Week’s events: Spooktacular photocalls, Vehicle Clamping Bill, marine bravery awards & Ireland as a top tourist destination

25th October, 2014

With Halloween fast approaching, I took part in a number of ‘spooktacular’ photocalls this week. The first was for the fantastic Bram Stoker Festival (www.bramstokerfestival.com) which runs from today until Monday. With a number of different events taking place, including a Macnas procession, a VampWire (free, city centre zip-wire), a Literary Death March and an underground train journey through the Phoenix Park Tunnel, there something for everyone. The second was for the revamped Ghost Bus Tour which, while hugely entertaining, is definitely not for the faint hearted!


I brought the Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014, which will regulate clamping on public and private property for the first time ever, to Report Stage in the Seanad, accepting a number of amendments from Independent Senator, Sean Barrett, which improve the Bill. I also had the Merchant Shipping Bill 2014, which deals with the registration of ships, among other things, at Committee Stage in the Dáil.


On Thursday night, I presented awards to members of the Coast Guard and ordinary members of the public who demonstrated bravery in marine emergencies. This is the first time since 2008 that the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards have been given. Recognising the acts of heroism, skill and initiative demonstrated by the recipients is so important, as the courage of these ordinary, yet extraordinary, men and women, ultimately saved the lives of people in distress.


I also agreed this week to meet with the Irish Road Hauliers Association, after the threat of further protest action by them, the likes of which we saw on Monday morning, was removed. I am always happy to meet with any group but, as I stated this week, I will not do so under duress. A meeting to address the concerns of the industry will now be facilitated by my Department.


This week also saw the Dáil suspended on Wednesday afternoon following a charade by members of the Technical Group and over speaking time. This meant that important Dáil business had to be postponed, bringing the workings of our parliament to a grinding halt. There is a time and a place, and indeed a manner, in which to resolve such issues without thwarting the democratic process. This gave rise to a certain level of frustration among TDs and shined a glaring light on how independent TDs, who would like to see themselves one day in government, conduct themselves.


On a more positive note, Lonely Planet joined Conde Nast Traveler and the Rough Guide books in proposing Ireland as one of the most attractive places in the world to visit. With tourism numbers registering an increase of 9.3% this week for the first nine months of the year, compared to the same time last year, this is proof that our people, places and polices are continuing to draw overseas visitors here, which is great news for tourism, our international reputation and ultimately jobs at home.