A lot has been achieved in 2019,however as we face into a new year and a new decade there are a few things that i hope to work towards over the next 12 months. My 2020 wish list is achievable with a bit of hard work, commitment and a new government.
Housing however is still currently the biggest issue in the County and will continue to be in 2020. Unfortunately, homelessness is continuing to grow, in the month of October alone, 43 families in Wicklow presented to the Council as homeless. This consisted of 100 adults, and 71 children. There are currently 4,388 people on the Council list for housing support, that’s up from 3,941 in November 2018. Renters in Wicklow have also seen a 11.9% increase in rents in the last year and the average price of a home in Wicklow is up 3.1% in the same time period. It is clear that Rebuilding Ireland has failed, we need new policies to address this crisis, however it is clear that only a new government can actually start to deal with the crisis.
Wicklow has largely been ignored and forgotten by this government. There has been no investment in our rail network and critical road infrastructure like the upgrade of the N81. In 2020 we need considerable investment in our public transport system in Wicklow. it is not sustainable only to focus on increasing the N11 to a 6-carriage motorway, it is also not sustainable for people to have to wait until 2027 before any decision is taken to end the nightmare facing motorists on a daily basis. I don’t believe that further destruction of the Glen of the Downs to widen the N11 is the solution to the congestion on it. The entire process of tackling the issue needs to be fast-tracked and public transport needs to be central to it. We also need the inclusion of the N81 and a light railway to Blessington in the National Development Plan.
Unfortunately, more jobs have been lost in Arklow with the recent announcement that Rondo Foods was going to close in the town. Wicklow Town and Arklow have higher levels of unemployment than other areas in Wicklow. We immediately need an Unemployment task force to be established to help bring jobs to Arklow and Wicklow Town.
In the New Year I would also like to see moves to address to need for more public amenities across the County. Blessington needs to get its badly needed swimming pool, a home needs to be found for Vartry Rowing Club and we need to progress the development of a Sports Campus in Bray.
Our health service is failing our citizens badly, waiting list are growing and more and more citizens are lying on hospital trollies. In 2020 we need to put in place a health service that is fit for purpose, one that doesn’t force organisations like Purple House Cancer Support or St.Joseph’s Dementia Care Home to have to mount public campaigns to try securing the funding they need to continue doing the fantastic work they do. Funding must be provided to Purple House and St Joseph’s and we need to see the long-awaited Primary Health Care Centre in Arklow proceed.
With Brexit now, a reality I believe it will have negative repercussions for our Island. I now think the case for Irish Unity is stronger than ever. We need to start planning for the reunification of our Country, in 2020 the debate needs to start, and plans need to be made for a referendum.
Finally, it looks inevitable now that the long-awaited General Election will be held early in 2020. I was honoured and indeed humbled to have been elected in 2016 to the Dáil to represent Wicklow. Over the last 4 years I have worked hard for Wicklow and have given workers and families a strong voice in the 32nd Dáil. I’m delighted to have been chosen again as a candidate to contest the upcoming election and I look forward to talking to people from right across Wicklow in the coming weeks and months to seek their support again.