O’Brien calls for Policing Forum to be restarted urgently

Towards the end of 2013 I campaigned for the local Policing Forums in Swords and Balbriggan to be maintained and I organised local people in Balbriggan to write to the Minister for Health at the time James Reilly to continue to fund the forums. (This leaflet can be downloaded by clicking on the following link Leaflet re Policing Forum). The forums were a vital way to keep the Gardaí and the Council accountable to often neglected communities and estates. Unfortunately these calls fell on deaf ears and Minister Reilly decided to cut the funding and negatively impact these neglected communities.

Joe O'Brien at the Balbriggan Community Policing Forum

Joe O’Brien at the Balbriggan Community Policing Forum

I have received a number of representations in recent weeks from people in estates in North West Balbriggan who are gravely concerned for their personal safety and the safety of their family members and their property. There was of course a serious assault in the area recently that has frightened a lot of people. The communities there feel neglected and forgotten about but nevertheless they are now organising and trying to get their voice heard. Community leaders have asked me not to name particular estates as while they are concerned at the rise in serious anti-social behaviour they are proud of where they live and want to develop their communities further. They need to be helped to do so.

There is a glaring lack of belief and confidence among a lot of people in Balbriggan and indeed in other towns in north Dublin like Rush and Swords that the Gardaí are losing touch with the realities on the ground because they are stretched so thinly. The big need is more Gardaí and I have written to the Minister for Justice to ask her to ensure that north county Dublin is prioritised for the next set of new recruits. As communities though we don’t need to wait for central government to act we can act locally aswell. I have also written to the County Manager and Superintendent Noel Carolan to ask them to put their heads and resources together so that local policing forums are re-established in Swords and Balbriggan.

Such forums can help ensure that the Gardai and the Council are more responsive to community needs in estates that often get neglected.

O’Brien warns of ‘monster’ airport plan

Please read below for my response to comments from Dublin MEP Brian Hayes on the proposed expansion of Dublin Airport. Mr. Hayes stated last week that following the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus that Dublin Airport could expand to provide a ‘third runway for Heathrow’

Mr. Hayes has barely been a year in Europe and it’s already clear that he has lost touch with his constituency and is confused about the geography of Ireland. The people of Portmarnock and St. Margaret’s in particular will not be happy to hear of plans for an extra runway at Dublin Airport. You have to live in these communities to truly understand the negative impact that the current level of airport traffic already has. Potentially doubling this would be very bad for these communities.

In addition, what Mr. Hayes is proposing would be of very limited economic value to the region. We would effectively be serving as a pit stop for transatlantic flights. I think we need to weigh up strategically what can be gained from such a move in the context of the real damage it does to communities and indeed our environment. Dublin Airport already handles in the region of 600 flights a day which is more than enough for any community to endure – do we really want a monster airport like Heathrow whose two runways handle over 1,300 flights a day?

The sell-out of Aer Lingus was not a good move for Ireland. Now we are seeing some of the potential consequences of this decision, where large multi-national corporate interests could steamroll over the interests over local communities. This government will rue the day it decided to sell off Aer Lingus.

While there is planning permission in place for this runway up to 2017 I predict some serious opposition from local communities if action is taken to turn Dublin Airport into the next Heathrow.

O’Brien warns of more coastal pollution and collapse of Irish Water

I believe  that the bathing water pollution long suffered by the people of Rush could become a feature for all coastal towns in north Dublin. Below is a a statement i made, before the public protest in Rush for the much delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant :

It is heartening to see people getting out marching for their environment and their community, which has been neglected for far too long. All those involved in organising this protest  should be acknowledged and I hope it leads to sustained pressure on Fingal County Council that will help ensure that there are no further delays in connecting Rush with the waste water treatment plant in Portrane.

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the  delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant.

It’s important to point out that there are also broader issues at play here that are relevant to other coastal communities in north Dublin and indeed for the whole country. It might surprise people to learn that already this month there were four days when pollution incidents in Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinny, Skerries, Balbriggan and Portmarnock made the bathing waters there unsafe to use. It’s unacceptable that in the month of July – perhaps the most popular month for swimming – all our bathing waters along the coast have been unusable for a considerable period of time. So even where the Council has deemed wastewater treatment as adequate our bathing waters are still getting seriously polluted. Our wastewater treatment systems do not have the capacity to deal with the heavy falls of rain that are becoming increasingly frequent. The result is that they are being flooded and sewage is entering the sea all along the coast. So it’s now very evident that all along the Fingal coast our wastewater treatment systems need further upgrading if they are going to cope with the twin challenge of increasing populations and heavier rainfall. The planned giant sewage plant at Clonsaugh is not the answer and is far from risk free. Our Blue Flags are also at increasing risk and I think the people of my hometown of Skerries were shocked and disappointed that we lost our Blue Flag this year.

The other big issue that this protest highlights is the sick monster that is Irish Water. There must be serious concerns now about its financial viability given the low level of people paying their water and waste water treatment bills. We in the Green Party have proposed that the investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure which is urgently needed across the country should now be funded by a combination of central government and EU funds. People should only be charged for water after they have used a much more generous and reasonable daily allowance.

Irish Water needs serious reform and has been an example of how not to do things. However, if it collapsed now I would be concerned that all the money invested would be lost and communities all along the coast and indeed all over the country would have to tolerate polluted waters and unsafe drinking water on an increasingly frequent basis.  The current system of charges is the worst in every regard in that it is neither fair nor does it encourage people to conserve our precious resource.

I would also like to draw your  attention to the fact that Fingal County Council are accepting submission until July 28th on potential new bathing waters in the county:

If you wish to propose your favourite beach/river etc as a new bathing water site or comment on an existing site please contact Fingal County Council by email at bathingwaters@fingal.ie or by post.

For more information contact Joe at 087-9608540 or joefingalgreen@gmail.com

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.