Community and Local Government Entries
Posted May 20th, 2013
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has today (Monday) welcomed the announcement, by the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, of an €80,000 allocation to the Community Improvement Scheme in County Wicklow.
Deputy Harris stated that ‘This announcement is a welcome boost to the Arklow area. Investment in the Community Involvement Scheme is a significant investment in the future of Wicklow but also one that provides for real additional community engagement.
‘As a new pilot scheme, the Community Improvement Scheme provides for the engagement of the community in the projects for which resources are allocated. This project will provide for the alteration of roads in Coolbawn Lower and the local community will be investing the labour and JCB plant in the project. This ensures that this project has a distinctly local value and feel to it.
‘I am pleased that this announcement has come today and that the Minister has approved all validly submitted Wicklow applications under this scheme. As this is a new scheme I would also like to welcome its introduction and implementation and I look forward to future rounds of this strategic investment being engaged with across County Wicklow.’
Harris brings Men’s’ Shed Movement & Gaelic Players Association to Dail to discuss creating positive mental health in our communities
Posted March 21st, 2013
Wicklow Fine Gael TD and Co-Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health, Deputy Simon Harris recently hosted a meeting in the Dail with representatives of the Men’s Shed Movement and the Gaelic Players Association to discuss the importance of creating an environment of positive mental health in our local communities.
Speaking about the event, Deputy Harris said, “It is important when we talk about mental health and tackling mental illness that we do not just look at the macro level. We need to also look at what we can all do in our communities, what initiatives can work locally and how we can get involved. Both the Men’s Shed Movement and the Gaelic Players Association have a brilliant record of being involved in local initiatives in County Wicklow and throughout the country to promote positive mental health in a practical way.”
“There are now more than 115 Men’s Sheds on the island of Ireland including a number in towns across County Wicklow including Greystones and Arklow. These projects recognise that men traditionally talk ‘ shoulder to shoulder’ and hence provide a supportive environment for people to carry out mutually agreed projects, make friends, share experiences and so on. This movement has been hugely successful in Ireland after originating in Australia and I look forward to seeing it grow here in Ireland, “stated Deputy Harris.
“There is no doubt that sport and physical activity can assist us in protecting and promoting both good physical and good mental health. The GAA has a proud tradition and great clubs right throughout Wicklow. Gaelic players are leaders in their community and role models to many young people. It is brilliant to see the Gaelic Players’ Association embracing positive mental health initiatives and lending their support to society’s collective work in this important area,” continued Deputy Harris.
“In my role as Co-Convenor of the Cross –Party Group on Mental Health, I will continue to work with all sectors of our community to put in place plans and ideas to promote a culture of positive mental health in Wicklow. This meeting in Leinster House enabled many of us to learn of new projects and to hear of great initiatives which we can put to use locally,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted February 11th, 2013
The Planning Section
Wicklow County Council
6th January 2013
Re: The La Touche Hotel, Greystones- Submission to the Draft Local Area Plan for Greystones-Delgany and Kilcoole 2013-2019
Dear Wicklow County Council,
I wish to make a submission in relation to the need to protect the La Touche Hotel structure in Greystones in the context of the Council’s preparation of a new Local Area Plan 2013-2019 for Greystones-Delgany and Kilcoole.
Whilst there are many positives in the overall Draft Local Area Plan, I am aghast at proposals to remove the protected structure from the external of the La Touche Hotel, Greystones.
The La Touche Hotel is a landmark building. It is one of the first buildings you see in the distance as you enter Greystones coming down Windgates Hill. It represents so many memories for all residents in the town. It is a beautiful building and has a rich history. It has a link with so many elements of our community. It is the hotel in which Michael Collins stayed the night before he went to Britain to negotiate for our country.
I am a realist and I know the state of disrepair the building is now in. However, I see no reason why the external structures of the building cannot remain protected. It is unlikely in the current economic climate that any development will take place on the site for some time. Removing the protected status on the building will just ensure that it remains idle but when the economy improves a developer could move in and the external elements of this building would not be protected. This cannot be allowed to happen.
I have heard much commentary about plans to replace the protected structure status with an ACA order. However, I am not confident that this could ensure that the entire external structure of the La Touche Hotel would be protected. Furthermore, if this would be the case, then why would one remove the protected status structure in the first place?
The Draft Local Area Plan quite correctly highlights that for the plan to succeed their needs to be “buy-in” from key stakeholders. The community is obviously the most important stakeholder and from my discussions with Greystones residents there is no buy-in from them to see this historic structure demolished in any way.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter and I strongly urge the Council to leave the protected structure status in place.
Simon Harris T
Harris calls for protection of historical buildings in Greystones – the La Touche Hotel & the Old Mill
Posted January 17th, 2013
Wicklow TD & Greystones resident calls on Council to put in place a heritage plan for the town
Wicklow Fine Gael TD and Greystones resident, Simon Harris has said that Wicklow County Council must stop and take stock of the heritage and historical buildings in Greystones and put in place a plan to ensure that the character and charm of the town is not damaged or downgraded building by building.
Deputy Harris was specifically referring to the La Touche Hotel and the old Mill structure in Greystones.
“The La Touche Hotel is a landmark building. It is one of the first buildings you see in the distance as you enter Greystones coming down Windgates Hill. It represents so many memories for all residents in the town. It is a beautiful building and has a rich history. It has a link with so many elements of our community. Even from a political point of view, it is the hotel in which Michael Collins stayed the night before he went to Britain to negotiate for our country.
“I am a realist and I know the state of disrepair the building is now in. However, I see no reason why the external structures of the building cannot remain protected. It is unlikely in the current economic climate that any development will take place on the site for some time. Removing the protected status on the building will just ensure that it remains idle but when the economy improves a developer could move in and demolish it. This cannot be allowed to happen. I would ask the County Council in consideration of the new Local Area Plan to ensure that whatever mechanism or status is needed is put in place to protect this building,” stated Deputy Harris.
“As residents will be aware, I have kept in regular contact with NAMA about the La Touche Hotel. They carried out some remedial works on the building last year – removing the ugly hoarding on the front side, repairing broken windows, making the site more safe, etc. NAMA has informed me that it is continuing to market the property. I hope that this will be successful in time and see no reason why the site cannot continue to be marketed – as is the case now – with the protection of the La Touche building intact,” continued Deputy Harris.
“With regard to the old Mill site on Mill Road, again this site is symbolic in our town. Three years ago, planning permission was received from the Council for some retail development on this site. At that stage, the permission was granted on the understanding that the old Mill structure would be maintained as part of any development. Now, there is a further application in to seek permission to demolish the old Mill. For me, this represents a step too far. Permission was granted for retail development in tandem with the protection of the old Mill. Enough is enough, in my view,” said Deputy Harris.
“I have lodged an objection to that planning application for the old Mill site which is available to view on my website at www.simonharris.ie. I will also be making a submission to the Local Area Plan making my views clear on the La Touche Hotel. In addition to this, I am calling on Wicklow County Council to take a step back and have a look at the heritage and history of Greystones and put in place a plan to protect and even enhance this. If this overview is not taken, I genuinely fear that the heritage and history of our beautiful town could be diminished and down-graded one building or one site at a time,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted January 8th, 2013
Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) surveys 42 towns and cities including Bray and finds that more than 3 out of 4 Irish towns and cities are now clean by European standards – highest result ever!
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has welcomed the publication of the Irish Business Against Litter survey today which found that more than 3 out of 4 Irish towns and cities are now classified as “clean to European norms.” This is a very strong performance and records the highest ever number of Irish towns classified as clean.
42 towns and cities were surveyed as part of this study including one town in County Wicklow; Bray.
Speaking about the results, Deputy Harris said, “The results of this survey are very encouraging nationally and also here in County Wicklow with the very positive result for Bray. I want to commend all those involved in ensuring that Bray has recorded this very good classification as ‘clean to European norms’. Great credit is due to the Tidy Towns, Bray Town Council, residents’ associations, business owners and indeed residents in the town.”
“Overall this survey shows very positive improvements for the country in terms of tackling litter and improving on the standards of cleanliness in our towns and cities. As a country we have moved from one of the worst performing countries in Europe in terms of clean towns and cities to now one of the best. I want to congratulate and thank the business community for the work they have done in helping bring this improvement about through the establishment of Irish Business Against Litter,” stated Deputy Harris.
“However, there is no room for complacency keeping County Wicklow and our country clean and tackling litter problems involves ongoing work. We are very lucky in our county to have so many active Tidy Towns Groups and other voluntary groups who do such great work in this regard. We need our local authorities to continue to focus on litter black-spots in County Wicklow and also ensuring that lessons are learnt from the recent situation in Wicklow Town where bins were left overflowing for some days in the town causing a very undesirable situation. On the plus side, I am pleased to see focus has been paid to tackling dumping in the uplands and on the N11 in the last year,” continued Deputy Harris.
“I look forward to working with communities across our county in our continued efforts to maintain Wicklow as the ‘Garden of Ireland’,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted December 14th, 2012
I just wish to advise you of changes to the driving licence service in the coming months.
As you know, the fee for the driving licence increased recently. This was the first effective increase since 1989 and recognises the need for state services to pay their way. Over the coming weeks, there will also be significant changes in the way licences are delivered in Ireland. From 12 January 2013, all applications for a licence will get a plastic card licence, produced in a format that is both standardised and recognisable throughout the EU. This new licence will be the ‘best in class’ from a security point of view and, as it will be credit card sized, will be easier to carry.
To assist with an orderly transition to the new plastic licence, all applications received from the 12 January 2013 will issue in plastic card format. This licence will be produced in a standalone secure facility and therefore no driving licences can be produced in the Motor Tax Office. As such, over the counter licences will no longer be available after 12 January. Instead the licence or learner permit will be posted out to the applicant once he or she has applied to the Motor Tax Office.
The new plastic card licence will only be available to those who:
· have passed their driving test and are applying for their first driving licence
· are renewing their learner permit or driving licence
· are exchanging a foreign driving licence for an Irish driving licence
As all old paper licences are valid for a maximum of 10 years, so it follows that all old paper licences should be replaced with a plastic card licence by 2023.
In addition to the introduction of the new licence, licence delivery will also be centralised and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) will become the licensing authority in January. Motor Tax Offices will continue to deliver the service until September 2013; after that, licences will be delivered by the RSA under the banner of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS).
From 12 January there are also changes to some driver licensing rules on foot of an EU Directive, the most significant of which is that licences for trucks and buses will now last for five years instead of the current ten years.
Over the coming weeks, the RSA will be commencing a concerted public information campaign to alert road-users to the new service. Elements of this campaign have already commenced, including briefings with key stakeholders and the distribution of leaflets and posters to key organisations.
You can get more information about the new plastic card and the licence changes at www.rsa.ie
Posted December 4th, 2012
For the first time in four years sports Capital funding has been provided for Community and Sports groups to develop and improve their facilities. Below is a list of the Wicklow recipient groups which have been approved for funding. I have no doubt that this funding will be hugely beneficial to many communities across our county. Simon
Wicklow Annamoe Community Development Association Limited €40,000
Wicklow Arklow Amateur Boxing Club €40,000
Wicklow Aughrim RFC €3,500
Wicklow Avondale GAA Club €55,000
Wicklow Ballymanus GFC €70,000
Wicklow Ballywaltrim Recreational Park Management Committee €16,000
Wicklow Baltinglass GAA Club €50,149
Wicklow Blessington GAA Club €30,000
Wicklow Bray Bowling Club €77,000
Wicklow Bray Town Council, Ballywaltrim €190,000
Wicklow Co Wicklow Lawn Tennis Club €3,000
Wicklow Cobra Gymnastics Club €10,000
Wicklow Coolkenno Sports Field Ltd. €20,000
Wicklow Dunlavin GAA Club €30,000
Wicklow Greystones Rugby Football Club €47,000
Wicklow Kilcoole Camogie Club €2,000
Wicklow Knockananna G.A.A Club €45,000
Wicklow Lakers Social and Recreation Club Ltd €25,000
Wicklow Our Lady Of Fatima Boxing Club Wicklow €4,000
Wicklow Rathdrum Gymnastics Club €13,000
Wicklow St Patricks GAA Club, Wicklow €50,000
Wicklow St Pats Schoolboy and Schoolgirls Soccer club Avoca €15,000
Wicklow St. Patricks GAA Club, Kilcoole €17,500
Wicklow Tiglin Teen Challenge €24,000
Wicklow Wicklow Rugby Football Club €37,000
Wicklow Woodbrook Garden County Archers €15,000
Posted September 11th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris commended the efforts of Tidy Towns committees around County Wicklow.
Aughrim continued last year’s success by winning another gold medal in its category in the Tidy Towns 2012 Competition.
Stratford on Slaney was highly commended and Wicklow Town commended in the regional awards, while Glenealy was recognised with the Endeavour Award for having made significant improvements on last year’s performance.
Welcoming the results, Deputy Harris said, ‘The awards are richly deserved and reflect the work that has gone into towns around Wicklow. The Tidy Towns competition is a great example of what can be done by local communities to improve the towns they live in. It is fantastic for getting the community interested and involved in their surroundings and the results have demonstrated the great work done throughout Wicklow over the last year.’
‘I would like to extend my congratulations to all those involved in the Tidy Towns efforts around Wicklow and I look forward to working with the committees for the 2013 competition.’
Posted August 29th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris is highlighting the potential of ‘The Gathering’ to bring new visitors to county Wicklow.
This weekend sees the ‘Emerald Isle’ football game taking place in Dublin with two US-based American football teams taking to the field. This event is expected to draw a crowd of up to 35,000 US college football fans, worth an estimated €100 million for the economy.
‘Wicklow is known as the Garden of Ireland and with good reason. The great tourist attractions throughout the county can only benefit from this initiative,’ stated Deputy Harris.
‘There is a real opportunity for Wicklow and the work being done across the County by many groups to host events and to get involved is extremely encouraging. The Gathering will hopefully provide a much needed boost to Wicklow tourism and will help support local businesses.’
‘I would encourage any person or group with an idea or an interest to get in touch with Wicklow Tourism to see how it can help them. I will be continuing to work closely alongside Minister Leo Varadkar and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport to ensure that county Wicklow plays a central role in The Gathering and is marketed to as wide an audience of international visitors as possible’, continued Deputy Harris
‘The goal of the Gathering is to attract an additional 325,000 tourist to Ireland in 2013. My goal for county Wicklow is to ensure that as many of these 325,000 tourists as possible spend some time in the Garden County during their stay,’ concluded Deputy Harris.
Irish Rail confirm that real-time information will be in place in Greystones Train Station by end of 2012
Posted August 16th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has received confirmation from the Chief Executive of Irish Rail that real-time passenger information will be in place in Greystones Train Station by the end of this year.
Real-time information is the system which shows how long the wait until the next Dart or train is on electronic signs on the platforms in the station.
Speaking after receiving this assurance from Irish Rail, Deputy Harris said, “This is an issue that I have been pursuing for some time. We now have a significantly increased Dart service from Greystones and our train station is bustling. It is important that for the convenience of passengers and tourists that this real-time information is put in place in the station as quickly as possible.”
“I am satisfied that Irish Rail have now assured me that they have funding in place to make this happen and that the real-time information will be installed in the Greystones station by the end of this year,” stated Deputy Harris.
“I will continue to monitor and pursue this matter until this system is in place,” concluded Deputy Harris.