83% of Fingal residents voted to ban fracking in Ireland in Fuller Democracy 2016. I am happy to report that onshore fracking was officially banned via the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Bill 2016, which was enacted on July 6th, 2017. I will oppose any measures to repeal this ban in future.
95% of people who participated in Fuller Democracy 2016 said that they would like election posters to be limited to specific display places, cutting down on wastage associated with election literature. I have been working with a number of Tidy Town Committees in the area in an attempt to implement these measures. I myself do not put up election posters, preferring to focus on digital democracy, person-to-person conversation and more detailed political literature.
In Fuller Democracy 2016, 67% of people said they would support banning genetically-modified crops in Ireland. Feelings on this point were somewhat mixed. For the time being I oppose GMO crops, but I will likely revisit this point in more detail as and when the need arises.
One of the biggest issues in Fingal is the lack of proper sewage facilities, which has led to Loughshinny and Rush beaches receiving poor ratings over the past several years. It’s quite sad that some of the most beautiful beaches in Fingal are de facto out of use. Wastewater pumping stations are currently in the process of being built in Rush and Skerries to alleviate this problem. That they are only being built now is obviously the result of extremely poor planning. As Fingal will continue to grow in the mid-term, I am committed to ensuring that such planning lapses do not re-occur by taking a proactive stance on infrastructure planning and development.
Improving public transportation was the top local priority that came out of Fuller Democracy 2016, with 90% of participants rating it as the most important objective for Fingal. Indeed, a good, affordable public transportation system is both an important environmental and economic objective. The key issues in Fingal are: infrequent services and the practical inability to connect to other parts of Fingal without passing through Dublin. Even in the centre of Dublin, the transportation system is not joined up (for example, you have to walk at least 15 minutes to connect from the DART at Pearse Station to the LUAS Green line at St. Stephen’s Green).
The best way to resolve this is to build a wheel and spokes transportation system that covers the Greater Dublin Area, including Fingal.
The wheel-and-spokes model is a standard of public transportation systems in major cities. Under this system one would have a ring line running at approximately the level of the outer fringes of Clontarf/Drumcondra/Cabra, with other lines passing though that ring as spokes, e.g. the existing train lines coming from Balbriggan and Maynooth respectively, a new line connecting Swords and Dublin Airport to the city centre, etc. Wherever two lines cross, there would be a hub where one can transfer lines. The spoke lines sometimes join up again, at points far outside of the city, creating additional loops that make transferring from one outer region to another even easier. This means smaller trains running more frequently, less congestion in the city centre, and shorter commute times, as people do not need to pass through the city centre bottleneck to get to their destination. We would basically be doing for public transportation what we have done for single vehicle transport with the M50. Indeed, the main wheel line could potentially be built somewhat further out of the city depending on costs and feasability.
International Cooperation on Reducing the Impact of Climate Change
In Fuller Democracy 2017, 85% of people said that it was important for Ireland to fulfil its obligations under the Paris Agreement (i.e. cutting emissions).
One of the great things about Ireland is that, partly thanks to colonization we never fully industrialized, and we are thus having the last laugh now in our pristine and beautiful landscape. When it comes to the environment, we are already on a fairly good track, purely from having been spared much of the negative side of 19th and early 20th century industrialization.
However, I think that there is even more potential here, for Ireland to become a leader in forms of renewable energy, such as wave energy.
I also had the opportunity on a recent trip to the US, to check out the new electric Tesla cars, which the Tesla people assured me now have a range of over 300 miles. Considering Ireland is only about 300 miles long, and less than 200 miles wide that should do us. These vehicles are still quite expensive, but as costs come down they will become a more viable alternative for reducing the carbon footprint (see here for more information)
With 89% of people in favour, banning super-trawlers from Irish waters and promoting sustainable fisheries was one of the more popular proposals in Fuller Democracy 2017. Not only does this recognize the somewhat obvious point that we are an island, and that therefore management of marine resources should be an important priority for us, it is also, I think a recognition that turning fishing into a ‘big money’ industry can actually lead to a lot of wastage. One thing that I believe Irish politicians often overlook is that production isn’t just about quantity but also about quality. Sometimes, one can make as much money by establishing a high-quality brand with a restricted supply, than a low-quality product with a seemingly endless (but ultimately unsustainable) supply. We should be trying to manoeuvre ourselves into that position to the greatest extent possible with all our natural resources.
Fishing is obviously a topic that has to be partly managed through the European Union at this point, but there are some movements afoot to support small-scale fisheries in Ireland already (see here).