Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

Tackling Childhood Obesity: Discussion (Resumed)

9:30 am

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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I agree with what Dr. May said about bikes. It is bizarre that bikes were banned from public parks in Fingal until recently. In one case, it was only when we exerted some pressure that we managed to get the local authority to accept that the park could be used as a cycle route by kids going to school. I refer to a park that is used by kids going from one side of Malahide to a secondary school on the other side of the town. Now it seems to be accepted. The justification we have heard is that all the footpaths have been widened. It is not the case that the footpaths were narrow in the first instance. I can see that the built environment has changed quite dramatically. There has also been a change in how we perceive it to be useable. I could not possibly disagree with Dr. May's point about cars in housing estates. I have seen people asking neighbours whom they have known for ten years to move their cars under certain circumstances, only to be met with a stonewall response.

I was going to ask about the START campaign and promotion. The budget has been mentioned. The issue of constant refreshing has been well covered. Dr. Foley-Nolan spoke earlier about fast food firms targeting schools and their environs. This issue was touched on previously when we had an interesting discussion with a gentleman from Wicklow who did a tremendous job with regard to no-fry zones. Ironically enough, a planning application in Skerries had been considered the day before the meeting in question. It went away, but it has come back again. I want to highlight that Wicklow County Council has granted planning permission for a fast food outlet next to a school, even though it recently accepted an award for its no-fry zone. The council's justification for this preposterously ridiculous decision is that the outlet in question will not open until 5 p.m., but schools close at approximately 4 p.m. and many students attend after-school activities. It should not be there. I think it is appalling. In Dr. Foley-Nolan's ten years of professional experience with safefood, has she seen schools being targeted? Is it actually quantifiable?