Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Speech i delivered at the AGM of Bray Municipal District having served my term as Cathaoirleach

The AGM of the Bray Municipal District took place on Tuesday 9th June. This seen me step down as the Cathaoirleach, having served my year. Here is the speech i gave at the meeting.

It’s hard to believe a year has gone by and that my year as Cathaoirleach of the new Bray Municipal District is coming to an end. I want to thank the members of the council for their support over the last 12 months, I’ve endeavored to be fair, respectful and open to all the members over the course of the year. I also want to thank that the staff of the council for their work under the new challenges of the reconfigured structures with the County.

It’s been a challenging and difficult year on both on a personal and political front for me and this local authority. Over the course of my term I’ve had to work alongside officials who are trying to evict my family and I from our home and that case is still before the High Court, but I’ve worked with them, putting my personal issues aside as it was my duty to the citizens of this District to work for the betterment of Bray, Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue. It’s been a politically challenging year coming to terms and getting to grips with the new Municipal District structures which I think have been a disaster and has seen a hollowing out of the local authorities and have left us with a council representing the people of Bray, Kilmacanogue and Enniskerry but with little or no powers. We have a housing section in the District, not only do we have no houses for the people we represent, we have a shortage of staff. This has made my role as a public representative very difficult and something that needs to be addressed immediately. The Department for the Environment and Local Government will be shortly holding a review of the changes and the new system and I think this council needs make a submission.

When elected as Cathaoirleach last year I said i wanted to be a champion of equality, an advocate for strong community and bearer of change. I believe with the passing of the recent referendum, we live in a more equal society, I was delighted also that Wicklow County Council supported my proposal to fly the Rainbow flag during pride week. Hopefully this District will follow suit and fly it as well.
Over the year I represented this council at many public events and was delighted to meet many community groups. I endeavored to use my term to support those groups and use this council chamber as a forum to give them a voice and a platform to showcase the excellent work they do. Whilst there are too many to mention i want to just highlight one, the Be Well Bray group, last year i helped them launch their month and invited them into the council. They are a group of young people promoting a practical and positive outlook within youth mental health, they have been chosen to represent Wicklow in the Pride of Place competition and I wish them all the best in the judging which takes place tomorrow.

Last year I stated I was going to give a proportion of my Cathaoirleach’s money back to the community, whilst i financially helped out many groups over the course of the year, i still have funds available and if any club or group has a specific plan or project I would be delighted to hear about it and try help them out financially in some way.

During my term i was delighted to ensure the refurbishment of the Ballywaltrim playground progressed and that has now been thankfully opened. I also had to privilege of opening the tenders of the Dargle Flood Protection work which have made huge progress over the last year. We also have the feasibility study into the provision of a badly needed full time fire service and I look forward to the report following the public consultation process.

Thankfully after 40 years Fran O’Toole from the Miami Show Band will finally get the recognition he deserves in Bray with the renaming of Bray Bridge after him and the erection of a plaque on his former home on Albert Ave. I was delighted to work closely with Peter Carroll on this special project and look forward to the event in early July.
We did have a little controversy during the year with the issue of the Seafront usage policy. Thankfully the excellent Summerfest will continue this year and I look forward to the committee members coming to the chamber for our next meeting.

Unfortunately the housing crisis and homelessness has gotten worse over the last year. The Government disgracefully has no plans to construct any new social housing in the District this year and only 50 in the entire County. Hopefully the proposed meeting with Minister Harris can take place as soon as possible to try address this issue. We have also had major difficulties with the provision of homeless accommodation in the town and thankfully changes are planned in the near future, however there are still serious problems in the facility in Brighton Tce. And this came to the fore again last week with a second electrical fire. We also need the issue of emergency accommodation for families addressed immediately and a huge effort needs to be placed on finding suitable accommodation for the worsening crisis facing families.

I’m currently working with a fantastic group of young people and together we want to see a skateboard park in the town. This I believe is achievable and I will continue to push and work on this project and bring this project to fruition.
Next year marks the centenary of the 1916 Rising and i hope this Municipal District plays its part in commemorating the birth of the Republic. As Cathaoirleach I achieved unanimous support in the creation of a 1916 commemorative garden (Glor Na Casca) I look forward to the development of this plan and the selection of the site for it, along with other projects that hopefully will be brought forward.

Finally i wish the incoming Cathaoirleach well in the coming year and if i can be of any assistance i will gladly help, I do hope the Cathlaoirleachs office in the council building that was removed last year is reopened for the new Cathaoirleach, the office is important for all Cathlaoirleachs to be able to carry out their function to the fullest. In representing our council in the District.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

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