Seanad debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)

The first issue I wish to raise relates to unauthorised developments. At the moment in County Kildare, as with many other counties, we are going through the long and arduous process of the county development plan. All Members know how difficult it is to get planning for a one-off house or many other types of development. Unauthorised developments, however, are popping up to a significant extent. I am speaking in particular about my experience in south Kildare but I have no doubt the same could be true across the country. I have been working with local councillors on several cases in Rathangan, Newbridge and Kildare town and there is no doubt that we need a more effective system for dealing with unauthorised developments. The resources of local authorities are stretched very thin. That is particularly true in Kildare because there is one county council but two Dáil constituencies. There are issues in respect of enforcement and that is basically what is causing the problems. We cannot allow unauthorised developments to go unchecked. In several of the cases to which I refer the developments are causing significant issues for neighbours. Even after being instructed to stop and having gone through the courts system, some of the developers are continuing to develop their sites. That is leading to a financially onerous situation for local authorities. The system we have is costly and inefficient and does not meet the needs of communities. There is a need for the House to have a debate on this issue.

The second issue I wish to raise relates to public transport. I welcome the reduction in public transport fares that was announced. It makes a significant difference for many people. We need to ensure that all services are affordable, but also reliable. I refer to the No. 120 Go-Ahead bus route. It basically starts in Edenderry and goes through Derrinturn, Newbridge, Allenwood and Kilmeague on its way to Dublin. It sometimes goes through Suncroft as well. It is a key commuter route but it is not up to scratch. Signage and so on are a problem. I have received a commitment that will be fixed. The route is completely unreliable, however. People are relying on the service to get to work, college or hospital appointments. Last Thursday morning, two buses did not show up. On Friday morning, three buses did not show up. That forces commuters to take expensive taxis, miss appointments or go to the expense of buying a second car. It is not acceptable and it will deter people from using public transport.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to bring the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConaloge, around rural County Kildare. We spoke to farmers and breeders about the challenges they are facing, particularly those in the context of Brexit, climate change and the Ukraine war. A particular point raised related to fertiliser. I saw this morning, and it is worth noting, that fertiliser manufacturer Yara International has reported a threefold increase in profitability for the first quarter of 2022 despite a sharp fall in product deliveries. One could say it is possibly a sixfold increase. That has to be addressed.


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