I am originally from Cork and now live in Skerries with my young family. I was deeply honoured to be elected by the people of Dublin Fingal in the Bye-Election in November 2019, and to be re-elected at the General Election in February 2020. In June 2020 I was appointed as Minister of State for Community and Rural Development and Charities.
During the Government formation process, I led the transport negotiations on behalf of the Green Party and secured an unprecedented €360m annually for cycling and walking infrastructure to help facilitate a dramatic move towards active travel over the next four years which will see huge benefits for physical and mental health, tourism and climate action. I worked to secure a step-change on the overall transport budget with expenditure on new public transport infrastructure to be double that of new roads. This will facilitate the much needed electrification of the Northern Commuter Line which hugely benefit Balbriggan and north Dublin as a whole, and upgrade lift facilities at train stations – work on the latter has already started.
In my Ministerial role I have responsibility for the National Roadmap for Social Inclusion and was involved in the Department of Social Protection Budget 2021 negotiations. As part of these negotiations I pushed for the Carbon Tax to be used as an anti-poverty tool – a third of the Revenues from Carbon Tax will be channeled to the poorest people in society, by increasing the Fuel Allowance, Living Alone Allowance, and an increase for a Qualified Child Payment. This has played a significant role in the ESRI declaring Budget 2021 as a progressive budget and one which helps the poorest in society most.
I have been an advocate for human rights all of my professional life, both at home and abroad. I have carried out influential research, policy and advocacy work on minority access issues to the social protection and homelessness systems.
I am a former whistleblower on the undercounting of homelessness, and I am a strong advocate of greater transparency in public and political life.