Sunday 21 October 2018

Pyrite tops the agenda for Fingal's new Mayor

Cian O'Callaghan has clear target issues he hopes to tackle during his term as Mayor, as he told Nicola Donnelly

ONE OF the main issues Fingal's new Mayor is planning on tackling head on is pyrite in many homes in the area.

Labour councillor Cian O'Callaghan, who succeeded Gerry Maguire as Mayor last June, said pyrite in homes is a particular concern for him and wants the problem brought to the forefront. 'Pyrite in homes is not a problem only confined to the Fingal area but the majority of developments are affected,' he said. 'I feel the council has a moral responsibility to these homeowners as they granted planning permission for these developments.'

He said the problem of pyrite, or 'Fool's Gold' being used in the construction of houses arose during the height of the building boom and not only does the council have a moral responsibility but it has a legal responsibility in terms of all new buildings. ' The council has the function then of ensuring homes are remedied and proper materials are being used,' said Mayor O'Callaghan. ' The council hasn't been to the forefront to ensuring this has happened to date it hasn't taken any building control enforcements." Cllr. O'Callaghan, who is 33, was first elected to Fingal County Council in 2009 and has been involved in many issues and campaigns for several years.

Originally from Sutton but now living in Howth, his interest in politics began at an early age and he went on to study a Masters in Politics and a Higher Diploma in Social Policy at UCD, graduating with flying colours. At the age of 20, during his student years, he was elected an officer at the Students Union of Ireland from 1999 to 2001, acting as a representative for the private rented residential sector. As a result of the commission of the private rented residential sector, the Private Residential Tenants Board was set up in 2004. The PRTB was established to operate a national tenancy registration system and to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

As part of its remit, the PRTB also provides policy advice to the Government on the private rented sector. Its dispute resolution service replaces the courts in relation to the majority of landlord and tenant disputes. 'Another area I am concerned about in the Final area is derelict sites and the council again has a large number of powers under the 1990 Derelict Sites Act,' he said. 'But the full provisions of the act are not being utilised by the local authority.' Cllr. O'Callaghan is also Ireland's first openly gay mayor. At the time of his election to Cathaoirleach, Louise Hannon of Labour LGBT said that this was ' an important milestone' which celebrated and marked Dublin's LGBT Pride Festival. 'Labour LGBT has strongly supported the election of openly gay elected representatives.

Today's vote is a step forward for the LGBT community,' she said at the time of Cllr. O'Callaghan's election. She said that O'Callaghan is a ' talented young politician with a long record of progressive activism on many issues.' He is actively working on the Labour Party's policy for Equal Marriage Rights between same sex couples. 'Currently there are 140 legal differences between a civil partnership and a civil marriage,' said Cllr O'Callaghan. ' The State currently bans same sex marriage and a lot of couples who are together long-term want to marry.

And they should be allowed to as they contribute the same to society as everyone else,' he said. He said during his first few months as Mayor he has gotten to meet a lot of different community groups and said it is great to see all the different work groups and volunteers are doing in the community. And two weeks ago he was in attendance at the Harmony Cup at Sportslink in Santry where he was extremely impressed. The Harmony Cup originated as a cross-border invitational tournament and features Under 14 and Under 17 boys and girls teams from Germany, Spain and Italy along with visitors from Northern Ireland and Fingal teams. He said the future for Fingal is looking bright and positive. 'Overall there is a lot of positive with the work of the council here in Fingal, there is a bit of development re-starting with some projects in the design stage but more slower, sustainable development is re-starting which is positive,' he concluded.