Open Letter to KCC : CHANGE OUR STREETS – MAKE SAFER STREETS FOR ALL

NOTE If you like the NEW NORM with reduced traffic and more Kildare people walking and cycling, we invite you to email maynoothcycling@gmail.com (or Shamrock Spring at shamrockspring@gmail.com) to demonstrate your support for Change Our Streets. We will add your name to the list of supporters.

Make Walking And Cycling Safer To Go To Work, To Shops And Pharmacies, To Volunteer And To Exercise


Dear Mr. Carey,

We are an alliance of Kildare groups and residents, led by Maynooth Cycling Campaign and Kildare Environmental Network. We live, work, trade or shop in Kildare. We want our Council to urgently Change Our Streets by reallocating space for people on foot and on bikes during this long COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

We want to express sympathy with those who have died of COVID-19, their families, friends, and colleagues. Using our expertise in road safety to help ease social anxieties around social distancing, we wish to give support to people with an added reason to walk or cycle.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that ‘whenever feasible, consider riding a bicycle or walking to provide physical distancing and daily physical activity’ during the COVID-19 emergency. In Ireland, we have seven exceptions to the ‘Stay at Home Order’, including exercising within 5 km from home.

We want safer streets for all ages and all abilities in our ‘new normal’. We are supported by doctors, nurses, health professionals, resident associations, community groups, businesses and associations. [Note: health professionals – to be finalised]

We have two requests to reduce preventable deaths and injuries, and create pedestrian- and cycle-friendly streets:

1.    Reallocate road space to people walking and cycling.
2.    Temporarily lower the speed limit to 30 km/h in urban areas.

We ask that Kildare County Council arranges a Transport SPC meeting as a matter of urgency and that the agenda be devoted to Change Our Streets. [Note: This paragraph to be finalised]

How COVID-19 Impacts on the Use Of Public Space

  • An increasing number of Kildare residents live in apartments with no access to a private garden. Over 9% of households in Kildare do not have access to a car. Children need 60 minutes of daily exercise. Access to green and blue spaces has detectable mental and physical health benefits.
  • There is an increase in individuals and families walking and cycling in their local areas, whether for exercise or essential journeys. 
  • Healthcare workers and other essential workers have reported incidents of feeling unsafe while walking or cycling to work.
  • There is a lack of space for social distancing across the county for people walking and cycling. Narrow footpaths and painted cycle lanes do not provide the space to adhere to HSE social distancing guidelines.
  • There are road safety issues with the reduced vehicle traffic. Most significant of which is speeding but also red light breaking and phone use by motorists.
  • People queuing outside shops that have in-store limits, are lining up on narrow footpaths next to wide roads with multiple parking and driving lanes.
  • Public transport numbers are down as people stay home. There is a risk that levels of private car traffic may increase sharply in the intervening period before a vaccine is found and widely distributed.
  • With an increase in unemployment, and good summer weather ahead, the bicycle offers an affordable transport option to many who may not have considered cycling to date.
  • The demand for parking has drastically reduced.

Kildare County Council has closed or restricted access to playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor gyms, even to people living within 5 km. Residents of places with natural beauty are concerned that people in groups are travelling by car to these pleasant places for exercise.


Make Safer Streets for All – Reallocating Road Space to People Walking and Cycling
Expedient, wide-ranging action will reconfigure Kildare’s public spaces to decrease public health risk, social anxiety and the risk of increased traffic levels as the restrictions begin to be lifted over the coming months and years.

These types of measures have already been rolled out internationally, especially in the German capital Berlin. In Ireland, Dublin City and Fingal County councils have started to reallocate road space.

We ask Kildare County Council to implement temporary measures, including:

  • Install temporary cycle lanes along the key traffic routes where feasible.
    • Example: Main Street Newbridge, Main Street Celbridge, Newbridge Road Naas and Dublin Road Maynooth
  • Widen or introduce footpaths using cones on busy streets, outside lines of shops or areas with queues, or thoroughfares to shops and essential businesses. This may need the reallocation of space from on-street parking and loading bays.
    • Example: SuperValu Main Street South, Naas.
  • Temporary use of cones, bollards and planters to filter through-traffic in housing estates, and so make roads safe for children playing and people exercising.
    • Examples: Laurence’s Avenue and Rail Park Maynooth, and Monread Naas.
  • Automate pedestrian signal crossings during daylight hours and increase pedestrian crossing times in urban areas. Add signage to prevent people pressing the buttons.
    • Example: as Greystones Municipal District and other councils have done.
  • Temporary suspension of extra lanes alongside roads with shared walking / cycling facilities or narrow footpaths. Turn the extra lane into a barrier / cone-protected cycle lane and, if shared facilities are present, temporarily designate the shared facilities as pedestrian-only.
    • Examples: New Caragh Road Naas adjacent to the Newbridge Road.
  • Removal of turn right lanes where footpaths are narrow and/or there is no cycle facility.
    • Example: New Caragh Road Naas adjacent to Newbridge Road
  • Revise traffic management arrangements in order to change a two way road with no cycle facilities with a one way road and two cycle lanes (one a contra-flow cycle lane).
    • Example Newtown Road, Maynooth
  • Temporary pedestrianisation of roads and creating ‘quiet streets’ to connect residences and essential destinations.

Lower the Speed Limits
In relation to urban areas, we request the introduction of a temporary blanket 30 km/h speed limit on all local and regional roads during the pandemic. In addition, drop the speed limit on roads with 60 km/h areas to 50 km/h and 80 km/h to 60 km/h. This will make walking and cycling more pleasant, reduce the risk of collisions, and reduce the severity of injury on impact, should any collisions occur. Professor John Crown of St Vincent’s University Hospital has made a similar call.

The Isle of Man introduced a temporary speed limit island-wide to 40 mph at the end of March, following NHS doctors stating that this is the number one action to ‘lower the baseline’ of critical care admissions.

Brussels will introduce a city centre speed limit of 20 km/h from May 1 until the end of August. Milan’s ambitious Strade Aperte (Open Streets) plan has 20 km/h speed limits at its heart. This is to make living in urban areas more pleasant during the coronavirus.

Change Our Streets – Make Safer Streets For All
The Minister for Health says that physical distancing measures will be with us until a vaccine is available. We know that this will, at least, be months from now.

In general, please:
• Keep stable or expand the resources budgeted for footpath and cycling schemes.
• Bringing forward of timelines for National Transport Authority cycling schemes.
• Include footpath widening as part of footpath repair schemes.
• Include reallocation of space as part of road maintenance schemes.

This COVID-19 crisis offers a unique opportunity to implement and trial low or zero-cost solutions for a more resilient, pleasant and accessible public realm in Maynooth and other urban centres in Kildare. We can create a liveable city whose streetscape is designed with empathy and flexibility for the mental and physical wellbeing of all who live here.

We, the undersigned, strongly request that you consider, plan and implement these measures in the interests of public health and safety.


CC Mr. Tadhg McDonnell, Director of Services for Transportation



Change Our Streets


Hello – You are invited to the following event:  CHANGE OUR STREETS

Event to be held at the following time and date:

                            Tuesday, 5 May 2020 from 19:00 to 19:45 (BST)

Tickets on Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/lets-change-our-streets-tickets-104165200920?

Let’s Get Moving

          Tune in – Tuesday’s meeting is devoted to Sustainable Transport solutions

 We invite you to watch IN ADVANCE a short film (15mins) by Streetfilm        https://vimeo.com/76207227 on Groningen best cycling city in the world.

          Then from 7:00pm on Tuesday, we will meet on Zoom to discuss ways to                                #ChangeOurStreets to more sustainable future.

         *    What drives Dutch bike culture, socio-economic rewards of cycling, health                           effects of clean air and bonus lower noise pollution brings.
          *   How complementing wider investment into cycling infrastructure can help                          create  more  value in future.
          *  Lessons for Kildare

 Do share this event on Facebook and Twitter.

We hope you can make it.

All the Best,

Gerry Dornan, Maynooth Cycling Campaign

Deirdre Lane, ShamrockSpring 

Party Rankings on Cycling Policies – Check Them Out!

We are urging all cyclists to get out and vote on Saturday for the

political parties that have promised to make a difference for everyday

cyclists. Check out our comparative ratings of the political party

manifestos above, and think about how you cast your vote! These

ratings are based simply on what the various parties have outlined in

their manifestos in relation to proposed investment and policies to

grow cycling in Ireland. **YOU BIKE – YOU VOTE!**

Matrix

Cyclist.ie – Political Asks in GE2020

(This article was previously published in GreenNews.ie in a series under the heading of  “What the experts want from GE 2020 “. In this case the expert is Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, which is represented by Martina Callanan of the Galway Cycling Campaign.)

Over the past three weeks, as in all election cycles, we have become accustomed to the knock at the door from canvassers or candidates themselves are they vie for our number one at the ballot box.

We have asked leading climate and biodiversity experts to tell us the key policy asks that they have raised with candidates when they come a-knocking.

Next up is Martina Callanan who represents Galway Cycling Campaign on the executive council of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, whose vision is for cycling to become a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.

The network sees cycling as a vital part of building healthier and less polluted communities, and has developed 10 election asks that it Martina has boiled down to three kernel points below.

Make cycling a normal everyday activity

Cycling is a critical part of the transport equation in combating Climate Change. We need everyday cycling to be better and safer, more convenient, and easier. Hopping on your bike should be a more attractive option for the so-called first-mile and last-mile journeys.

No more slashing of funding or paltry rises: major investment is needed to shift people away from car dependency, especially for short journeys under 5km. This means greater investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion.

We need our next Government to allocate a minimum 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling immediately as promised under the National Climate Action Plan. Currently, cycling is allocated a tiny two per cent of our transport spend.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Bike safety is highest in countries and cities where bike use is high and people cycling have interconnected networks of segregated routes such as in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Bristol and Manchester in the UK.

It’s as easy as ABC: Allocate 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling; Build safer infrastructure, and everyone will cycle more.

Build safe segregated networks

Manifestos that mention school cycle buses should make us weep with rage. There should be no need for parents and adults to marshal kids to school on bikes, forming human shields between small soft bodies and big, motorised, metal boxes. Cycle buses must not become the norm.

What we need are safe routes to schools and throughout populated areas: networks of segregated cycle paths along roads; safe junction design with priority signalling for people on bikes; and quiet routes through permeable neighbourhoods. Let’s get designing and building!

Increasing cycling numbers in Ireland will cut congestion, improve public health, and reduce pollution. To get more people cycling, we need to make it an easier and safer choice. Let’s have real cycle networks, safe school routes, and coordinated planning, policy and policing that protects us.

Design fit-for-purpose planning, policy and policing system

The 3 Ps of Planning, Policy and Policing seem a little dry at first glance – but these are the actions that make the good things happen.

Planning – Building safer cycling infrastructure should be guided by our National Cycle Manual. This design guidance needs urgent updating to upgrade our standards and bring us into line with best international practice.

Policy – We need joined-up thinking for everyday cycling across a myriad of Departments – Transport, Health, Environment, Housing, Education, and Justice. We need a resourced National Cycling Office, preferably within the Department of Transport to coordinate policy and ensure action.

Policing – We have road traffic legislation that considers people who cycle and walk, but enforcement needs greater priority. People who cycle are frustrated and frightened by illegal parking in cycle lanes and dangerous overtaking.

COP-25 Report (Prof. John Sweeney): Naming and Shaming the Countries that have held the World to Ransom

15th December 2019
Prof. John Sweeney’s final report on the UNFCCC COP-25 Meeting in Madrid, December 2019.

See also his three previous reports : No Real Progress in Week 1, Waiting for Leadership and the EU’s Green New Deal, Deadlock at COP – Can the Chilean President Deliver Progress on Key Issues?

And so after two weeks of negotiations, COP25 finally came to a fractious end on Sunday, some 40 hours past the scheduled close. As the remaining bleary-eyed delegates gathered for the final plenary, the stands were being dismantled, the protesters had departed and the motto of the meeting “Time for Action” had a hollow ring to it. Make no mistake, this was a failure of epic proportions. Whereas in Paris in 2015 the countries of the world had come together to do business, in 2019 some of them came to obstruct progress and to place narrow national and financial interests ahead of the urgent needs of the global community. The science that told them there was less than a decade of present carbon budget left to burn to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the climate tipping points associated with a global warming of 1.5oC did not sway them. Neither did the vigorous participation of the global youth represented, nor the urgings of the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who expressed himself disappointed by the outcome. In his view, the international community had lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.

The main objective of COP25 was to finalise the remaining rules under which the Paris Agreement would be administered. Most of the non-contentious aspects had been agreed at earlier meetings. The chief concern at Madrid was how the global trading of carbon would be implemented, and how countries would be rewarded for safeguarding their carbon sinks, especially forests in areas such as the Amazon. There was also the issue of whether unused credits carried over from previous agreements would be recognised as part of any new trading regime. In these areas it was the big emitting countries of the USA, Australia, and Brazil who sought to thwart the wishes of the smaller and more climate vulnerable countries. It was hoped that any agreed arrangements would not facilitate large increases in global emissions from these big countries that could be offset against their credits. This would have the effect of causing further acceleration of global warming, with all the distress this would entail for the most vulnerable developing nations and small island states. For some of the large emitting countries, however, it was all about exploiting loopholes that might even enable them to double count their forest credits. The stalemate that resulted pitched the US, China, Australia and Brazil against a coalition of smaller states and the EU. No resolution was obtained after two weeks of bitter wrangling. The issue was left unresolved, to be returned to in COP26, and so another year has been lost while global emissions continue to climb.

It is clear that many countries are not keeping to the pledges to contain emissions that they made five years ago in Paris. Under the International Treaty that they signed then, a further round of stricter pledges are due to be made by the end of next year. Some of the biggest emitters questioned whether they would comply with this requirement. Perhaps the only positive outcome of the meeting was a decision that new pledges will be delivered by this time next year. But the enthusiasm for this came mainly from 80 countries, mostly small developing countries accounting for around 10% of global emissions.

The US will, of course, have exited from the Paris agreement altogether by this time next year and will not have to make any commitments at all. But this did not stop it from being obstructive, in particular when discussions concerning how to financially support poor countries seeking to cope with extremes associated with climate change. Loss and Damage discussions have historically been uncomfortable topics for the US in particular given its historically high contribution to the present problem. Rising sea level, severe droughts and floods and unprecedented storms are affecting many poorer tropical countries who have no significant greenhouse gas emissions, but bear the brunt of climate change impacts. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change recognises this in its principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities. It was hoped this would be addressed in Madrid by an appropriate funds transfer arrangement; but once again the big developed countries baulked at the prospect.

Among the big power blocs, the EU (minus Poland) emerged with some credit as it unveiled its plan for carbon neutrality by 2050. But the EU only accounts now for 10% of global emissions and needs active partners such as China, India, and the USA if the curve of increasing global emissions is to be turned downwards. Ireland also needs to actively support EU ambition in a way that has not characterised its actions in former years. The recently unveiled Climate Action Plan is wholly deficient in contributing appropriately to emission reductions which the UN Secretary General estimated as requiring on a global basis 7.6% reductions every year for the next decade. We cannot criticise other nations for playing the national self interest card if we ourselves seek to do the same.

There is no doubt but that the failure of COP25 is symptomatic of a world failing to advance the multilateralism ideals many of us grew up with. International cooperation in economics, politics and in solving environmental problems, such as ozone depletion, have now given way to narrow national and populist ideologies. What is most worrying about current developments in tackling climate change is however the disconnect between the power brokers and society at large. The advice of the scientists and the pleas of the young were ignored in Madrid. Indeed some 200 young people were summarily ejected from the conference after a protest, and the eloquent arguments presented by the young Irish activists at several side events fell on deaf ears. Attempts by some world leaders and some media commentators to direct personal vitriol against young activists even surfaced. In the words of Greta Thunberg:

“As you may have noticed, the haters are as active as ever — going after me, my looks, my clothes, my behavior and my differences…..It seems they will cross every possible line to avert the focus, since they are so desperate not to talk about the climate and ecological crisis. Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions — it’s facts.”

The denial of facts, and the unwillingness to address the urgency of climate change as expressed so clearly by different segments of society, and the supremacy of national self-interest over the needs of ‘Our Common Home’ will unfortunately be the abiding memories of COP25.

Minister’s statement at COP 25 was a missed opportunity to show Ireland is ready to take leadership

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition – Press Statement
Immediate release 11th December 2019

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition has today (December 11th) said that the Minister’s national statement at COP 25 this morning, was a missed opportunity to show that Ireland is ready to take leadership to avert climate breakdown. The Minister participated in the high level segment, where Heads of State and Government make national statements on increasing their targets.

Earlier this week, Stop Climate Chaos wrote to the Minister in advance urging the Government to align Ireland with other EU member states calling for an increase of the EU’s 2030 target to at least 55%, and for Ireland to urge the European Commission to advance a proposal to increase the EU NDC target (in line with the science and the EU’s fair share of the global effort) in the first 100 days in office.

Catherine Devitt, Head of Policy with the Stop Climate Chaos coalition commented,

“2020 marks the beginning of a decade in which global emissions must reduce by 55% before 2030 if the 1.5oC limit in the Paris Agreement is to remain at all feasible. We need bold political leadership now more so than ever, and this needs to be matched with bold commitments that will drive deep and sustained emissions reductions over the next decade. Therefore, it’s deeply disappointing to hear nothing new from Minister Bruton’s contribution at COP25.”

“Ramping up emissions cuts before 2030 is in line with the commitments made by Ireland at COP 21 in 2015, and a higher target will increase the chances of reaching global net zero emissions well before 2050. The longer we delay, the costlier and sharper the social and economic adjustment will be. It is disappointing that the Minister did not use the opportunity at COP 25 in front of the global community, to explicitly express Ireland’s support for a higher EU 2030 of at least 55%, and to put pressure on the Commission to urgently increase 2030 ambition in line with the science and the EU’s fair share of the global effort.”

“We very much welcome the Minister’s commitment to enshrine net zero by 2050 into law. 2020 will be a crucial year for the climate, as will be the next decade. If this Government is now serious about stepping up to the challenge, we need to see the new draft Climate Law before Cabinet before Christmas and the new law being passed without delay in 2020.”

In reaction to the Minister’s national statement in Madrid, Christian Aid’s Policy and Advocacy adviser, Jennifer Higgins, said,

“We need the enthusiasm in Minister Bruton’s speech to translate into concrete and ambitious climate action. We’ve learnt nothing new in terms of Ireland’s planned response to the climate crisis, and the existing climate action plan still places Ireland as a low performer on climate action in the EU.”

“Ireland needs to be doing far more than doubling our contribution to the Green Climate Fund if we are to fairly contribute to efforts to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown. Ireland’s overall annual climate finance contributions will need to increase six-fold if we are to meaningfully support developing countries, who on the frontline of the climate emergency, to cut their emissions and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.”

Later this month, Ireland is required to submit to the EU its national energy and climate plan for the coming decade. Stop Climate Chaos has called on the Government to use this opportunity to close Ireland’s glaring emissions gap, to drive sustained and deep emissions reductions, and pave the way for Ireland to move from laggard to leader at European level.

Ends

Government (excluding DTTaS) allocates €3.5 Million out of €186 Million for Everyday (Utility) Cycling

In response to parliamentary questions, Minister Shane Ross is very keen to point out that in addition to funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS), the government also funds cycling through other departments including the Department of Community and Rural Regeneration and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. We decided to investigate the contribution to cycling by these departments.

Michael Ring is Minister for the Department of Community and Rural Affairs. In May 2018, he announced the allocation of €4.5 million. This was followed in September by an additional allocation of €8 million. This funding was under the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) which supports disadvantaged communities throughout the country by providing capital grants to community groups so none of this funding was for cycling or cycle related projects.

In January 2019, the Minister and Fáilte Ireland jointly announced funding of €10.8 million for 78 outdoor recreation infrastructure projects. Of the 78, 19 were identified as wholly or partially cycle related at an estimated cost of €1,680,786.

In February 2019, the Minister made a major announcement with an allocation of €62 million for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country at a cost ranging from €20,000 to €10.2 Million. There were three cycle related projects. The first which was a 100% cycling related project, was for the development of a cycle network in Mayo/Galway at a cost of €75,000. The second in County Meath was allocated €845,250 for a navigation/greenway project. The cycling component was assumed to be 25% cycling or €211,312. The third was a flagship project of national importance– the development of mountain biking trails at a cost of €10.2 million. Mountain biking is a sport which is growing in popularity but it is a niche sport. Even among current cyclists it is very much a minority sport and has nothing to do with utility or everyday cycling. Although funding was provided by the Department of Community, it could equally have been provided by the section of government dealing with sport or tourism or transport. Omitting the mountain biking scheme, the total component allocated for everyday cycling from the other two amounts to €286,31. In total, Minister Ring allocated approximately €2 million out of €86 million.

In November 2018, as part of Project Ireland 2040, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government announced an allocation of €100 million for 88 projects under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). The schemes were classified under various headings including community development, culture, specific capital projects, energy development, integrated urban development, library development, public realm regeneration, road/strategic infrastructure and strategic acquisitions.

There may be a number of projects which involve a small component of cycling eg projects involving public realm improvements but in isolation these are unlikely to make any significant impact to the level of cycling either nationally or locally. Cycling is only explicitly mentioned in the following five:

Screenshot 2019-10-24 at 11.33.48

The total value of the five is estimated at €5.7 million but the likely cycling component is only of the order of €1-2 million out of an allocation of €100 million.

We warmly welcome the additional contribution to everyday cycling by Ministers Ring and Murphy. However, this is a long way from Cyclist.ie’s campaign for 10% of the DTTAS Land Transport capital budget or €149 Million based on the Budget 2019 allocation. In Budget 2020, this rose to €194 Million. As everyday cycling is essentially about transport, the heavy lifting for providing funding rightly belongs in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.  If the Department fails to provide adequate funding for cycling, the primary responsibility rests with Shane Ross, the Minister in Charge.

10 Days to the Biggest Climate Protest in History – SCC PRESS RELEASE

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition

For immediate release : Tuesday 10 September 2019

Student organisers and climate campaigners supporting the School Strikes for Climate have announced their plans for Ireland’s participation in the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20th September. Students have so far organised School Strike Rallies for 10 locations around Ireland from Tralee to Dundalk, as well as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Adults have signed up to host 60 local Support Actions in their communities and workplaces for people who can’t make the rallies. These numbers are growing every day and a team of volunteers is on hand to support people who put their hand up to organise a local event.

Commenting Áine O’Gorman, Activism Support Coordinator with the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, said:

On September 20th we hope to empty schools and workplaces and fill the streets with people demanding our Government take climate action more seriously. Our house is on fire – let’s act like it.

We’ve have a great response to our call for people to organise local actions in support of the school strikes and our volunteers are ready to help anyone who wants to get involved in their community or workplace.”

The Global Climate Strike was called by Swedish teen, Greta Thurnberg, and the global youth movement she has sparked. But this time she has asked adults to join in, saying “We need everyone, to change everything”. The Global Strike comes three days before heads of government from around the world, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, are due in New York for a UN Climate Action Summit. Greta, who has been invited to speak at the summit, sailed to New York in August in a zero emissions boat, with the slogan “Unite behind the science” emblazoned on the sails. The overarching message to world leaders from the strikers and their supporters is “It’s an emergency, act like it”.

Oisín Coghlan, Coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, said:

“The Dáil declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in May but as yet the Government is not acting like it. Just days later they issued new licences to Exxon and the Chinese to search for more oil and gas in Irish waters. And months later they still haven’t sat down with the trade unions to discuss the plight of the workers in the midlands who are facing a disorderly exit from the peat industry because for 20 years Irish politicians have refused to plan for a Just Transition away for fossil fuels.”

The first international School Strike for Climate in March saw 1.6 million young people and their families take to the street around the world, including 15,000 in Ireland.

ENDS

For more information or interviews contact:
Áine O’Gorman, Activism Support Coordinator, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, or
Oisín Coghlan, National Coordinator, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, on

1) All the student-led #ClimateStrike Rallies, and the local support actions organised by adults in communities and workplaces are on this map:
https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/campaigns/support-the-climate-strike-movement/

2) So far the following student-organised marches and rallies are confirmed:
Dublin: Gathering 12:00 at Customs House, marching at 12:30 to Merrion Sq., rallying 13:00 – 14:00 at Merrion Sq. in front of Govt. buildings
Cork City: Gathering on Grand Parade St. from 12:00, marching at 12:20.
Kerry (Tralee): Meet at County Buildings, Ratass, at 9am
Clare (Ennis): Meet at The Height, O’Connell Square at 9am
Drogheda: Demonstrating from 13:00 outside St. Peters’s Church, West St.
Galway: Demonstrating from 13:00 – 16:00 in Eyre Square
Navan: Demonstrating from 13:00 – 15:00 at the Market Square
Limerick: Marching from Arthur’s Quay Park at 13:00, finishing at City Hall.
Dundalk: Demonstrating from 12:30 – 15:00 in the Market Square
Kenmare: Demonstrating from 9:00 – 13:00 outside the Courthouse

The student organising groups are:
Fridays for Future: https://www.fridaysforfuture.ie/september-20th
Schools Climate Action Network: https://www.schoolsclimateaction.ie/

3) Details of the Global Climate Strike are here: https://globalclimatestrike.net/

4) Details of the UN Climate Action Summit are here: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/

 

Who Decides on the Expenditure of Discretionary Grants – Councillors or Officials?

Councillors like to think that they make policy and approve budgets while the role of officials is to implement policy. In the autumn, officials present draft budgets for the coming year for approval and after arguing over increases or decreases, councillors eventually approve the budget and strike an associated rate for business.

However, councillors are primarily concerned with discussing revenue raised by the council. The budget includes notional figures for grants from government or government bodies such as TII or NTA. These tend to be for specific projects which councillors wish to see progress. The difference between the estimated allocation and the actual drawdown is regularised when that year’s expenditure is finalised some 18 months later.

In the past, councillors have had little interest in this stream of funding from government as it was intended for specific schemes. However, in more recent years the DTTaS has allocated an element of Discretionary Funding which amounts to over €80 million nationally in 2019. Not all counties receive a Discretionary Grant. The Dublin Local Authorities do not receive anything. Kildare County Council’s portion amounts to €2.5 million – not a fortune by today’s standards but still a sizeable amount. Councillors frequently receive the response that no funding is available for a particular project. The question is who decides on its use – the elected councillors or officials? And, equally important, what proportion should be allocated to walking and cycling?