However, it was also a year in which the housing crisis continued to grow, our transport system remained inadequate and disjointed, bin collection services were withdrawn by Dublin City Council after over one hundred years and accountability in public services still an aspiration rather than a reality.
I have repeatedly said that a reformed Local Government system can transform Ireland. I believe that now, more than ever. While some of the noises are not overwhelmingly encouraging I remain optimistic that the argument can be won. Quite simply in my view it is impossible to have real Political Reform without Local Government Reform.
At local area level I continue to represent the Council on the Herbert Park Users Group, the Rathmines Pembroke and the Partnership Company and the Lansdowne Road Stadium Monitoring Committee. I also serve on the Royal Hospital Voluntary Housing Association. The saddest aspect of my work during the year was the appalling damage done to the homes of so many residents during the recent floods. We should be clear that at least some of that was the result of a lack of funds for proper drainage works, slowness of delivering on the necessary flood protection measures and the inadequacy of the Emergency Response structures.
I have involved myself in issues right across the area, campaigning for the enhancement of the Booterstown Marsh, seeking new uses for disused sites in Terenure. There have been traffic issues in Rathgar and planning ones in Sandymount. I have worked with the Traders Associations in Ranelagh and Donnybrook and the long standing, Sandymount and Merrion and the Nutley Residents Associations as well as newer ones in Pembroke Cottages and Heskin Court. It has been diverse and interesting.
At City level I continue my membership of the Dublin Regional Authority, the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly and the VEC. Unusually, for Labour representation, I was re-elected to serve a second term on the Executive of the Association of City and County Councils in September and continue to serve as a Commissioner of Irish Lights and a member of the Protocol and Finance Committees of the City Council. I remain Chairperson of the South Inner City Local Drugs Task Force.
Following the General Election I was elected to replace Eric Byrne as Chairperson of the Housing, Social and Community Affairs Strategic Policy Committee. In that capacity I have pushed through significant changes relating to a swifter allocation of Council accommodation, allocation of housing in low demand areas and we are beginning to look at the area of housing maintenance and homelessness policy. Locally the proposals to redevelop the Maisonettes at Beech Hill are moving forward and with look planning permission for a totally new development will be submitted soon. We have begun the process of reviewing the community grants system and the general interaction of the community section with Public Representatives and the Public.
A lot of people gave me a lot of help, for which I am most grateful. To all the members and particularly my colleagues in the Donnybrook Branch “thank you”. Ciaran and Cathal, in Kevin Humphreys‘ office, and Denise, Ian and Neill in Ruairi Quinn’s office have all also been of great assistance.
Joined this year, by Gerry Ashe, in her new roles as a Councillor, Ruairi, Kevin Mary, Oisin and Maria collectively ensure that political life in South East is interesting and lively. Together, I believe we have done a good job – but there is a lot more to do. As ever Special “thanks” must go to Jill for her support.
Thanks to you all. It genuinely remains a huge honour to serve as an elected Labour Public Representative. I hope that together we have done a good job.