Anita Mhic Gib answers our questions

  Anita Mhic Gib

- Aontu

- Kildare South  

Many local workers are forced to commute. What sustainable job opportunities can you identify in Portarlington?

Co-operative working hubs such as the one at Portarlington Enterprise Centre with its fixed desks and hot desks is the way forward. Remote working is so important . It feeds into the whole work life balance, is more environmentally friendly and helps to knit communities.

 I am also looking forward to  Laois Chamber of Commerce Jobs Fair at the Midlands Park Hotel  on the 12th Feb. The Chamber of Commerce  is working hard  to bring jobs to Portarlington and surrounding area.

When in government Aontú will seek to address  the imbalance in investment and industry and will   bring sustainable employment  and growth beyond the M50.

Portarlington’s population has increased dramatically over the past 20 years as part of the Dublin commuter belt, yet it lacks a 24 hour Garda presence. What will you do if elected to combat crime?

Many residents in Portarlington  are living in fear of crime and anti-social behaviour.  Businesses and homes are being robbed with impunity. Drugs are being dealt openly around the town.  Nationally  Garda numbers are lower now than they were in 2009. There are just 3 garda attached to the  County Laois drugs unit. Despite Garda’s best efforts and recent successes in drug seizures many of our young people are attracted to a life of crime and drugs.

The recent shake up of Garda divisions did little more than to move aound the deck chairs. The issue of proper funding for gardaí has to be addressed. Aontú is committed to recruiting more gardaí and dispersing them throughout the country. I will make the strongest case possible for adequate garda resourcing for the town.

What projects will you support and advocate to promote amenities, affordable accommodation and overall quality of life in Portarlington?

I am involved in youth work for over fifteen years on a local and national level and know firsthand the positive impact it can have on a young person’s life.

In December it emerged that Tusla returned €60 million to the Minister of Children Ms Zappone; money that was earmarked for the employment of social workers but was never used despite 6,000 children being in need of a social worker.

The Minister for Children’s Department also grant funds  youth organisations and groups but the whole sector is underfunded. I would seek to increase significantly the amount of grants  available to youth groups considering the huge underspend in the Minister’s department 

 Much of the work done in these organisations is on a voluntary basis representing a huge saving on the state. As detailed in the Indecon Report for every €1 invested in youth work the economic benefit/costs saved by the State in the long run are €2.20. This study demonstrates that investment in youth work not only supports young people to reach their full potential and become active citizens, it also reduces long-term costs for the State in relation to the health, justice and welfare services for young people.

Too often successive governments has viewed the work of recruiting, training and maintaining volunteers as being cost free, when in fact voluntary youth organisations have to invest staff time and resources in gaining new and supporting existing volunteers. 

Imagine the difference a fraction of the colossal amount returned to the Minister would make to Portarlington Concert Band, Portarlington Rugby Club Minis, Foróige Youth Club Portarlington  or Portarlinton GAA underage teams.

The housing crisis continues unabated and has affected Portarlington leading to long commutes, high house prices, vulture funds buying mortgage and an unavailability of property for rental. The housing crisis will not be solved by the private market. More investment is needed in social housing and affordable housing solutions.

 If  work was completed on all phases of  the flooding relief plan immediately rather than 2023,  undeveloped land to the rear of Patrick Street would be made available due to a reduced flood risk , representing a key opportunity for Town Centre development of housing and businesses.

Portarlington sits on the Laois/Offaly border, creating challenges of coherent planning. It will now be represented by TDs in the South Kildare constituency. How will you ensure joined up thinking? 

Whilst residents in the Kildare South constituency may support three different county teams, the constituency as a whole faces many of the same challenges. There is not a town or village in the constituency where the same story unfolds each day:  parents  go to bed early and then wake early, rousing children from their sleep to put in the back of the car before facing into the long commute to work and finally returning home late in the evening. Family life, the environment and our mental health bear the brunt of our so called recovery with an overheated and crowded capital and a sprawling commuter belt.

Strategic investment in sustainable jobs and industry based in the constituency along with alternative working arrangements like co-operative hubs are the answer.

Coláiste Íosagáin Secondary School is overcrowded. What is your commitment regarding a new building or extension?

As my husband’s children are former and current pupils of Coláiste Íosagáin I have a vested interest in ensuring the highest quality educational experience for our young people .

The principal Mr. Barrett had indicated his preference for a new school as according to him  the current building is not fit for purpose.

As a school principal and Board member of the school patronage An Foras Pátrúnachta , I have vast experience in new school builds including my own school  and would be delighted to share my expertise with the school community of Coláiste Íosagáin.

The project is currently at stage 1 which is the planning stage.  It is imperative that the best case possible is made to the department officials and that the school’s patronage CEIST and the Board of Management as well as public representatives like myself keep in close contact with the Department and drive this project forward.

Unfortunately many new school buildings have had to go undergo remedial structural and fire safety works and this includes new schools in the constituency such as Gaelscoil Átha Í. Many of these schools were built by one contractor; Western Building Systems. Despite this the government awarded them the contract to extend Limerick Hospital   I will be a strong advocate for Coláiste Íosagáin in ensuring a reputable contractor for the build is found as well as frequent site checks.

A flood relief plan is due to begin in 2023, subject to funding. How will you ensure this proceeds?

While the Portarlington Flood Relief Scheme has been in planning and development since 2006 I understood that no element of the potential phased scheme has commenced to date. It beggars belief that Portarlington residents have been forgotten are waiting so long for this essential work to be carried out.

The Portarlington Flood Risk and Management Strategy (FRMS) was completed in January 2007 followed by an ongoing supply of reports and studies on this issue which all cost money but we are led to believe that no funding is available for the works until 2023.

 Phase 1 of the scheme which involves floodwalls and embankments  is necessary to protect  the town centre area including Spa Street and Patrick Street. I will be calling for this work to be carried out immediately by liasing with the OPW and the County Councils and will ensure that no more reports but works are carried out.

 

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