Ronan Moore answers our questions
- Social Democrats
- Meath West
People living in North Westmeath feel they don’t belong in Meath West. What would you say to the people in those areas who feel forgotten?
I can understand their frustration. This part of Westmeath is on the outer fringes of both constituency areas so it is of no surprise that it is so badly under-resourced. Gardaí numbers; lack of economic investment; and the closure of shops, businesses and services throughout its towns and villages are just some of the myriad of challenges it faces.
However, to those people I would say you can trust me to care for North Westmeath because this is every bit a home for me as anywhere else in the country having spent so much of my childhood here. You see, my parents came from Crowenstown and Collinstown, and even met in the hall in Delvin where we had last week's hustings. That coupled with the fact that Social Democrats believe whether you live in Castlepollard of Castleknock, you should receive quality public services, means I will not forget about the needs of North Westmeath if elected.
Home help is an issue that people in the area are concerned with. Many are unable to get hours, while carers are not being paid for their time on the road. What measures would you / your party introduce to help alleviate this issue?
We are acutely aware of the lack of support suffered by people who are caring for others or who are in need of care. This issue arises from decades of under prioritisation of funding for the sector. The Social Democrats launched our disability policy on January 30th and in it we address the problem with proposals that provide solutions at both a systemic and operational level. These solutions include increased funding supports to address the services within the sector as a whole. The policy calls for the urgent signing of the optional protocol to the UNCRPD, an overhaul of the system of means testing and financial compensation to family carers of people with long-term incapacitating disabilities and a review of the taxation and PRSI pension rights for those with limited earnings capacity due to undertaking a carer role. We encounter people on the doorsteps during this campaign who are jumping through hoops to access financial supports or to maintain those supports. The process needlessly places stress on many who are already over stretched. It’s time for this to stop and as a country for us to care for those less fortunate amongst us.
What would you / your party do to tackle the issue of cars speeding on the N52 especially through Delvin and Clonmellon?
We all know that Garda stations across the country have been closed under successive governments. It would be disingenuous for me to stand in front of you and say that this process can be rolled back and that the stations will be reopened. However Community Garda numbers have been cut by up to 60% in some areas and this is an area that we can address. We need more Gardaí on the ground. We need to equip them with the tools to do their jobs efficiently and have Guards out in the community protecting us from issues such as the speeding epidemic that is prevalent in this area. It is a well known fact that visibility is a huge deterrent to crime of all types and to have a known and vigilent garda presence on the roads of north Westmeath would be the most effective means of addressing this scourge.
North Westmeath is a rural area, with a lack of public transport, local amenities and poor roads, what would you / your party do to improve the quality of life in the area?
I was recently quoted in the Meath Topic raising the issues faced by families and workers Meath who are caught in the eternal rat race without any sign of release. We need solutions to very difficult living conditions faced by commuters in this part of Ireland. Roads are poorly maintained, train links are not adequate or are not frequent enough. People are not allowed the flexibility to work remotely and if they have the flexibility the broadband connection is not fit for purpose. These are basic requirements for residents of any modern country. The outgoing government has done a poor job of rectifying these issues and we all know that the National Broadband plan is an expensive and long tailed response to a problem that has been building for years. We in the Social Democrats favour legislating for the right to allow workers the right to work more flexibly. It has been done successfully elsewhere in many Scandinavian countries and can work here as well. Less people on the road will allow those who cannot work remotely better conditions for travel. Likewise the introduction of a 4-day weeks in many sectors has proven to be a huge success. It has consistently been shown working a standard 4-days for the same salary, people are often more productive, have improved well-being and use less sick-days. It is this kind of innovative thinking that could help ease the burden on people now whilst we solve the long term problems of funding for roads and transport links.
Residents in the area, have been hit with a number of water boil notices. What are you / your party going to do to improve the supply to Irish Water customers?
We need better accountability from Irish Water regarding the many instances of water supply interruption suffered by local residents in recent months. We are rapidly approaching a point of having no confidence whatsoever in this publicly funded service. It is simply unacceptable that lead levels are being detected in the water supply that are so far in excess of safe limits. It is simply unacceptable that our water supply reserves are depleted due to poor infrastructure and major water leaks. This is a public service issue that goes to the heart of transparency and accountability in public services and as a country we deserve better than what we are currently being offered. The Social Democrats through the stellar work completed by our co leader Catherine Murphy are not adverse to shining a light onto the darkest recesses of Irish public service. This approach is now needed with Irish water and needs to happen in the lifetime of the next government. If elected to office this is exactly the type of issue that I will work to make a priority for investigation and resolution.