Week’s events; New Year’s Festival, NSMC, greenways and Grangegorman DIT’s sustainable transport plan

8th November, 2014

This year Dublin will, for the first time, host an exciting three day New Year’s Festival (NYF). Running from from 30th December to 1st January, the city will come together to ring in the New Year with a countdown concert at College Green, featuring Kodaline and James Vincent McMorrow.  A number of other other gigs and family focused and fun events will also take place. Among them will be a NYF Food Village at Dublin Castle and a Procession of Light from Stephen’s Green to Dublin Castle. The programme, put together by Fáilte Ireland and Dublin City Council, will bring the city to life with cutting-edge 3D animations, a Dublin Discover Trail or, for those intent on getting the New Year off to a good start, a Fun Run will be taking place from Dublin Castle on New Year’s Day. Dublin is competing with so many other cities in Europe to attract tourists, making it essential that we put programmes such as this in place to entice people to choose Ireland over other destinations. I have no doubt that the NYF will meet that objective.


I attended my first North South Ministerial Council Transport meeting this week, which I also chaired and which was held in Armagh. These meetings are instrumental in determining the areas that I can work on with my counterparts in Stormont for the maximum benefit of all of our people. Items on the agenda included strategic transport priorities, major road projects, vehicle and road user safety, funding opportunities and cycling and cross border greenways.


With greenways in mind, I paid a visit, en route back to Dublin, to the Boyne Greenway in Co. Meath. Greenways are an investment in our future, in our nation’s physical and mental health and in our environment. I am firmly committed to their development into the future as they offer an outlet to local communities, not only from a transport perspective but in the pursuit of a more active and outdoor lifestyle. I was very impressed with what I saw in Meath and of the plans for expansion down the line.


On Friday, I was out at the wonderful DIT campus at Grangegorman to see the focus that is being placed on the sustainable modes of transport available to students. Interesting to learn that the campus is served by 44 Dublin Bus routes and that further bus services are provided by Bus Éireann and Matthews Coaches.  The Smithfield Luas stop is close by with Luas Cross City set to come on stream in the near future.  There are three Coca-Cola Zero Bike stations and 13 bicycle parking locations on or around the campus. Real-time bus information is also provided in the foyer of the main reception building.


On the economic front I was happy to see the successful sale by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) of €3.75 billion in 15 year bonds. This is the first longer-dated bond issued since 2009.  and is a real sign of investor confidence in Ireland.


Good news on the jobs front as the Live Register dropped again for the 28th month in a row. Unemployment now stands at 11%, down from more than 15% a few short years ago. This week alone 1,755 jobs were identified in 16 companies in 6 counties. We still have a way to go but we are making real progress in the fight against unemployment.


I’ll be off to the Aviva Stadium later today to see Ireland take on South Africa in the Guinness Series 2014. Looking forward to seeing the new midfield partnership of Henshaw and Payne. No doubt the crowd will miss Brian O’Driscoll, whose shoes are big ones to fill, but that challenge for the remaining squad will not be insurmountable.