Cllr.Gerry O'Connor P.C.
Cathaoirleach Meath County Council/Peace Commissioner
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Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 9
8/18/2017 2:32:57 PM
Week 9 as Cathaoirleach was a quiet one on the public appearances side and it gave me a chance to catch up following the few days off the previous week.

I was delighted to attend the opening and cut the ribbon for a new Business in Dunshaughlin "The Bed Angel". Its one to watch...a great idea from Fiona Kealy and Janet Clarke ( www.thebedangel.com)

Following up on the recent "Town Hall" meeting, I met with the Planning, Environment and Roads Departments to discuss the issues r...aised in Dunshaughlin and requested that they be included in discussions on the new County Development Plan.

I also met our local engineers and opened Tenders for Roads etc. for the Ratoath Municipal District.

I have been a Peace Commissioner for almost two years now , and this time of year it can get busy as Teachers, Nurses etc. need witnesses for their various documents. I dealt with 8 such cases as well as two planning issues and a travel document.

Obviously as well as being Cathaoirleach , I am still a County Councillor and need to keep that work up to date. I am currently working with 9 housing issues, three planning applications (advice and Representations) and several issues with Buses. I am also working on three Housing adaptation grant applications.

Yes, a quiet week....
 
Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 8
8/9/2017 2:50:20 PM
Week 8 as Cathaoirleach began with the official ceremonies in Ypres, Belgium for the commemoration of Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge's death 100 years ago. We travelled to Hooge Crater and Hill 60/62 first and then on to Artillery Woods cemetery. Over 250 guests were at the ceremony, the Francis Ledwidge Committee in Slane,Oglaigh Naisunta Na hEireann, In Flanders Museum Committee and Meath County Council were all represented. Members of the Ledwidge family, Mairead McGuinne...ss MEP, Thomas Byrne T.D.,The Irish Ambassador to Belgium Eamonn McAodha, Burgomeister Jan Durnez and Dermot Bulger also attended. I laid a wreath as Cathaoirleach at the grave. It was a beautiful ceremony. Afterwards, I presented gifts from MCC to the Burgomeister and Gilbert Ossieur (In Flanders Museum). The trip finished on Tuesday with a visit to the offices of the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels and a briefing and Q&A session with Brigadier Phillip Brennan (Military Representative of Ireland to the EUMC), Colonel Joseph McDonagh and Lieutenant Colonel Tom McGrath.On Saturday I attended the Guth Gafa international Documentary Film Festival in Kells where I met with the Festival Co-Directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chianain. Meath County Council was the lead sponsor of the Festival.
Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 1
8/4/2017 1:45:47 PM

Busy first week as Cathaoirleach...Thursday afternoon..welcomed Charity cycle to Dunshaughlin and then off to the launch of "Viking Voyage" at Tayto park. Thursday night represented Meath County Council at the retirement Dinner for Peter Kierans, retired CEO LMETB. Saturday Night I was invited to speak at the Annual Kell's Heritage Art Group Annual exhibition. Early start this morning and then off to Chair a meeting with the Meath T.D's on housing.

Cathaoirleach's Diary
8/4/2017 1:43:25 PM

A lot of people have asked me what is Cathaoirleach! So....

"Cathaoirleach is the Irish word for Chairperson. The Chairperson of the County Council is an elected Member of the Council (County Councillor). At the Annual General Meeting of the Council each year the elected Members elect from amongst their number a person to be the Cathaoirleach for the succeeding twelve month period.

The holder of the office of Cathaoirleach of the County Council is deemed to be the First Citiz...en of the County. The Cathaoirleach presides over the Meetings of the County Council. In addition to that, the Cathaoirleach attends Ceremonial Functions and Official Opening Ceremonies. The Cathaoirleach is also the person who accords Civic Honours."

Hope that helps.

Thank you for all the good wishes as I start my year as Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council. I am extremely proud and honoured to be given this opportunity.


Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 2
8/4/2017 1:39:43 PM

Week 2 as Cathaoirleach started with Chairing a meeting with our Ministers and Oireachtas members in the Council Chamber on Monday for an update on Housing in Meath. Then on Wednesday I was given a tour of our new HQ in Buvinda House, then off to get an official photo taken. On Saturday I attended a State event in Slane to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the death of Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge. As Cathairoirleach I was honoured to give the opening welcome and lay a wreath on behalf of Meath County Council.

Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 3
8/4/2017 1:35:12 PM
Week 3 as Cathaoirleach included getting some preparatory work done for a meeting with a Chinese delegation in my new Office in Buvinda House, then met the delegation with our Director of Services, Economic Development, Kevin. The meeting I would hope will lead to better cooperation between Meath and Zhejiang Provence. I would like to thank John V Farrelly, Meath Chambers Chairman for organising the meeting. Then off to the 16th International Mobility Conference function in T...eelings Brewery, hosted by Childvision, The National Education Centre for Blind Children, a big thank you to Brian and Ruth for a wonderful evening. On Friday night I spoke and presented certificates , long service medals and commerative medals to the Meath Civil Defence volunteers. Delighted that so many from Dunshaughlin were recognised. On Sunday spent a few hours on Laytown-Bettystown beaches, where the 15th National Sand sculpting event was taking place and I was delighted to be asked to present the prizes to the winners. Cllr Paddy Meade, Cathaoirleach of the Laytown-Bettystown MD was my wing man for the day. Great well organised event by a dedicated Committee and the standard was extremely impressive.
Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 4
8/4/2017 1:31:24 PM
Week 4 as Cathaoirleach began with a full day of meetings in Navan.(had to take a days holidays from work but still opened up at 6am till 8am). First up at Buvinda HQ was a meeting with our Senior Planners to discuss the upcoming workshops on the County Development Plan. I outlined what I would like to be included including in the plans: park and ride facilities for our Towns in South East Meath, Railway extended to Navan but servicing both Dunshaughlin and Ratoath catchment ...areas (not where it is currently planned for a station ,1.5 miles from Dunshaughlin on the wrong side of Town)..obviously this will depend of central government funding but we should have it as an objective in the plan, Community Facilities, identifying land needed for both Primary and Secondary Schools in advance of population increase, Regional Hospital objectives for Meath, Road infrastructure and Bus connectivity and much more.
Then off to Navan County Hall to Chair a Corporate Policy Group meeting followed by Chairing a Protocol meeting. In the afternoon I Chaired a Statutory full Council Meeting which finished at 6pm. We received a presentation from Barry Kenny and John Reville, Iarnrod Eireann regarding their future Capital plans. Many Councillors as I did , queried aspects of the plans regarding Meath. On Tuesday I said a few words on behalf of Meath County Council at the opening of the International Baseball Event in Ashbourne with teams from Ireland, Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands, USA and a Presidential Nine team competing over six days. Thank you Cllr Sean Smith and Cllr Alan Tobin for the invitation. Great event and appropriate that it began on July 4th-Independance Day. I went back again on Thursday to give a hand with the car parking etc. Launched the Library Summer Stars Reading Scheme in the library in Ashbourne. On Sunday I attended the National Day of Commemoration in The Royal Hospital Kilmainham in honour of all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. I had a brief chat with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar afterwards regarding some ideas I had mentioned to him recently on the housing crisis. He informed me that he had had his first Housing meeting and had shared the ideas I mentioned. Happy with that.

Town Hall Meeting
8/4/2017 1:28:34 PM

Huge THANK YOU to all who attended the "Town Hall" meeting last night in the Dunshaughlin Community Centre and to those( almost 50) who contacted to send apologies and support. It is always difficult to get a night which suits everyone.

The format for the night worked well. The meeting was excellently chaired by Aidan Murphy, Anne Tuite noted the points made, 21 Citizens stepped up to the Microphone to contribute their views to the meeting. Deputy Thomas Byrne, Minister Helen McEntee, Minister Regina Doherty (represented by Alan Boyce-The Minister was held up in the Dail), Cllr Maria Murphy PC,Cllr Damien O'Reilly, Cllr Maria O'Kane, Cllr Gillian McGrath (Toole), Cllr Nick Killian, Cllr Brian Fitzgerald, Cllr Gerry O Connor attended and contributed having listened to the Community Views.

This is a summary of the contributions on the night.

Issues

Parking in the Town- Both lack of Parking (Main St)and Bad/ Dangerous Parking especially at the entrance to the Knocks/ College Close Housing estates at Tara News and Supervalu. Also at Maelduin entrance and at Maddens field. Long term parking (Commuters) limiting access to businesses in Town.
Bye Laws needed and enforcement of Road Traffic laws by Gardaí.

Speeding-In housing Estates and at Drumree Road.

Retail-empty units on Main Street
Also lack of Commercial units available in the Business Park-One Business is now currently "Homeless" from September (if anyone knows of any commercial space -please pm me and I will pass details on)

Footpaths- lack of investment/ maintenance on Main Street especially going towards Church.

Facilities needed now and Going Forward

Cycling, Walking, Wheelchair facilities in Town
Scouts need permanent Home
Dunshaughlin Athletics need land and facilities
Dunshaughlin GAA need land and facilities
Dunshaughlin Youths likewise
Swimming pool
Infrastructure investment- footpaths etc
Childcare facilities-Creche etc.
Ring Road to facilitate traffic flow in Town
Civic Space-Courthouse potential.

Other issues now and going forward

More Schools for increasing population
Railway to Dunshaughlin.in proper location to make it sustainable with populations from Ratoath and Dunshaughlin serviced.
Youth Community Officer needed County wide
Jay Walking
Drugs being sold in Park/ Playground
Reduction of non essential traffic/parking in Town
Community Levies from current and future housing development used locally to provide Amenties FIRST rather than AFTER development which is current practice.
Access to the College from Maintenance gate at Knocks Park(Currently/ recently closed and locked)

Help Needed

Dunsalert- Volunteers needed to operate
Tidy Towns- help needed

As you can see it was a very thought provoking meeting and its clear that we have some work to do to address the issues raised.

I will make all of the above part of my submission to both the County development and Local area plans discussions.

It was noted by all public reps that last night was an impressive and unprecedented show of Community and Civic togetherness. Extremely positive and achievable in the short , medium and long term.

That's my work for the next two years sorted out...lets get going.

Cathaoirleach's Diary week 5
8/4/2017 1:25:01 PM
Week 5 as Cathaoirleach included a Ratoath Municipal District meeting, followed by a briefing for newly elected Mayors and Chairs with Senator John Dolan in Government Buildings on Social Inclusion and in particular "Disability inclusion". Following that I had a meeting with Minister Regina Doherty in her offices regarding the Community Service Programme. Thank you Alan Boyce for arranging this. I then met CEO Jackie Maguire with Minister Helen McEntee for a brief discussion ...regarding Active Age initiatives. As a FG Councillor I took part in a briefing and question and answer workshop with Minister Eoghan Murphy, Minister Damien English and Minister John Paul Phelan on housing and local government. The week finished with an invitation to the French Embassy to celebrate Bastille Day. A lovely occasion where I was able to meet up with Alan Dukes, Senator James Reilly and the British Ambassador Robin Barnett. The Ambassador expressed an interest in visiting Meath and I would be delighted to welcome him when the occasion arises.In between all of that I was able to fit in a "Town Hall" meeting in Dunshaughlin and my Son Roberts Nineteenth Birthday.
Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 6
8/4/2017 1:21:52 PM
Week 6 as Cathaoirleach began with a meeting on Monday 17th in Ballivor with Ballivor Tidy Towns and Cllr Noel French. This was followed later that evening with... the launch of the Meath Partnership Pop Up event to highlight Leader funding opportunities for Communities. I was delighted to give the opening address. Then back home for birthday celebrations (mine). On Wednesday I chaired a statutory Council meeting for variations to the Navan and Kells Development plans followed by a workshop with Planning Consultants regarding Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. Then off to a public consultation in the Community Centre on a Lidl application in Dunshaughlin. Later that evening in Duleek I spoke at the Indaver Community Grant event where over €500k was awarded to local Community Groups. On Thursday I attended the Transportation and Infrastructure Special Policy Committee meeting in Buvinda House and then gave the opening address to local Aidan Murphy's event "Inside Out" in the Pastoral Centre. On Friday I met with a group of Franciscan Monks who are attending English Classes in Navan and gave them an overview of how our local Authority works and the role of the Cathaoirleach and Councillors. Thank you to Cllr Francis Deane for arranging. On Saturday I attended the 30th Anniversary of Dunshaughlin Civil Defence in the Knocks Park in Dunshaughlin. Another week under the belt...bring on week 7.
Cathaoirleach's Diary Week 7
8/4/2017 1:18:26 PM
Week 7 as Cathaoirleach was dominated by water issues in Ratoath and elsewhere .I spent the week as Chair liaising with the incident room in Meath County Council, updating FB with the regular updates from IW and dealing with constituents who couldn't get to water and delivering it to them.I called a meeting of all Councillors and TD's who were representing the areas affected in City North Hotel on Wednesday night and we agreed an all party letter to send to Minister Murphy ou...tlining our concerns and requesting the necessary funding to sort the problem out once and for all. On Friday I spoke at the Irish water event in Lough Bawn treatment plant , which had been upgraded due to an adverse EPA listing at a cost of €1.2 million. The plant supplies Oldcastle and Kells and its environs. That evening I along with my FG Councillor colleagues met with Minister Eoghan Murphy in Ashbourne for two hours discussing the Staleen water issue, recommending both short term and long term solutions and emphasising that it must be sorted sooner than the 18mths suggested by IW. On Saturday I led a delegation from Meath County Council, accompanied by the members of the Drogheda & Slane Branch of Oglaigh Naisiunta Na hEireann to Belgium to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the death of Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge in Flanders in 1917.I laid a wreath at the Irish Peace Park in Mesen with the colour party provided by O.N.E. From Mesen we then travelled to Tyne Cot Cemetery where almost 12K soldiers are buried , many in unmarked graves. We then visited the Memorial Museum in Passendale. That evening we laid a wreath at the Menin Gate Ceremony in Ypres. The whole experience of the day was sobering, the evidence of Mans inhumanity to Man, and the sheer size of the death toll is unbelievable and so,so sad. The third battle of Ypres was the first time Chemical warfare was used in battle. Incidentally Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate , Theresa May and the Belgium Royal Family all visited the same sites last weekend but a day later.
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