As well as my important Departmental / Ministerial duties necessitating a significant amount of effort and time, so too do my equally important Constituency commitments, of which there are many. Below you will find some of the events / meetings / occasions with which my team and I were involved over the past month that have Constituency relevance.
World Wetlands Day 2022 02/02/22 marked #WorldWetlandsDay - a day to celebrate our wetlands and the role they play for climate, biodiversity, and water quality. It's also a day to celebrate all of the communities and agencies working towards protecting, restoring, and conserving our wetlands and peatlands. I was delighted to announce a fund of €1.5m for this year's Local Biodiversity Action Fund. Further info: https://www.gov.ie/.../b96e3-on-world-wetlands-day.../
Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Update On 02/02/22, An Taoiseach confirmed in the Dáil that the memo on the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity is almost ready to go to cabinet. This was / is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and I am delighted that many months of work with my colleagues has gotten us this far with this important and much anticipated assembly.
I have asked that a specific assembly or participative planning element take place with children and young people to inform the next National Biodiversity Action Plan.
Town Centres First Policy Launch in Fennelly's, Callan, Co Kilkenny and Moate, Westmeath On 04/02/22, the Government launched its long-anticipated #TownCentresFirst policy - a key Green Party Programme for Government commitment. Architecturally, culturally, and socially, the Irish town is unique in European terms. For far too long, we have turned our backs on this important heritage. The Town Centres First policy seeks to support, enable, and inspire communities to be active participants in the heritage-led regeneration of their towns and villages. This in turn will re-invigorate independent retail and promote town centre living, supporting local economic resilience through the co-creation of liveable, vibrant, and nature-friendly urban spaces. #HousingForAll #OurRuralFuture Further info: https://www.malcolmnoonan.com/.../towncentresfirst-policy...
I was reminded of the prescient work of Paddy Shaffrey and the significant writings of the late, Kilkenny-born, John Bradley (of Maynooth University) as I helped launch the very welcome #TownCentresFirst policy.
Centenary at Stephen's Barracks, Kilkenny
06/02/22 was a proud day for the whole community in Kilkenny in Stephen's barracks for the military parade and open day to mark the 100th anniversary of the handover of the barracks to the provisional government. I felt especially proud of my dad's contribution to the Irish Defence Forces, of having spent the early years of my life within these walls and to see my nephew Sargent Stuart Delaney in the parade. It was wonderful to meet former ONE members and current serving members of 'the bloods'. Many of them are preparing for an overseas mission in Syria.
Drummin Bog Project funding
On 07/02/22, I was delighted to be able to share the wonderful achievement by Carlow County Council's Arts Office on securing Arts Council funding to explore creative engagement in nature at the Drummin Bog Project, St Mullins. Comhgairdeas leis an pobail go léir!
Home Energy Grant Upgrade Scheme On 08/02/22, the new Home Energy Upgrade Scheme was launched by Minister Eamon Ryan. This is another big win for the Green Party and will prove key in delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to retrofit over 500,000 homes by 2030. It's #TimeToRetrofit. FAQs: https://www.malcolmnoonan.com/.../new-home-energy-grant... Further info: bit.ly/3GAzXYB
Constituency visits to Gattabaun and Ballykeefe in Kilkenny On 09/02/22, there were site visits led by NPWS Ranger (and former fellow band member of the Lonesome Rashers), Jimi Conroy. First stop was a really wonderful Farm Plan Scheme participant in Gattabaun where winter grazing and management of scrub allows a flourishing of plants, invertebrates, and birds over the summer. The farmer here loves our Farm Plan Scheme as he is getting rewarded for doing what they have done for decades. Second stop was to Ballykeefe woods, which is managed by NPWS and widely used by walkers in the locality. Management here consisted of the removal of non-native species and the managing of trails and verges where there is high biodiversity value. Thanks to our amazing NPWS crew - always dedicated and passionate about their work! Looking forward to playing some songs with Jimi real soon!
Sports Capital Grant Allocations On 11/02/22, I was delighted to share the good news that there had been a significant sports capital grant allocation to #Carlow and #Kilkenny from my Green Party colleague, Minister Catherine Martin and her Department. Further info: gov.ie - Record €150 million provided for the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (www.gov.ie)
14/02/22 was #EpilepsyDay! There are approximately 1,426 people living with epilepsy in #Carlow-#Kilkenny and Epilepsy Ireland appealed to everyone to learn about seizure first aid & #TimeSafeStay. Please visit www.epilepsy.ie to learn more!
Constituency Visits in Carlow
On 15/02/22, I was with Minister Patrick O'Donovan on his visit to #Carlow, a county steeped in built, archaeological, and natural heritage. Firstly, we marked the completion of works at, and the reopening of, Browneshill Dolmen - a truly remarkable National Monument. Secondly, we visited the grounds of the fantastic #Carlow Courthouse, where the OPW is currently progressing a pilot project for the repair of the historical cast and wrought iron railings. Lastly, we went to #Carlow Castle, where the OPW completed major stabilisation works in 2021 following a collapse of the lower section of the wall of the North East tower caused by Storm Ciara in February 2020. The site re-opened to the public in October 2021. Minister O'Donovan and I are committed to working with all stakeholders to enhance, conserve, and interpret these important sites. I think too that with the recently appointed Heritage Officer for #Carlow will greatly add to its promotion as a heritage destination.
Investment Programme for Local and Regional Roads On 15/02/22, I was happy to share the news that a €597 million investment programme for local and regional roads for 2022 was announced by my Green Party colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan.
Funding increase by over 4% this year. Approx 3,100kms of roads to be maintained. Approx 2,550kms of roads to be strengthened.
Further info: https://www.gov.ie/.../4edf6-minister-ryan-announces-597.../ Breakdown of the investment for #Carlow:
Breakdown of the investment for #Kilkenny:
Statement the Report of the Commission on Defence Forces
On 15/02/22, I made a statement on the Report of the Commission on Defence Forces:
Important Update re #Carlow Bus Service
On 21/02/22, I was happy to share an important update I sought from the National Transport Authority (NTA) re the Carlow Bus Service. - The tender process to procure an operator for the new service is ongoing and it is still anticipated that the NTA will be in a position to award a contract by the middle of this year.
- Separately, tender packs have been prepared for required bus stop infrastructure in the town and it is expected that these will be implemented during the Summer. - It is still anticipated that services will commence operating in late Q3 / early Q4 2022.
Heritage Ireland 2030
On 22/02/22, Government approved Heritage Ireland 2030: a plan that represents a major step forward for structured engagement around heritage. The actions in this strategy reflect the huge challenges facing Ireland’s #heritage, particularly for #nature + #biodiversity loss.
We have ambitious programmes underway in the area of peatland rehabilitation and nature recovery and the framework set out in this strategy, along with the structured delivery model, will bring cohesion to our efforts on areas we might approach on an all-island basis.
We were heartened over the past two years to see people access our national parks, monuments, nature reserves and historic properties during public health restrictions, and know that this has strengthened people’s appreciation of our heritage.
It is more important than ever that our heritage is protected, conserved and restored to ensure that the people of Ireland continue to benefit from the value and well-being that it provides. Further info: https://www.malcolmnoonan.com/.../heritage-ireland-2030...
Change to Vacancy Planning Permission Regulations
25/02/22 brought a change in planning permission regulations from my Department making it easier for the conversion of former pubs into residential units. This is significant. It compliments this Government’s #HousingForAll policy and dovetails nicely with our just-launched #TownCentresFirst policy. The issue of vacancy, both above-shop and retail, has had a huge impact on the vibrancy of our town centres and, along with a range of recent grant and incentive programmes on heritage-led regeneration and mobility, feeds into the welcome rethinking of our urban centres that is happening now post pandemic. Further info: https://www.gov.ie/.../80d89-no-planning-permission.../
All of the above events / meetings / occasions along with regular weekly clinics with my constituents (and with my fantastic team making representations on behalf of our constituents) about the issues that matter most to them has made for a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile month of work here in Carlow-Kilkenny.