Fingal TDs react to new Programme for Government
Entering a coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael was not something Green Party TD Joe O'Brien had planned for, but with the formation of a new government now imminent, it's a time of new alliances with old rivals.
Deputy O'Brien discusses his party entering into coalition, and what the new programme for government means for the people of Fingal.
He says: 'It's certainly not what I envisaged what would happen back in February, but it's left us in an unusual situation where we were looking at two parties who we wouldn't usually fit with naturally, but that's the way it goes.
'When you're in this game you've got to take whatever way the dice goes.
'I campaigned and I said to people that we would talk to everyone and I would do my best, and that didn't necessarily exclude talking to anyone. Perhaps it's not the most comfortable (thing), but that's the reality and we're at the stage now where the country needs a government.'
The local Green Party TD says there were a number of provisions in the programme for government that would benefit the North County: 'I think transport will stand out for me, in particular the investment in walking and cycling.
'Fingal Coastal Way is specifically mentioned in the programme for government, and I think there is a lot of potential for cycling infrastructure between the towns in Fingal to be dramatically improved over the next four or five years, and the cycling infrastructure to and from key places like town centres, village centres, schools and train centres and so on as well.
'I think a lot of people who say they will never get out of their car, if they can see what can be done over the next four or five years in terms of cycling infrastructure, they'd seriously consider it.'
Other key areas of the programme Deputy O'Brien says will be of specific benefit to Fingal include a commitment towards MetroLink and the electrification of the northern line to Balbriggan, something which he says will have 'a very clear impact in Fingal.'
In terms of the effect that COVID-19 has had on local employment and how he views the future economic recovery for the North County, Deputy O'Brien says: 'It's fair to say a lot of employment in Fingal is dependent on the airport, and aviation has taken an extraordinary hit and unfortunately there are a lot of people working in that sector who are looking at redundancy now, so that is a challenge.'
The Green Party TD concludes: 'It certainly looks like it's (the economic crisis) probably going to hit Fingal worse than anywhere else, I suspect, but hopefully that's something that will come back as the economy comes back as well.'
With Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party having agreed on a programme of government last week, a local Fine Gael TD has spoken of the prospects of working with his rival party, and what the future now holds for the people of Fingal.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O'Reilly has said that while she expected little in the Programme for Government from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to address our health service crisis, the final document was even more disappointing than expected and will cement Ireland's two-tier system.
A Fingal Labour TD has said that while the recently announced programme for government falls short of reflecting the 'values and policy' of the Labour Party, it would continue to support any measures to improve the quality of life for the people of Fingal.