Category: News

Leo’s Silver Linings Playbook is a bad read

Leo’s Silver Linings Playbook is a bad read

Varadkar’s bright side of life comments undermine the dark side of climate change


“One thing that we definitely face as a result of climate change is warmer winters. We’re already experiencing warmer winters, and that actually means using less energy because it’s warmer and people need less heating, and it also means fewer deaths as a result of cold weather.”

Who said this?

  1. The CEO of Exxon selling the company as a green hero
  2. An anonymous twitter account with a hashtag heavy bio
  3. The Taoiseach at the launch of his government’s first progress report on their Climate Action Plan

If you answered c) then you would, sadly, be correct. In today’s Sunday Business Post Aiden Corkery reported how Leo Varadkar had said there were “pluses and minuses” when it comes to climate change. With climate action like this who needs oil lobbyists?

Varadkar’s comments once again highlight the superficial approach of his administration to climate action. There is a dearth of understanding when it comes to the nuances and complexities relating to climate change. Issues are addressed in silos and the knock on implications are never considered. This is a result of a desperate need to look green and try and grab accompanying votes, rather than actually engage in any serious action – action that demands complex and interwoven solutions.

Anthropocentric approach 

Varadkar’s comments are indicative of an administration who see humanity as separate to the natural world around it. The human ability to preserve and import food from across the world has, to a certain extent, alienated us from seasonal dependencies.

But for the flora and fauna with whom we share this planet, the impact of climate changes can wreak havoc on their food supplies and long term sustainability.

While some butterflies have thrived with the arrival of warmer seasons, others – such as the rare High Brown Fritillary in Britain – are struggling to survive. Many butterflies have advanced their phenology – that is their lifecycle – by 3 days to a week over the last twenty years to match increasing temperatures. Multi-generation butterflies – those who breed multiple times over a year – have seen success with this adaption, benefitting from extended breeding seasons. However, butterflies like the High Brown Fritillary, which has a specific dietary needs and is single generation, have struggled as a result of advancing their phenology with their caterpillars emerging out of sync with their food sources.

Migratory birds, for which Ireland is an incredibly important location, are also suffering and having to adapt quickly due to climate changes. Decreasing wetlands and disappearing food sources are already a problem for our winter visitors. Birds changing their migratory patterns in tandem with temperature changes can also cause ecological asynchronism. Like butterflies, not all birds can simply substitute their food sources and a lack of access to these sources due to climate change, as well as non-climate change related habitat destruction, can cause huge problems.

I know. I’m the Green Party rep going on about butterflies and birds and bees – how quaint. But at at the end of the day, we aren’t as separate to the natural world around us as some would have you believe. When changing weather patterns impact on pollinators and their food chains, we all suffer the knock-on impacts – on farming, on food production, and on the economy. Our farming systems are reliant on the natural world around us – and when our butterflies and birds and bees are suffering, it’s an alarm bell for a larger problem.

An anthropocentric approach to climate change might actually be the most misanthropic thing we could do.

What makes Ireland warm, makes other places unliveable

No man is an island.

While Ireland is a literal island, it’s high time we start to think of ourselves as part of a wider world and the implications of climate change for everyone with whom we share this planet.

A warmer winter in Ireland will mean deaths elsewhere. Already we are seeing other parts of the world suffering due to climate change, with rising sea levels endangering coastal areas, extreme sea level events increasing, and rising temperatures making countries too hot to live in.  And speaking of islands, the IPCC in its September report has warned that some island nations will likely become uninhabitable due to “climate-related ocean and cryosphere change”.

When a winter gets warmer for the island of Ireland, the seas become more dangerous for the people of the Torres Strait Islands.

“We’re currently seeing the effects of climate change on our islands daily, with rising seas, tidal surges, coastal erosion and inundation of our communities,” were the words of Kabay Tamu, one of the islanders who took lodged a complaint to the United Nations over Australia’s failure to reduce emissions or pursue adequate adaptation measures.

Image credit: wili hybridLokantha at en.wikipedia

The effects of climate change are harming people worldwide. According to the IPCC, even if we keep global warming to 1.5°C, “twice as many megacities as present (such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Shanghai, China) are likely to become heat stressed, potentially exposing more than 350 million more people to deadly heat stress by 2050. At +2°C warming, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect annual conditions equivalent to their deadly 2015 heatwaves.” So a warmer winter here will mean more deaths internationally. 

What’s a warm winter? 

Here’s the thing, warmer doesn’t mean just warmer. It isn’t a benign thing meaning that we can turn simply keep the heating turned off a little longer.

Warmer means windier.

Warmer means rainier.

Warmer means stormier.

Warmer means that Ireland will experience more extreme weather events. It means that we could see hurricanes land on our shores. It means our homes are at risk of greater flooding. It means our buildings and natural heritage will be damaged by increased winds.

That saving you might get on your home heating will be lost to flood and storm damage.

Climate change is serious even if this government isn’t

The Taoiseach’s comments are shameful. This glib approach to climate change is worrying and is unworthy of any politician proclaiming to invest in climate action. The dangers of climate change, particularly change that is happening so rapidly, are terrifying and shouldn’t be undermined by such petty remarks.

We need leaders who understand and acknowledge the complexities of climate change. We need leaders who realise Ireland’s role in a global context. We need leaders who act and act swiftly.

We don’t need silly statements.


Further reading:


BusConnects Shankill

BusConnects Shankill

Currently there’s a lot of talk in the area about BusConnects and the changes proposed in Shankill village. Here’s a little outline of what’s involved and

Consultation Process

Right now we are at the very being of this project phase and people are being asked to put in their thoughts on the proposal. There is still a lot of work to be done and nothing is set in stone right now.

Following this consultation process the BusConnects project will prepare a statutory application for their proposed works – this will take into account submissions to the consultation, and will include environmental impact assessments and will seek to optimise the engineering of the project.

Then in 2020 to proposal goes to An Bord Pleanála, who will then run a statuory consultation process, an oral hearing, and will decide on the project – to approve, approve with conditions, or refuse the project.

What I am saying here is that we are at the start of things – there’s a lot of work yet to do and a lot of voices and needs to take into consideration.

So right now the best action for any of us to take is to make submissions to the project.

Shankill Village – Trees, Pedestrians, and Cyclists

Shankill is home to gorgeous mature trees and we should be doing our utmost to protect biodiversity given everything we know about the impact of habitat loss, and I will be pushing for this in my submission. My colleague Ciarán Cuffe has also called for the BusConnects plan to focus on saving more trees (read here). However, to save the trees, we will have to deprioritise cars in the area.

We must be mindful too of pedestrians and cyclists in the area and ensure that the village is accessible to people of all ages and abilities, and ensure that we have footpaths and cycle lanes that are of a safe standard.

Any changes in the area should also be done in light of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s Design Manuel for Urban Roads and Streets. Evidence has shown that free flowing traffic can inadvertently increase speeding in an area as drivers are given a false sense of security. Widening the road through Shankill could have this impact, making pedestrians and cyclists in the village more vulnerable.

De-prioritising cars: the move to public & active travel

However, to avoid widening the roads in Shankill and to protect trees, we will have to deprioritise car use.

We need better public transportation links, particularly with proposed housing developments in Woodbrook and Shanganagh Castle. Congestion may not be bad right now in Shankill, but it could grow significantly with these developments if we continue as is. The only way to avoid such potential congestion in our village and over reliance on cars is to get people moving to active and public transport.

While a train station is being proposed for Woodbrook we still need to provide for people traveling in towards places such as Cabinteely, Stillorgan and UCD. Buses too, unlike trains and Luas lines, can be adapted and have their routes changed to suit user needs.

Putting BusConnects to the side for the moment, we will still need to stop traffic from building up in the village and this means reducing the number of cars driving through, and prioritising pedestrians, cyclists, and buses in that order.

This might mean giving buses priority through the village . It might mean diverting cars (like residents in Inchicore are asking). It would also mean creating better active and public transport links for children going to school in the area, to reduce the congestion and stress of school runs.

Reducing the number of cars on our road will have hugely positive effects, not just for congestion problems, but for air quality, for reducing carbon emissions, for safer roads, for noise reduction, and for healthier living.

So what now?

As I said at the start, there are still many steps left to go in this process.

All in all, I think that now is the time to ask the NTA to be more creative with how they promote public transport and reduce car use, and to consider the impacts the current proposal would have on local life. We need a detailed plan that takes consideration of the peculiarities of every stage along the route.

What I will be calling for in my submission

In my submission I will be asking the NTA to:

  • prioritise the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the design;
  • commit to working with affected residents and businesses throughout the process
  • adopt an inter-disciplinary approach to ensure landscaping (including green infrastructure and tree planting), urban design, spatial planning and urban regeneration are at the heart of the process;
  • adopt a Universal Design approach to ensure the concerns of people with disabilities are central to the process
  • strongly commit to retaining mature trees where possible, and if not possible, to ensure replacement with mature trees from the outset
  • present options for reducing car traffic in the area

I am also asking that the NTA produces actual stop-by-stop timings for current bus routes and proposed stop-by-stop timings for the changes that Bus Connects will bring so that we can have a clearer sense of what changes are necessary. Green Party candidate in Limerick, Breandán MacGabhann, has completed such surveys on routes in his city, and you can see his work here.

It’s worth checking out Ciaran Cuffe’s submission to BusConnects here which gives a great overview on what we should be asking from the process.

Public Meeting: Working Together for Climate Action

Public Meeting: Working Together for Climate Action

Whatever the problem, community is the solution! If we are to address the challenge of climate change, then we must work together!

Join me on at 7:30pm April 10th in The Graduate to share your ideas on how we as a community can work together to tackle climate change.

I’ve invited Eamon Ryan TD, Emer Burton and Dan Hatter to discuss the practical & community actions we can take to effectively tackle climate change.

Eamon Ryan TD
Eamon is a TD for Dublin Bay South and Leader of Green Party/Comhaontas Glas. He was the founding chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, and ran two successful businesses, Irish Cycling Safaris and Belfield Bike Shop. He currently sits on the Oireachtas Communications Committee and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

Emer Burton SEAI
Emer is Programme Manager for Home Energy Grants with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 25% of carbon emissions come from Irish homes. SEAI’s role is to incentivise & support homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient and to move towards renewables like heat pumps and solar.

Dan Hatter Environmental Activist
Dan is an environmental activist and educator from Co. Wicklow. He was a leader in the creation of Ireland’s first plastic free campus and is a three time Young Environmentalist Award winner. More recently Dan has been involved in the Climate Strikes movement, calling on the Government to take decisive climate action.

Event Page

Green Party Submission to DLRCC Climate Change Action Plan

Green Party Submission to DLRCC Climate Change Action Plan

Recently Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council ran a consultation on developing a Dublin wide Climate Change Action Plan. Given the threats posed by climate change to our county – coastal erosion, flooding, pollution – there is a huge need for strong leadership in climate action.

Working with my Green Party colleagues in the county, I helped to write a submission to this consultation. I believe that through community empowerment and by working with nature, we can do much to hold off the worst effects of climate change and make the world around us healthier.

You can read the submission at the attached this link:

Submission to consultation on the DLRCC Draft Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024 – Green Party

Old Connaught Local Area Plan Submission

Old Connaught Local Area Plan Submission

Recently Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council held a pre-draft consultation for the Old Connaught Local Area Plan.

Working with members of the community in Old Connaught, Shankill and Bray, I put together this submission to the plan.

Una Power Submission to Old Connaught LAP

Consultation on this LAP will reopen later in the year, and I will be working to put in a submission again. If you would like to keep up-to-date on my work in the area, then you can sign-up to my newsletter through this form:

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Blocking of climate Bill is ‘environmental vandalism’

Blocking of climate Bill is ‘environmental vandalism’

“Also speaking at the vigil, Green Party representative Una Power said that we should be “exploring solutions, not exploring our seas,” for oil and gas.

“And I’ve got such heart, despite the laggardness of Fine Gael, despite the fact that they keep on throwing it back on the individual every time. I’ve got heart because of all the people here,” she added.”

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Take disadvantage away from children, not their mobiles

Take disadvantage away from children, not their mobiles

You probably saw the news that an ESRI study found that children who owned phones at 9 scored 4 per cent less on average in reading and maths tests at 13 than their phoneless counterparts.

It grabs the attention. Are phones stunting our children’s development? Are we raising a generation of screen addicts? Should we ban children from owning mobiles?

These aren’t without merit but distract from a bigger issue. Children at “socially disadvantaged” schools are more likely to have mobiles, while children whose parents have higher incomes and higher levels of education are less likely to own one.

Continue reading



The future for a service for vulnerable families is uncertain unless it can secure funding from the government.

Based in Shankill, The Cottage Home Child and Family Services is a voluntary child care organisation and has worked with more than 100 families and 150 children since it opened in 2012, which it said has kept children from going into State care.

It provides programmes such as counselling, play therapy, parenting programmes and advocacy.

The family support service has been self-funding for almost seven years but said their funds are running out and they will have to close in the coming months unless funding can be secured.

The service needs €400,000 a year to remain open. They said that residential care placement costs the State close to €200,000 per client per year and it “seems logical that funds should be found to retain the service.”

Green Party Representative for Killiney-Shankill Una Power said: “This weekend at his party’s Ard Fhéis, the Taoiseach stated that compassion is a key value of Fine Gael. If that is true, then providing the €400,000 per year funding needed to keep Cottage Home open should be an easy decision for his government.”

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Green Party Killiney-Shankill representative Una Power told Dublin Gazette the government need to “stop dragging their feet” on the bill.

“We know the damage done by plastic waste to our wildlife and biodiversity – we cannot afford to continue to delay.

“Just this Saturday, I led a clean-up of Killiney beach. In the course of one hour we gathered over six large bags of rubbish. The majority of it was plastic, particularly bottles.”

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Boil Water Notice: Guidelines & Actions

Boil Water Notice: Guidelines & Actions

Due to a mechanical failure at Vartry Water Treatment Plant, a Boil Water Notice has been put in place for the following areas in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown:

Corke Abbey, Woodbrook Glen, Old Connaught Avenue, Thornhill Road, Ballyman Road, Ferndale Road from its junction with Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, The Dublin Road from the junction of Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, and all areas off these roads.

Irish Water are currently working with the HSE to bring an end to the boil notice, until then this is the advice they have given to those living in the affected areas

Water must be boiled for:

  • Drinking
  • Drinks made with water
  • Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
  • Brushing of teeth
  • Making of ice – discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

  • Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads)
  • Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling
  • Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink
  • Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water
  • Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. If bottled water is used for the preparation of infant feeds it should be boiled once and cooled. If you are using bottled water for preparing baby food, be aware that some natural mineral water may have high sodium content. The legal limit for sodium in drinking water is 200mg per litre. Check the label on the bottled water to make sure the sodium or `Na’ is not greater than 200mg per litre. If it is, then it is advisable to use a different type of bottled water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible. It is important to keep babies hydrated.
  • Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

For more information and additional advice, please call our 24-hour customer care line at 1850 278 278.