Climate: Keep the climate crisis at the top of the agenda and push Government for more action to protect our environment and build a cleaner, greener, energy self-sufficient country. We have huge potential to be energy self-sufficient, to live in insulated homes, to have clean and unpolluted towns and rural areas and to become carbon neutral. It requires political will and Paul is part of a tremendous movement for change. He wants to break the REPAK lobby’s block on a refundable deposit system for beverage bottles and cans, invest massively in renewable offshore generation including wave energy and related storage, pay people for micro-generation of electricity, create an electric car network people can trust and massively insulate Ireland’s homes through a “Save to Pay” scheme. As a country we import over €6 billion worth of carbon emitting fuels to Ireland, many of them used to heat our homes. Government grants and retrofitting programmes have been piecemeal. There are some credit unions and banks that offer “green” loans but the interest rates can be quite high,
Paul’s proposal is for a “Save to Pay” scheme, backed by the State, whereby the savings made in heating a home are what pay for the installation with a cost of interest loan. Even if the State through an agency has to borrow to pay for the scheme the money will come back. This will free up taxpayer’s money to spend on speeding up insulation for pensioners and those on very low incomes. We have to think bigger if we are to avoid being fined for carbon emissions. Let’s put the money we could be fined to good use!
Water: Hold the Government and Irish Water to account over the poor quality and supply of our water services. Seek changes in this area including a referendum. Irish Water has been a debacle in terms of how State money has been wasted. We need to guarantee that our water resources will never be privatised and that the necessary investment is put into the system to ensure that the quality is enhanced especially in parts of Dublin Mid West which have had serious quality issues in recent years. At the same time we need to put a place a system that will reward people for water conservation and create financial penalties for excessive use of clean, treated water, which is a scare resource.
Transport: Seek measures to tackle gridlock and provide meaningful public transport, cycling and walking options. Dublin Mid West is gridlocked in many parts with the area in between and surrounding the N4/M50?N7 loop one long traffic jam at times. Much of this is historically down to bad planning, putting houses in place with no amenities and no transport infrastructure, creating dormitory towns with few local jobs and even fewer bus and rail links, meaning people have to drive everywhere. Dealing with this requires a strategic action plan with a particular focus on orbital routes within the constituency, something Paul continues to push for.
Job creation: To examine new ways of creating jobs, especially indigenous. To help develop entrepreneurship and innovation. To invest targeted capital resources to help incubate and develop new and sustainable business ideas. We should be encouraging and rewarding creativity and entrepreneurship, not penalising people with high insurance costs and red tape. All vacant sites should be required to pay full rates pending a site valuation tax to ensure that vacant sites are either rented to new businesses or community groups/clubs, or sold for housing. Insurance costs need to be tackled to keep business costs at a minimum.
Public spending:To promote efficient spending of taxpayer’s money by all public bodies. To look at ways of creating a maximum spend after a tender quote is given with no change to specs. Taxpayer’s money is scarce and we should not be wasting it on overspends or inefficiencies such as the over-reliance on agency staff in the healthcare service for example, or consultancy firms.
Housing: Identify ways to tackle homelessness and improve housing provision for those who can’t afford a mortgage, or current high rents, in a socially inclusive way. Paul believes we should look to best practice abroad and that the State should be the country’s biggest developer rather than paying inflated prices and rents for housing from commercial interests. We should also look at creative ways to free up housing lists in the short term by allowing people in Dublin to try out life in rural towns where population increases are needed without losing their place on the housing list. It’s also crucial that housing in Dublin Mid West and elsewhere is tied in with facilities and infrastructure to build communities and reduce gridlock. But politicians have played games. In an echo of the worst developer-friendly days of FF and FG, a great opportunity to get the mix right on Clonburris SDZ was scuppered by Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats, who voted down every motion on shops, playing pitches, rail services and schools in case it might “delay housing”. Just because 25% of the housing in Clonburris will be social housing does not mean people should be treated like second class citizens. The very parties who have consigned people to a constant battle for facilities will be the ones railing and ranting in 20 years and blaming others in their search for votes! Phasing in house delivery with amenities is essential.
Public safety: To push for real action on antisocial behaviour and random street attacks. Yes, we do need early years intervention to identify vulnerable children who need support and who might end up leaving school early and getting involved in antisocial behaviour. And yes, for older problem kids we need funding for youth diversion programmes and family supports. However almost weekly in Dublin Mid West we hear of situations where teenagers going about their own business are attacked -and often filmed – by gangs of semi-feral youths, all under 18. These groups appear to act with impunity with the Garda response often inadequate due to resourcing issues. Adults who try to intervene are abused and intimidated and any attempts to defend oneself or others can be portrayed as attacking a young person. Our children and teenagers deserve to be able to go to shops, youth clubs and walk around with their friends without being attacked. There need to be consequences for actions. This starts with respect for each other and our environment and a zero tolerance approach to issues such as littering, dumping, intimidation and assault, with clear measures to deter bad behaviour. People who get away with things under 18 can often end up in prison as adults, which is a huge loss to their potential and a huge cost to taxpayers.
Crime: To work towards making our streets and homes safer by pushing for changes in legislation and resourcing that punish real criminals, offer alternatives for petty crime and tackle the causes of crime. To push for a Garda IT system fit for purpose. Our Gardaí do tremendous work and are often under huge pressure. When TDs raise issues about Garda resources they are told that this is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. However you will rarely see any Garda Commissioner criticise the Government for inadequate resources. But we know on the streets, from Rathcoole up to Palmerstown, that local communities feel increasingly under siege. Drug dealing is rampant. Routes to school are littered with nitrous oxide canisters and drinks cans. Little dealers prance about acting as role models, the most disadvataged communities feel intimidated and our unhealthy attitude towards excess alcohol consumption contributes towards the spiral of addiction. The causes need to be tackled but criminal behaviour should not be tolerated. We need more community Gardaí on the ground to identify problems before they start, we need more visible Gardaí and we need as communities to band together and say no – this is no longer acceptable. Paul Gogarty will be a strong voice for change in the Dáil and will work with communities locally.
Education: To continue the previous focus on school provision/expansion and investment in our education system and early years childcare. In our constituency we have many schools waiting for new school buildings, temporary buildings or extensions. There is no transparency or time-frame given and some projects have been hanging on for ages. Cenus figures show that while primary places are still required in developing areas the demographic demand is now moving to second level and there remains a deficit in secondary school provision, meaning that in many areas parents have no choice but to send their children to schools in other towns. As the creator of “50 Steps To A Better Education System” welcomed by education partners as the most comprehensive education policy document ever created, Paul Gogarty is a strong advocate for investment in Educational facilities, including at third level, and for creative ways of providing spaces. He has suggested that new schools should be multi-use community hubs as opposed to single purpose wasted buildings.
Early Years: Our ECCE sector is in crisis. Poor pay, staff having to go on the dole during the summer, rocketing insurance and an over-regulation that seems to be a knee jerk reaction to Tusla’s previous inability to deal with child neglect in a small number of centres has left the sector reeling. The High-Scope Perry Pre-school project over 40 years showed that for every €1 invested in quality early years education, there is an approximate €7 return. Just like primary schools, we need to value early years education. The State needs to take a more proactive role to support small owners and their employees in providing excellent community-based services and provide more flexibility while also ensuring that are children are kept safe at all times. Paul Gogarty will be raising these issues as a TD.
Sport – divert money from greyhound racing and horse racing: Paul will continue to be an advocate for investment in sports, community and arts facilities. In our constituency, as well as GAA, soccer and rugby, we have strong boxing clubs, cricket clubs, hockey, athletics, kayak and martial arts to name just a few. Of course it’s difficult to fund sports with competing funding demands, but involvement in sport, at all ages, competitive or leisurely, has tremendous benefits to health and well-being and saves taxpayers’ money in so many different ways. While Paul would be open at looking where new channels could be opened, as a TD he initially intends to once again focus on the scandal that sees over 30% of overall funding for sport go to the horse racing and greyhound industries.
It doesn’t matter that the sports spending categories have been rejigged and that the €16.8 million for the greyhound industry comes from the Department of Agriculture. When you look at the €60 million budget for Sport Ireland you can see how an extra €16.8 million would increase the fund by over a quarter.
Paul’s proposal is to wind down funding for the greyhound industry, an intrinsically cruel business – as shown on the recent Prime Time exposé – and transfer these funds to sports initiatives around the country in a fair way. Over a period of years the industry can either fund itself – or begin an orderly wind down.
Alongside this, we should have a nationwide audit of sports facilities to see what is available where and what is needed based on demographic shifts.
Arts, heritage and Gaeilge- The Arts are often left out of budgetary debates because the focus will be on crime, housing or the health service. But at the same time, the various arts, be they literary, visual, aural or performance, all need support. They are an intrinsic part of what we are and our vibrancy as a society. Similarly we need to protect our culture and heritage through ring-fencing investment. This is particularly difficult during times of austerity but as someone who has performed as a singer-songwriter and recorded music Paul understands the importance of protecting the arts. He values the importance of protecting our heritage and is also a supporter of making Irish a living language in Dublin Mid West, to expand on the great work done by the people of Clondalkin. Tá Pól ina thacóir láidir do shaothar na Gaeilge agus cé nach bhfuil sé ina chainteoir dúchais, nó ina iar-dhalta i nGaelscoil, tá grá aige don Ghaeilge labhartha agus déanann sé a dhícheall an teanga a labhairt go rialta. Leanfaidh sé de bheith ina abhcóide dá chosaint mar theanga bheo.
Insurance: Reducing insurance costs is another priority for Paul. This is in a number of categories, eg public liability, motor insurance and business insurance. In many instances the companies are being let away with making huge profits despite the falling costs of claims. There are a number of measures Paul would like to see implemented and he will be pushing creative solutions as a TD and will absolutely use any expert knowledge to find ways of bringing the cost of insurance down. Examples include no fault insurance, opening up the market to EU insurers and a State insurance company. Any barriers can be addressed through legislative or constitutional change. We still have a claims culture in Ireland – not to mention some fraud – where every little injury is deemed worthy of a claim. If someone is injured through normal risky activity, be it jumping on a table in a pub or fracturing an ankle on a bouncy castle with no other children alongside there should be a disclaimer that would eliminate or reduce claims. However people deserve compensation if personal injury occurs due to negligence. In this case we need to reduce the cost of making claims and have standardised payments. The State should also step up to the mark and provide an alternative for businesses finding it difficult to get insurance or facing a monopoly. A no fault insurance scheme could also be applied. This also applies to motor insurance. Years ago Paul organised a campaign to reduce the cost of insurance for younger drivers. Many of the points raised are still valid. Although there are efforts to abolish the R plate in Northern Ireland I believe that we should actually introduce it here in the South with a number of restrictions that will automatically lead to a reduced premium. This would assist younger drivers and could also be used to help drivers over 70 who again are being penalised despite meeting all the criteria and passing regular medical examinations. A further measure would be to regularise and enhance advanced driving skills courses with automatic reductions for those who have completed such courses. Again it may take no fault insurance for some claims and a State insurance company to be set up to provide some competition so as to encourage other companies to reduce premiums. Opening up the market to EU competitors may require some work, but it will also have to be looked at as an option. The cost of claims versus the price of claims continues to show some disparity. So yes, we can respond somewhat to the moans from insurers about ways of reducing claim costs, but equally we can ensure that they don’t take advantage of hard pressed taxpayers.
Health: To work with experts to improve the health of the nation, through prevention, targeted investment and applying international best practice to help create a healthcare system fit for purpose.
Young people: To consult with and respond to the specific needs of our younger people, especially in areas such as education, jobs, sport and mental health.
Older people: To focus on the specific needs of the elderly in our community.
Equality: To be an advocate for inclusion and equality in all areas, eg age/gender/sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, religious, ethnic or social background.
Mental health: To support and explore initiatives at national and local level to promote positive mental health and suicide/self-harm prevention in our communities.
Immigration: To work towards a robust, but humane immigration and asylum policy that cares for those that need it, processes applications faster, ends direct provision, keeps families together and balances rights with responsibilities.