Council Review 72

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Limerick’s Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan includes a €253m investment on physical infrastructure, €30m on social projects and €10m on economic programmes. Northern Ireland government officials and Queen’s University Belfast academics recently visited Limerick to study best practices across several regeneration-led projects in the city.


A total of 48 entries, including projects from organisations within the public and private sectors, have been submitted to the Irish Planning Institute for the 2023 Irish Planning Awards, which will be presented on Thursday 28 September at Dublin’s Clontarf Castle.


Climate change remains a primary global and national issue and an existential threat. Without seeking to downplay externalities like the digital economy and a major conflict such as the Ukraine/Russia war, future economic and social development will be informed and influenced by long-term policy decisions on climate made in today’s short-term political cycle.



Dublin’s four local authorities are now calling on housing developers and home builders to help them to activate or complete housing sites across the city and county, under a new joint initiative to support the housing market in the capital.


The future of the ‘Celtic Routes’ tourism project, which has seen initiatives rolled out between local authorities in Wexford, Waterford and Wicklow and their Welsh counterparts in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigon since 2019, is now uncertain due to Brexit, and unless new funds are sourced the project may close at the end of August.



FairSelect – a new property management software set up to make processing applications for rental accommodation, and selecting and managing tenants, both fair and unbiased has been launched by Irish tech company Bynaric. It is now being used by local authorities, including Meath County Council, and approved housing bodies such as Tuath Housing and Respond.



Meath County Council’s Economic Development Strategy Roadmap plans to continue with the focus identified in its Economic Development Strategy 2014-2022. The aim is also to ensure that those considering establishing or expanding their business interests within Meath look upon it as an ideal place to live, work and do business.


A pilot project has examined new approaches to public engagement as part of the Dundalk Local Area Plan 2024-2030 SEA in Louth. It was part of a research project aimed at enhancing SEA public participation in Ireland, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Planning Regulator.


The European Committee of the Regions meeting in July featured a debate on the role of local and regional authorities in the defence of democracy, held within the context of a package of measures announced by the European Commission President to defend democracy from covert foreign influence.


The economic divide in the Northern and Western Region compared to the rest of the country is growing, reflecting the legacy of underinvestment in the NW region, which must be addressed by a stimulus package that positively discriminates in favour of this region, according to the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA).


The Southern Regional Assembly is the managing authority for the roll out of the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027, the latest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, which is investing €663 million across 18 counties in the Southern Region and the Eastern and Midland Region in Ireland.

Climate Challenges Page 26
Uisce Eireann Projects Page 70
IPI Planning Awards Page 22 Meath Economic Strategy Roadmap Page 44 EU Regional Programmes Page 57

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information included is correct, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors,omissions or discrepancies. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.


Uisce Éireann’s largest-ever capital investment programme of €1bn across the State for the year ahead is on stream, with projects ranging from large-scale water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades to smaller interventions such as reservoir repairs and upgrading pumps, writes Seamus Ryan, Uisce Éireann’s Programme Manager of the Greater Dublin Drainage Project.


Dublin has been selected to host the International Social Housing Festival in 2025. The biennial event is an initiative by Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Co-operative and Social Housing, and its members and allies, present across 25 countries.


Bon Secours Health System (BSHS), which has been on a significant journey since taking over Barringtons Hospital on George’s Quay in 2017, is now developing a state-of-the-art new €190 million Bon Secours hospital in Limerick to meet the surging healthcare needs of the mid-west region.


One of Clúid Housing’s newest social housing developments – Dúiche Roden in Dundalk, Co. Louth – was built using Clúid’s bespoke Developer Design and Build process and will provide a mix of apartments and houses for 133 families on Louth County Council’s housing list.


The Housing Agency’s Procurement Unit has published guidelinest to support the provision of ‘design and build” housing projects using modern methods of construction, which have the potential to increase the productivity of the construction sector and overcome some of the problems facing the industry.


South Dublin County Council’s latest development of 133 new cost rental apartments at Belgard Square North in Tallaght, which is expected to be completed and occupied in 2025, represents the State’s first standalone cost rental project by a local authority.


A new scale of greening strategy for Ireland’s capital city from Dublin City Council’s ‘Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services’ has been launched, with the focus of DCC’s in-house landscape architectural team on creating nature-based solutions that can be easily retro-fitted into the urban landscape, writes landscape architect Peter Leonard.


The Association of Irish Local Government has expressed major concerns to the Council of Europe (COE) and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE) that Ireland has the most centralised system of local government compared to its European counterparts in terms of powers, functions, service delivery and funding.


Following the ‘Trip to Tipp’ for the 2023 All-Ireland Community and Council Awards, which were held in Clonmel for the first time, LAMA Chairperson and Tipperary’s Cllr Micheal Anglim requested that the awards ceremony be moved outside Dublin on alternate years!


In line with the Government’s National Framework for Healthy Workplaces, local authorities can now avail of funding for strategic initiatives to support and maintain the wellbeing of council staff under a new programme co-ordinated by the LGMA.


Just how prepared is the local government sector in dealing with ransomware attacks, which have served to highlight the need to develop proactive and strategic approaches to cyber security. Munster Technological University is now offering one such solution with a customised course in cyber-security awareness and risk mitigation for local authorities.

All rights reserved Council Review © 2023 LGMA Wellbeing Programme Page 101 MTU Cyber Security Training Page 103 Dublin City Parks Division Page 85 Social Housing Festival Page 75 Cluid Housing Page 79
contents ISSUE 72


‘Constructing A Competitive Economy’ is the theme of the CIF’s 2023 Annual Conference, which will take place at Dublin’s Croke Park Conference Centre on 28 September.

The one-day event will bring together leading experts from the construction industry to discuss how the industry can support Ireland’s economic growth and increasing population and build a prosperous, thriving society.

The construction sector, one of the country’s largest industries, has a central role to play in Ireland’s biggest challenges, such as housing an expanding population, delivering key infrastructure, tackling climate change and supporting foreign direct investment.

Despite global challenges, last year Ireland’s economy was the fastest growing in Europe, with real GDP growth of 12%. The country’s population is also growing and has increased to over five million people for the first time since the 1850s.

Ireland’s growing population and

economy presents opportunities, but also challenges for public and private bodies to keep pace. The construction sector’s ability to construct at scale can power Ireland’s progress and prosperity.

For further conference and booking details visit


The upcoming Energy Transition Summit 2023, taking place on 19 September at Dublin’s Croke Park Conference Arena, aims to deliver Ireland’s energy revolution and drive meaningful change in the transition to a sustainable and carbon-neutral future.

The global energy transition is gaining momentum as nations worldwide face the pressing need for economic development, environmental sustainability and energy security. In alignment with the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2023, Ireland is embarking on a transformative journey towards a netzero emissions goal by 2050.

The Energy Transition Summit will bring together influential business leaders, policymakers, investors, and industry experts to engage in lively panel discussions, inspiring case studies, and thought-provoking fireside chats. Discover the latest

investment trends in the low-carbon energy transition and explore how we can de-risk clean energy investments to maintain a steady capital flow.

The one-day summit will analyse crucial topics such as scaling up renewable energy, accelerating solar energy delivery, ramping up hydrogen production, climate-based construction, electrifying transport, greening businesses and industries, and delivering the climate action agenda in the public sector.

A panel discussion will outline the range of opportunities that will arise from the transition to a carbon-neutral society and economy. Gain valuable insights into how climate action matters translate into meaningful business decisionmaking and learn what it takes for responsible and resilient businesses to succeed in the long run.


The Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, Co. Louth in Ireland. The Great Northern Distillery is largest Independent Distillery in Ireland which has been operational since 2015.

The Distillery operates two distinctive distilleries pot stills and columns that produce a diverse range of Irish whiskey spirit’s including grain, triple malt, double malt, peated malt and pot still whiskey. The distillery has a current capacity of 16 million litres of spirit with an opportunity to expand production.

The primary market for our distillery is bulk private labels, contract distilling, retail own label and supplementing spirit and whiskey for smaller distilleries and in the home and international markets. Presently the Irish Whiskey Market is the fastest growing brown spirit sales in the world.

Great Northern Distillery Carrick Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland. A91 P8W9 Ph:+353(0)429429005 E:


Clare County Council’s new six-year Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) 2023-2029 will consider the future development of the Banner County from the perspectives of the community and the economy.

The new LECP aims to meet the needs of individuals, groups and organisations by developing community infrastructure, programmes and services. From an economic perspective the plan will provide a framework to guide local

economic growth and stability in specific geographical areas through retaining and attracting new business, creating employment, and supporting people to start their own businesses and social enterprises.

Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, highlighted the importance for local communities having a plan for their future development that includes strategies for promoting economic growth, creating jobs, making communities more resilient and sustainable, and improving the quality of life for residents.

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said that the input from all stakeholders with a keen interest in developing a vision for Clare and how it can be achieved will be a valuable resource in shaping the aims, objectives and principles of the LECP.

“The previous plan contained strategic actions which have been pursued with considerable success in the intervening six years. These included developing existing enterprise centres and incubation space for micro-enterprises across Clare, protecting sites of built heritage and historic importance to the benefit of communities, implementing a pro-active tourism strategy, supporting sustainable transport initiatives, developing a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, and supporting place-making initiatives that enhance the county’s towns, villages and rural communities,” he stated.


Michael Carey has been re-appointed for a second term as Chairperson of the Housing Agency up until April 2028, following his first appointment to the position five years ago, when he took over from outgoing chairperson Conor Skehan.

Carey has spent most of his career in senior management roles in large multinational food groups, such as MD of Fox’s Biscuits and MD of Kellogg’s UK and Ireland). Upon his appointment to the Housing Agency’s Board in 2018, he was Executive Chairman of ‘The Company of Food’ a specialist food sector investment business and chaired the boards of several of the company’s investments.

He also served two terms as Chairman of An Bord Bia, playing a leadership role in building it into one of the most respected state agencies in the country. He also chaired the Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance and has been member of the Advisory Board at Smurfit Graduate School of Business in UCD.

The Minister for Housing Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien said that given the level of

experience, leadership and skills Michael Carey possesses and his commitment to the Housing Agency over the last five years, “as we work through the ambitious ‘Housing for All’ plan I look forward to continuing to work with the Housing Agency to achieve the goals set out in the plan”.

For further details on the Socio-Economic Statement and LECP 2023-2029 visit

The LDA is a commercial, State-sponsored body that has been established to coordinate land within public control to provide affordable and social homes and build sustainable communities across the nation.

Unlocking State Land Opening Doors to Affordable Homes

The Land Development Agency appreciates its partnership and collaboration with Local Authorities countrywide

The Land Development Agency

2nd Floor, Ashford House, Tara Street, Dublin, D02 VX67 Ph +353 1 9103400



The Local Government Management Agency’s Corporate Plan for 2023-2025 aims to ensure the LGMA’s work continues to meet the needs and ambitions of local authorities over the next three years and to position the Agency to continue developing for the future.

This work focuses on providing both day-to-day and strategic support across all the services and functions of local authorities. The Agency also has an expanded remit to manage large-scale national projects that impact on the local government sector.

This is reflected in a change to the organisation structure and inclusion of an additional pillar, hosting an array of national projects, including the national Housing Delivery Co-ordination Office (HDCO), Local Authority Circular Economy Coordination Office and the Emergency Vacant Housing Delivery (Ukraine) Unit. An office to co-ordinate the national Town Centre First policy implementation has also been established within this pillar, alongside the existing office supporting the transition of water services to Uisce Eireann (WSTO).

A key focus in the plan, based on extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders, is the development and delivery of the Local Government Digital and ICT Strategy, as a critical step in supporting the digital transformation of public service delivery.

This new pillar will be fundamental in supporting local authorities and the LGMA in developing and adopting leading practices in Digital and ICT management and security. The LGMA’s latest Corporate Plan sets out how it will achieve its

objectives by becoming an employer of choice, supporting the development of employees and supporting local authorities with specialised skillsets in, for example, Digital & ICT, Health & Safety, Cybersecurity, Human Resource Management, Procurement, Programme and Project Management.


Electors and potential electors are being encouraged to engage with the ‘Check the Register’ campaign, to update their details on while voters in the Dublin region can also use

In a year when a referendum has been promised and before next year’s Local and European Elections the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan is urging all voters to act now to ensure their information is correct.

“Local authorities are gearing up for a substantial body of work over the coming months to update the electoral register and further improve its accuracy, but they can’t do it on their own. Adding details including date of birth and PPSN will allow them to cross-check and confirm the information provided by each person, adding to the integrity of the process.

“We can also let local authorities know about other changes needed, for example in relation to deceased family members who are still on the register. It can be upsetting for a loved one to receive a polling card for someone no longer with us,” Minister Noonan added.

During a campaign run in November 2022 over 35,000 applications were yielded through the register, with a total of 76,000 to date. The Minister hopes that the simplicity of the process will see significant numbers of people confirming or updating their information.

Local authorities are also undertaking activities in their regions to encourage people to get their details up to date in advance of the opportunities to vote in the elections in 2024.

NEWS UPDATE Visit to download LGMA’s latest Corporate Plan for 2023-2025.


Dublin’s Climate Action Regional Office (CARO) has partnered with Francesco Pilla, Professor in Smart Cities & Urban Environment at UCD and AquaRoot Technologies Ltd, to investigate the effectiveness of green roofs in reducing stormwater run-off from developments and the extent of flooding.

Extreme rainfall events or ‘cloudbursts’ results in large amount of water falling in a short period of time. In an urban area like a city or large town, much of this rain falls on hard surfaces such as paths and roofs and then enters the drainage network which can become overloaded, resulting in flooding.

Roofs have the potential to act like sponges in capturing this rainfall. Nature based solutions like green roofs and roof gardens can use some of this water for plant growth as well as slowing the release of water to the drainage network, which has benefits in terms of alleviating flooding.

Flooding has been identified as one of the key risks in the Dublin Local Authority Climate Change Action plans, and therefore green roofs, rain gardens and sustainable urban drainage solutions are being implemented in a bid to ease the pressure on the drainage network as well as provide recreational and biodiversity benefits.

In this project, experimental green roofs are being measured by AquaRoot – NanoPower’s EcoMet, an IoT sensor platform specially designed for environmental monitoring. It involves the deployment of highly instrumented smart green roofs on the rooftops of four buildings in the greater Dublin area.

The roof tests sites are being provided by Hibernia Real Estate Group as well as test site in UCD Rosemount. A wide range of environmental variables such as temperature, flow rate and humidity are being monitored to provide evidence-based data to assess the performances of green roof plants in different urban and meteorological conditions.

For further information email Prof Pilla Vincent Farrelly at, David Dodd or visit


The President of the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG), Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick, recently met with officials at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to discuss the issue of supports for councillors’ security systems and the gratuity scheme for AILG members.

The meeting at the end of May follows on from a letter issued by AILG earlier that month to Kieran O’Donnell, Minister for Planning and Local Government, to ensure that a stand-alone security allowance is introduced for AILG members to enhance their own security systems with immediate effect. During the discussions, Cllr Fitzpatrick was adamant that this security allowance is a standalone allowance and separate from AILG members’ Local Representation Allowance (LRA).

AILG continues to highlight the increasingly hostile environment in which its members now work, while carrying out their duties. The Association is due to launch an updated councillor survey on threats, harassment and intimidation in public office over the coming weeks, which will include a survey report.

The AILG President also sought an update from the Department in relation to the issue of members’ gratuity. Cllr. Fitzpatrick emphasised AILG’s position that the gratuity should be linked to councillors’ new remuneration payment and stressed that the issue needs to be quickly resolved, particularly in light of the local elections in 2024.

Department officials have confirmed that Minister O’Donnell is prioritising and currently progressing both issues and acknowledged the importance of trying to resolve the gratuity issue swiftly given the time pressures of the upcoming local elections.

AILG President Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick pictured at the Custom House during his recent meeting with officials from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
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A €150m social housing fund will be made available to local authorities for towns and cities eligible for the Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF), to end long-term vacancy and dereliction.

The funding was recently announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, and Ministers Eamon Ryan and Darragh O’Brien, as part of the quarterly ‘Housing for All’ progress update.

Local authorities, when applying for the funding, have indicated that they could identify projects generating 4,850 residential units. They will receive a grant for the entire 100% cost of acquiring suitable properties identified within their communities, reflecting the high priority the Government has placed on boosting accommodation and tackling dereliction It complements several existing schemes to tackle vacancy and dereliction.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister Ryan and Minister O’Brien also signalled their commitment to boost innovation and capacity in the construction sector, by publishing a Roadmap for Increased Adoption of Modern Methods of Construction in Public Housing Delivery. Modern Methods of Construction have the potential to dramatically improve construction sector productivity, innovation, speed of delivery, sustainability and ultimately costs.

The quarterly review revealed that work has started on 13,000 new homes since January, with large numbers buying their own home, aided by schemes such as ‘Help to Buy’ and ‘First Home’.

During the second quarter, planning permission was approved for over 2,500 homes on state lands, €104m in funding was allocated to build 853 social and affordable homes at Oscar Traynor Road in Dublin, with €62m in funding allocated for more than 1,000 student accommodation beds.

The first contract was signed under the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme to activate building of homes for owneroccupiers. A review of the National Planning Framework has started, along with a public consultation on the future of the rental sector in Ireland and the development of a new action plan to promote careers in construction.


The Irish District Energy Association Annual Conference 2023, which takes place on Thursday 26 October at Dublin’s Camden Court Hotel, will review the transformation of Ireland’s heating sector to low carbon.

Organised once again by Dublin’s energy agency Codema, this year’s conference will bring together industry leaders, policymakers, researchers, energy sector representatives and

public bodies to share insights, foster collaborations and drive innovation within the Irish district heating landscape.

The keynote address from the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, will be followed by presentations from district heating industry experts on the current challenges, trends and opportunities shaping the industry.

A series of panel discussions will feature industry pioneers, researchers and policymakers on the latest advancements, policy frameworks, and best practices in the field of district heating. Technical aspects of district heating and technologies and solutions will also include some successful case studies from across Ireland and beyond.

The conference will provide networking opportunities to connect with district heating practitioners, government bodies, local authority staff and other public bodies, energy sector representatives, and researchers, to expand and explore potential collaborations.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit


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The Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce’s final report has envisioned the development of a green digital powerhouse for the country and also outlined a transformation of the region into Ireland’s Atlantic Green Digital Corridor.

The report also envisions the Shannon Estuary as a lead location for Atlantic offshore wind energy generation. It sets out targets, including the creation of 10,000 new green jobs by 2035 and 50,000 by 2050 as well as having 2GW of green energy capacity in development by 2030, and up to 30GW installed by 2050.

Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Gerald Mitchell says it has the potential to reshape the economic and environmental landscape in the region. “The report presents a vision for the future that is ambitious but also very achievable. Delivering on the proposals would make this region a leader in renewable energy production in Ireland with huge potential for supplying Europe through technologies like hydrogen.”

Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Dr Pat Daly said that the report provides “an exciting blueprint” for how the region can become a driver for the green economy. “The potential for offshore wind energy generation

offered by the Shannon Estuary is limitless. There is a moral imperative to harness this renewable energy source as we continue to switch away from the use of fossil fuels. By doing so we open up significant opportunities for investment and job creation. It is a win, win,” he noted.


The South East Energy Agency hosted the 2023 FEDARENE General Assembly in June which attracted policy makers from all over Europe to Kilkenny Castle to participate in a workshop organised by the Covenant of Mayors Europe.

This European initiative has over 9,000 signatories, including many Iriszh local authorities, entitled ‘Multi-level Governance Dialogue in Times of Crisis’. The workshop aimed to foster a productive exchange of perspectives and learnings regarding developments in the energy sector, with a specific focus on improving policy feedback loops to expedite the energy transition, empowering local and regional authorities to accelerate the energy transition.

The event featured discussions and practical examples to highlight the role of multi-level governance in effectively addressing the energy crisis. Participants explored ways in which regions and their energy agencies can enhance this approach as a powerful driver for the accelerated deployment of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures.

Speakers included Mayor of Kilkenny Joe Malone, Julije Domac, President of FEDARENE, Councillor Andrew McGuinness, Kilkenny County Council, John Carley, Chair of South East Energy Agency, Sandra Benčic, Member of Croatian Parliament, Vlasta Krmelj Director of Regional Energy and Climate Agency of Podravje in Slovenia and Piergabriele Andreoli, Director of Modena Energy and Sustainable Development Agency.

FEDARENE is the European network of regional and local organisations which implement, co-ordinate and facilitate energy and environment policies. Regional and local agencies, regional governments and departments working in these fields, are represented on FEDARENE. For further information visit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured with Barry O’Sullivan, Chairman of Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce, at the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric dam, following the report’s publication. Pictured at the meeting in Kilkenny on 13 June (l-r): Julije Domac President of FEDARENE, Cllr Andrew McGuinness; Mayor Cllr Joe Malone, Croatian Parliament Minister Sandra Benčić, Minister John McGuinness, Paddy Phelan, CEO of the South East Energy Agency, and John Carley, South East Energy Agency Chair and FEDARENE Vice-President for Circular Economy. (Pic: Vicky Comerford)

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All local authorities are now required to prepare a fiveyear Local Authority Climate Action Plan (LACAP) under the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, specifying the mitigation and the adaptation measures to be adopted.

The function of this Act is to facilitate the transition to a climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy, with a target of 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

This LACAP will align with the objectives of the National Climate Action Plan. “Every local authority must complete a Climate Action Plan by February 2024,” noted Mayo County Council’s Cathaoirleach Cllr Michael Loftus, when he launched the council’s public consultation survey, attended by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, an advocate for Climate Action and Climate Justice worldwide, in her hometown of Ballina.

“This short survey invites the public to tell us how they feel about climate change, the barriers to taking action on climate and changes they would like to see in their towns, villages and communities,” he noted. Pointing to the challenges to increase the climate resilience of Mayo and to move towards net zero emissions by 2050, he said there were also great opportunities and benefits.

Kevin Kelly, Mayo County Council’s Chief Executive, noted that “the people of Mayo will be able to give their input ahead of the formulation of the county’s first ever Climate Action Plan and have their voices heard on what their communities want to see included in this plan”. Mayo’s consultation period will end on 18 August.


Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) is leading a new biodiversity pilot training programme targeted at public sector staff and contractors who work in environmentally sensitive areas, including building sites. The training course – a collaboration between the National Parks and Wildlife Service, OPW, LOETB and SOLAS (Further Education and Training Authority) – will be progressed to a certified qualification, with a view to a national rollout.

It will include practical ecological training on a range of different habitats, such as rivers, woodlands, lakes, hedgerows, peatlands and grasslands, as well as buildings and bridges, offering guidance on key elements of environmental and wildlife law, risk mitigation and best practice.

The pilot programme was launched in mid-May by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan TD, and SOLAS CEO Andrew Brownlee.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed to protecting biodiversity across its operations; ensuring staff and contractors have up-to-date training on best practice is an important element. The Nature Skills Training is a positive, practical opportunity to embed this across the organisation and support achieving key goals in the OPW Biodiversity Action Plan.”

SOLAS CEO, Andrew Brownlee said the pilot plays a crucial role in providing more people with the skills to contribute to the transition to a greener economy. “We’re deeply committed to expanding the national green skills provision across the FET sector. Our pledge is to give every FET learner the green skills and sustainability awareness to allow them to serve as agents of change on climate action.”

Mayo County Council staff members pictured with Cathaoirleach Cllr Michael Loftus, Mary Robinson and Liam Scott (CARO ASBN) at the survey launch. The course aims to provide staff and contractors from the OPW, local authorities and other public sector bodies with the skillsets on how to protect and conserve nature in their day-to-day work.



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A total of €523,000 has been awarded from the Community Water Development Fund, to support local community efforts to enhance water quality in streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas around the country.

The fund is administered by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) with funding provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The funding follows the 2023 Open Call that saw 142 successful applications across the country.

The number of applications received by LAWPRO has increased steadily since the grant scheme was first introduced.

Congratulating those projects who were awarded grantaid, Anthony Coleman, Director of LAWPRO, also advised unsuccessful applicants to maintain contact with their local Community Water Officer, and to “keep developing new proposals and projects and apply when the next round of funding is available”.

Minister of State for Planning and Local Government

Kieran O’Donnell welcomed the collaborative approach led by his Department, LAWPRO and the 31 local authorities with relevant state agencies, other stakeholders and local communities “with the shared goal of meeting the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive to have all natural waters at a good standard by 2027”.

Details of grants awarded are available at and


Cork City Council has joined seven European partners in a new Zero Carbon Infrastructure (ZCI) four-year project to help reach the target of being a carbon-neutral city by 2030.

Through the European Green Deal, the EU has set ambitious targets to decarbonise transport. The European Environmental Agency (EEA) estimates that road traffic constitutes the highest proportion of overall transport emissions.

In 2019, it emitted 72% of all domestic and international transport Green House Gases (GHGs), while 23% of the EU’s transport GHG emissions come from urban areas. In Cork city, petrol and diesel vehicles are responsible for 29% of GHG emissions.

The Zero Carbon Infrastructure (ZCI) project has been rolled out in a bid to help reach the targets for reducing these

emissions. Financed by the Interreg Europe programme, this project has set an ambitious goal to support eight cities and regions across Europe in their efforts to develop green transport and zero-carbon infrastructure for their territories.

To achieve that goal, the partners will co-operate, identify and test practical solutions to overcome the challenges they face. Led by the county administrative board of Kronoberg (Sweden) and with support from the Erasmus Centre for Urban, Port and Transport Economics (The Netherlands), Cork City Council will explore solutions for:

• Private electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

• Sustainable urban logistics.

• The business model of sustainable urban mobility – incentives that build customer demand for decarbonised transport solutions.

• Transition to zero-carbon mobility – public acceptance and communication.

The ZCI project has a budget of €2,085,629, with €1,650,049 provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The consortium consists of the following partners:

1. County Administrative Board of Kronoberg, Sweden (lead partner)

2. Kainuu Regional Council, Finland

3. Business Support Centre Ltd, Kranj, Slovenia

4. Burgas Municipality, Bulgaria

5. Navarra Government – General Directorate on Industry, Energy and Strategic Projects, Spain

6. Cork City Council, Ireland

7. City of Mechelen, Belgium

8. City of Parma, Italy

Through the European Green Deal, the EU has set ambitious targets to decarbonise transport.

For project details, activities and expected results visit


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A huge thank you to City Council for supporting us in making our new state of the art building a reality. The new 3 story block is integrated to the existing building in the centre of the site. This is a 30,000 sq ft building with cafeteria and meeting rooms on the ground floor, office accommodation and collaborative spaces on the 1st and 2nd floors with capacity for 200 people. The design incorporates Boston Scientific’s most up to date workplace standard for office and collaborative space with best in class sustainable, energy and environmental design achieving the award of LEED Gold.

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Limerick’s Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan – one of the largest capital programmes in the State and the country’s largest regeneration programme – includes a €253m investment on physical infrastructure, €30m on social projects and €10m on economic programmes. Government officials from Northern Ireland and academics from Queen’s University Belfast recently visited Limerick to study best practices across several regeneration-led projects in the city.

Adelegation from Queen’s University Belfast ‘Placemaking Academy’ and government officials from Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice and the Department for Communities had an opportunity to see several projects and four regeneration areas of Moyross, Southill, St Mary’s Park and Ballinacurra Weston in Limerick City during their recent visit.

Suzie Clifford, Administrative Officer from Limerick Regeneration Directorate, said it was “fantastic to be able to showcase the wonderful social initiatives happening across the four regeneration communities”. She added that the Northern Ireland delegation were “hugely impressed by the social initiatives that are enabling children and families to maximise their life opportunities”.

The ‘Placemaking Academy’ – a collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and the Department for Communities – brings together researchers, students and practitioners. Dr Neil Galway, QUB’s Director of Postgraduate Studies in Planning, who has been working with staff in the Department for Communities (Northern Ireland’s regeneration department), said that they were keen to look at how some informal training could be provided in relation to placemaking.

“It’s largely about creating an informal space where staff working in central government, in councils, in housing executives, in heritage departments, within council regeneration teams can come together with students from Queen’s. We look at best practices in terms of regeneration, placemaking and dealing with big issues, be that resilience, climate change, reuse of historic buildings, pedestrianisation, all the stuff about making places better essentially.”


The four regeneration areas in Limerick City include Moyross, Southill, St Mary’s Park and Ballinacurra Weston. One of the Economic & Social Intervention Fund projects visited by the delegation was the Predevelopment Equine Programme at The Bays Youth Academy in Moyross.

Limerick Regeneration Directorate’s Suzie Clifford added that delegation was really impressed to learn that seven young people from the programme successfully graduated from the National RACE apprentice jockey programme. “The project has had a positive impact on the community, with several young people subsequently accessing further education or employment

opportunities in the racing industry,” she added.

Gerard Murray, Director of the Regional Development Office in the Department for Communities, said he is “returning to Northern Ireland with fresh ideas”. He added that it was “very interesting to hear about the innovative delivery approach being used for the strategic development schemes in Limerick’s city centre” which will deliver a wide range of social and economic benefits for citizens.

Murray noted that it was also really inspiring to see at firsthand how the council is working in partnership with inspirational community leaders in Moyross to deliver programmes which are tackling complex social problems with strategic capital and resource investment.

“The testimonies from some of the participants of these programmes were inspirational and demonstrated what is possible when there is genuine partnership between statutory and community leaders. Limerick is definitely a place on the up. We learned a lot from the visit and will, of course, steal all of the best ideas!”

*For background information and to download a copy of the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan visit

Pictured during a recent visit by Northern Ireland government officials and academics to study best practices across several regenerationled projects in the city were (l-r): Vincent Murray and Joe Delaney, Limerick City and County Council Directors of Service; Suzie Clifford, Limerick Regeneration Directorate; Dr Neil Galway, Queen’s University Belfast; and David Conway, CEO of Limerick 2030 DAC.

20 Limerick Regeneration
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AWARDS FOR INNOVATION and Excellence in Planning

A total of 48 entries, including projects from organisations within both the public and private sectors, have been submitted to the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) for the 2023 Irish Planning Awards, which will be presented on Thursday 28 September at Dublin’s Clontarf Castle.

This year’s Irish Planning Awards, which returns for the first time since 2020, will yet again highlight innovation and excellence in Irish planning at the awards ceremony in Dublin’s Clontarf Castle Dublin on Thursday 28 September by the IPI – the all-island professional membership body for spatial planners.

The awards serve to acknowledge a diverse range of projects and plans taking place at county and regional levels in complex and dynamic environments.

Organisations and projects from Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, Cork, Antrim, Tipperary, Meath, Clare, Louth, Galway, Offaly and Donegal were submitted for this year’s awards.

The IPI received 48 entries in total across the following categories, including a special President’s Award:

• Plan Making

• Employment and Enterprise

• Urban Regeneration and Heritage

• Climate Action and Biodiversity

• Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (large scale and small scale)

• Research and Innovation Planning

• Workplace of the Year

• President’s Award (the winner will be nominated by the Council).

This year’s judging panel will comprise of Mary Mac Mahon

MIPI (Irish Planning Institute President), Charlotte Sheridan MIPI (RIAI President), Paul Hogan FIPI (Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage), Henk van der Kamp FIPI (Secretary General of the ECTP-CEU, the umbrella organisation for spatial planning institutes in Europe and past president of the IPI), Terry Prendergast MIPI (former board member of An Bord Pleanála) and John O’Hara MIPI (former Dublin City Council Planning Officer).


Mary Mac Mahon, IPI President, said: “The Irish Planning Institute is delighted to host the Irish Planning Awards for the first time since 2020. We have received 48 entries which demonstrate how active our members have been, even through Covid, and I look

forward to judging the innovative planning projects submitted.”

She added that the awards “provide an excellent opportunity to promote the contribution of planning to society and highlight the positive work being carried out across the sector and the role of planning in delivering quality and sustainable development”.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will be the main sponsor of this year’s awards with additional sponsors including Wave Dynamics Acoustic Consultants and Uisce Éireann. The individual categories of Climate Action and

Irish Planning Awards 2023
IPI President Mary Mac Mahon says she looks forward to judging the “innovative planning projects submitted”. Biodiversity and Research and Innovation will be sponsored by FuturEnergy Ireland and the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) respectively. The shortlist for the awards will be announced in advance of the ceremony in September. For further updates visit
for a Valued Client Dolphins Barn Regeneration Dublin 8 North City Operations Depot Ballymun, Dublin 11 St.
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A Diversity

Irish Planning Awards 2023


Consultants Planning Workplace of the Year

Cairn Homes PLC Planning Workplace of the Year

Tom Phillips and Associates Planning Workplace of the Year

TU Dublin Research and Innovation

South Dublin County Council Research and Innovation

University of Galway Research and Innovation

Land Development Agency Research and Innovation

Brock McClure Planning & Development Consultants

Cairn Homes Planning Team

Tom Phillips + Associates

TU Dublin – DLRCoCo Covid Mobility Research Project

‘Instantaneous Data’ – A South Dublin Approach to Active Land Management

Promoting spatial planning through school/university project exchange

The Register of Relevant Public Lands

South Dublin County Council Research and Innovation City Edge Project (South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council)

Tom Phillips and Associates Research and Innovation

SHDs & SDZzz: Fast-Track Planning in Ireland, and Other Oxymorons

Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly Research and Innovation Regional Development Monitor (RDM)

South Dublin County Council Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Kilcarbery-Grange in South Dublin

South Dublin County Council Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Adamstown SDZ – Airlie Park, Tandy’s Lane Park and Adamstown District Centre Plaza

Meath County Council Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Kilcloon Community Development

Cairn Homes PLC

MKO Ltd.

KPMG Future Analytics

Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Graydon, Newcastle

Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Creggs Village Plan

Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) Sustainable Swords

Quintain Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale) The Crossings, Adamstown

Land Development Agency Sustainable Communities and Placemaking (small scale and large scale)

Tipperary County Council

Urban Regeneration and Heritage

South Dublin County Council Urban Regeneration and Heritage

DOWNEY Urban Regeneration and Heritage

Donegal County Council Urban Regeneration and Heritage

KPMG Future Analytics

Urban Regeneration and Heritage

Land Development Agency Urban Regeneration and Heritage

Colbert Quarter Spatial Framework

Activating Cahir’s Town Centre Regeneration Strategy

The Street – Kick starting the Tallaght Innovation Quarter

Portarlington Urban Regeneration Strategy 2030

Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative Project

Sustainable Swords

St. Kevin’s Cork

ORGANISATION CATEGORY TITLE OF ENTRY South Dublin County Council Climate Action and Biodiversity South Dublin’s Green Space Factor EirGrid plc Climate Action and Biodiversity The Celtic Interconnector – Good Practice linking Planning, the Planner & Climate Change South Dublin County Council Climate Action and Biodiversity Tandy’s Lane Park, Adamstown Uisce Éireann Climate Action and Biodiversity Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) Biodiversity Action Plan KPMG Future Analytics Climate Action and Biodiversity Sustainable Swords Statkraft Ireland Climate Action and Biodiversity Moanvane Wind Farm County Kildare LEADER Partnership CLG Employment and Enterprise Barrow Blueway Economic Plan South Dublin County Council Employment and Enterprise From Big Box to Green Scene Limerick City and County Council Plan Making Young Person Participation in Land Use Planning South Dublin County Council Plan Making South Dublin County Development Plan 2022-2028 The Paul Hogarth Company Plan Making Letterkenny 2040 Regeneration Strategy Kildare County Council Plan Making The Athy Local Area Plan 2021-2027 and the Development of a New Generation of Local Area Plans for Kildare Dublin City Council Plan Making Dublin City Development Plan 2022 – 2028 Meath County Council Plan Making Flower Hill and Abbeylands Urban Design Plan 2021 DOWNEY Plan Making Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan Uisce Éireann Plan Making Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) National Water Resources Plan – Framework Plan KPMG Future Analytics Plan Making Sustainable Swords Clare Co. Council Plan Making Shannon Town Centre Masterplan South Dublin County Council Plan Making City Edge Strategic Framework (South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council) Land Development Agency Plan Making Pear Tree Crossing Masterplan Fingal County Council Planning Workplace of the Year This is Fingal – The place to Live Work Visit and do Business South Dublin County Council Planning Workplace of the Year # Making it Work @ SDCC Planning Virtus Planning Workplace of the Year Virtus Louth County Council Planning Workplace of the Year Louth County Council Planning Workplace Brock McClure Planning & Development


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Climate change remains a primary global and national issue and existential threat. Without seeking to downplay externalities like the digital economy, major conflicts such as the Ukraine/Russia war or other geopolitical issues, future economic and social development will be informed and influenced for generations by long-term policy decisions on climate made in today’s short-term political cycle, according to Ciarán Hayes.

26 Climate Challenges

Sixty-five years ago, a post World War II Ireland stood at an inflection point. A young, independent but largely agricultural and rural State, the country embarked on a previously uncharted path and embraced T.K. Whitaker’s ambitious and at the time radical 1958 ‘Economic Development’ policies.

The country’s long-term development needs took precedence over the much shorter-term political cycles, cycles that continue to this day. Decisions made then sowed the seeds for the emergence of our current small open economy and were complemented by Donogh O’Malley’s decisions on free second level education in the 1960s.

Today, the primary global issue and existential threat is climate change, and the country stands at a similar inflection point. After many false starts, climate change has reached the top of the political agenda and shares the stage with other priorities of housing, refugees and inflation. It’s a welcome but overdue development.

Human induced global warming and the long-term damage it brings has been known for many years, even decades, but climate continually slipped down the political priority list behind the shorter-term priority or crisis of the day.

There is no doubting the serious consequences, unprecedented nature, or the scale of the challenge but it seems the whole

climate narrative is encased in negativity. Messaging at a global and national level becomes ever more stark leaving people confused and in fear.

Some are overwhelmed, while others see any actions on this small island as futile as we have no control over larger developed economies who will continue to generate emissions regardless of our efforts. Specific sectors of the economy also appear angry and we’re witnessing a circling of the wagons, lobbying, and pushing back on the changes they themselves are required to make.

Instead, employment and economic development opportunities exist, opportunities that can counteract job displacement arising from climate change, the start of which is now witnessed in the midlands. The issue is how to avail of those opportunities and there is a case to be made that countries and societies that successfully address climate adaptation and mitigation challenges will have a future competitive advantage in the marketplace.

LEADERSHIP ROLE OF ‘CAP 23’ Ireland has such an opportunity having recently adopted one of the most allencompassing, comprehensive and ambitious policy documents, the National Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP 23). Building as it does on previous Climate Action Plans of 2019 and 2021, the primary theme of CAP 23 is the leadership role of the wider public sector while containing specific recommendations for all sectors of the economy.

Formulating and developing ‘Action Plans’

is what we’re good at. We do that well. It’s the implementation that holds us back. The short-term issue for the public sector is to demonstrate leadership by finding new, innovative, and creative ways of delivering on the ambitious plans, bearing in mind that many of the challenges have no precedence and time is not our ally.


Although operating largely on the basis of tradition, custom and practice, local government responded to the challenge by establishing the Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) in collaboration with the Department.

As part of the CARO work programme, it embarked on a comprehensive six-module staff training programme for the entire sector covering elected members, senior management, professional, technical, administrative, foremen, tradesmen, general operatives, and entry level staff.

To date, over 20,000 of a total of 28,000 plus staff have been trained and upskilled. New competencies have been recruited including energy officers and sustainable mobility staff while recruitment is currently underway for Climate Action Officers and Climate Action Co-ordinators.

Local authorities are known for their response to severe weather events and major emergency management, issues they have long experienced as ‘First Responders’. What’s lesser known is the extent of involvement in sustainable and best practice initiatives, and the following examples include circular economy, mitigation and renewable energy projects:

Climate Challenges
The CARO website went live in April 2021 to support all county and city councils in leading Ireland’s climate action efforts. The primary theme of CAP 23 is the leadership role of the wider public sector while containing specific recommendations for all sectors of the economy.
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Climate Challenges

• South Dublin County Council has entered a collaboration with Amazon Web Services to capture excess heat generated by the AWS Data Centre for use in a district heating system.

• Kildare County Council is advancing a ‘Grass to Gas’ project in collaboration with Maynooth University where they are seeking to use what was a waste product of cut grass as a raw material suitable for anaerobic digestion and the production of renewable gas and compost.

• Wicklow County Council has entered a Power Purchase contract with a private sector renewable energy provider. Funded by the private sector, solar panels have been installed in the Council car park with the energy generated being purchased by the Council at a fixed rate.

• All councils are updating their fleet to electric or renewable energy options and have a multi-annual programme of retrofitting older social housing stock.

• Decarbonised zones have been identified and are being advanced by each council.

• Midland councils are actively involved with the Midlands Regional Transition Team seeking to address one of the consequences of climate change i.e. job displacement.

• Louth County Council has engaged for many years with public and private sector stakeholders and is leading the way in energy reduction and other mitigation measures across its functional area.

• A network of Greenways, Blueways, walking and cycling routes are being advanced by councils across the country, many in collaboration with other public and private sector stakeholders.

• Old landfill sites are being repurposed as renewable energy sites.

• Energy agencies in Dublin (Codema), Tipperary and the southeast work collaboratively with councils in their area across a wide spectrum of innovative energy projects.

• Regional assemblies are collaborating with the Department of Transport to roll out sustainable mobility training across the sector.

This list is by no means complete. Local authorities are continuously striving to

Ireland’s 2022 Greenhouse Gas Emissions decreased by 1.9 per cent, but much work remains to be done, according to the EPA.

position the sector to meet the climate challenges, are engaging in innovative collaborations and are adding to the growing list of initiatives.


While the sector has come a long way in a relatively short timeframe, significant milestones have yet to be achieved, foremost of which is the achievement of the 2030 emission targets, mainstreaming best practice, securing the buy-in of local communities and stakeholders to the climate agenda, and achievement of behavioural change.

CAP 23’s requirement for the formulation of a Local Authority Climate Action Plan by February 2024 presents the opportunity to embed climate action into every aspect of council functions. Local government strategies for advancing the economic, social, and cultural development of its cities and counties must now be formulated with a view to climate change risks, need for adaptation and mitigation measures, and sustainability.

All Corporate, Directorate, and Team Development plans and their component objectives and actions must be proofed from a climate perspective thereby creating a climate action culture within each council. Viewed from a national perspective, there are reasons to be optimistic. The perception from abroad is that Ireland is seen to be a leader in renewable energy. States like Massachusetts can only aspire to a maximum penetration of 20% of their energy requirement comprised of

renewable energy whereas Ireland can aspire to upwards of 70%.

Harnessing the offshore renewable energy potential creates further opportunities. A restructuring of the grid will be required to accommodate the integration of the new offshore renewable energy sources.

Several coastal counties will facilitate the development of critical energy infrastructure in the short and medium term. As access to energy is a factor in economic development, those councils may wish to reconsider their Development Plans accordingly and make themselves more attractive to inward investment and development.


With all that is happening, why then is Ireland likely to miss the 2030 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission targets? The EPA published its Greenhouse Gas emissions projections for 2020-2040 on 2 June noting that Ireland will only achieve a 29% emission reduction and only if the existing plans and proposals are implemented in full.

The 2030 target is a 51% reduction of the 2018 baseline, but all sectors are on a trajectory to miss their target and exceed their sectoral emission ceilings for 2025 and 2030. Ireland is three years into the operation of a relatively new carbon budget system. Five-year carbon budgets were introduced for the main sectors within the economy in 2021 to assist in the achievement of the emission targets. However, the EPA reports that the first two budget cycles are set to missed by a significant margin of between 24% and 34%.

One reason is the length of time taken to formulate the plans at the outset. Now that they are formulated, the issue is to upskill and train staff across the entire public sector and advance implementation. Local government has a distance to travel in this regard but is ahead of many other public sector agencies and this is largely due to the work of the CAROs.

A second reason is the nature of the agencies themselves. Public sector agencies operate under statute, are very focussed on process, and are risk averse by their nature thus leaving little scope for flexibility in a fast-changing environment.

There’s the issue of system blockages.




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Resident Space launched in November 2021 with the acquisition of a 702unit PRS development in Dublin, backed by pension funds and institutional capital

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Development works are underway on the active sites, while pipeline sites are being appraised.

Upon completion in 2025, the East Road and Castleforbes sites will create one of the largest BTR platforms in Dublin.

Resident Space continues to seek both opportunities with full planning permission and subject to planning opportunities as part of its growth strategy.

Resident Space aims to create one of Ireland’s leading Residential Platforms, with a target portfolio of 5,000 Units – located in areas of high employment and close to mass transit

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Limerick City & County Council has developed a tidal turbine project to harness renewable energy from the Shannon but cannot put it into operation due to a delay (deemed to be 18-months before it could begin to be assessed) in acquiring a Foreshore Licence.

If the climate action agenda is to be advanced across the public sector, these and other administrative and bureaucratic blockages need to be identified and addressed quickly if we are to succeed collectively in meeting exacting targets.

A need for far greater collaboration between public sector agencies and between the public and private sectors can also be impacted by the silo effect. Addressing climate challenges means dealing with initiatives that have no precedence within sectors with the result that many agencies have limited experience, expertise, or track record of entering into new and innovative public private partnerships.

Initiatives such as power purchase contracts, collaborations with the private sector for the development of a network of anaerobic digestors, development and rollout of district heating schemes, conversion of old landfill sites to renewable energy farms, or exploring the potential for geothermal energy come to mind. Many of these initiatives require collaboration, partnership, revised governance, and new operating models beyond the existing wellestablished norms.


CAP 23 has identified a need for a concerted communication strategy among public sector agencies. Such a strategy will be as important as any adaptation or mitigation measure if all sectors of the community are to buy into the agenda. It will also help to avert the risk of the public feeling overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the challenge. Local authorities and the wider public sector have an obligation to engage with their citizens, communities and stakeholders to encourage widespread behavioural change and adoption of climate friendly practices.

It’s an uphill struggle when set against the continuing barrage of negativity that served to elevate climate up the political agenda in the first place. Despite

Climate Challenges

progress, the EPA report is both timely and sobering. The 2030 targets are fixed notwithstanding the two years of progress lost to Covid-19.

No agency should plan for or expect the deadlines to be pushed back. It remains to be seen therefore whether the CAP 23 obligations and actions prescribed for the public sector, accompanied by a comprehensive oversight architecture, will have the desired effect of accelerating climate actions to bridge the emission ceiling gap as identified by the EPA. Public sector agencies will also be mindful of the inclusion within CAP 23 of penalties for sectors falling short of their carbon budget ceilings.

Albeit early days, our combined response to CAP 23 and the EPA report will determine the trajectory of this latest inflection point. The full ambition of CAP 23 has yet to be realised and major hurdles remain. However, there is one certainty. Climate action is set to accelerate and continue to be elevated up the priority list. Looking back on Whitaker’s 1958 vision, with the benefit of hindsight we can applaud the long-term approach adopted by Government. However, hindsight is not a benefit available to the policy choices of today, and it remains to be seen how the country’s longer term policy objectives will be balanced against the more immediate priorities of the short-term political cycle. Time will tell but, in the meantime, the 2030 emission and carbon budget ceiling target deadlines loom.


Ciarán Hayes provides strategic management advice to the public and private sector. Prior to establishing Ciarán Hayes Consultancy Ltd, he was Chief Executive of Sligo County Council and had experience across five local authorities including 21 years at senior management level.

Ciarán completed a two-year Fellowship in Harvard University researching climate action in December 2022, and has a BA Degree in Public Management and a Higher Diploma in Computer Studies.

He led the local government response to climate change and to the establishment of the Climate Action Regional Offices (CARO). He is presently a Board Member of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC).

Contact details:



“Local government strategies for advancing the economic, social, and cultural development of its cities and counties must now be formulated with a view to climate change risks, need for adaptation and mitigation measures and sustainability”


Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council and Fingal County Council are now calling out to housing developers and home builders to help them to activate or complete housing sites across the city and county, under a new joint initiative to support the housing market in the capital.

Dublin’s four local authorities have issued the joint call to home builders and housing developers to offer a range of houses and apartments with planning permission in unbuilt or partially commenced developments under a scheme which provides for the advance purchase of turnkey residential units for social and affordable housing.

AnnMarie Farrelly, Fingal County Council’s Chief Executive, who also chairs the Dublin Housing Delivery Group, said that priority will be given to high-quality projects that can be delivered quickly and also to provide value for money.

“We estimate that there are over 55,000 houses and apartments on about 280 sites across the Dublin region that have planning permission but have not been started and there

are more that are incomplete,” said Ms Farrelly.

Under this scheme the four local authorities will purchase the homes in advance, in order to activate or reboot the project. When the homes are completed, they will be allocated to people on the housing list, sold as affordable homes, or made available for cost rental as part of an affordable housing scheme.


The four councils will consider turnkey residential units in completed developments, or in developments due for completion in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026. They are also open to joint venture arrangements that include delivery of social and affordable homes with an Approved Housing Body.

Housing Scheme

Dublin Housing Scheme

Owen Keegan, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, said that the four councils will also consider proposals to split developments into phases and taking homes across multiple schemes. “We are open to sitting down with builders and developers and hearing their proposals because the aim of this scheme is to increase local authority housing stock as well as the amount of affordable homes available for sale or through cost rental.”

The Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Frank Curran, said: “We want to sign contracts with developers and builders that will allow us to get construction underway during 2023. This will, thereby, secure additional supply of social and affordable homes over the next two to three years.”

Applications to each council will be assessed under criteria

that includes the delivery programme, with the priority on the early delivery of completed houses and apartments; the suitability and need for social and affordable housing at a location; value for money; and quality of design and construction in accordance with requirements of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Colm Ward, Chief Executive of South Dublin County Council, said: “Housing is the biggest issue for citizens in Dublin. This scheme is part of a concerted effort on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities to increase the supply of social and affordable homes by providing a high degree of certainty that will allow a builder or a developer to get onto a site to build the houses and apartments for which they already have planning permission.”

Dublin City Council’s social housing development on Margaret Kennedy Road, Dublin 8. Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive Owen Keegan said the four councils will consider proposals to split developments into phases. New social housing units were completed at Liscappagh in Finglas. AnnMarie Farrelly, Fingal’s Chief Executive, said that priority will be given to high-quality projects that can be delivered quickly and also to provide value for money. A SNAPSHOT OF SOME COMPLETED SOCIAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ACROSS DUBLIN

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Dublin Housing Scheme



Details of the scheme are available from the website of each of the four local authorities:


will allow a builder or a developer to build the houses and apartments for which they already have planning permission, according to Colm

Frank Curran, Chief Executive of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, wants contracts signed with developers and builders to “allow us to get construction underway during 2023”.

• Dublin City Council strategies-policies-and-initiatives/housing-turnkey

• Fingal County Council

• Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council are-you-landlord-or-developer/expressions-interest-turnkeydevelopments

• South Dublin County Council housing/leasing-initiatives/expressions-of-interest-housingprovision/

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown’s Ballyogan Square development in Carrickmines. SDCC delivered affordable housing at Kilcarbery Grange in Clondalkin. scheme Ward, SDCC’s Chief Executive.


A unique tourism project has seen successful initiatives rolled out between local authorities in Wexford, Waterford and Wicklow and their Welsh counterparts in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigon since its launch in 2019. However, the future of Celtic Routes is now threatened due to Brexit, and unless new funds are sourced it may close at the end of August.

The Celtic Routes tourism project was designed to foster links between the three south east counties in Ireland and their Welsh colleagues, in order to increase visitor travel between these regions in addition to other links.

An indication of the success of Celtic Routes was revealed in a recent report, which showed that from the inception the project in 2019 to the end of March 2023 almost 300 million people around the world have checked out information on Celtic Routes.

Initial funding of €2 million was provided under the European Territorial Co-operation Programme and then in 2022, the Welsh Government announced new funding arrangements to replace those previously administered by the EU. So, all in all close to €4 million has been invested in the project to date.

However, after four succesful years the entire project’s future is threatened due to Brexit and the UK leaving the European Union, with project officer Oonagh Messette now warning that Celtic Routes will close at the end of August unless new funds are sourced.

“As a direct result of Brexit, there will be no continuation of the Ireland Wales Co-operation Fund. While there may be considerable willingness on the part of all stakeholders, without the funding to administer activities, much will be lost,” she noted.

“Our partnership, our networks, our collaboration and our immense marketing and promotion power essentially comes to a close at the end of August this year,” according to Ms Messette, Wexford County Council’s Project Officer for Community Development.



Michael Nicholson, Director of Service with Wicklow County Council, commented: “Celtic Routes has been

one of the most successful projects that has ever crossed my desk. It has brought our counties closer together and Wicklow tourism has benefited immensely from this collaboration.

“Between Brexit and the pandemic, it may be a little while before we see quantifiable results but just having 300 million people view our area is extraordinary and none of our partners could have achieved that result

36 Ireland-Wales Tourism
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on their own. As a partnership, we have many ideas for continued alliances but that is all now in jeopardy.”

The objective of Celtic Routes since the outset has been to encourage visitors to explore new areas of Ireland’s sout east and the west region in Wales en route to their final tourist destination. It aimed to transform less well-known areas from transit zones to new touring sites, increasing the time visitors spend in these regions and thereby capitalising on the opportunities to boost local economies.

An underlying aim of the project was to convert potential visitors transiting through the towns and cities into staying visitors. Another objective was to increase sustainable economic developments by maximising visitor spend, income retention, adding value to the combined tourism offerings within the region through a tailored marketing and promotional campaign for both visitors and tourism providers, supported by the three local authorities.


Messette pointed out that the ending of the Celtic Routes initiative would be a

severe blow to tourism and hospitality in the south east, which is still recovering from the Covid shut down. Over five years of cross collaboration between Ireland and Wales – and importantly between Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow – the Celtic Routes brand has reached almost 300 million viewers all over the world, according to the findings of the analytics.

Through a combination of social media, print media, out-of-home and programmatic advertising, analytics also showed peaks of interest from the Indian sub-continent and Southern Europe as well as traditional markets such as the UK, USA, Germany and France.

a practical and constructive way with 140 businesses engaging on an ongoing basis. In another practical demonstration of the value of Celtic Routes, over 200 businesses now use the project’s asset library of 13,000 photographs, cinegraphs and videos for promotional purposes.

A TV series, which was filmed across all six counties last summer, has since been shown on S4C in Wales and was screened on TG4 in Ireland in July, while it is also available on the BBC iPlayer.

“The cross-county and cross-national benefits of Celtic Routes are obvious at this stage and for such a valuable resource for the tourism and hospitality industry in both countries to be lost would be nothing short of a disaster,” noted Ms Messette, adding: “A way has to be found to save this unique venture.” For further information on the

Through various thematic networks, businesses across all six counties have teamed up and assisted each other in

37 Ireland-Wales Tourism
Pictured at the launch of the Celtic Routes project in Enniscorthy on 26 November 2019 were (l-r): Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe TD; Aileen Dowling, Failte Ireland; Wexford County Council’s Oonagh Messette, Celtic Routes Project Officer, and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Andrew Doyle TD. Celtic Routes tourism project visit
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‘FAIRSELECT’ SOFTWARE ACCOMMODATES Transparent Affordable Housing Application Process

A new property management software solution, which aims to make the application process for rental accommodation and the selection and management of tenants both fair and unbiased, is already being used by local authorities, including Meath County Council, and approved housing bodies such as Tuath Housing and Respond. Report by Grace Heneghan.

The ‘FairSelect’ property tech software platform, which has been developed by Irish technology company Bynaric for fair and unbiased tenant and applicant onboarding in the property sector, was officially launched on the market in May.

The launch took place uniquely at the same location from where the company first started out in October 2019 – at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ Centre. In his keynote address, Bynaric founder and CEO Aria Pour said that the property management software solution has been designed to automate and streamline the affordable housing application process whether renting or buying.

The new FairSelect platform is aimed at local authorities and other organisations in the public sector, including affordable housing bodies, as well as private rental providers. Users of the software can process and select tenant applications based either on a randomised, lotterystyle system, or on a first-come-firstserved basis, to ensure fairness and impartiality in the selection of applicants, while compliance with GDPR regulations ensures the selection process and results are fully auditable.

“The Irish housing market’s growth over the next eight years has been forecasted to build 265,000 properties under the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan; and Fair Select will assist families

and individuals to access affordable and straightforward housing,” he noted.

“We believe that access to safe, secure and affordable housing is the one fundamental right that everyone deserves; therefore, we aim to make the housing process more efficient and streamlined, empowering developers, management companies and state agents to serve their customers. The challenges facing the housing market are complex, yet we see this as an appropriate opportunity to create sustainable and long-lasting solutions to benefit everyone.”


A panel discussion explored the FairSelect model, moderated by business advisor Colin Chapman, and included Aria Pour along with Conn Murray, Chair of Public Sector at BDO Ireland, Johnny Horgan, MD of BidX1, and Eoghan Ó’Muiris, Head of Product for Bynaric.

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Aria Pour, founder and CEO of Bynaric (centre) pictured with (l-r): Conn Murray, Chair of Public Sector at BDO Ireland; Johnny Horgan, MD of BidX1; Eoghan Ó’Muiris, Head of Product at Bynaric and Colin Champman, MC and business advisor, at the launch in Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ Centre (the same location from where the Bynaric first started out in October 2019).

Conn Murray, the former Chief Executive of Limerick City & County Council, said that there have been many changes across Ireland’s housing industry over the last 30 years. “On a personal level when I bought my first house, interest rates were 21% and today we’re now talking about a major increase to 5%! During the 1980s, an interest rate decrease was worth so much more than a pay increase – that was just the reality of life.”

During the mid-90s he said that the allocation of housing was “ebullient” adding that with challenges came the other realities. “What has grown since then is Ireland’s population and our social challenges and the complexity around our planning programmes with the changes in the 60s and 70s, and the noughties with the introduction of the courts and their influence in terms of planning,” noted the Chair of Public Sector at BDO Ireland.

“The quality of housing has improved enormously, and within the private and public sectors, we have seen both an increase and decrease. During the noughties we saw the private sector move forward in a huge way, and at one stage about 77,000 planning commissions were granted. From a policy perspective, it was always an acceptance that this would provide the solutions. However, when the system crashed, we had to rethink and replan our way out and we’re only at the beginning of planning our way out of the housing problem.”


Murray noted the pendulum has swung a little too far, adding that the growth was coupled with an increase in house prices, while greed was taking over within the context of the construction industry.

“The change in policy came with a move towards Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) as the primary deliverer as distinct from local authorities. This has been followed by the centralisation of decision making in recent years, which has added to the challenges to deliver housing on the ground and the diverse and disparate population now looking for a foundation. This has created different challenges within the local communities.”


FairSelect provides solutions to the challenges of tenant selection, onboarding and management for landlords and property managers, including problems that can lead to issues under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 and GDPR. It can help address issues by:

• Improved tenant management: The system provides a centralised platform for managing tenant data, communications, and maintenance requests, allowing businesses to better track and manage their properties.

• Tenant self-service: FairSelect's tenant self-service feature can enable tenants to manage their accounts, report issues, and pay rent online, freeing up time for property managers to focus on other aspects of their business.

• Secure data management: FairSelect uses best practices to keep data safe and secure, reducing the risk of data breaches and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

• Compliance with regulations: FairSelect is designed to comply with relevant regulations and legislation, ensuring that local authorities and approved housing bodies are operating in accordance with legal requirements.

• Streamlined tenant selection process: FairSelect can simplify and automate the tenant selection process, saving businesses time and reducing errors.

• Fair and unbiased tenant selection: FairSelect is designed to eliminate potential biases in the tenant selection process, ensuring that every applicant is assessed on equal footing. This is particularly important for the public sector, where there is a need to demonstrate fairness and transparency in decisionmaking.

• Customisation: FairSelect can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each organisation or business, ensuring a personalised and effective solution.

For more information visit Follow FairSelect on Twitter @BynaricDublin, Instagram @ BynaricDublin and LinkedIn @Bynaric

41 Property Management Solution
Aria Pour, founder and CEO of Bynaric, and Conn Murray, Chair of Public Sector at BDO Ireland, pictured following the launch at Dogpatch Labs at the CHQ in May.

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From a pragmatic perspective, as the growth of the stock increases, Conn Murray pointed out that there needs to be a more efficient use of technology and decision making at local level. “The FairSelect scheme could offer a very significant value to operational matters concerning the housing stock itself,” he noted.


Johnny Horgan said that one of the biggest investments an individual will make will be in property, describing renting or buying a place as “a whole social investment because people are emotional since they’ve invested in a lot of ways”.

He noted that the level of transparency brought to the market by the team at Bynaric was key and important for both landlords and tenants. “Unless you have dual benefits on anything it will not be a success. Bringing transparency and confidence for tenants and occupiers means they will engage more and for landlords it will be a simplified process. Within our private sector this transparency of the transaction will be key for the future.”

With the growth in the rate of online trading and transactions across all industry sectors, Horgan said that the shopfront is no longer needed to lease or sell the property. “In terms of leasing or selling property, most of the work processes had not moved forward in 20 to 30 years, then came online which really transformed people’s views. So, you just need to be digitally enabled and this will be first part of the property journey, particularly in the volume of transactions

dealt with by both public and private sectors.”

Due to the litter of compliance risks on GDPR to be considered, and in dealing with complex communications and inefficiencies in public and private sectors, Horgan said that FairSelect provided “a structured and efficient online way for tenants to apply for housing”.

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MEATH’S ROADMAP CONTINUES Economic Development Strategy

Meath County Council has launched an Economic Development Strategy Roadmap to continue with the focus and vision as identified in its Economic Development Strategy 2014-2022, and to ensure that those considering establishing or expanding their business interests in Meath look upon the Royal County as an ideal place to live, work and to do business.

Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council Cllr Tommy Reilly was joined by Meath County Council’s Chief Executive Fiona Lawless, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Sport and Physical Education Thomas Byrne at the Council’s Head Office in Navan for the official launch of the Meath Economic Development Strategy Roadmap on 30 June.

The council’s current strategy has identified several key focus areas and sectoral opportunities to expand the economic base of Meath, particularly with investment in food, knowledge and creative economies. The aim is also to attract further Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by marketing Meath to overseas and indigenous investors as a county willing to support and work in collaboration.

Launching the strategy’s roadmap, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that Meath Economic Development Strategy sets out very clear strategic priorities to deliver on economic growth and new jobs in the coming years.

“Supporting towns and villages to remain attractive to live, work and thrive is not just about business but creating a home for people. We must continue to promote Meath, not just locally but internationally, support initiatives that enhance the quality of life and finally, continue to further co-ordinate and to focus development on connectivity, digitalisation and smart initiatives,” the Minister noted.


During his term as Cathaoirleach Cllr Tommy Reilly said that he will ensure that economic development will be his priority. He added that the council will prepare and adopt a new innovative strategy to build on the county’s successes to date.

“To deliver on this promise we are going to put together an Economic Development Forum that will be made up of business leaders and entrepreneurs and high achievers to oversee the preparation and implementation of this new strategy,” he added.

Meath County Council’s Chief Executive Fiona Lawless

paid tribute to the work done to date, and acknowledged the work of the elected members, the Strategic Policy Committee, the Planning and Economic Development teams, the Local Enterprise Office and Meath Enterprise staff on the implementation of the Economic Development Strategy.

“With their commitment to giving investors the support and services they need to conduct business in our county, we will continue the journey to being at the centre of cutting-edge innovation in the 21st century and a great place to live, work and build a brighter future for our growing number of inhabitants,” she added.

Following Census 2022, Meath’s population is now 220,826 (an increase of 25,782 from 2016), with 101,189 people in

44 Meath County Council
download Meath’s Economic Development Strategy Roadmap visit

employment (up 17,930 from 2016). “With work on Meath’s new Economic Development Strategy scheduled to commence later this year or early next year, the council is awaiting the final Census results and will carry out some studies such as a commuter survey, the Chief Executive told ‘Council Review ’.

“We are still awaiting further analysis of the data; Meath is currently home to 13,345 local businesses and 36 new company formations per 10,000 population, which is the fourth highest in the state. These are across a range of industries including agrifood and beverage, tourism, engineering, manufacturing and the creative sectors,” she explained.


Meath County Council is working with the other seven local authorities and agencies north and south of the border along the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor, which was set up in 2021, to identify and establish opportunities linked with the Corridor and the promotion of this on an international level.

“One of the first aims is to jointly support initiatives that will boost economic growth throughout the region for mutual benefit. KPMG have been engaged to conduct a feasibility study on developing regional innovations hubs within the cross-border Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor area.

“These facilities would be based around sectoral clusters in partnership locations and Meath County Council is participating in the study to identify potential development possibilities.”

The cross-border partnership includes the councils of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Belfast City Council; Dublin City Council; Fingal County Council; Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council; Louth County Council; Meath County Council; and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The partnership also includes representation from Dublin City University and Ulster University.

This local authority led cross-border partnership aims to develop a regional proposition for economic growth, covering the 100 miles between Dublin and Belfast, with a population of two million.

It was created partly in response to the uncertainty in Ireland north and south, following the UK withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020. “Brexit created several challenges for businesses in the county, particularly those in the food and farming sectors. Meath needed to identify its unique circumstances and develop tailored strategies to mitigate the risks and take advantage of new opportunities,”

Chief Executive pointed out.

Meath County
Meath’s Meath’s Cathaoirleach Cllr Tommy Reilly pictured with Minister for Sport and Physical Education Thomas Byrne TD and Meath County Council’s Chief Executive Fiona Lawless, (back row): Meath’s Director of Services Des Foley, General Manager of Finnegan’s Farm John Smith, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD, and Meath’s Senior Planner Padraig Maguire. (Pic: Barry Cronin) Meath County Council’s Head of Finance and Director of Services Fiona Lawless was appointed the new Chief Executive, succeeding Jackie Maguire who, after spending 10 years at the helm of the Royal County, retired in early June. (Pic: Barry Cronin)




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Just a few months later in March 2020, like the rest of Ireland, County Meath was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has changed the landscape significantly, and we intend to invest in an intensive commuter survey, with our comparator local authorities in the necklace surrounding Dublin, to get a clearer picture of the amount of remote working and commuting, post Covid. This will commence later this year.”

The public health crisis led to the widespread closure of many businesses, including in the tourism and hospitality sectors, crucial to the local economy in Meath like other local economies. And like other regions around Ireland, this resulted in a significant increase in unemployment rates in the county, as well as a decrease in economic activity.

“However, the local and regional government were innovative and quick to respond by providing various supports to help affected businesses, including wage subsidies and grants, which helped to mitigate the economic impact,” Fiona Lawless pointed out.

In June 2021, the Government released its National Economic Recovery Plan which focused on a number of pillars, including supporting


Meath County Council is working to support and promote economic development in the county in the following areas:

• Indigenous Industry/SMEs

• Foreign Direct Investment

• Tourism/ Hospitality & Heritage

• Innovation

• Retail

• Agriculture/Food Industries

• Creative Economy

Launching the strategy’s roadmap, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that Meath Economic Development Strategy sets out very clear strategic priorities to deliver on economic growth and new jobs in the coming years. (Pic: Barry Cronin)

These seven key focus areas and four enabling actions with priority areas are all underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Meath County Council is one of eight local authorities and agencies north and south of the border along the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor to identify opportunities linked with the Corridor.

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Other notable trends include the rise of the digitalisation and tech industries, which have fuelled job creation and innovation in Ireland and the increasing importance of sustainability and climate action. And she claimed that Meath has managed to remain responsive to these economic trends, ensuring it could anticipate and mitigate any potential risks and opportunities and adjust the strategy accordingly.

“Meath’s unique selling points centre around the proximity to national and global markets, the availability of a large amount of appropriately zoned lands across the 12 strategic employment sites identified in our County Development Plan, access to a very skilled and educated workforce, together with the good quality housing, and quality of life for inhabitants, with all the recreational, heritage and entertainment facilities.”

Overall, the local economy of County Meath is influenced by a complex set of factors, including demographic changes, tourism, agriculture, technology, infrastructure investment, Covid-19 and Brexit. Meath is affected, like all Irish counties, by local, national and international trends.

“International supply chain issues and weary investors affect all counties in Ireland indiscriminately. However, Meath remains informed and well-positioned to take advantage of these drivers and to reduce any negative effects. As we look to 2030, Meath County Council is focused on driving sustainable economic growth and development across a range of sectors.”



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A pilot project, which has examined new approaches to public engagement as part of the Dundalk Local Area Plan 2024-2030 SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) in Louth, forms part of a research initiative to enhance SEA public participation in Ireland, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Planning Regulator.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) aims to not only make plans more environment-friendly, but also to increase public input into such plans, which is not always easy to do. Even when people are given an early and effective opportunity to express their opinions on a plan, as required by the European SEA Directive, they may not get involved in the plan-making process until they see that a site near their house has been put forward for development. More so, only the legal minimum plan and SEA public consultation is typically delivered.

In an attempt to change this, a pilot of novel public engagement approaches involving neighbourhood walks and a mapping workshop took place in June as part of the Dundalk Local Area Plan 20242030 SEA in County Louth. It was part of a research project aimed at enhancing SEA public participation in Ireland, led by University College Dublin (UCD) and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR).

The event was seen by Louth County Council’s planners as a key part of their plan consultation process, and an opportunity for the public to have a meaningful voice in the planning process.

One planner noted: “You read about the lack of public participation

in planning. I’m seeing this as a real opportunity to get early engagement with communities. It is particularly exciting to see the consultation focus on the environmental aspects of the Local Plan and see at a high-level what sort of environmental impacts people are concerned about.”


The event was advertised in the newspapers, posted in public places such as libraries, coffee shops and via social media. A StoryMap ( supported the event dissemination. A video outlining how the public can get involved in SEA was also developed ( and this can also be used to inform other SEA consultation processes. More than 7,000 social media views were recorded.


Members of the public were invited to walk through a neighbourhood and to identify existing strengths and weaknesses: they involve a two-way discussion in open spaces and in-situ data collection.

Strategic Environmental Assessment
Figure 1: Neighbourhood Walk and Community Mapping Workshop areas

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Strategic Environmental Assessment

The planning team identified four areas within Dundalk which, due to their vulnerability or development potential, are essential for the plan (see Figure 1). Although these areas were selected based on how they fit in with the pre-draft plan issues paper, the SEA public participation focused on key environmental considerations.

For each neighbourhood (Figure 1), participants were given a map of the area, including green and red stickers to mark positive and negative aspects of the areas. The project team took notes about the discussions.

This provided an opportunity for informal public interaction with the planners and the SEA team, and the exchange of concerns and ideas for the future development of the town. However, despite the apparent interest as reflected in the social media views, the turnout was very low with only seven participants in the event.


The workshop on community mapping organised the participants into small groups and brought them together to examine large-scale maps of the areas to discuss SEA themes such as climate change, water, wildlife and transport. The exercise aimed to identify potential key issues and solutions related to future development.

The participants who took part in this event, all of whom had also been on a neighbourhood walk, were provided with a table with SEA themes identified with colours, and space for annotations and dot stickers with the same colours.

They were asked to identify areas on the map where SEA themes could be impacted by the development of the plan, and to detail in the table the problems and possible solutions. Figure 4 and Table 1 give an indication of the output from the workshop participants.

Figure 2: Neighbourhood Walk Figure 4: Location of considerations raised in the Community Mapping Workshop Figure 3: Community Mapping Workshop

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SEA Theme Considerations Observations

Climate Change C1. Flood Risk

C2. Active Transport

• The town is at serious risk of flooding. There is a need to enhance and develop the Lord Limerick Embankment to help against flooding.

• Good cycling and pedestrian infrastructure are needed throughout the town including cycle lanes on main streets. Dundalk is a small town, so it should be entirely pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

• Consider informal popular cycling routes such as the one between St Malachy’s Infants’ School and Market Square.

• Local knowledge is needed to identify the best communication strategy to reach a full range of the public.

• The combination of neighbourhood walks to make people think about the area, and community mapping workshop to document people’s thinking meant that the resulting comments were location-specific and of high quality.

• It is important to maintain a degree of flexibility to adapt activities according to the characteristics of the location (e.g. distance of meeting places) and audience (e.g. people with disabilities).

The results of this pilot will be used, among other things, to develop tools that enhance Irish public participation practice, including the preparation of ‘Guidance on SEA Public Participation’.

Wildlife, Nature, Soil and Land Cover

W1. Green Parks and greenways

• Create a park/nature reserve with pedestrian access from the existing river walk and residential areas off Castletown Road.

• Create a greenway/linear park from Point Road to Cú Chulainn’s Castle.

Health and Transport

HT2. Risk to pedestrian safety


• There are very few ‘proper’, clear pedestrian crossings. There are lots of ‘hybrid’ crossings where it’s not clear who has the right of way.

The low number of participants, despite extensive publicity, was disappointing. This may have been due to the time of day (4:30-7pm), the unusually excellent weather or, most likely, simply that consultation on the early stages of a local plan is too distant from people’s day-to-day concerns.

However, those people who did attend the event were enthusiastic about it: “I really liked this open approach to highlighting good and bad things about Dundalk and learning from each other.”

“It was interesting to have the opportunity to look at the maps as a starting point for local

“This was a very good opportunity for brainstorming and developing joint solutions to improve the town. It is a shame no more people have turned up.”

The planning team, who was very active in advertising and running the event, also held the view that despite the low turnout, useful information nonetheless has been gained: “It’s the community’s plan and it’s important that they feel they have the opportunity to say what they want. Hopefully, they’ll get the outcomes that they want, and the plan supports the overarching theme of sustainable development.”


Summary of the overall lessons learned:

• The planning process for such events requires time and resources.

• Good teamwork is needed between the SEA and plan-making teams. The active and early involvement of the planmakers and the SEA team helped ensure a positive approach towards public engagement and integration.

About the Authors: Ainhoa González is Associate Professor at UCD’s School of Geography; Riki Therivel is Director of Levett-Therivel Sustainability Consultants, Gloriana Vargas is Research Assistant at UCD’s School of Geography, David L’Estrange is Environmental Policy and Assessment Advisor at CAAS Environmental Services Ltd. and Turlough King is Senior Executive Planner with Louth County Council.


This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 20212030 and co-funded by the OPR. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. For further information visit and

55 Strategic Environmental Assessment
Table 1. Examples of observations raised in the Community Mapping Workshop


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COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS Round-Up of 156th Plenary Session

The latest Committee of the Regions (CoR) two-day meeting in the European Parliament featured a debate on the role of local and regional authorities in the defence of democracy, held within the context of a package of measures announced by the European Commission President to defend democracy from covert foreign influence.

President Vasco Alves Cordeiro officially opened the 156th plenary session on 5-6 July in the European Parliament’s Hemicycle, which marked the fourth plenary of the year and featured ten opinions and six debates.

The debate on defending democracy was followed by an opinion of a similar theme by rapporteur-general Gustaw Marek Brezezin on the role of local and regional authorities in countering disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference.

The key vote of the first day was the proposal to allow certain meetings to be held remotely. This was in the context of the establishment of a new ad hoc committee. From an Irish perspective the highlight of the day was Cllr Una Power’s opinion on ambient air quality, which was debated alongside Asa Agren Wikstrom’s Revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. Following a close vote Cllr Power’s opinion was passed with a several amendments.

The first day concluded out with discussions on two opinions, firstly Isolde Ries opinion on Critical Raw Materials followed by Josef Frey’s opinion on the reform of the EU electricity market design, which seeks to speed up the clean energy transition. The second day began with a local matters debate on sustainable mobility in local areas, a topic which drew support from across

the house as representatives from the ECR, PES and the EPP spoke on the topic.

This was followed by a debate on the role of US and EU subnational governments with Robin Vos, President of the National Conference of State Legislature. Cllr Emma Blain thanked President Vos for his engagement with the CoR and noted that she looks forward to welcoming him to Dublin in August.

The plenary was rounded out with debates on the EU Enlargement Package, fostering the potential synergies of EU Green Deal initiatives for regions and cities and a debate on the forthcoming Net Zero Industry Act. The next plenary session will take place in conjunction with the week of cities and regions on 10-11 October.


Coinciding with the 156th CoR plenary session in July, a delegation from the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) undertook a two-day study visit to Brussels, meeting MEPs, EU officials and Ireland’s permanent representation staff.

During their visit to the European Parliament, the delegation of eight councillors and EMRA Chief Executive Jim Conway met with several Irish MEPs, such as Barry Andrews, Colm Markey, Ciaran

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A delegation from the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) met with MEPs and European institute representatives during a two-day visit to Brussels on 28-29 June.

The trip featured a presentation by Micheal O’Conchuir, Secretary General of the European Alliance group, who provided the eight councillors and three assembly members with an overview of the work of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the impact of the Irish delegation.

This was followed by two presentations from Commission officials – firstly DG Regio official Kai Stryczynski, who offered an analysis of the role of Cohesion Policy in Ireland, and then an introduction to the New European Bauhaus from fellow DG Regio official Tatiana Gouveia Coelho de Oliveira.

Cuffe and Clare Daly. Staff members from the offices of both Frances Fitzgerald MEP and Maria Walsh MEP outlined the nature of their work.

The EMRA delegation visited the European Parliament’s Hemicycle to see the conclusion of the 156th CoR plenary session. This was followed by a meeting at the Committee of the Regions office with Michael Collins, CoR’s Deputy Director. During their meeting he gave the delegation an overview of the work of the CoR as well as an outline of the role of the Regional Assembly in the CoR’s work.

The first day’s meetings were rounded out with a presentation from DG Regio Representatives Carmen Gonazalez and Miia Jouppi who spoke to the delegation about EU Regional Policy programmes including the Just Transition Programme, European Regional Development Funding and the New European Bauhaus programme.

The delegation visited the Irish Permanent Representation on the second day of their visit to meet Fionnuala Bourke. Fionnuala spoke to the delegation about her role as Cohesion Policy Attache as well as the need to increase the Irish presence in top jobs in EU institutions.

The visit concluded with a meeting with DG Regio official Tatiana Gouveia Coelho de Oliveira who spoke to the delegation about the New European Bauhaus initiative.

The SRA delegation also had an opportunity to meet their regional representatives Sean Kelly MEP, Billy Kelleher MEP, Deirdre Clune MEP and Chris MacManus MEP in the European Parliament.

They also met with Grace O’Sullivan MEP to discuss the forthcoming Nature Restoration Law. This was followed by a meeting with Alessandro Giordani, Head of Unit at DG Communication, who introduced the delegation to the network of EU councillors. The also featured a presentation from Enterprise Ireland’s Grainne Ryan about the opportunities for local government in the Horizon Europe programme. And concluding the visit IBEC’s Neil Willoughby offered an overview of Irish business interests in EU policy.

This information was first published in the ‘July 2023 Newsletter’ of the Irish Regions European Office (IREO) – IREO acts as a bridge between Irish local and regional government and the EU, explaining and guiding its stakeholders through the Brussels scene and promoting Irish interests and best practices at EU level. To subscribe visit

For further information visit or email Teresa Lennon, Head of the IREO and Co-ordinator of the CoR Irish Delegation at

Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) delegation in Brussels
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REGIONAL UNDERINVESTMENT Undermines Ireland’s Competitiveness

The Northern and Western region has a world class quality of life, a physical environment of outstanding natural beauty, a highly skilled population, healthy communities and a reputation for creativity. What makes a region an attractive place to live, work and invest? When addressing this type of question, policymakers often must evaluate and consider a combination of economic, social and cultural factors, with these factors central to explaining why one region – relatively speaking – is more attractive for workers, firms and investment compared to another region. Key amongst these factors is the degree to which a region has high-quality infrastructure.

The economic divide in the Northern and Western Region compared to the rest of the country is growing, reflecting the legacy of underinvestment in the NW region, which must be addressed by a stimulus package that positively discriminates in favour of this region, according to the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA).

Whether it be the presence of a high-quality road network, the provision of connected and accessible rail infrastructure, airports with international connectivity or the availability of higher education and research centres, it is obvious that infrastructure – or the lack of – is a major contributing factor to explaining the development patterns of our regions in Ireland.

The availability of high-quality infrastructure across the regions has been recently highlighted in new data from the European Commission’s Regional Competitiveness Index 2022, with the index showing that infrastructure deficits in the Northern and Western Region and the Southern Region of Ireland seem to be undermining the competitiveness of the Irish economy to attract further investment, jobs and talent.

Specifically, the index measures the competitiveness of the NUTS 2 Regions of the EU27, evaluating their performance in areas such as – but not limited to –infrastructure, innovation capabilities, technologies readiness, education and labour market conditions.

average in terms of competitiveness, with an overall index score of 98.2, with aboveaverage index scores registered in the Southern Region (105.1) and the Eastern and Midland Region (121.7).

The sheer scale of regional disparities in Ireland – in terms of attracting talent, jobs and investment – are revealed in the European Commission data, according to Cllr David Collins, NWRA Cathaoirleach.

The overall score of each NUTS 2 Region – and their subsequent performance with respect to each indicator – is measured relative to the EU27 average which has been set at an index score of 100. Of the 3 NUTS 2 Regions of Ireland – which represent the regional boundaries under Project Ireland 2040 – the Northern and Western Region was the only one that was below the EU27

61 Northern And Western Regional Assembly
Denis Kelly, NWRA Director, points out that the quality and scale of infrastructure projects in the N&W region will have to be significantly improved.

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Out of the 234 regions in the 27 member states of the EU, the Eastern and Midland Region was ranked as the 24 th most competitive regional economy, the Southern Region ranked 94 th while the Northern and Western Region was further down the rankings in 114 th position.


These results are quite stark, according to Councillor David Collins, Cathaoirleach of the NWRA. “He says that data from the European Commission shows the sheer scale of regional disparities in Ireland in terms of attracting talent, jobs and investment.

“When you look at the data, it shows that the Northern and Western Region’s performance would be in line with results recorded in regional economies across Eastern and Southern Europe, despite Ireland being regarded as one of the wealthiest economies in the EU27.”

Cllr Collins further notes that the disparity in Ireland’s regional performances is in sharp contrast to other wealthy European countries in the EU, with Member States such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland all having regions with an overall competitiveness score which was above the EU27 average.

However, the index goes further than simply providing an overall score and identifies the specific strengths and weaknesses of the economy of each EU Member State and its regions, showing policymakers where their respective country or region has to make improvements or can make further progress.

At a national level, Ireland – relative to the EU27 average – was found to be relatively strong in a wide range of areas key to attracting investment, jobs and talent, with above average performances evident in innovation capabilities, business sophistication, technological readiness, labour market conditions, higher education and lifelong learning, basic education, health of its citizens, macroeconomic conditions and institutions.

That said, where Ireland notably underperforms and records relatively weak scores is in the area of ‘Market Size’ but predominantly in the area of ‘Infrastructure’, with below average performances in the Northern and Western Region and the Southern Region of Ireland credited to these scores. Overall, Ireland was ranked the 9 th most competitive economy in the EU27, with the Netherlands classified as the most competitive economy.


Denis Kelly, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, says that these findings provide clear evidence that the delivery of “better balanced regional development can not only benefit our rural regions” but also can enhance the overall competitiveness of the Irish economy in attracting and developing new jobs and investments.

“Ireland’s economy is quite competitive in areas such as education, technology adoption and labour market conditions, but it is being particularly undermined by the lack of high-quality and appropriately scaled infrastructure in the Northern and Western Region. If policymakers are serious about improving the ability of Ireland to attract new jobs, skilled workers and investments, then the quality and scale of infrastructure projects in our region will have to be significantly improved.”

In this regard, Mr Kelly points to the need for the timely delivery of the region’s infrastructure needs which were identified in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Northern and Western Region.

The Director of the NWRA believes that a particular focus is needed on delivering large scale infrastructure projects necessary to support development in urban centres such as the Galway City Metropolitan Area, Sligo Town, Letterkenny and Athlone, with an emphasis on supporting key actors such as the University of Galway and the Atlantic Technological University, regional ports such as Galway Harbour, and regional transportation hubs such as Killybegs, Ros a Mhíl, Ireland West Knock Airport and Donegal Airport.”


“If we can do this, the data shows we can significantly improve our chances of attracting more investment, jobs and highquality talent to our regions and to Ireland as whole, notes John Daly, Economist for the Northern and Western Regional Assembly.

He points out that failure to fully develop the infrastructure assets of the Northern and Western Region of Ireland could not only undermine the competitiveness of Ireland’s economy but could also have significant consequences for regional inequality in Ireland.

63 Northern And Western Regional Assembly
Figure 1: Index scores of the Northern and Western Region and Ireland in the European Commission’s 2022 ‘Regional Competitiveness Index’. The EU27 average is equal to index score of 100 (i.e. blue line) Source: European Commission

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“By adopting a policy of ‘Positive Discrimination’ towards the Northern and Western Region we can address legacy


According to John Daly, the lack of delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects in the Northern and Western Region is likely to be one of the key factors explaining this trend. Continued underinvestment in the region’s infrastructure assets will only exacerbate regional inequalities and regional imbalance in Ireland, leading to the continued over-dominance of the Greater Dublin Area.

For this reason, the NWRA has called for a policy of ‘Positive Discrimination’ to be adopted in terms of capital investment. From a regional perspective, ‘Positive Discrimination’ is a policy which aims to support regions that are struggling – economically speaking – by applying

above average levels of resources towards that region. In terms of capital investment, this would involve providing a higher rate of funding – per head of population – in the Northern and Western Region’s infrastructure assets.

“By adopting a policy of ‘Positive Discrimination’ towards the Northern and Western Region we can address legacy underinvestment in enabling infrastructure that will reduce regional imbalances in Ireland while ensuring that each region in Ireland has an equal opportunity in becoming an attractive place to live, work and invest. In doing so we can fully realise the unique potential of the regions while enhancing the competitiveness of the Irish economy,” he maintains.

“Over the past number of years, the European Commission’s Semester Country Reports have consistently highlighted how rising regional disparities are becoming more of an issue in Ireland, with this trend particularly evident in the latest data on disposable income per head of population.”

Disposable income per head of population – which captures the net income of citizens after taxes and social contributions – is regarded as one of the most important metrics in evaluating the economic wellbeing of citizens across our regions.

“In 2010, disposable income per head of population in the Northern and Western Region was 94 per cent of the State average, with the gap generally around 90 per cent or higher for the most of the 2000s. However, in recent years we have seen this gap progressively widened to the point that disposable income per head of population in the region is now 84 per cent of the State average according to the latest estimates in 2021.”

65 Northern And Western Regional Assembly
Figure 2: Provision of motorway infrastructure in Ireland Source: NWRA
– John Daly, NWRA Economist

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Developing our Regions, Counties, Towns and Communities

The Southern Regional Assembly is the managing authority for the roll out of the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027, the latest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, which is investing €663 million across 18 counties in the Southern Region and the Eastern and Midland Region in Ireland.

Launched in April 2023, the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027 is co-financed by the European Union and the Government of Ireland. The programme area has a population of 4.2 million and covers just over half of the country – Limerick, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Carlow, Tipperary, Wexford, Kilkenny, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Louth, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Longford as well as Dublin.

“The programme will have a direct impact on balancing regional disparities in Ireland by targeting support at regional level for research and innovation, energy efficiency and sustainable regeneration of our regional towns,” according to David Kelly, Director of the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA).

“Over the past half-century, Ireland’s EU membership has changed how we live, work, study and travel for the better. This new chapter in the story of ERDF in Ireland will continue to improve our way of life in the Irish regions by addressing key regional challenges,” he added.


The programme assists the Government’s aim of promoting balanced regional development by supporting implementation of the Regional Economic and Spatial Strategies in both regions in the programme area and is focused on the following key strategic outcomes:

1. Developing Smarter More Competitive Regions by building RD&I capacity in public research institutions, accelerating the translation of cutting-edge research into commercial applications at a regional level, supporting innovation diffusion and strengthening regional innovation ecosystems in line with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Regional Enterprise Plans. Funding will be targeted at universities and enterprise clusters in the programme area. Funding calls will be managed by the Higher Education Authority, Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

2. Creating Greener More Energy Efficient Regions and a Just Transition by scaling up investment in actions that improve the energy efficiency of residential homes while targeting homeowners in, or at risk of, energy poverty. Funding will

be directed through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to provide free home energy upgrades to qualifying homeowners.

3. Supporting Sustainable Urban Development in our Regions by promoting an integrated strategic approach to the regeneration of towns within a Town Centres First Framework. Funding calls will be managed by the Southern Regional Assembly and will support local authorities responsible for implementing the Town Centres First policy within key towns and strategic growth centres in the programme area.

Funding calls under the new programme have already commenced with the earliest calls targeting universities and technological universities, while funding calls targeting local authorities and regional enterprise ecosystems will follow in the second half of 2023.

All funding calls are published on .

Pictured at the launch of the programme in Kilkenny Castle on 25 April were (l-r): SRA’s Cathaoirleach Cllr Oliver Walsh, and Director David Kelly with Miia Jouppi, European Commission’s Programme Manager of Regional Policy, and Andrew Condon, Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform

67 EU Regional Programme 2021-2027

Further information on the new ERDF Northern and Western Regional Programme and the new EU JTF Programme is available on the Northern and Western Regional Assembly website and the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly website


European Territorial Co-operation (ETC), more commonly known as Interreg, is one of the key objectives of ERDF and EU Cohesion Policy. ETC provides a framework for the implementation of joint projects between national, regional and local stakeholders from different EU member states with the goal of finding common solutions to common problems.

The ETC Network in the Southern Region is a forum for all those working on and/or interested in ETC projects and is hosted by the Southern Regional Assembly. Members can benefit and learn from each other’s projects, share experiences to build a meaningful platform and network to support the delivery of sustainable regional development (including RSES and other regional initiatives) to the benefit of the region.

There are currently over 200 members of the ETC Network in the Southern Region, the majority of whom are involved in Interreg Programmes while there are also members who are involved other EU-funded programmes.

Benefits of ETC Network membership include:

• Regular updates on ETC programmes and funding calls.

• Informational Sessions towards capacity building events throughout the year.

• Annual conferences.

• Targeted interactions linking Local Authorities, Higher Education Institutions, SMEs and Civil Societies.

• Networking opportunities.

For details visit


The Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) Programme fosters transnational co-operation to make North-West Europe a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion.

• ‘Call 3’, for small-scale projects, closed on 12 July. The National Contact Point (NCP) is Sarah Davoren, Southern Regional Assembly; email:

The Interreg Europe Programme helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy.

• Call 2 closed on 9 June with Call 3 expected to open in early 2024 (72 of 134 projects were approved in Call 1 while 145 proposals were submitted for Call 2).

The Interreg Northern Periphery & Artic Programme aims to help generate vibrant, competitive, and sustainable communities by harnessing innovation, expanding the capacity for entrepreneurship, and seizing the unique growth initiatives and opportunities of the Northern and Arctic regions in a resource efficient way.

• Call 4 is expected to open this year on 4 October and close on 17 November.

The Interreg Atlantic Area Programme objective is to implement solutions to answer regional challenges in innovation, resource efficiency, environment, and protection of cultural assets, to generate a better quality of life in the Atlantic Area territory.

• For updates on future calls, email Travis O’Doherty, NCP for Interreg Northern Periphery & Artic and Atlantic Area, on

URBACT aims to enable cities to work together to develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges, by networking, learning from one another’s experiences, drawing lessons and identifying good practices to improve urban policies.

• A call for ‘Innovative Transfer Mechanisms’ will open early 2024, with a call for ‘Good Practices’ later in 2024 and a call for ‘Transfer Networks’ in early 2025. Email Karl Murphy, NCP for URBACT, for details on

The ESPON 2030 Programme bridges research with policies by providing territorial analyses, data and maps to support EU development policies with facts and evidence and to help public authorities to benchmark their region or city, identify new challenges and potentials and shape successful development policies for the future.

• More calls for tenders for European research territorial studies are expected this year. Stakeholder proposals for ESPON Targeted Analyses can be submitted at any time. Email Caroline Creamer, ESPON NCP, to further discuss the programme on

For further information about the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programmes visit:

69 EU Regional Programme 2021-2027
SRA’s Cathaoirleach Cllr Oliver Walsh pictured with attendees at a recent ETC Network Conference in Wexford County Hall.



Uisce Éireann’s delivery of its largest-ever capital investment programme of €1bn across the State for the year ahead is on stream, with projects ranging from largescale water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades to smaller interventions such as reservoir repairs and upgrading pumps, writes

Uisce Éireann is Ireland’s national, publicly owned, water services utility responsible for the delivery of secure, safe and sustainable water services for the people of Ireland. Our purpose is to rise to the challenge of delivering transformative water services that enable communities to thrive. Our vision is a sustainable Ireland where water is respected and protected, for the planet and all the lives it supports.

This year Uisce Éireann will deliver its largest-ever capital investment programme in one year, amounting to a spend of over €1bn right across the State with projects ranging from large-scale water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades to smaller interventions such as reservoir repairs and upgrading pumps. It also involves several ongoing national programmes focused on areas such as leakage reduction and enhanced water treatment.

Uisce Éireann works closely with local authorities and our delivery partners to ensure the delivery of our Capital Investment Plan nationwide. Recognising that people are critical to the successful delivery of this ambitious investment programme, we have placed a huge focus on supporting and developing our staff with a stated commitment to harnessing a safe, diverse, inclusive culture where our people are empowered and high performing.

With over 5,000 people working on multiscale projects and programmes across Ireland, our priority is to ensure that everyone goes home safely from work each day. At Uisce Éireann, we believe ‘no activity is so important or urgent that it cannot be done safely’. By working together and holding ourselves accountable, we can cultivate a work environment where everyone is safe.

Our recently launched ‘Am I SAFE?’ campaign is designed to ensure that together with our delivery partners we maintain a focus on our individual and collective safety. The overarching objective of all Uisce Éireann’s investments is to support communities with water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure a safe and reliable drinking-water supply and that wastewater is treated to the correct standards to go back into the environment.

Our capital investment programme has been growing and expanding over the past six to seven years. We plan to scale up investment in critical water infrastructure to €1.5bn a year up to 2030. At any one time, we estimate that around 5,000 people are working directly or indirectly on our projects, which represent about 10% of the total public sector capital investment programme.

Over the past year we have been working on seven largescale projects involving investment of over €100m each. Among these is the flagship €140m Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant Scheme in partnership with Wicklow County Council, which commenced in 2021 and due to be completed by 2025.

Now well underway, this is a critical project which will stop the discharge of wastewater from the town of Arklow into the Avoca River and out into the sea. It is important in terms of protecting the environment, facilitating economic development and providing for a growing population.

The Arklow project is part of our commitment to ending the discharge of all untreated sewage in Ireland. From having 50

70 Uisce Éireann
Mobilising a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) at one of the many trenchless shafts for the Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant Scheme.

locations where raw sewage was being discharged in 2014, we are on track to end almost all raw sewage discharges within the next two years, with over 65% of these already eliminated to date. This progress has been achieved by building new wastewater plants and networks in 23 towns across the country where treatment had never existed before.

This new infrastructure has stopped the discharge of about 20 million litres of raw sewage every day, which equates to the sewage generated by over 100,000 people. We currently have 16 new locations under construction, with the remainder due to get underway from 2023 onwards.


A prime example of the success of the capital investment programme is the €144m Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project, completed in 2021, which means wastewater from surrounding towns is no longer being discharged untreated into Cork Harbour. Instead, it is collected and fully treated before its safe discharge to the sea. In 2015, before work began on the project, the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage was discharged every day into Cork Harbour.

As well as a new wastewater treatment plant in Shanbally, the project included the Cobh to Monkstown Estuary Crossing. This landmark engineering feat involved

drilling under the Lee Estuary, two of the longest horizontal direction drills every carried out in Ireland. Meanwhile work is ongoing across the country to upgrade existing treatment plants to ensure they operate in compliance with the relevant Irish and European standards.

The most significant project has been a major upgrade to the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant (WwTP)

in Dublin, where wastewater has been treated since 1906. Currently the Ringsend WwTP treats approximately 40% of the country’s wastewater.

To treat the increasing volumes of wastewater arriving at the plant to the required standard and capacity, we’re investing over €500m in the phased upgrading of the plant. The project will deliver, on a phased basis, the capacity to treat the wastewater for a population equivalent of 2.4 million while achieving the standards of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive by the end of 2025.

Most recently the project reached another significant milestone with the completion of Ireland’s first facility to recover phosphorus from wastewater. This facility will be capable of producing 4,000 tonnes of phosphorous-based struvite every year, removing a potentially damaging product from the waste stream and using it to produce a fertilizer product. It is a great example of how Uisce Éireann puts sustainability at the heart of our projects.


Having adequate wastewater infrastructure is vital to support the sustainable growth of communities and business and to protect the environment. In addition to the major upgrade of

71 Uisce Éireann
An aerial view of the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Works. Pipeline installation as part of the longest horizontal directional drill on the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project.

Ringsend, upgrades of our existing wastewater treatment facilities in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) are underway, as well as significant investment in new infrastructure.

A shortfall in wastewater treatment capacity would have serious consequences, potentially impacting economic growth and development in the GDA as well as compliance and potential environmental impacting local communities.

In the longer term, the Greater Dublin Drainage (GDD) project will provide additional wastewater treatment capacity for the region, once the country’s largest wastewater facility at Ringsend reaches its upgraded maximum capacity by the mid-2020s.

This project represents the next vital step in the development of our wastewater infrastructure for Dublin and the surrounding counties. Once operational, the GDD project will have the capacity to provide wastewater treatment for the equivalent of half a million people living and working in this area.

One recently completed project is the Blanchardstown Regional Drainage Scheme (BRDS), a strategically important €88 million wastewater infrastructural project that will support existing and future residential and commercial development in Blanchardstown and surrounding areas.

The project will also protect the local environment by reducing the frequency and volume of untreated overflows from the wastewater network to the Tolka River, protecting habitats and ecosystems in both the river and in Dublin Bay.


There are well-recognised challenges in relation to the delivery of large-scale infrastructure in Ireland. The timelines for the delivery of critical wastewater infrastructure are subject to funding approvals and other issues such as planning and land acquisition which are outside of Uisce Éireann’s control and can impact on delivery timelines.

It can typically take five to seven years for a project to progress from planning to completion, and seven to ten years and beyond where further complexities (additional consents such as foreshore licences for early-stage marine modelling and compulsory purchase orders) arise.

Timelines can extend much further where appeals and judicial reviews are encountered. Uisce Éireann has provided recommendations as part of the review of the Planning and Development Bill and is hoping this will lead to a more streamlined planning and statutory approvals process so that critical infrastructure can be built across the State without delay.

FACTFILE – Seamus Ryan

Seamus Ryan is a Chartered Civil & Structural Engineer with 20 years’ industry experience across a wide range of infrastructure projects. For the past 10 years, he has worked with Uisce Éireann managing the delivery of small to large scale projects and work programmes across water and wastewater. Since 2017, Seamus has been programme manager for the Greater Dublin Drainage project, one of Uisce Éireann’s largest and key strategic projects.

Uisce Éireann
Construction of the three main storage tanks (30,000m3) on the Blanchardstown Regional Drainage Scheme (BRDS).
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Following the closing ceremony of the International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) 2023 in Barcelona on 9 June, Donal McManus, CEO of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), said that in association with Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI) and Housing Europe, ICSH was pleased that Dublin has been selected to host the next ISHF in 2025.

“Hosting the event in Dublin is an opportunity to learn from international best practice in terms of public housing delivery, while also demonstrating some of the work underway in Ireland to ramp-up delivery under the ‘Housing for All’ plan.

“We’re delighted to have the support from our delivery partners including the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’ Brien, the Housing Agency, the Housing Finance Agency, Dublin’s four local authorities, the UCD Geary Institute and Fáilte Ireland.”

Tina Donaghy, President of the ICSH, noted that hosting the event in Dublin will allow both approved housing bodies and local authorities to demonstrate the progress made under the government’s housing plan.

Dublin has been selected as the next host location for the International Social Housing Festival in 2025. The event is an initiative by Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Co-operative and Social Housing, and its members and allies, present in 25 countries and encompassing 25 million dwellings.

Following the closing ceremony of ISHF 2023 in Barcelona on 9 June, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, accepted the handover of the festival to Dublin for 2025. He is pictured alongside Donal McManus, CEO of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), and Bob Jordan, CEO of The Housing Agency.

“It is also an opportunity to share ideas and learn from the experiences of our colleagues both in Europe and further afield. The housing crisis we are feeling here is impacting so many people, young and old, especially the most vulnerable. Sharing information and solutions is important as we seek to deliver more much-needed homes.”

The International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) is an initiative by Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing, and its members and allies, present in 25 countries and encompassing 25 million dwellings: 11% of the housing stock in the European Union.

The first ISHF took place in Amsterdam in 2017 and was attended by some 1,300 people with a total of 45 events over two days. The second was organised in Lyon in 2019 and involved some 5,000 participants and 70 events over four days.

The third, planned for 2021 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finally took place in June 2022 in Helsinki, where about 1,000 people participated in 80 different activities over three days. The 2023 festival took place in Barcelona on 7-9 June.

For background information on the International Social Housing Festival visit

75 Social Housing Festival
Dublin is the next location to host the bi-ennnial International Social Housing Festival in 2025 – Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is pictured with members of the Irish delegation following the handover in Barcelona.
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Bon Secours Health System (BSHS) has been on a significant journey since taking over Barringtons Hospital on George’s Quay in 2017. Site restrictions have meant that to continue to grow, BSHS is developing a state-ofthe-art new €190 million Bon Secours hospital in Towlerton, Limerick, to meet the surging healthcare needs of the Mid-West region.

As Ireland’s largest independent hospital group, Bon Secours Health System (BSHS) is renowned for the quality of its service provision coupled with a rich tradition in healthcare. BSHS is a notfor-profit organisation with its mission centred on providing compassionate, world-class medical treatment to all those it serves.

With more than 3,500 staff, 500 leading consultants, BSHS treats more than 300,000 patients annually in its five modern acute hospitals in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tralee and Dublin, in addition to a Care Village in Cork.

This new facility will transform day-care surgical treatments available in Limerick and incorporate a medical assessment unit. It will provide new services such as cardiology, general medicine, endocrinology, neurology, and respiratory medicine and widens patient-centred services to a growing local population.

Designed with patient experience to the fore, the new hospital will be a sustainable

and digital hospital, having every sustainable signature from air-to-water heat pump technology to photovoltaic solar systems. The patient has been considered at each point in their journey, with significant investment being made into the acoustics of the rooms and the landscaping of the gardens.

The new hospital will open in January 2025 and will create 250 new high-skilled jobs and 150 additional hospital beds. According to BSHS Group Chief Executive, Bill Maher, “The new Limerick Hospital is the latest development in our €300m national investment strategy, with the Mid-West now set to further benefit from the high-quality healthcare and technologically advanced services that are the Bon Secours hallmark.”

Last year Bon Secours Health System announced a €300 million national investment in its services as part of a new strategy, ‘Resilience,

Reliability and Readiness – The 2025 Plan’, which includes new capital projects, stateof-the-art equipment, IT infrastructure, and the creation of 450 new jobs across the country.

As well as its new hospital plans for Limerick, Bon Secours has recently opened new €10 million operating theatres in Cork. A €16 million new Day Ward and Oncology Unit in Dublin is set to open in July, with Bon Secours Tralee also planning to open a new €10 million Medical Assessment Unit and surgical day ward in 2024.

Pictured at the sod turn in Ballysimon in February 2022 (l-r): Geoff Meagher of Bon Secours; Cllr Francis Foley, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD; Dr Siobhan

Bon Secours Health System
Grimes, Bill Maher, CEO, Denis O’Sullivan, and Jason Kenny from Bon Secours Health System Group. The new hospital is due to open in January 2025 and will create 250 new high-skilled jobs and 150 additional hospital beds.
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CLÚID SETS HIGH STANDARDS For Social Housing Delivery

Dúiche Roden, located in Dundalk, Co. Louth, is one of Clúid Housing’s newest social housing developments. The scheme was built using Clúid’s bespoke Developer Design and Build process and will provide a mix of apartments and houses for 133 families on Louth County Council’s housing list.

As one of Ireland’s leading Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), Clúid owns and manages over 10,000 properties, providing homes to over 27,000 people. Clúid continues to lead the way in providing secure, affordable, high-quality housing to people across Ireland, working in partnership with local authorities to provide homes to those on social housing lists.

During a recent visit to Clúid’s latest development in Dundalk, in association with Louth County Council, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, commended the progress being made in providing secure and age-friendly homes for Dundalk residents. He said that he looks forward to seeing the completed development, “as we continue to support Clúid and Louth County Council to deliver on the Government’s Housing for All targets”.

Minister O’Brien was joined by Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Cllr Conor Keelan, Chief Executive of Louth County Council, Joan Martin, and other attendees during the visit to the final phase of the development, which is currently under construction.

The 72 houses and apartments, being developed and built by Sonas and OHMG Construction over three phases, are due to be completed this autumn. The scheme is being delivered using Clúid’s bespoke Developer Design and Build process,

Resident Emma McCaffrey, who met the Minister during his visit, said: “We’ve been living in Dúiche Roden for a couple of months now, and the location is great. Everything is right at your doorstep – the local park, the shopping centre and the main town centre are all within walking distance. The estate itself is nice and quiet. My kids love it as they have made some new friends here.”

where Clúid purchased the site and entered into an agreement with the developer Sonas, who then managed the design and construction of the project.

The apartment block, comprising of five floors and 14 oneand two-bed apartments, will be managed by Clann (Clúid’s dedicated age-friendly housing service for people aged over 55). All apartments were designed and developed using Universal Design principles, to ensure their new residents can age in place and enjoy their homes for many years to come.

While residents of the apartment block recently received their keys, residents of phase one – a mix of 47 two-, three- and four-bed houses and bungalows – have already settled into their new homes.

Louth County Council’s Chief Executive, Joan Martin, said it was fantastic to see the huge progress made at Dúiche Roden, due to the council’s partnership with Clúid Housing. “County Louth has been given very ambitious social housing targets under the Government’s Housing for All strategy, and this development will provide new homes for 133 families from the council’s social housing list. The high standard of these new homes supports Louth’s age-friendly principles and will allow residents to enjoy living here for many years to come.”

Eibhlin O’Connor, Clúid’s Acting Chief Commercial Officer, described Dúiche Roden as a perfect symbol of Clúid’s ongoing relationship with county councils like Louth. “We see families in phase one settling in and building a home and community, residents in the next phase will get the keys to their forever home, where they can grow old securely and comfortably.”

The project has been supported by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Housing Finance Agency, the Housing Agency and Louth County Council. The Clúid team would like to wish the Dúiche Roden residents all the best in their new home and community.

79 Clúid Housing
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien enjoyed views of the entire development from the top floor of the apartment block in Dundalk.
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MODERN METHODS Of Construction

he Housing Agency’s Procurement Unit has published a guidance document to support the provision of ‘design and build’ housing projects using modern methods of construction, which has the potential to increase the productivity of the construction sector and overcome some of the problems facing the industry.

In recent years, housebuilding has been impacted by rising construction costs and a shortage of skilled labour.

Apart from having the potential to increase productivity and overcome some of the problems facing the construction sector, the benefits of these modern methods of construction include the quality of production in a controlled factory setting, time savings, less reliance on skilled labour and more sustainable delivery.

The ‘Housing for All’ plan encourages the use of such modern methods to improve, support and accelerate the delivery of housing. This guidance document for local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) provides a contractual means to encourage the use of Modern Methods of Construction using the Capital Works Management Framework, ‘PW-CF2 Public Works Contracts for Building Works Designed by the Contractor’. It discusses procurement strategies available to local authorities and AHBs and outlines the areas for consideration to ensure success.

The Housing Agency’s Procurement and Delivery Unit also supplies technical services and supports to local authorities and AHBs in implementing modern methods of construction.

REDUCTION IN SOCIAL Housing Waiting Lists

he Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) is a point-intime count of all households who have qualified for social housing in each local authority nationally.

Carried out under the 2009 Housing Act and various statutory instruments, the SSHA became an annual process in 2016 to inform policy and guide planning for housing delivery.

The most recent count on 1 November 2022 found that 57,842 households required social housing – 2.4% lower than the 2021 count and over a third (37%) less than 2016. Dublin’s four local authorities account for 43% of total social housing need.

At 56% of all households qualified for social housing, single adults make up the largest composition group with proportions growing from 42% in 2016.

Most qualified households currently live in private rented housing (40%) however, this proportion has fallen steadily since 2016 (67%). The number living with family and friends has increased to 37% from 21% in 2016.

The proportion of main applicants over 60 has also grown with 12% of total households in this age group compared to 7% in 2016. However, households spend less time on the list with 39% on the list for less than two years by the 2022 count compared to 28% in 2016.

A Traveller Identifier introduced in 2022 should give a more accurate count of Traveller households by next year once all new and revised applications are included. For the first time, the SSHA can now report the number of households living in direct provision, which totalled 572 in 2022.

81 The Housing Agency
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To access both guidance documents in full visit
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South Dublin County Council’s latest development of 133 new cost rental apartments at Belgard Square North in Tallaght town centre, which is expected to be completed and occupied in 2025, represents the State’s first standalone cost rental project by a local authority.

Mayor of South Dublin, Cllr. Emma Murphy, along with Darragh O’Brien, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, officially turned the sod on South Dublin County Council’s new social housing scheme.

The development consists of 3 studio apartments, 64 one-bedroom apartments, 63 two-bedroom apartments and 3 threebedroom apartments to be delivered in 3 blocks, ranging from three to eight storeys together with community space and highquality communal and public open space.

The central location is ideal for the rental market with proximity to major employment, retail and education centres as well as excellent transport links and amenities. These include the soon-to-be completed Work IQ Innovation Centre and the Innovation Square public plaza, both of which are also current council projects. Building contractors JJ Rhatigan have been appointed by South Dublin County Council for the construction works with the development expected to be completed and occupied in 2025.

The project is being funded by South Dublin County Council with support through the Affordable Housing Fund from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the national ‘Housing for All’ plan.


Cost rental housing provides affordable rented accommodation to people on middle incomes who are above the

threshold for social housing but may have difficulty affording private rented accommodation. The rent payable by tenants in this development will be directly linked to the cost of building, managing and maintaining the homes, discounted to at least 25% below local market rents through the Affordable Housing Fund subsidy.

Speaking at the official sod turning, Minister O’Brien said that cost rental is now a new form of tenure in Ireland. “It’s

where rents are charged which cover the cost of delivering, managing and maintaining the homes only, so they are not driven by profits. They are safe and secure rental homes where people can set down their roots if they want to, safe in the knowledge that the State is backing them.”

The Minister added that under the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ strategy at least 18,000 Cost Rental homes have been delivered across the country by Ireland’s local authorities, AHBs and the Land Development Authority.

“As we turn the sod on the first local authority-led Cost Rental Scheme in the State, we aim to provide an affordable long-term rental option to residents in South Dublin who want to work and live in this community,” noted South Dublin County Council’s Mayor Cllr Emma Murphy.

She said that the event represents a landmark in South Dublin by showing leadership in the provision of innovative housing solutions for the local community. “It is a pivotal day for people in Tallaght and throughout the county as we embrace this new model in South Dublin. I’m delighted that the project has the full backing of Minister O’Brien and his office which will allow for people to embed and thrive here in our local community in Tallaght.”

83 South Dublin County Council
Danny McLoughlin, SDCC Chief Executive, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, Cllr Emma Murphy Mayor of South Dublin and Padraic Rhatigan from JJ Rhatigan pictured at the sodturning event marking the development of 133 affordable rental units at Belgard Square North, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
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DUBLIN HAS DESIGNS ON New Urban Landscape Strategy

A new scale of greening strategy for Ireland’s capital city from Dublin City Council’s ‘Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services’ has been launched, with the focus of DCC’s in-house landscape architectural team on creating nature-based solutions that can be easily retro-fitted into the urban landscape, writes landscape architect Peter Leonard.

Climate change is the issue of our times. The scale of the climate change challenge requires a concerted effort by all; but our capacity to act is often hampered by diverging views and growing politicisation. However, where there is crisis, there is potential, after all ‘all politics is local’ and it is at this level, that people are often inspired to act.

In a geographic sense, a UCD study in 2021 revealed a similar insight on people’s attitudes to climate change. The research revealed that people are ultimately concerned most about issues that affect their personal lives and home communities.

The UCD study ‘Mapping Green Dublin’ showed that participant’s attitudes to climate change was trumped by their concern for their local street and the needs of their immediate local area.

For several years now, the message on climate change has broadcast at a macro, rather than local level. We hear of rising global temperatures, rising oceans and almost every summer, scenes from around the world of burning landscapes seem to harbour the unthinkable.

Strangely, the message is often abstracted by our distance from these scenes and a narrative that emphasises timelines that may seem long-term to some. The impacts of climate change, although potentially devastating, do not often inspire an urgency to act in the here and now.


Since 2019, when DCC launched its Climate Change Action Plan, the focus of the in-house landscape architectural team has been on creating nature-based solutions that can be easily retrofitted into the urban landscape.

The Climate Action Plan has outlined key targets for improving the resilience of the city and improving awareness and engagement with communities in the face of this change. The council’s landscape architectural team has imbedded itself in this process and has developed a series of greening strategies that target parts of the city with the largest deficits in green infrastructure.

The Liberties Greening Strategy, North-East Inner City Greening Strategy and the Stoneybatter Greening Strategy followed and as each strategy developed, they evolved to meet the particular constraints and challenges of each community.

The parks team has adapted their methodologies over time,

but one aspect that we seek to continually improve is public engagement. We have found that many communities are very interested in engaging on local projects but often disengage at the strategic or district level. The wider area is often seen as someone else’s problem.

To counter this and, inspired both by the revelations in the UCD study and small scale greening strategies received from residents groups, the team began to develop a novel idea. A micro greening strategy was proposed to improve engagement

85 Dublin City Council
People enjoy the newly refurbishment Wolfe Tone Park, one of many projects completed in the city in 2022 as part of the ‘Greening the City Programme’.



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the Mid West Region

and buy-in at a local level.

The principles behind the new approach have not changed; the key difference is the reduced scale of the strategy. The micro greening strategies are local, the current pilot ‘Whitefriar Greening Strategy’ in Dublin 8, measures no more than 0.5km by 0.5km and comprises less than 10 hectares and about 14 urban streets. In contrast with previous strategies, this is about a tenth of the size.


However, why down scale in the face of a growing global challenge? The answer to this brings us back to the idea that action needs energy and to inspire this, we believe the challenge should be framed as a local issue. The best way to challenge a global problem that is as complex as climate change is to take action at the local level and empower local communities to do what they can now.

In addition, the larger scale strategies tended to run out of steam overtime. The benefit of the micro strategy is the solution can be largely delivered in a few short years with intensive local engagement and a focus of resources.

If successful, this approach can be rolled out quickly with the benefits evident in a shorter timescale. Already several follow-up micro strategies have been put forward by local communities around the city.

The larger scale strategies, developed to date, have delivered impressive results, in the North-East Inner City Greening Strategy; the quantum of trees in the public realm has increased by 40%. In the Liberties, access to public open space has increased by 150% with the delivery of three new urban parks, while the Stoneybatter Greening Strategy has seen 40 projects inspired by a local co-design process with many already delivered.

Shadowing the implementation of this work is a growing expertise within the landscape architectural team and the wider landscape architectural industry who collaborate with us on many projects. The unique blend of competencies within the landscape architectural profession perfectly places this discipline to provide many of the solutions needed to address the various challenges of climate change.


Many of the projects delivered include aspects of civil engineering, urban planning and design, ecology and place making, the essential element in ensuring our urban areas are places where people what to live.

This is probably the most important point. If we are to meet the goals set out by net zero cities and other climate change policies, cities, as the main human habitat on the planet, must be attractive places to live. Cities must have excellent access to public open space for its residents and a generous layer of green infrastructure to ensure that wider energy benefits of living in urban areas are optimised.

Green infrastructure and nature-based solutions have an impressive latent capacity to improve urban resilience; they also have multiple other benefits that range from improving air quality through sequestered air pollutants, reducing water

pollution and urban flooding through SuDs, reducing heat island effects, which is a growing issue even in Irish cities.

Green infrastructure also benefits urban biodiversity and addresses a key target within the climate change challenge. Using good design and a holistic approach, these projects deliver improved living environments for people living in urban areas, including an array of well-documented health benefits.


If the micro greening strategies gain traction, as it is hoped, these will be rolled out simultaneously across the city starting in the areas with the most pressing deficits. The local focus on what can be done in the public realm may inspire participants to improve aspects of there private dwellings or business premises. Ultimately, this challenge requires everybody to take action.

The first micro pilot commenced in May. A public event, hosted in the Kevin Street Library on 18 May, heard ideas from locals for greening their streets. The project is supported by Ait Urbanism and Landscape, the company responsible for the original Liberties Greening Strategy in 2015.

Widespread analysis and surveys have already been undertaken in the area to understand the constraints. Armed with this knowledge, participants identified opportunities that they would support. The outcome of the workshops will be the basis of the strategy going forward, supplemented by a series of local on-street conversation to bolster support and buy-in.

Of course, this type of engagement may also lead to proposals for larger scale projects that may take some years to implement. However, the main benefit of the micro greening strategy is the identification and implementation of the shorter-term wins between now and when larger projects come online. It also puts the climate challenge, front and centre as a local issue to be dealt with by local action.

If this novel idea is to gain traction, the micro strategy will need to deliver material improvements within the next nine to twelve months. If this is achieved, taking a local communityfocused approach may be the spark needed to inspire a more urgent approach to this global challenge.

87 Dublin City Council
A new urban swale at Sean McDermott Street, the swale receives runoff from almost 500msq of adjacent hardstand and filters pollutes from the water)
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AILG submitted its independent report to a CLRAE European Monitoring Committee during the committee’s recent visit to review Ireland, where specific issues relating to local and regional democracy were fully examined.

AILG President Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick said: “Ireland has one of the most centralised systems of government of any European international democracy, and councillors have fewer powers than in almost every other country, in addition to limited revenue-raising and spending powers.”

Since the local government reforms in 2014, both the position and powers of the chief executive have increased resulting in a growing imbalance between the executive powers of the chief executive and the reserved powers of the elected councillors, he added.

“Accordingly, this leads to a democratic deficit where decisions can be made without direct democratic accountability. This is outdated, anti-democratic, and no longer tenable and was never acceptable,” the AILG President noted.

The final report from the European Committee of Local Self-Government, part of the 46-nation Council of Europe, is due to be published. Two monitoring visits of local and regional democracy in Ireland were previously carried out in 2001 and 2013 respectively.


‘Council Review’ takes a look over certain parts of the AILG’s report from the ‘pros and cons’ of Ireland’s local government reforms of 2014, which brought many structural changes, the decentralisation in other European local government systems and the comparison with the three-their system of government in Denmark – a country with a population of 5.8 million (similar in size to Ireland), but with 2,432 councillors.

In October 2012 then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, launched a comprehensive Action Programme for Effective Local Government – Putting People First (PPF).

This action plan brought about fundamental changes to Ireland’s local government system, covering four main areas including Structures, Funding and Accountability & Governance, Economic Development (and Job Creation) and Delivering Services Efficiently.

Structural changes provided for in the Action Plan and subsequently legislated for in the Local Government Reform Act 2014, provided for the merger of some county and city authorities into one local authority (North & South Tipperary, Limerick City/ County and Waterford City/County).

This, along with the abolition of the 80 Town/Borough Councils, has resulted in a reduction in the number of local authorities from 114 to 31 and within those 31 local authorities the establishment 95 Municipal Districts/ Borough Districts/ Metropolitan Districts, representing 166 Local Electoral Areas.

These changes led to a reduction in the number of councillors throughout the State from 1,627 to 949. This reduction

The Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) has expressed major concerns to the Council of Europe (COE) and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE) that Ireland has the most centralised system of local government compared to its European counterparts in terms of powers, functions, service delivery and funding.

represents a 42% decrease in overall numbers (over 33% reduction in real terms due to some elected members holding both town and county seats).

Ireland now has fewer councillors per capita than any other EU country and other democracies examined.

Since the local government reforms in 2014, there’s been a growing imbalance between the executive powers of the chief executive and the reserved powers of the elected councillors, according to AILG President Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick.

There are 949 elected councillors in Ireland for a population of 5.1 million, compared to similar if slightly larger European countries – Denmark’s population of 5.8 million has 2,432 councillors while Finland, with 5.6 million people has 8,859 councillors.


However, the 2014 reforms devolved new powers and responsibilities to local authorities under local economic development, local community development, governance and accountability. This included a new dedicated Strategic Policy Committee for Economic Development in each local authority supported by a dedicated Director of Services for Economic and Community Development.

89 AILG Report
The final report from the European Committee of Local SelfGovernment, part of the 46-nation Council of Europe, is due to be published.

The reforms also provided for the establishment of one-stop shops for business support through new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and a closer alignment of local and community development with the local government system.

Services administered by local authorities under the reforms are now increasingly funded through the new local property tax, a move designed to strengthen local responsibility for decision-making by the local authorities and their councillors.

The reforms also provided for a new independent National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) to scrutinise local government performance and efficiency. In addition, local authority audit committees were put on a full regulatory footing and the committee’s review of Audit Reports is now reported to the council in all authorities.


The experience of local government systems in other countries in recent years and their comparison to our local government system is a very interesting and important topic. In Western Europe, the end of the 1970s heralded a period in which a major decentralisation of power took place – except for Ireland. This was followed by the empowerment of democratic regional governments in larger European countries such as Spain, and later on, Britain.

How Ireland compares internationally can be evaluated under three headings: Representation: The decision to abolish town councils in 2014 following the Local Government Act 2014 reduced Irish local authorities from 114 to 31 compared to 600 when elections were first held in 1899. As a result, we now have one representative per 5,399 citizens, the highest among our European counterparts.

Resources: A total of 8% of overall Irish public expenditure is at local authority level, compared to 23% across 23 comparable EU member states. Ireland is the most centralised state in terms of government expenditure in another authoritative list of 39 European states, trailing after Moldova, Malta, Cyprus and Greece.

Responsibility: Taking these comparative facts and figures about Irish democracy into account, citizenship and public spending matter in the context of the delivery of

health, housing, education and childcare services. This has become even more evident at a time when community security and wellbeing loom large, following the recent public health emergency. Other European countries handle many of these services at a local level where they can be effectively delivered with more political accountability.


Ireland’s outlier status in these and other areas reveals much about our condition that is not addressed adequately in public debate about potential reforms and political direction. Although this state is one of the richest in the world and classified among its most developed societies, current popular aspirations

Key areas of concern highlighted by

AILG’s submission:

• The growing centralised nature of Ireland’s local government system, including increasing ministerial powers through various ministerial guidelines.

• An imbalance between the elected councillors and the chief executives in local authorities which leads to a democratic deficit where decisions can be made without direct democratic accountability.

• The limited range of functions is carried out directly by local authorities in Ireland compared to other EU countries.

for better public and social services may contradict existing methods of governing and taxation to provide them.

A good comparison example is the Danish local government system as Denmark (at 5.8 million people) has a similar population to Ireland. Denmark had a relatively centralised system of local government until the start of their reform programme in 1970, with a strong push for decentralisation, with a subsequent second wave of reforms in 2007.

Denmark has a three-tier system of government, typical of most countries:

• Central Government (Ministries)

• Regional Authorities – 5 Regions (Directly Elected)

• Local Authorities – 98 Municipalities (2,520 directly elected councillors)

• The lack of formal mechanisms for consultations between the local government associations and central government.

• The low share of public expenditure by local government in Ireland in comparison to other EU countries.


90 AILG Report
to download
the AILG Submission.
Denmark’s basic unit of local government is the Municipality – main town and its hinterland – with local councils each having between 9 and 31 councillors.

The Danish basic unit of local government is the Municipality –main town and its hinterland – with local councils each having between 9 and 31 councillors. All local authorities have a finance committee and other committees, responsible for specific areas (such as social welfare). Committees are directly responsible for preparing and implementing council decisions. The mayor is elected by the council for the full term and is the full-time chief executive of the local authority administration.

At local government level, local authorities in Denmark have direct responsibility for a range of services – primary and secondary schools, childcare, care of the elderly (domestic care, visiting nurses, day-care centres, meals-onwheels), non-hospital healthcare, most social welfare benefits, business support services and local employment and job centres, social housing, waste management, water supply and treatment; planning, development and urban renewal; fire service and civil defence; public libraries, leisure facilities, local roads maintenance.

In terms of finance and funding, the Danish local authorities derive income from several sources including Local Income Tax (usually 20% of income; Local Property Tax; a proportion of Corporation Tax collected in the local area; General Purpose Grants from Central Government; and local charges and service charges.

The report notes:

“Denmark encompasses the ‘Subsidiarity’ principle, compared to Ireland, under the European Charter of Local Self-Government in terms of reforms and allocation of responsibilities, where services should be provided as close to the citizen as possible.”

AILG Report

GEOTAB PARTNERS WITH NEVO To Drive Sustainability On Ireland’s Roads

Geotab, a global leader in connected transportation solutions, has partnered with Nevo, the first dedicated Electric Vehicle platform in Ireland, to help fleets on their sustainability journey and their switch to electric.

The partnership enables Nevo, which is extending its commercial offering for companies looking to accelerate decarbonisation efforts and their path to electrification, to capitalise on Geotab’s rich data insights and foresight to make the best fleet decisions for the future.

It means that conventional powered fleets – with liquid powered Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) – can make the best decisions for fuel and efficiency savings with their existing vehicles. At the same time, Nevo can also use Geotab’s data expertise to make the recommendations for a switch to an electric vehicle future.

By providing Geotab solutions, Nevo can provide the Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment, a tool developed specifically to assess which electric vehicles are best suited to fleet needs. In the last Geotab study, six-out-of-ten light-duty European fleet vehicles could be switched to fully electric vehicles at a lower total cost of ownership than existing fleets.

Aaron Jarvis, Associate Vice President Sales & Business Development, UK & Ireland at Geotab, said: “Our partnership with Nevo offers the best of both worlds, providing the benefits of our leading global technology platform delivered by local experts in the market.

“This comes about at a tipping point for the telematics industry in Ireland, with companies looking to deliver on sustainability goals and bring about fleet savings to achieve a competitive edge. We are really excited to work with Nevo, who are really tapped into all of the changes underway in the Irish transportation landscape.”

The Irish Government has recently given the green light to the Climate Action Plan – promising to keep Ireland’s emissions within its mandatory carbon reduction budget and achieve the target of reducing emissions by 51% by 2030 (from a 2018 baseline).

Jarvis noted that this initiative between Nevo and Geotab “puts a framework in place for the transportation sector to focus on its green credentials”.


Derek Reilly, Nevo’s General Manager, said: “Traditional fleets are under ever increasing pressures to cut costs. However, there has never been a better time to make the switch to electric, in light of high fuel costs and other inflationary pressures facing businesses. My advice to any business owner is to use the power of data to

deliver efficiencies for your business, whether with your existing fleet or considering a switch to electric.

“Geotab is not a traditional tracking company. Its technology offers a goldmine of potential insights on every aspect of fleet performance. It can help companies deliver on decarbonisation efforts, improve fuel efficiency, enhance vehicle maintenance schedules and boost driver safety. This partnership offers Nevo a clear point of difference and will help us tap into the business opportunities emerging from Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.”

As part of the Drive Inc. group of companies, which focuses on automotive technology, Nevo is dedicated to improving Ireland’s transportation infrastructure. Drive Inc. also includes TradeBid (a dealer-to-dealer marketplace), Sweep (consumer car buying platform) and InstaBid (a platform allowing consumers to sell their vehicle to dealers).

By incorporating Geotab’s telematics hardware into existing and new vehicles, Nevo’s commercial customers can transform their fleets into Internet of Things (IoT) devices which ultimately serves as the foundation for a carbon emissions reduction strategy.

Through the suite of tools available from Geotab, including the Green Fleet Dashboard, customers can investigate the fleet’s fuel consumption and vehicle usage, determining a baseline to benchmark fleet emissions.

These insights will help companies target factors contributing to excess fuel use and right size fleets. Additional benefits also include ensuring that drivers always optimise their route planning and operate to the highest safety standards on Ireland’s roads.

Transport Sustainability
Derek Reilly, Nevo General Manager, pictured with Aaron Jarvis, Associate Vice President Sales & Business Development, UK & Ireland at Geotab.

Focus Ireland's models of service provision are dictated by the needs of our customers The Agency believes that the quality of serv ices deli very is equally as import ant as the kind of services we provide. There are eight primary va lues that underpin our models of service provision both to internal and external customers:

Focus Ireland's models of service provision are dictated by the needs of our customers The Agency believes that the quality of serv ices deli very is equally as import ant as the kind of services we provide. There are eight primary values that underpin our models of service provision both to internal and external customers:

94 A property development company delivering development opportunities at Junction 13 DUBLIN 63 Fitzwilliam Square North Dublin | D02 N938 LONDON 6 Tournay Road London | SW6 7UF t. +353 1 6625670 w. FOCUS IRELAND Head Office: 14a Eust ace Street, Dublin 2 T (01) 671 2555 F (01) 679 6843 Fundraising & Events: 1 Lord Edward Court Bride Street, Dublin 8 T (01) 475 1955 F (01) 475 1972
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Integration “ has a right to a place call home FOCUS IRELAND Head Office: 14a Eust ace Street, Dublin 2 (01) 679 6843 Fundraising & Events: 1 Lord Edward Court Bride Street, Dublin 8 (01) 475 1972 Focus Ireland's models of service provision are dictated by the needs of our customers The Agency believes that the quality of services delivery is equally as import ant as the kind of services we provide. There are eight primary va sion both to internal and external cu • Stewards “
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‘TRIP TO TIPP’ FOR ALL-IRELAND Community And Council Awards

This year’s All-Ireland Community and Council Awards took place in Clonmel, for the first time, and following this year’s ‘Trip to Tipp’, LAMA Chairperson and Tipperary Councillor Micheal Anglim requested that the awards ceremony be moved outside Dublin on alternate years!

Hotel Minella in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary was the venue for the 2023 Local Authority Members’ Association (LAMA) Community & Council Awards, once again sponsored by IPB Insurance, which took place on 15 April.

Now in its 17th year, the annual awards initiative recognises and celebrates communities and councils across Ireland working together. They provide the ideal opportunity to highlight and celebrate the work done within communities across the country and to reward Ireland’s unsung heroes.

The Chairperson of LAMA, Cllr Micheal Anglim from Tipperary County Council, said he appreciated that all local authorities across the country “have always been very supportive of the Awards and of LAMA”. And following this year’s ‘Trip to Tipp’, he requested that the awards ceremony be moved outside Dublin on alternate years.

Over 200 projects were nominated from 31 local authorities, spread across 24 categories, making the 2023 LAMA Awards the biggest yet. The coveted Grand Prix Award went to Cork County Council, in light of the council having had the most shortlisted and winning projects combined over an aggregate score, while Mayo County Council made its mark by winning the ‘Council of the Year’ award.

“IPB Insurance is proud to be headline sponsor of the All-Ireland Community and Council Awards in partnership with LAMA,” noted George Jones, Chair of IPB Insurance.

“As the mutual insurer to Ireland’s local authorities, we’re delighted to support these awards, which celebrate the symbiotic relationship enjoyed by local authorities and their communities. These awards serve to illustrate what can be achieved when community volunteerism is encouraged and supported at a local level,” he added.



Best Trail in Ireland 2023

Lifetime Achievement Award 2023

Community Volunteer of the Year 2023

Best Irish Festival 2023

Best Green Sustainable Initiative 2023

Best Mental Health Initiative 2023

Best Community Transport Initiative 2023

Best Business working with the Community 2023

Best Enterprise & Start-up Hub 2023

Best Micro Start-up 2023

Best Irish Language Initiative 2023

Best Town or Village Regeneration 2023

Best Social Housing Project 2023

Best Innovation in Urban Planning 2023

Most Inclusive Project 2022

Best Communications Initiative/ Innovation 2023

Best Tourism Initiative 2023

Best Energy Smart Initiative 2023

Best Community Health Initiative 2023

Best CSR Project in a Community 2023

Best Social Enterprise of the Year 2023

Best Environmental, Ecological Project 2023

National Impact Award

Council of the Year

Grand Prix Award


Tipperary County Council – Widening and Signage Improvements along the Suir Blueway

– Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir

Joe McGrath – CEO Tipperary County Council

Winner: Jill Kennon & Elaine Murphy-Byrne, Carrickmacross Toy Library – Monaghan County Council

Runner Up: Jean Nelson, Tipperary Town

Cork Lifelong Learning Festival – Cork City Council

Bí Urban Raingarden Project – Dublin City Council Bí Urban/LAWPRO

TEEN TALK – Cork County Council

Inclusive Cycling for All – Dun LaoghaireRathdown County Council

The Food Hub, Drumshanbo – Leitrim County Council

The PorterShed Story – Galway County Council

Aqualicense – Wicklow County Council

Gaillimh le Gaeilge – Galway City Council

Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre – Clare County Council

Housing Development at An Eastát Garrán Feá, Beechgrove, Clonakilty – Cork County Council

Water Rock Urban Expansion Area – A LIHAF Initiative – Cork County Council

Lough Ree Access For All – Roscommon County Council

CE Innovation Fund Projects – Fingal County Council

Explore Cork’ app – Cork County Council

Cork City Council – LED Lantern Upgrade Project

Enniscorthy Community Allotments – Wexford County Council

Community CSR – GAS Networks Ireland

The No Barriers Foundation – Donegal County Council

1. Green Space for Health Project – Cork City Council

2. Lixnaw Integrated Constructed Wetland –Kerry County Council

Clare County Council

Mayo County Council

Cork County Council

95 LAMA Awards 2023


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DLR REWARDED FOR ‘Inclusive Cycling For All’ Initiative

Cycling uptake has increased significantly in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown as the Council continues to work towards establishing an inclusive culture where people of all abilities can consider cycling as their preferred mode of transport.

Following a collaboration between Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, DLR Sports Partnership, Cycling Without Age and The Bike Hub, older adults and people with a disability can now book a range of inclusive bikes for FREE to cycle along the Coastal Mobility Route in Dún Laoghaire.

This new inclusive fleet includes two electric trishaws which are designed to carry one or two people with a mobility issue at the front and allow them to enjoy the sensation of cycling with the wind in their hair.


There are also a range of other bikes available to suit all abilities including a wheelchair bike, tandem bike, in addition to handcycle and specialised trikes for children or adults with a disability. An online booking portal is available for members of the public to select the appropriate bike and time/day they require, with staff ready to assist and demonstrate the correct use of these bikes.

The All-Ireland Community & Council Awards 2023 saw Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council pick up the ‘Best Community Transport Initiative’ category award for rolling out a range of inclusive bikes to enable older adults and people with disabilities to enjoy the Coastal Mobility Route in Dún Laoghaire.

These inclusive bikes are available for use all year round and at no cost, which is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the four partner agencies. This multi-agency approach ensures an impactful, sustainable and inclusive project.

This project has been going from strength to strength over the past year with over 500 bookings in 2022 across all ages and abilities. There has also been significant press coverage promoting the core message of inclusion and keen interest among many other local authorities.

New bikes are also being added to the fleet to facilitate even more members of the community, while more opportunities are being identified to promote cycling related initiatives in the future.

For details visit:

97 LAMA Awards 2023
Dún Laoghaire’s Bike Hub provides a range of wheelchair transport facilities for both older adults and young people with disabilities. (Pic: Peter Cavanagh) Frank Curran, Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (centre) is pictured with LAMA Awards host RTE’s Maura Dirrane, DLR council staff and elected members, Chairman of LAMA Cllr Micheál Anglim from Tipperary County Council (second right), and Dermot O’Gara, Head of Public Affairs at the National Transport Authority (far right).


The National Impact Award recognises work which has had “a positive effect upon the nation as a whole, enhancing the environment, cultural or social activities, transport links or the economic stability or growth of the local and national communities who use it”.

The Awards organisers noted that “in keeping with its purpose and vision, Clare County Council leads the county’s development by being responsive and agile. Rural, Economic, Physical and Social Development are the four pillars aligned with this county council, which differs from other local authorities.”

Several initiatives contributed to Clare County Council being named the winner in this category, including the

appointment of Rural Development

Officers to work closely with communities in each Municipal District, the development of a state-of-the-art Men’s Shed facility, as well as the Council’s promotion of sustainable tourism locally and internationally.

The organisers felt the Council’s economic goals are reflected in key projects which map out future development, including an ambition of Ennis becoming ‘Ireland’s First Climate Adaptive Town’.

In terms of enhancing the environment and transport links, Clare County Council was recognised as having an extensive physical development portfolio including a major river crossing, new road and embankments, coastal protection and an extensive network of greenways.

The organisers also highlighted the

Clare County Council was named winner of the ‘National Impact Award’ at the LAMA (Local Authority Members’ Association) All-Ireland Community & Council Awards 2023, with the Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre in Tulla, Co. Clare, scooping an award in the ‘Best Town and Village Regeneration’ category. Clare County Council was named winner of the ‘National Impact Award’ at the LAMA All-Ireland Community & Council Awards. The Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Tony O’Brien, is pictured with the council’s elected members and staff at the awards presentation, which was held in the Hotel Minella, Co. Tipperary on Saturday 15 April. The awards ceremony was hosted by Maura Derrane.
LAMA Awards 2023
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Tony O’Brien, collected the award in the ‘Best Town and Village Regeneration’ Category on behalf of Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre at the LAMA All Ireland Community & Council Awards 2023 on 15 April.

‘Promoting Gender Equality & Diversity in Local Government’ event delivered by Clare County Council with See Her Elected (SHE) in 2022, as well as the Council’s award for ‘Embedding a culture of workplace wellbeing’ in the CIPD Ireland HR Awards 2023.


In the ‘Best Town and Village Regeneration’ awards category, Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre beat off competition from projects in Leitrim and Sligo to take the top honour.

Founded in 1957, Cnoc na Gaoithe Cultural Centre promotes and preserves Irish traditions. The name ‘Cnoc na Gaoithe’ translates in English as the Windswept Hill, made famous in the song ‘Lament for Tommy Daly’. The Cultural Centre has developed into a vibrant cultural hub with an archive room, museum, teaching rooms and accommodation in the former convent

building. They also host céilís and events in their auditorium. With their 250 active members the centre showcases Irish music, language and culture.

Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, welcomed the LAMA Awards success adding that it reflected the collaborative approach being taken within Clare communities: “Looking at the various projects that contributed to these awards successes, it is clear that Clare County Council and its partners and stakeholders are working together to achieve positive outcomes for Clare communities. I would like to acknowledge and congratulate everyone involved.”

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, added his congratulations, stating: “These awards are further recognition at a national level of the work being done by Clare County Council and its partners. As a Council we will continue to strive to deliver quality

services for people living in, working in and visiting County Clare. Sustainable communities will remain at the centre of everything we do.”


The LAMA All Ireland Community & Council Awards highlight the work done within local communities, reward unsung heroes and recognise the remarkable contribution they’ve made to lives. They also serve to acknowledge achievements by county councils, partnerships and projects across Ireland.

Now in their 17th year, the 2023 Awards saw a record number of nominations across the 31 councils, which was whittled down to 100 shortlisted projects across 25 categories. The winners of the 2023 Awards, which are annually sponsored by IPB Insurance, were announced at the Hotel Minella, Co. Tipperary, on 15 April 2023.

99 Follow us on Enhancing the quality of life in County Clare through leadership and partnership
LAMA Awards 2023

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The €300,000 in funding aims to help local authorities to promote and protect psychological and physical health in the workplace, and to empower employees to make informed choices about their own wellbeing.

The new funding programme will support local authorities’ wellbeing strategies, which focus on mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, social wellbeing and financial wellbeing. Local authorities can apply for funding for specific programmes and initiatives that form part of their wellbeing strategy or support strategic aims to:

• Create safe and healthy work environments that foster a culture of positive wellbeing.

• Improve the general wellbeing of local authorities’ diverse workforce and ensure that wellbeing is seen as everyone’s responsibility.

• Embed wellbeing as a central part of strategic priorities for management across all local authority functions.

In line with the Government’s National Framework for Healthy Workplaces, local authorities can now avail of funding for strategic initiatives aimed at supporting and maintaining the wellbeing of council staff under a new programme co-ordinated by the Local Government Management Agency.


Announcing the €300,000 in funding for local authorities at the event, which also heard examples of initiatives from other organisations, Minister Naughton said: “We spend a significant proportion of our day engaged in our jobs, so of course our workplaces have a strong impact on our wellbeing.

“We all deserve supportive working environments that promote physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing, and I’m delighted that the Local Government Management Agency is taking such a proactive approach to helping local authorities to implement effective strategies to benefit their staff.

“This funding from Healthy Ireland, aligned with the Government’s National Framework for Healthy Workplaces, will also help employees to make informed choices that improves their own wellbeing.”

Paul Dunne, LGMA Chief Executive, said: “Embedding a positive health and wellbeing culture in a local authority has benefits not only for employees but also for the vital public services provided by local authorities. Workplace wellbeing can help to engage, motivate and retain employees and improve performance and productivity.”

Co-ordinated by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), the workplace wellbeing funding programme was announced by Hildegarde Naughton, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy.

The Minister made the announcement at an event held by the LGMA and attended by representatives from local authorities, who discussed the importance of supporting workplace wellness and employee wellbeing.

Paul Dunne, LGMA Chief Executive

101 Health & Wellbeing
“Embedding a positive health and wellbeing culture in a local authority has benefits for employees and the vital public services provided by local authorities” –
Pictured at the announcement of the new funding programme were (l-r): Tom James, Head of Healthy Ireland; Hildegard Naughten, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health; Paul Dunne, LGMA Chief Executive; and Amanda Kane, LGMA.

CYBERSKILLS ON COURSE TO Mitigate The Risk Of Attack

Recovering from a ransomware attack can be difficult and expensive for any business and serves to highlight the need to develop proactive and strategic approaches to cyber security. So, how prepared is the local government sector in dealing with such attacks? One solution now offered by Munster Technological University is a customised course in cybersecurity awareness and risk mitigation for individual local authorities.

information which could lead to disruption to trading or loss of business.

• Reputational damage possibly resulting in customers losing trust in you.

• Legal consequences such as fines and regulatory sanctions could be imposed from the Data Protection Commission (DPC). Organisations can now face fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million – whichever is greater.

City and county councils may have robust systems and protocols in place that identify and repel cyber threats. However, the sophistication of hackers as well as the speed in which they can exploit any data breach will continue to present challenges for all councils.

Training must be cyclical, according to Jacqueline Kehoe, Project Manager at Cyber Skills.

Pointing to an urgent need to constantly upskill or reskill the IT department within any local authority, Jacqueline Kehoe, Project Manager at Cyber Skills, says that training must be cyclical. “Attacks affect everyone in the organisation, so staff members will need to be refreshed in the latest techniques and there is also a need to raise awareness on how to handle email and other online threats.”

Judging from the number of attacks on local government IT systems around the world, it is become more evident that the local government sector will not escape the firing line. Providing one solution to the problem, Munster Technological University (MTU) is offering a wide range of flexible online customised courses in cyber-security for council staff members.

MTU is hosting the CyberSkills programme, in partnership with the University of Limerick and TU Dublin, that offers courses for IT professionals to upskill in the latest cybersecurity techniques. The aim is to address the critical skills shortage of cybersecurity professionals in Ireland and to improve the cyber resilience of Irish citizens through skills, training and research. Cyber Skills is funded under the Higher Education Authority’s Human Capital Initiative.

The impact of a successful cyber-attack on a local government includes:

• The financial cost of an attack due to the theft of money or

The courses have been designed in association with MTU’s industry partners for specific job roles. “Currently, we’re seeing the biggest gap in secure network operations, software development and systems architects. Course participants can gain Special Purpose Certificates or micro-credentials (smaller academic credits) accredited by the universities through online courses. They can take a single subject micro-credential or study up to four modules for a pathway. It’s up to each individual and how they want to achieve the qualifications,” Kehoe notes.

For more information on the course programme visit

Munster Technological University

COUNTY MUSEUM Marks Historical Journey

The combination of industrial, economic and military history has made Louth and the County Museum, Dundalk rich with stories of aspiration and failure, economic boom, bust and re-birth from Ireland’s ancestors who endured famine and war and yet prevailed, providing later generations with the inspiration to survive and thrive.

The Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, famously once said that “all politics is local”, and it may be argued that history can be described in similar terms.

A nation’s history quite simply is the sum of every incident and every event that has occurred, be it within or without its geographical location. In some instances, these events have a significance greater than the location where they took place.

The legacy of these events may echo throughout the ages, informing, colouring and shaping our worldview for countless generations, be it through oral legend or recorded eyewitness accounts.

We now live a time where so much of our knowledge of the world is mediated through spin, ‘fake news’ and AI generated reports; a world in which it is easy to fall into an echo chamber that merely reinforces pre-existing world views.

It is in this world that local museums, in particular, have much to contribute. It is here that a greater understanding of the past and the events that have moulded our present can be examined in detail, in a way that is meaningful and accessible.


It is for this reason that the County Museum, Dundalk is one of Ireland’s best museums. Over three galleries of permanent exhibitions it retells the historical development of County Louth in a way that is both interesting and relevant.

It houses a collection of over 50,000 items ranging from the proverbial (Viking)

needle to an anchor the historical, social, industrial and cultural history is on view. This is an area steeped in legends and stories.

It is the birthplace of St Brigid and Irish mythology’s greatest hero Cúchuainn as well as the home to Arctic explorer Sir Francis Leopold McClintock (who mapped much of the Canadian coastline); engineer Peter Rice (who was involved in many of the 20th Century’s greatest building projects), Beatrice Hill-Lowe (the first Irishwoman to ever win an Olympic medal) and botanist Thomas Coulter (whose poppy graces the Museum courtyard every summer).

In celebrating these achievements, the Museum also highlights the area’s historical and defining events. In many ways the story of Louth mirrors the national story, such as the role and importance of Christianity (e.g. the monastic sites of Mellifont and Monasterboice), the impact of the arrival of the Vikings (at Annagassan), the Battle of the Boyne and its legacy as well as Oliver Cromwell’s attack on Drogheda.


Of course, Louth’s story is much more than this – the impact of industrialisation is hugely important here, arguably greater here than in any other part of the island –Dundalk was the shoe capital of Ireland, as well as being home to the Great Northern Railway, producing the threewheeled Heinkel motor car, not forgetting heavy engineering, brewing, distilling and tobacco production.

Ultimately it is the combination of social, industrial, economic and military history that makes Louth and the County Museum, Dundalk so compelling. These are stories of aspiration and failure, economic boom, bust and re-birth; these are the stories of our ancestors who sought to make their own way in life, a people who endured famine and war and yet prevailed, providing later generations with the inspiration to survive and thrive.

The display items in the Museum are the physical expression of all that our forebears endured; they represent a clarion call to embrace the challenges of life as we seek our collective potential. In the words of Bob Marley “In this great future, you can’t forget your past.”

County Museum Dundalk
A sense of what is possible – showcasing a copy of the Good Friday Agreement alongside Rob Kearney’s rugby jersey from the Grand Slam decider in 17 March 2018 at the County Museum.

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