Linda Hayden answers our questions
- Social Democrats
- Kildare South
Many local workers are forced to commute. What sustainable job opportunities can you identify in Portarlington?
I believe that in order to have a good quality of life, you should have the option to access decent employment in your locality. There are several initiatives we can look at around tourism, supporting small businesses to chose Port as a location using grants and employment enterprise schemes, and looking at how we can help farmers around the area to get a fair price for their produce, while enabling them to farm in a more eco friendly way. There's opportunities to grow public services in the area, and the additional employment that will bring.
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?
Garda numbers is one of the Social Democrats main policies. We need to recruit and retain gardai, particularly in rural communities that are at risk as criminals know that gardai are tied up as soon as they get one prisoner. When I was in Portarlington last week, anti-social behaviour and crime came up a lot. There is a more resource needed, and I would be pushing for increased garda numbers. Also we identified that at night the town does not have enough street lighting. My colleague Cllr Chris Pender is addressing this with the rural lighting scheme.
What projects will you support and advocate to promote amenities, affordable accommodation and overall quality of life in Portarlington?
We want to build sustainable communities, so that means affordable housing for all, with proper infrastructure and amenities that the whole community can enjoy. We need to look at initiatives that include everybody, young and old, I'd like to see some kind of drop in centre where people can engage in developing their creative and technological skills. I'd make sure that youth and elderly services are properly funded and ensure that there are enough things like playgrounds, public benches, and meet and greet areas for people to enjoy.
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?
Well I mentioned earlier that I was in Portarlington with my colleague Councillor Chris Pender, who sits on Kildare County Council, I would work closely with both him and Cllr Clare Claffey in Offaly Co Council, as we believe in trying to help people no matter where they are from. It's not about who can vote for you, it's about putting your hand out and helping those that need it.
Coláiste Íosagáin Secondary School is overcrowded. What is your commitment regarding a new building or extension?
Given the rate of population increase in the town, I believe potentially a new school may be a better option. It is better to plan for the future now, rather than just keep adding on to what we have, and then need to get funding to build something new much further down the line. It is a problem we are seeing in the likes of Monasterevin, Kildare and Newbridge, where it's taking far too long to get the new schools and children are faced with waiting lists, and long commutes to schools out of their town. It is not acceptable, so I would rather sort the problem now.
A flood relief plan is due to begin in 2023, subject to funding. How will you ensure this proceeds?
I would work with both Laois and Offaly County councils to ensure the recommendations for the joint local area plan which was instigated in 2011 and published in 2018 are adhered to. I would lobby the OPW to ensure funding for the plan is protected and that the contracts are all honoured to ensure timely completion. The project is taking long enough, it cannot be held up.