30 April, 2007

Herald or Press?

...the flesh that is. Day two, and chatting away to people at the Dart Station in Dun Laoghaire on a sunny evening is almost relaxing after the many intimate encounters with poles of the stationary kind since Sunday morning.

"The Green Party- ah, sure yiz are all lentils and smoking dope, sure you would ruin the country"
was the worst reaction I got today. Dorothy, an older Green Party member tried to explain that she had never tried any of the above, but she got short shrift from our accuser.

As poles for postering become scarcer, the competition hots up. Spying a van and ladders from the opposition drawing near we sprinted towards a prime position in Sandycove yesterday. A face appeared at the window of the house behind -

"Sorry, we're trying to sell our house here, and would you mind not putting up posters, it sort of takes away from the appearance.

"Sure, no problem" I replied and turned around to head back to the car.

"Oh, you're the Green Party, forget what I said, you're fine!"

And I hadn't even told her about our plans for lowering stamp duty on high energy rating homes...

16 April, 2007

In the drink

Sure what else would you be doing but dipping your feet in the water on an April morning?

A picture-perfect sunny morning last Thursday and Patricia McKenna, David Healy and Bronwen Maher joined me in the water after the photographer's invitation to get our feet wet. John Gormley's been around the block a bit longer than the rest of use and he wisely declined their request that he go for a paddle, and remained behind the cameras, although he had almost ended up in the briny after losing his balance for a moment on the old lifeboat slip.

That's the Granuaile behind us. She's the main vessel that the Commissioners of Irish Lights use to service the lighthouses and ships around our coast. I was one of the Commissioners for three years back in my Dublin City Council days. The Commissioners of Irish Lights were established by the Dublin Port Act 1867, but derive their origin and constitution from an Act of the Irish Parliament of 1786 for developing the Port of Dublin. The Commissioners of Irish Lights are a statutory body of 21 members, with perpetual succession, to provide and maintain Aids to Navigation around the coast of Ireland.

Our photo-shoot in Dun Laoghaire was to publish the Dublin Bay Bill, a project that I've been working on for the last year or so. I held a 'Dublin Bay Futures' Conference in the Kingston Hotel here in Dun Laoghaire last Spring, and the Bill was inspired by those discussions. Dublin Bay is under pressure from high-rise building proposals at the moment, but while all this construction is taking place, the Baths at Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire lie derelict.

We're proposing a new Dublin Bay Authority that would properly manage the Bay on behalf of the people of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. Last Thursday at our launch in the Kingston we stated that this new Authority could carry out the following activites:

1. Regenerating the Baths around the Bay such as Dún Laoghaire, Blackrock and Clontarf.
2. Ensuring that the proposed ‘S2S’ (Sutton to Sandycove) walking and cycle route becomes a reality.
3. Providing greater access to the water for anglers, swimmers and boat users.
4. Protecting low-lying coastal areas from the risks of flooding due to climate change or natural events.
5. Developing the South Docks and
Poolpeg Peninsula as high amenity residential areas as the first phase of Dublin Port’s eventual removal from the City Centre.
6. Creation of a
Marine Park initially in the area between Sandycove and the East Pier in Dún Laoghaire.
7. Extending the Luas into
Poolbeg Peninsula.
8. Utilising the heated water from the Poolbeg Power Plants to provide district heating for apartments along the Liffey.
9. Ending the discharge of raw sewage into the Bay from the small number of remaining outlets while also resolving the capacity and odour problems at the Ringsend Plan.
10. Phasing out the parking of cars on the beaches of
Bull Island.

Ireland's Coast Zone Management Plan is still only in draft format, ten years after it was first produced. Our proposed Dublin Bay Authority would ensure that the Bay is better managed for future generations. It was great to get our Bill published, and it provides a taster for what the Greens would like to achieve if we're in Government after the election in a few weeks time.

14 April, 2007

Expect more of this

I had pushed the bell before I had read the sign fully.

Should I high-tail it before anyone came to the door, or should I stand my ground? Normally I ignore the 'No junk mail' signs, as I'm sure most of us do. I stood my ground. I could hear footsteps. I took a deep breath.

"Hi ya doing, sorry about that, I hadn't read the sign before I pushed your bell."

"Oh, don't mind that sign, that's only the husband, he gets these notions, and printed out the sign."


"I'm from the Green Party, I'm Ciarán Cuffe, one of your TDs, and I'm just calling by with a newsletter.

"Oh, the Greens, come on in, this is a green house here. He put the sign up because of that other fellah that keeps calling by, morning, noon and night.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of canvassing and stepped across the threshold.

"What a nice house"

"It's one of these Coillte Griffner timber houses, isn't it lovely?"

And, indeed it was. Rule two of canvassing. Listen to the voter, don't talk at them. The house WAS beautiful; timber-frame, lots of light, a bright stairwell filling the house with light.

"We built it in the side-garden, and then decided to move into ourselves."

And that's why a fifth of the new homes in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown are being squeezed onto these infill sites, alongside existing homes. It's a great solution to providing a house for the son or daughter, and allows them to live close to their parents in the neighbourhood where they grew up. It also beats being squeezed into one of the shoe-box apartments that seem to be replacing houses all around the County. Some guidelines on infill development wouldn't be any harm, but in general these side-garden homes work out well.

Anyway, after the full tour of the house - ("lovely kitchen, but too many windows, and not enough storage...") I made my excuses and headed away. The rest of the team were two roads on at this stage, and reminded me (again) never to spend more than two minutes at a door. A pleasant encounter, and a nice snapshot of canvassing on a sunny Friday afternoon in April 2007