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I asked for an update from Irish Water on the progress of works at Rathcoole Park, including recent spraying. We all look forward to new playing pitches in 2021!

Dear Deputy Higgins,

Thank you for your recent communications in relation to spraying of large areas of Rathcoole park.

I have received an update advising that Irish Water is in the process of completing a €35m investment in the trunk water infrastructure in South Dublin with the construction of the new 1200mm diameter strategic watermain linking the two largest water supplies in the Dublin Region namely Leixlip and Ballymore Eustace . This project is one of many to increase drinking water network connectivity and security of supply for the Greater Dublin Area. The reinstatement works on the project are well underway with reconstruction works on the pitches in Rathcoole Park as agreed with South Dublin County Council having commenced in February 2020.

The works will involve installation of under pitch drainage, regrading of the ground to optimise the pitch surface and gradients, construction of 2 pitches, maximising the playing space available and appropriate runoff areas. In March 2020, in preparation for the pitch reinstatement, the area involved was cordoned off completely to separate the construction site from the remainder of the South Dublin County Council managed park. The fenced off site is part of the curtilage of the Irish Water project site and are the responsibility of the Irish Water's Contractor until such time as the pitches have been fully restored and seeding established.

It is expected the 2 pitches will be available for playing on in Summer 2021. Irish Water’s Main Contractor for the project, Ward and Burke Construction Ltd., engaged Eddie Connaughton, B. Sc. Agronomist to design the pitch recipe for construction, sequencing of the process from existing pitch stripping and harvesting to final pitch reconstruction. In consultation with South Dublin County Council Parks Department, it was agreed to prepare the pitch for soil stripping and reinstatement by use of a translocated broadleaf herbicide.

Risk Assessments and Method Statements were carried out to facilitate the pitch reconstruction which included for application of the herbicide on a calm day, by trained experienced staff from a Landscape Contractor, in this case Avondale Landscapes and in conjunction with SDCC Parks Dept. The reconstruction of the pitches at Rathcoole Park called for the existing grass sward to be sprayed with a non-residual total herbicide like Round-up to eradicate the existing sward. This practice is essential to the harvesting of the existing topsoil for re-use in the reconstruction works.

Spraying existing grass swards with this herbicide is standard practice in our industry, and is both safe for the environment and the public when used at label recommended rates. This activity took place on the Monday 23rd March at 4.30pm. No issues or complaints by members of the public were received on the day. The Project Agronomist does not agree that the brown /dead grass is "catastrophic environmental damage" but rather it is dead and decaying grass due to herbicide application. Once the grass has died the topsoil can be harvested (removed) and stored to allow the base formation for the new sports pitches.

Once the bases are formed the topsoil is replaced without the old grass present so that the new sports pitches can be drained and sown with new sports pitch grasses. This will return the area to a new grass sward that will be capable of sustaining intensive sports usage in the future.

Following application of the herbicide, the next stage of the process is to strip and harvest the topsoil to preserve for final reuse on the reinstated, regraded pitches, however due to the current site shutdown arising from the COVID-19 pandemic the stripping and harvesting of the topsoil has not been able to progress and the remaining works are postponed until the construction activities are permitted to recommence.

I trust you find the above information useful. Thank you for contacting Irish Water.

Yours sincerely,

John O’Driscoll

Elected Representative Support Desk

A €10 million fund has been set up to provide technology and devices for disadvantaged students at primary and secondary level, a Fine Gael deputy has said.

Deputy Emer Higgins said the funding will be a huge help to both students and teachers as part of our response to Covid-19.

Deputy Emer Higgins said: “Schools in our area know their students best. So they are being empowered to support those who most need access to technology, with the right equipment.

“Schools are being asked to prioritise exam classes, and then to look at where else access to technology is most needed. I am confident this will make a real difference to thousands of students and provide the technology they need to be able to access online supports.

“At this time it is imperative we go further as a society to support more vulnerable young people. By redirecting funding we are focusing our attention on where it is needed, with a priority on Leaving Certificate students. Combined with an emphasis on wellbeing, this funding will help to give students the tools they need to succeed.”

The measures are part of a number of initiatives taken by the Department to support our children and young people who are at risk of educational disadvantage during the period of school closures.

They include:

  • Guidance being issued to all schools to support the ongoing learning of children with special educational needs and children who are at risk of disadvantage.

  • Collaboration with Cisco/WebEX to support schools with training in video conferencing software – for use by teachers with their classes.

  • Guidance and resources developed by the National Council for Special Education on supporting children with special educational needs.

  • Continuation of the School meals programme, funded through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, to provide food parcels to children who are at risk of food poverty.

  • Continued funding of Home Tuition or, where this is not possible, flexibility to bank hours for use at a later time in the year.

  • Resources to support good mental health and wellbeing amongst students produced by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).

  • €10 million funding package secured as part of the Digital Strategy for Schools ICT Infrastructure Fund.

The Department of Education and Skills is also working with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and telecoms companies through industry body Ibec to make a number of relevant websites “zero rated”. This would allow students to access these sites with no data costs.

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, added: “I believe the tech grants now being issued to schools can help harness the hard work, innovation and creativity being shown by our schools and their students to the greatest extent possible.

“The efforts of our school communities are something to be proud of.”

ReplyReply allForward

Emer Higgins TD Welcomes Funding to Tackle Illegal Dumping During Covid19

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West, Emer Higgins welcomes the announcement from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton that €1m of funds from the Anti-Dumping Initiative will be ring-fenced to support efforts to tackle a reported increase in illegal dumping during the current Covid 19 crisis.

Waste removal and the installation of CCTV or other monitoring and surveillance equipment will be among the activities supported.

“There has been a noticeable increase in reports of illegal dumping during the Covid crisis. Providing local authorities with advance funding we will ensure that they can respond quickly and decisively” said Higgins.

Since the introduction of the Anti-Dumping Initiative in 2017, funding of €6.3 million has been provided which has supported over 700 projects across all 31 local authorities and removed 10,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste. This is in addition to the €7.4m annual enforcement grant, which supports the recruitment and retention of 150 local authority waste enforcement personnel across the country.

“I will be strongly advocating that South Dublin County Council receives an adequate portion of this funding to tackle illegal dumping in Lucan, Palmerstown, Clondalkin and our smaller villages” concluded Higgins

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Emer Higgins #1

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