Week’s events; N7/Newlands Cross, Dublin Port’s sustainability, Phil Spencer & Irish Water

21st November, 2014

This week marked an important milestone in the progress we are making as a country coming back from the brink. On Tuesday, I had the honour of opening the new N7/Newlands Cross Junction upgrade, which is one of the busiest roads in the country. It is estimated that around 80,000 cars pass through this junction every day, with significant tailbacks and frequent delays signalled as hallmarks of this stretch of road. The new flyover, which is part of the N7 Newlands Cross/N11 Arklow to Rathnew PPP scheme, is the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) signed since 2007 and its completion sees the removal of the last traffic light between Cork and Belfast. It will also connect our major cities, providing a continuous free flowing route between the M50 and the cities of Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny and Waterford which will have a real impact on the lives of commuters, motorists and hauliers who use it.


My attention was also focused on Dublin Port Company and the progress it is making as a responsible corporate citizen. It is vital that companies take a holistic approach to operations which ensures that they are conducting their business in an environmentally and socially conscious way. This week Dublin Port launched its first Sustainability Report which outlines the impact the policies it is pursuing are having locally and much further afield. Recycling, energy saving measures and initiatives that support education and drug rehabilitation in local communities are paying dividends. The report shows that the company last year saved enough energy to power approximately 40 Irish homes for a year (200,000 kWh), that 96% of the its waste was recycled and that a 95% reduction in water consumption was achieved over four years through the elimination of leakages on the Port’s estate. This approach demonstrates the sort of corporate social responsibility we have come to expect from all companies. Dublin Port Company is to be commended for its efforts.


On Wednesday, I met UK TV personality, Phil Spencer, to launch an end of year six week campaign for Tourism Ireland. The campaign is designed to encourage even more visitors from Britain by targeting the ‘culturally curious’ market segment, who are typically looking to expand their experience by exploring landscapes, history and culture . Phil was here filming footage of Dublin which will be aired on Classic FM, Britain’s most popular classical radio station. There will also be a drive via social media to boost late-season travel and further support our tourism industry.


I attended a number of Cabinet meetings this week which centred largely on reforms the Government is making in respect of water and the charges to be applied. We have listened to the people, we understand the pressures involved and we have responded accordingly. The charges now in place are affordable and simple and people now have the clarity and certainty they deserve. I am all too aware that any new bill is never well received but the fact that we have historically had chronic underinvestment in our water services means that more than 22,000 people have been on boil water notices for years, 42 towns are pumping raw sewerage into our water, Youghal beach will have to be closed this summer because of the water quality and Dublin ran out of water this time last year when thousands of investors were in town for the Web Summit. The charges, which are being capped and will average between €1 and €3 a week for households, will be more than off-set by the income tax changes made in the last Budget. We cannot continue to ignore this issue. It’s time that good, clean drinking water was provided to all citizens and that the Irish people finally get the water services they so badly deserve.


Called on the people of Cabra this week and followed that up by meeting residents in the Christ the King area whose homes have been flooded in recent years. I have been working closely with both the City Council and Irish Water with a view to developing engineering solutions to reduce the risk of flooding in the area. The specific inclusion of Dublin Central as a priority area for works in Irish Water’s capital investment plan is an important step in ensuring funding to enable the construction of engineering solutions for the Christ the King area and parts of the north-east inner city.
My traditional post-Budget update ‘Know Where You Stand’ is currently being distributed across Dublin Central. If you have not yet received your copy, please get in touch on 618 3689.
Other issues that I have been involved in this week include the need for a statutory Local Area Plan to be developed for Stoneybatter and the continuation of an Intensive Inspection Programme of pre-63 multi-unit rental properties.