This was a very busy week with the return of the Dáil following the summer recess. On Monday, I held my weekly Darndale information clinics and met with constituents on a range of matters of local and national importance.On Tuesday, I asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, about our Irish Diplomats and staff in embassies and Consulates in the UK and the additional resources they may need in the final lead-up to Brexit and in the months following.
Monday saw the visit of UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to Dublin and talks around Brexit and the backstop. A No Deal Brexit remains a very real threat to our economy and our country and even an orderly Brexit is still likely to have significant impacts across the island of Ireland.
The week began with lots of news coverage about the low conviction rates for drink driving in some counties. The news came from Dáil replies I received to a number of Parliamentary Questions I raised on behalf of PARC road safety group. PARC (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care on our roads) undertook an analysis of the data provided by the Courts Service in the PQ replies and liaised with journalists on the findings. It is often through these questions that we have exposed loopholes or discrepancies in our road safety legislation or the enforcement of the law on drink driving.
This week we returned to the office after a two-week closure for annual leave on Monday. I held my weekly information clinics in Darndale and Donnycarney and will be holding my Saturday clinics this weekend (the 3rd Saturday in August). On Tuesday morning, I was invited to visit the new Fold Apartments in Coolock and was delighted to meet some of the tenants at this new seniors development. It is a very welcome addition to the much-needed housing units for the constituency. On Tuesday afternoon, I met with a secondary school teacher from Cork who teaches pupils on the autistic spectrum. This dedicated teacher has been raising pertinent questions about the lack of ASD special classes in secondary schools, which are far less than the number of available classes and units at primary level. I have been raising the matter with the Minister for Education and Skills who must ensure that there is a continuity of educational support for students with ASD.
I started the week at a Board meeting of the Coolock Development Council, of which I am a founding member. Following my meetings in Darndale Village and Artane Beaumont Family Centre on Monday, I was delighted to do an interview on road safety issues with our local radio station, Near FM. My information clinics were very busy last weekend and myself and my office were working through these representations all week, as well as taking correspondence via email and calls directly to the office. On Tuesday & Wednesday, I also continued work on my own submission for Budget 2020. On Thursday afternoon, I met with another Oireachtas Legal Advisor regarding some new legislation that I would like to progress. We are currently examining the proposal and will hopefully be able to continue work on it into the next term.
The Dáil may have risen for summer recess but the hard work continues. On Monday, I was unable to hold my usual Darndale information clinics as I was attending a meeting with the Minister for Health. Constituents are always welcome to contact my office directly by phone or email also if they are unable to meet me in person at one of my clinics. On Tuesday, I did an interview with Aideen Finnegan for the Newstalk Breakfast Show on the ongoing serious problem of illegal commercial dumping on amenity open spaces in the north of the Dublin Bay North constituency.
On Monday morning, I had my usual meeting with constituents in Darndale Village and Le Chéile, Donnycarney. On Tuesday, I had a Priority Parliamentary Question with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on speeding and road safety. I also had the opportunity to ask another Parliamentary Question about disqualified drivers surrendering their licences and the measures being taken to improve this important part of enforcing road safety measures.
On Tuesday, I had a Priority Parliamentary Question with the Department of Health and I asked whether the Ministers agreed that persons with disabilities should have a right to a Personal Assistant Service as outlined in Article 19 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Unfortunately, Minister Finian McGrath refused to commit to legislation for the Optional Protocol guaranteeing such a right.
On Monday, I held my information clinics in the constituency as usual. The times of my clinics have changed slightly so please do check the contact section of my website www.tommybroughan.com when you are arranging to come and see me, or feel free to give my office a call on 01-618 3557 for more information.
On Monday, we submitted our quarterly newsletter Northsider 27.2 to the printers. On Tuesday, my staff attended both the Saint Vincent de Paul pre-budget briefing and an information session by Threshold on the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, following the signing in to law of legislation. Some changes, such as the new notice periods, came into effect from the 4th of June and others relating to student accommodation, for example will be operational for mid-July. Threshold run a free, independent, free phone number for advice and it can be reached on 1800 454 454. With the recent passing of the Bill and improvements for tenants, please ensure to check your rights with Threshold or online, especially if your landlord notifies you of rent increases or issues you with a notice of termination.