numbers over the next few years. I am glad to say that both Anne and I were very strong in support for keeping the school open. However the Department of Education and government TD’s from the area did not listen to the people, invest in the school and keep it open.

Frankly, to this day I cannot see any sense in closing a great school like St. Brigid’s. It is quite clear to me as well as everyone in the local area that a school now needs to be rebuilt in Goresbridge. Needless to say government TD’s will be falling over each other offering to lobby on the matter closer to the election.

It is time for the government and the department to admit they were wrong and start the plans to reopen the school; of course they will in the process waste millions replacing the school they closed in the first place. Not that wasting hard working families tax money matters to this government, wasting money is something they are very good at.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My New Years Resolution

Well the festive season is over and we now face into the election some five or six months away. From here on in it is back to campaigning hard to make sure Carlow / Kilkenny has strong representation by a Labour Party T.D. after the next election.

On a non political point, we all have made New Year resolutions and I am going to share with you one of mine. The resolution is to buy more “Fair Trade” products in 2007 and help support ethical business in the developing world. The Fair Trade organisations are doing excellent work supporting fair prices to local independent producers in developing countries. As the saying goes “a help up not a hand out” and Kilkenny City can be proud in the fact that it is leading the way by becoming a Fair Trade City.

I would urge everyone to support Fair Trade by looking for their symbol when shopping and lend your support to prove that ethical business in the developing world can be a success. For more information on finding Fair Trade products the website address is www.fairtrade.ie. Particularly, I would ask the local farm families within Carlow / Kilkenny to support their colleagues in developing countries to make a liveable wage from their farms.

A happy New Year to you all and see you all on the door steps over the next few months.