Yesterday I published the General Scheme of a Bill to Prohibit Certain Products Containing Plastic Microbeads. It has been approved by Government on the basis of a general scheme.
The Bill will provide for a prohibition of the manufacture, import, export, sale, supply or exposure for sale of certain products containing plastic microbeads, to include “rinse-off” personal care products, detergents, and domestic and industrial abrasive cleaning products and scouring agents.
I am increasingly concerned about the potential risk posed to our aquatic ecosystems by microplastic litter, including plastic microbeads. I know this concern is shared widely, across all parties in the Oireachtas and throughout broader society. While this is an important step, it is only one of many measures we will have to introduce over the coming years to reduce the level of marine litter entering our seas and oceans.
For more info, go here.
On Tuesday I made a Presidential Election Order in connection with the forthcoming Presidential election, setting out the key dates in the election process, as follows:
Last day for receipt of nominations: 26 September 2018
Day on which the poll shall be taken: 26 October 2018
Hours of poll: 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
The nomination period commences at 10 a.m. on 30 August 2018 and closes at 12 noon on 26 September 2018.
People who are eligible to vote but who are not registered as electors still have time to apply for entry in the supplement to the register of electors to be published before polling day and so be able to vote on 26 October 2018. Application forms can be downloaded from www.checktheregister.ie or can be obtained from the relevant City, County or City and County Council. To be eligible for inclusion in the supplement to the register a person must be an Irish citizen, must be 18 years of age by polling day and must be ordinarily resident in the State.
For more information, go here.
On Tuesday I officially opened a new Kenmare Water Treatment Plant to provide safe, secure supply of water to over 2,000 people. €5m was invested to upgrade & improve treatment facilities and ensure a clean, secure water supply for the local community.
Over 2,000 people in Kenmare and the surrounding areas will benefit from a safer and more reliable water supply as a result of this investment.
I was pleased to be in Kenmare for the official opening of this vital piece of water infrastructure. Kenmare is rightly regarded as one of Ireland’s top tourism destinations and providing a secure supply of clean, safe drinking water for local residents and visitors is essential to the quality of life and development potential of the area. This investment in water infrastructure brings very significant benefits to this community now and into the future.
To continue reading, go here.
Recently we launched the Climate Action priority of Project Ireland 2040 “Empowering Communities for Climate Action” at an event in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Building on the 2017 National Mitigation Plan, the National Development Plan prioritises €21.8bn for climate action. This substantial investment will both require, and support, behavioural change in individual and communities across Ireland.
At the heart of Project Ireland 2040 is a long-term national framework for land use planning, urban and rural development, infrastructure delivery and environmental protection that is fundamental to creating the conditions to support transition to a low carbon society. Our focus is now on implementation and investment to deliver a prosperous and sustainable, low carbon future.
To continue reading, go here.
Recently I and my colleague, Minister Damien English T.D., published the report “Fire Safety in Ireland – Report of Fire Safety Task Force”.
The Task Force was convened following the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 14 June 2017 when I tasked my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management with convening and coordinating a high-level Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland.
In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, I directed that initial attention focus on two areas which appeared connected with the fire – high-rise buildings and multi-storey, multi-unit social housing – and the Task Force was requested to oversee work on both. Initially, work focussed on the factors seen as likely to have contributed to the tragedy and surveys were undertaken across the country to establish if the circumstances which led to the disastrous event in London were present in Ireland.
I want to thank all the members of the Task Force for the careful and diligent way they undertook this task. I welcome the Report and its conclusions.
To read the conclusions and recommendations, go here.
Today I presented a record number of Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards to beaches across Ireland at a ceremony in Bray. A total of 149 awards were presented for beaches and marinas at 144 sites with 5 sites receiving both the Blue Flag and Green Coast Award.
The Blue Flag is an international award for beach excellence and is operated in Ireland by An Taisce with support from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The award is presented to beaches and marinas which have excellent water quality and which achieve high standards across a wide range of other criteria including environmental education, management of the environment, safety and other services.
I also highlighted the very useful and timely bathing water information now available to beach users on the linked websites – www.blueflagireland.org and www.beaches.ie– run by An Taisce and the Environmental Protection Agency respectively.
Go here to continue reading.
Today I launched Met Éireann’s new Website and App. For the first time, the Irish Public will have online access to 7 day forecasts for their own local area on Met.ie
I would strongly encourage the public to download the new Met.ie app from their Phone App store as it is a highly intuitive and easy to use product. You will be able to view 7 day forecasts, including predicted rainfall and temperature, for your own local area along with the latest weather observations including live rainfall radar images. Vitally, you will also be able to see the latest weather warnings for your county. It will be a very useful tool for the Irish public as they go about their daily routine both as general and more specialised consumers of weather information.
Met Éireann’s Website is amongst the most visited public sector sites in Ireland. It has played a critical public safety role in communicating Met Éireann’s weather warnings during severe weather conditions. Met Éireann’s previous Website received 412,000 and 328,000 daily visitors during the peak of Storms Ophelia and Emma respectively.
Go here to find out more.
Are you registered to vote in the upcoming referendum? The deadline for registration is the 8th of May.
Check if you are already registered here. If you cannot find your name on the list, but believe that you are registered, give the franchise section of your local authority a call – for Dublin City Council, the number is 01 222 5010. If you have sent in an application in the last few months, you will not appear on www.checktheregister.ie as you will be on the supplementary register, but you will be eligible to vote.
If you are not registered, but would like to be able to vote in the referendum on repealing the 8th amendment on the 25th of May, print out the form here. If you have changed your address, print out the form here. You will need to go to your local Garda station to have your application signed.
The deadline for registration to the Special Voters list or the Postal Voters list is the 28th of April (go here for information on these categories).
If you are a Dublin Bay South constituent; send the form to: Free Post, Franchise Section, Dublin City Council, Block 4, Floor 4, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.
For registration in other constituencies, go here.
Yesterday I signed the order for polling day on the referendum on repealing the 8th amendment to the constitution and allowing the Oireachtas to legislate in this area – polling will take place on Friday the 25th of May.
Polling will take place between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm. The total electorate currently stands at some 3.2 million. Whatever your views are on the proposals in the referendum, I would encourage voters to go to their polling station during this 15 hour period on 25 May and have your say in the outcome of the referendum.
To vote in the referendum you must be an Irish citizen who meets the qualifying conditions, including a requirement to be 18 years or over on polling day and ordinarily resident at the address at which you want to register. If you are on the register and have moved address recently, you may apply to get on the supplement at your new address.
To check if you registered to vote, go here.
For more information, go here.
I had the honour of representing Ireland in Korea and Japan to mark St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
These are two hugely important markets for Ireland – trade with them is increasing all the time. It is essential that we diversify our markets after Brexit and both offer great opportunities in that regard. We also have active Irish communities there and it is important to maintain these links.
It was very useful to engage with experts on housing policy in some of the most densely populated areas on earth – I met with my counterpart in Japan and visited a regeneration project in Tokyo.
I also had the chance to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in Hiroshima on behalf of the people of Ireland.
To see some pictures from the mission go here.