2016 Election Candidate Guest Blog – Joe O'Brien, Green Party.
At the end of the week the people of Balbriggan will have the opportunity to elect their representatives to Dáil Éireann. With a background in economics, a career spent advocating for social justice & equality and with a track record of achieving greater transparency in government I am asking for the number 1 vote of the people of Balbriggan.
I have a strong record of fighting for Balbriggan – I was one of the few advocating against the cut backs to the Balbriggan train service 2 years ago. I also fought hard for the retention of the Balbriggan Community Policing Forum – we are seeing the impacts of its loss now with less accountability and more distance between the people and the local Gardai due to overstretched resources and increases in crime.
I was also involved in the campaign to retain our beach huts in Balbriggan and I held the first public meeting against the proposed cutbacks to our library service in 2013. I have also battled vested interests for the good of Balbriggan – most notably bringing rubbish from the previously neglected playground in Moylaragh to the developer who was not looking after it.
The homelessness crisis is important to me and I want to increase the urgency of government’s sluggish response on the issue – modular housing in Pinewood is not the answer. Homeless people deserve proper homes. Last year I was a whistleblower on unacceptable treatment of homeless people and undercounting of homelessness by state services. I will not be afraid to speak out and fight for those who have been left behind in the last 5 years.
I have helped to achieve significant improvements in transparency and accountability in government. I was the driver behind the publication of Councillor’s financial interests in Fingal. I have also written a number of influential and critical reports on the operations of the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Protection.
At another level as part of my work with Crosscare I have worked extensively with Irish emigrant communities abroad and significantly influenced the development of Ireland’s first diaspora strategy last year.
I have led social innovation at the local and national level. Locally I have successfully advocated for communities to have a greater say in Fingal County Council budgets. Nationally I developed and ran the ground breaking Opening Power to Diversity scheme that brings minorities, women and young people into the heart of Irish politics.
Finally, Dublin Fingal faces a period of increasing development in the years ahead. Balbriggan has suffered badly in this regard in the past. We need public representatives that will fight for proper development, including high quality homes that are connected to good public transport and have easy access to schools, shops and playgrounds.
I believe that Balbriggan needs fresh and new representation and I will bring a positive and energetic approach to politics in Dublin Fingal. For more information see www.joefingalgreen.com and my Facebook page