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Your Country Your Call

Monday night I was invited to a meeting in The Guinness Storehouse. Martin McAleese was coming along. So were some of Irelands top blogger people.

Your country your call is the brainchild of Martin McAleese

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….is what I was told. I’d met Martin before. Nice guy. Ferdinand Von Prondzynski was there too – should have asked him  for my old DCU grounds job back 😉 To the point Your Country Your Call is pretty much an ideas generator to get this country grooving again. It’s about motivation. A rousing call maybe [?] but whatever one may say it is a better step in a more positive direction.

It’s not government run. Which I liked. It’s run [?] by ‘some people’ on a pro bono basis. They don’t get PR for it and probably won’t get much thanks… one in particular who I have spoke to is employed by Guinness to work solely on this project.

The big idea is that anyone from any country can come up with a brainwave… 3 lines of text… a youtube video…. however you wish to do so…. one enters it online and [you] could walk away with €100,000. However….

It must be for country benefit rather than individual benefit

Maybe you have an idea that could benefit the country…. maybe you have an idea that cold benefit your local town…. maybe you just have an idea. Maybe it’s been sitting on the back burner with all the rest of of I must do something with that[s].

So where do you go from here…. Well… the website most probably is a great place to start… go take a look. Have a cuppa. Jot down some thoughts and submit them… it is that simple.

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The Irish [green] Budget 2010

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You may read this and suggest that I’ve skipped so many facts and figures to suit… but, I should stick to the programme that is all things green and Peter.

Also one should note that this isn’t an economics weblog [as much as I love the subject] and also that a much greater insight into that can be found over at The Irish Election site amongst the many I read regularly.

With that in mind may I just wish Deidre de Burca a bon voyage and a sincere good riddance. From a really green perspective I wonder what, if anything, was actually achieved apart from sitting down and collecting a pay cheque. That said, it seems a pay rise is on the way, plus expenses…. but of course.

…a very nice €120k salary at a time when salaries here are being cut all round her? I suppose a green politician’s got to do what a green politician’s got a do…

With regards to the 2010 budget itself….. I’ve split this into these sections:

  • carbon taxing
  • forestry
  • vehicles
  • notes from the book of estimates
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I tried....

carbon taxing:

The economic and social implications of climate change are immense and it is the responsibility of Governments everywhere to change behaviour to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The most effective way is to put a price on carbon. This will encourage innovation by incentivising companies to bring low carbon products and services to the market.

Changing behaviour takes time but a start has to be made. Today I am introducing a carbon tax equivalent to €15 per tonne. The detail is set out in the Summary of Budget Measures. The tax will apply to petrol and diesel from tonight. Increases to home heating oils and gas will apply from next May.

The application of the tax to coal and commercial peat will be subject to a commencement order to allow a robust mechanism to be put in place to counter the sourcing of coal and peat from Northern Ireland where lower environmental standards apply. A vouched fuel allowance scheme will be developed to offset the increases for low income families dependant on such fuels.

The yield from the Carbon Tax will be used to boost energy efficiency, to support rural transport and to alleviate fuel poverty. The Carbon Tax will also allow us to maintain or reduce payroll taxes.

Carbon taxes will be a feature of economies across the world in the coming years. Today’s announcement sends a positive signal to those gathered in Copenhagen, working for an ambitious agreement on global climate change, about Ireland’s capacity to show leadership.

The tax changes I am introducing today reflect my belief that tax can make some contribution to the reduction of the deficit, and will make a larger contribution in later years. But as we know from our recent history, we cannot rely solely on taxing our way out of our difficulties.

With regard to forestry:

Agriculture is an important component of our economy and this Government has not hesitated to offer this crucial sector support where it was most needed. We responded rapidly to the pig dioxin crisis last year, where we provided some €200 million to save that industry and the jobs within it. We have made a large investment in agricultural infrastructure through the Farm Waste Management Scheme. We remain committed to supporting an environmentally sustainable agriculture sector and are in discussions with the European Commission with a view to introducing a new five year agri-environmental scheme. I have agreed to provide €50 million from within the existing allocation to support this scheme.

I am also providing more than €121 million for Forestry and Bio-energy. This includes a capital provision of €116 million to plant a further 7,000 hectares of trees next year. This demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to this vital sector as set out in the Renewed Programme.

This may sound like a lot of money but one should also note that

  • The current programme sets to plant 20,000 hectares of forest p.a.
  • Only 10% of Ireland is forested compared to the EU average of 36%
  • This should reach 17% by 2035
  • It will take 80 years to reach the EU average at current planting rates. This will reduce that by 4 a little over months.

Improving the energy efficiency of our cars

The Government wants to encourage the increased use of environmentally friendly electric cars and the development of new technology in this field. To that end, the VRT exemption for electric vehicles and the VRT reliefs of up to €2,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are being extended by two years until 31 December 2012. We will also provide support to offset the initial battery costs for such cars. This will help in fulfilling our ambitious goals to reduce transport related emissions.

I am also introducing a car scrappage scheme, to run from 1 January until 31 December 2010. VRT relief of up to €1,500 per new car purchased will be made available under the scheme, where a car of 10 years or older is scrapped under certain conditions. The scheme will have the environmental benefit of removing some older, potentially less safe and polluting vehicles from the road. Details of the scheme are provided in the Summary of Budget Measures.

Others notes of interest come from the Book of Estimates

The Department of Agriculture and food takes an overall drop of €247,937

  • With reference to programme expenditure: the development of agriculture and food budget will drop by 27% from €372,060 to €270,808
  • forestry and bioenergy will increase by 2% from €119,604 to €121,845
  • rural environment will decrease by 11% from €369,129 to €330,000
  • An Bord Bia grant in aid for general expenses will decrease by 4% from 28,221 to 27,230

and from carbon

  • Under the transport estimates [roads] carbon reduction measures will increase from €10,000 to €25,000
  • Under the Department of Environment the carbon fund drops 34% from €50,000 to €33,223 and Climate Change Commitments are noted down 32% from €2,200 to €1,500. Under heritage The National Parks and Wildlife Service takes a reduction of 8% from €34,848 to €32,048. Overall the Dept takes a hit of €345,021

Peter Donegan MI Hort
telephone: 01-8078712
twitter.com/DoneganGardens
info[at]DoneganLandscaping[dot]com

*note: to date no politician has answered the above call. Dan Boyle Of The Greens did say he would talk to me…. but I’ve heard nothing as yet. If this changes I will let you know here.

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Trim 2025 – the carbon [r]evolution begins

Before you read this – read Trim 2025 to go carbon neutral

In what may have seemed, to some, like an almost niaive scenario to percieve… it now seems that young Martin Tighe literally has started what is now the most enviable vision ever to evolve worldwide and this one from a town in Ireland called Trim. Ladies and gentlemen… The carbon revolution has just begun.

In an all star headline act some spoke of the redemption required to change that same old heads of town events, boards and committees…. and whilst the presence of Noel Dempsey may have attracted some – it was the fine and independent minded speaking of David Mc Williams who stole the show.

That was until the music kicked off….

Whether you are 6, 16 or 106 years old… this really was a day for Trim, in its entirety, to stand tall and to be extremely proud. I’m not talking some group of contrary county councillors seeking to prove their worth to the local papers and a bunch of men in suits holding cardboard cheques… This is close on verging Bono country and it is every piece of energy that a green revolution should be.

One last thing before – the last thing…. where the fork where the green party….?

Martin Tighe, stand up sir and take a bow…. The world is watching.


The one thing I took from this…..? anyone, any person all of the doom and gloom merchants, the nay sayers…. you know who you are and if not, everyone knows at least one……. fork you! It can be done. I listened to young Martin. No older that 30 years old – who took on an entire town… and won’t stop there. I listened to Mc Williams…. stuff the government and stuff you if you are sitting on your arse looking for someone to blame. We know what they can’t do…. but you can. And you can. As a btw… I’m almost 10 years in business. I borrowed the tools for my first job. I’ve never been the recipient of any welfare or grants of any format…. and now Martin who doesn’t even live in Trim…..  and you know what he’s right…. I’ll give him the final word….

Many, many special thanks to all the very kind people I met in Trim.

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quinncentennial park, galway

quinncentennial park galway

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Did you ever want to give a County Council, in this case a parks department, whose wages I and you pay – a good kick up the bottom ?

Two parks in two days in Galway is what I set out to do. That’s what I did.

The other was Claude Toft Park. It shouldn’t really matter what two parks I chose to visit – in my honest opinion this parks department needs a radical reality check. If I maintained that park? It wouldn’t be in that state. Or…… I could be out of a job. The options ‘they’ should be given.

Before ‘anyone’ suggests the economic-hulabuloo ? The evidence, horticulturally, is that this neglect has been evident and growing worse for a long [in years] time. Secondly, I personally go to a park so I don’t have to hear about that sort of stuff.

I paid hard earned money to travel to Galway. I spent money when in Galway. If I was a tourist travelling from abroad – I would not return. And with tourism already down 20% – I am beginning to understand why that might be.

To the park – Whilst the outlay remembles a little bit more of what I would consider ‘a park’, once again – zero available information on the internet regarding this place also.

I wasn’t impressed. At first, my mood lightened when I saw a rock noting that it was ‘developed for the benefit of Galways senior citizens by Digital Equipment International B.V. 1984’. I then looked around. Not impressed. My spirits were lifted again when I came across the central water feature and a Mom with kids and dog playing there [the only people apart from me]. I saw a wee bridge. I then saw the now defunct water feature…What?!! Back to brutal.

I’m guessing in 1984 this park was an absolute stunner and the gesture by the company [I assume], in a 1984 Ireland, Saint-like. As an overview the layout is good and the road less travelled pathways and secluded seating places make it a nice place to spend time, possibly, I’m sure. But as of now the park needs attention. Urgently.

Once again – my second park in two days. And of all of the parks I have ever visited. These have to be two of the worst. These are peoples parks. NOT The County Councils.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  And by the way, it’s the peoples forest.

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claude toft park, galway

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This has to be one of the most unusual ‘parks’ I have ever been to in my life. ‘An open area of ground with some facilities’, maybe.

On one side buildings, on the other the coastline  – in the middle, as if planning suggested all buildings be kept a minimum distance from the water – then later decided to call ‘that bit’ a park…. an almost landing strip was turned to lawn. Before I go any further – The Yuccas, phormiums and some other plants en mass did look well. Also I did see litter pickers out which was nice, but I only saw one litter bin.

I wasn’t impressed. There is little to zero information on the park courtesy of Galway City Council. Wikipedia for example tells me Claude Toft was a former Lord Mayor of Galway. The planting on the roadside/ walkways is of osmanthus [prickly] and cortaderia pampas grasses, a plant that could razor the hand of you. It is of course ground covered with pebble that overspills onto the ground and from my parks experience… pebbles and main roads don’t work so well.

The car park was poor; The play area [although commendable] looked very much the after-thought; The grey stone end nearer the city looked very out of place and contained only 3 picnic benches – but then when I loooked at it from the angle of the new buildings behind…. it fitted perfect?; The boundary between the residential areas was in parts like a dumping grounds – It simply wasn’t very well maintained at all and aesthetically poor. Put all of that together and then try and find any information on the internet? Not impressed. More than that children would find it extremely hard to kick a ball here – even if the grass was cut.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  The peoples forest. The people think its a bad idea.

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