Carbon neutral towns – My Submission to the Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023

I have made my own submission to The Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023 in which i have placed an emphasis on carbon neutral development. Please see the following article below which sets out the reasoning behind my proposals.

My Submission can be read in the attached document below, along with example of the Low Carbon City Plan for the city of Freemantle in Australia

Joe O’Brien – Fingal Development Plan

Carbon Neutral Freemantle



Government approach to transport will fail north Dublin

Proposed Luas line provides half the capacity and takes twice as long 

Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal, Joe O’Brien, has today stated his disappointment with reports that Minister Donohoe intends to proceed with a sub-optimal solution for north Dublin’s transport needs. In a submission to the National Transport Authority (NTA) on its recent North Dublin Transport Study(see attachments below),the respondents in a Green Party survey(see attachments below) outlined a clear preference for Metro North, believing that it is the best option to serve the area’s current and future transport needs.

The indication that the Minister intends to proceed with the Luas option, which has half the capacity and takes twice as long, will leave the residents of north Dublin short-changed on the State’s investment.
O’Brien said: “It’s disappointing to hear that Minister Donohoe has outlined his preference for a transport option which will fail to meet the needs of a growing north Dublin population. As the Green Party outlined in its submission to the NTA, Metro North represents the best solution to the impending, inevitable transport bottleneck which will develop as the area’s population expands dramatically.
“It’s clear that the best option for the Swords-Airport-City Centre corridor is the optimised Metro. The proposed Luas line that Minister O’Donohoe seems set to sanction will not provide the speed or carrying capacity that the community needs.
“The whole of north County Dublin and City needs better interconnection. If the optimised Metro proposal had a connection with the rail line at Donabate it would open up Swords and the airport to all the towns along the coast of north Dublin such as Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Malahide and vice versa.
“Although the initial costs of the Metro are higher, when the long-term benefits are considered, it represents the best option for the route. We are already starting to see Dublin’s transport system creaking to a halt as the M50 and the major approach roads clog up. The Government is spending twice as much on new roads as it is on public transport, and we are starting to see the consequences.
“We need to be planning long-term, comprehensive transport solutions that will actually pull people off an increasingly congested M1 and M50, and onto accessible, affordable and comfortable public transport. This government just does not get public transport, nor the need to reduce our transport emissions.
“With long term interest rates at record low levels, this was the time to think big and invest in our future in a really ambitious way. Instead Fine Gael and Labour are going for a cheaper option which will ultimately leave us all short-changed.”




Government needs to move beyond Troika mentality for Metro 22.01.15: 

O’Brien asks where has the 750k gone?

As Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal i question Fingal County Council’s commitment to the long overdue Skerries to Balbriggan cycleway and have asked the CEO of Fingal County Council what has happened to the initial allocation of €750,000.

It’s been five years since the money was allocated by the Department of Transport and bar some small sections between Balbriggan and Balrothery we have still to see any work being carried out of the ground for the Skerries-Balbriggan cycleway. At this stage I would have to question commitment levels to the project. I have written to the CEO to ask him

  • What is the current status and funding situation of the project?
  • Were all necessary Compulsory Purchase Orders obtained and progressed?
  • What has happened to the €750,000 allocation from 2010?
  • Has Fingal County Council applied (in 2014 or 2015) for funding from the National Transport Authority for the completion of this project?



In particular I would be concerned about the funding situation for the project and what has happened to the €750,000 that was previously allocated and how much has been spent on the Compulsory Purchase Orders. I think part of the reason that this project has been put on the long finger is the failure to see the huge community gains from connecting the towns of Skerries and Balbriggan not to mention that the huge asset of Ardgillan Demense would be opened up to so many more people by making it safer for families to walk or cycle there.

Joe O'Brien on Balbriggan Skerries road

Joe O’Brien on Balbriggan Skerries road

The Skerries to Balbriggan cycleway is just one key leg in what should be cycleway that will run all the way from Balbriggan to Sutton and would take in Ardgillan, Skerries, Rush, Donabate, Newbridge House, Rogerstown and Broadmeadow estuaries and Malahide castle and Portmarnock on its way to Dublin. It would truly be the jewel in Fingal’s tourism crown but also an important commuter route. However, there does not appear to be the vision or determination to make it happen. I think if we can get the Skerries to Balbriggan link completed both the public and the Council will begin to see the huge returns that cycleways have been proven to bring to local communities and economies. We can not only rival but easily surpass the gains that the Western Greenway has brought to Mayo and its environs due in no small part to the huge concentration of tourists on our doorstep in Dublin.

O’Brien wary of Roadstone plans for Skerries

Green Party rep for Dublin Fingal insists planning permission is needed for facility


 CRH don’t exactly have the cleanest record when it comes to following correct procedure and I find it interesting that they have not applied for planning permission to carry out this new activity at the quarry they own in Milverton, Skerries. While Roadstone have permission to develop the site as a quarry filling the quarry in with waste will require planning permission and the public consultation process that goes with it. I think as a community we need to be vigilant in terms of how Roadstone plans how to operate this proposed facility.

Joe O'Brien at Roadstone Quarry

Joe O’Brien at Roadstone Quarry

The recent process whereby people could only object to the EPA licence for the planned waste recovery facility if they submitted a fee of €200 was undemocratic, as people don’t generally have that kind of money to spare even if they have reasonable objections.
However I have formally requested the Council to clarify if the proposed new facility requires new planning permission. If this is the case then the community will be in a much better position to voice their objections. It would allow also allow an opportunity for conditions to be attached to the development that ensure environmental and biodiversity protection and minimal disruption to the community and road users.

I have submitted an application to Fingal County Council under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act to formally clarify if this proposed waste recovery facility requires planning permission and I will report back as soon as I get an answer.

O’Brien welcomes Council vote for greater political transparency

I have been pushing for this for over 2 years now, so I welcome the decision of the Council to allow for publication of Councillors financial, business and property interests on the Fingal County Council website . Two years ago I requested the former County Manager to publish the information but the request was refused. Last year I also requested the information under the Freedom of Information Acts and that request was also refused.

Following a question by my colleague Cllr. David Healy late last year the proposal went to a vote at the meeting of Councillors on Monday. While the vote was passed I have to say I was surprised that 14 members voted against the proposal. I believe that it is vital the public has full access to the information on financial, business and property interests of all elected politicians, not just TDs. History has taught us in Fingal that it is crucial that politicians are held to the highest standards of integrity and transparency.

I have already asked the Chief Executive to move swiftly now and publish the financial interests of all Councillors on the Council’s website. It is an aberration that such information is not already on the Council’s website unlike Dublin City Council.

Greens select O’Brien as General Election candidate in Dublin North

The Green Party in Dublin North has been first out the blocks in Dublin with the selection of Joe O’Brien as their candidate for the next General Election. O’Brien narrowly missed out on a Council seat in local elections in May dropping out of the seated positions on the last and 18th count in the Balbriggan Ward. O’Brien works with the social support agency Crosscare and works with Irish emigrants and people with difficulties accessing the social welfare system and homeless services.

He made the following statement after his selection in Swords on Thursday:

It’s a huge honour to be selected as the Green Party General Election candidate for Dublin North. I have been engaging with Fingal County Council for some time now on behalf of the people of Dublin North and in my day job I campaign at a national level for the most disadvantaged in society. I believe that my experience and effectiveness at making change happen along with my commitment to serve the people of Dublin North in an honest and constructive way puts me in a strong position to do a good job as a TD.

Trust in politicians is at an all-time low and I believe people are largely right to be so sceptical particularly considering some of things that politicians in both government and opposition have been involved in this year alone. Politics should be a noble profession but it’s certainly not perceived as such at the moment with some justification. Politics should be attracting our best, brightest and hardest working but most importantly it needs people of integrity and honesty. Politicians are pulled in many directions and we need people who can stay honest in these contexts. I also often wish there was less spin and double talk and that we were just getting the messages in a direct and honest way without deliberate exaggeration or understatement.

The next Dáil needs people who are capable of rebuilding the public’s trust in politics and I think transparency in a key ingredient in this respect. With this in mind I again urge Fingal County Council to publish the financial, shares, directorships and property interests of all Councillors. At the moment the only way to view this information is by calling in person to County Hall and in the internet age this is not acceptable particularly when Dublin City Council can publish this information on its website.

If elected I will push for a comprehensive overhaul of the ethics framework for TDs. There are various sets of disconnected guidelines and legislation governing the behaviour of TDs and its time this was reviewed in a comprehensive way. As part of this process the standards expected of TDs need to be raised considerably. I think such an overhaul could play a key part in rebuilding public trust in politics.

Joe O'Brien Green Party General Election candidate in Dublin North

Joe O’Brien Green Party General Election candidate in Dublin North

I am very excited about the next General Election not just from a personal point of view but because I think we can see a fundamental change in Irish politics that has been for too long dominated by two remarkably similar populist parties. We could have the most diverse Dáil in the history of the State and that is a good thing in my view. I think though in order to get things done we will need politicians who can see value in different political views and approaches and politicians who can build agreements and constructive ways forward with people of differing voices. We now need a progressive politics that is really focussed on making the country a better place to live and that can bring people of different views together

I welcome the water protests of recent months – it shows there is energy there and signs that people are really open to realigning their beliefs and their very way of engaging with the political system. There has been a vibrancy and diversity about it that has been encouraging. I think the big challenge now is to keep this level of engagement up, keep it in a positive place and harness this renewed interest to help improve the society we live in and not wait for others to do it for us, as that will not happen.

I look forward to meeting the people of Dublin North between now and the next General Election and I vow to do my very best to represent them and to offer an honest and hopeful vision for the future.

Commenting on the selection of Mr. O’Brien former Green TD for Dublin North Trevor Sargent stated that:

‘Joe O’Brien has a record for courageously tackling powerful vested interests on behalf of the community, and helping everyone in need, especially the most marginalised. Joe, a Fingal family man, sees the big picture as a Green where thinking globally while acting locally is the only way we will all create a viable, equitable and just society for this and future generations’.