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Friday, 19 September 2014

Proposed Aviation Fuel Pipeline from Dublin Port to Dublin Airport

Updates
02-Jun-2015 Planning Docs Ref 2552/15 Additional Information

Decision: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Decision Date: 02-Jun-2015
Type Short Desc
Directive 1. The Roads & Traffic Planning Division note that National Transport Authority (NTA) have concerns
Directive 10. The applicant is requested to consider providing a comparative risk study between the subject
Directive 11. Further to the requests above the applicant is requested to clarify and or update the EIS as follows:
Directive 2. The applicant is requested to address the concerns of the National Roads Authority(NRA) who are of
Directive 3. It is also noted that the site is near a road scheme objective in the Development Plan for the proposed
Directive 4. The Environmental Health Officer for Air Quality Monitoring & Noise Control(EHO) notes that further detail
Directive 5. DCCs Drainage Division notes that the submission does not highlight the crossing and importance of the
Directive 6. DCCs Waste Management Division while recommending conditions also notes that the EIS does not
Directive 7. It is noted that under the previous An Bord Pleanala permission there were a number of conditions
Directive 8. The applicant is requested to assess the need for additional Block Valves along the route with regard to
Directive 9. The applicant is requested to clarify estimated set backs from residential frontages along the route i.e.
Controversial airport fuel pipeline clears its first hurdle with council John Mulligan Independent 05/06/2015

Permission granted for aviation fuel pipeline from Dublin Port to Dublin Airport Jime Lee - Flying In Ireland Magazine 8th June 2015 (Doesn't say granted says Additional Information)
Project Website with planning docs www.aviationfuelpipeline.ie

29-May-2015 Fingal County Council granted permission. Ref F15A/0141 with conditions.

Application Reference: F15A/0141
Decision of Fingal County Council: GRANT PERMISSION
Decision Date: 29-May-2015
Extension of time to (if applicable):

If a decision has been made, then listed below are the conditions and reasons attached with the decision of Fingal County Council. The category of decision made, determines what is displayed under the type column:

Conditions are associated with grants
Reasons are given for refusals
Directives are items requested under Additional Information
Informatives are items requested under clarification of Additional Information
Notes are reasons for invalidating a planning application

In some cases, a combination of conditions, reasons, directives and informatives are used with regard to split decisions i.e. grant permission and refuse permission.

N.B. In the event of an appeal, any decision by An Bord Pleanala will supercede the above, the details of which (from 2002 onwards) can be found by following the path to the website under the Appeal tab.

Type Description
Condition The developer shall contact the Chief Dublin Fire Officer and to ascertain their requirements which shall be submitted to the Planning Authority. REASON: In the interest of fire and public safety.
Condition The developer shall contact the Health and Safety Authority and to ascertain any requirements that they may have. REASON: In the interest of public safety.
Condition That the applicant makes satisfactory arrangements for the maintenance, repair and upkeep of the structure in accordance with relevant standards. REASON: In the interest of amenity and public safety.
Condition This permission relates solely to that detailed in the statutory public notices as they relate to the administrative area of Fingal and does not refer to any other aspects of the development that may be shown in the lodged plans. REASON: In the interest of clarity.
Condition This permission is for a period of ten years from the date of final grant or date of order from An Bord Pleanála following an appeal. REASON: In the interest of clarity and in interest of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Condition The following engineering requirements of the Transportation Planning Section of Fingal County Council shall be carried out in full: a) The final details of the Construction Traffic Management Plan shall be agreed with the Planning Authority prior to construction. b) The construction details of the proposed pipeline where it crosses the proposed East-West Distributor Road, in particular the depth of cover, shall be agreed with the Planning Authority, by way of compliance, prior to construction. REASON: In the interest of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Condition That the area being excavated be reinstated to the satisfaction of the Area Roads Engineer, Fingal County Council. REASON; In the interest of the proper planning and development of the area.
Condition That the disposal of surface water, shall be in accordance with the requirements of the Water Services Planning Section of Fingal County Council. REASON: In order to comply with the Sanitary Services Acts.
Condition The developer shall comply in full with the following: a) Clonshaugh Road has a foul sewage rising main and gravity sewer, and watermains. The developer shall liaise closely with Irish Water as to the location of the proposed fuel pipeline within the road reservation. b) Prior to commencement of construction the developer shall apply for and sign a connection agreement with Irish Water, where it is proposed to connect to a public water/ wastewater network operated by Irish Water. The developer shall adhere to the standards and conditions set out in said agreement. Note: In the interest of Public Health and Environmental Sustainability, Irish Water Infrastructure capacity requirements and proposed connections to the Water and Waste Water Infrastructure will be subject to the constraints of the Irish Water Capital Investment Programme. REASON: In the interests of public health and in order to ensure adequate drainage provision.
Condition The following requirements of the Environment and Water Services Department shall be complied with in full: a) The developer shall comply with the requirements of the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended in relation to waste stored/generated as a result of any activity at this site. b) The developer shall ensure that all hauliers of waste hold a valid Waste Collection Permit for the waste material collected from the site and that the waste material is delivered to authorised waste recovery/disposal facilities. c) The developer shall submit a project construction and demolition waste management plan to the Environment Department for agreement prior to the commencement of works at this site. The plan shall be prepared with reference to “Best Practice Guidelines on the Preparation of Waste Management Plans for Construction and Demolition Projects” – Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government (2006) and provide information on the management of all construction and demolition waste arising on-site and provide details on the provision for re-use of said material and/or recovery/disposal of this waste using authorised facilities and authorised collectors. The management of asbestos or other hazardous waste, if found to be present, shall also be detailed in this plan. The plan shall contain information on the proposed temporary storage locations and arrangements for excavated waste where such waste is not removed directly to an authorised waste facility. The applicant shall consult with the Environment Department within one month of the date of final grant of permission in relation to the requirement to hold a waste facility permit in respect of such temporary storage locations. Where such a requirement arises, the developer shall apply for a waste facility permit and shall comply with the conditions attached thereto. d) The developer shall submit final route design proposals, for the approval of the Planning Authority, following the completion of the route proofing surveys and prior to the construction of the proposed pipeline. The final route design proposals shall have regard to other services and utilities, both existing and proposed, within the route corridor. The final route design proposals shall specify minimum separation distances, both horizontal and vertical, in respect of other services and utilities within the route corridor. The developer shall amend the proposed construction programme in consultation with the Planning Authority having regard to this condition. e) During the construction phase, ground water or surface water (including test water and desiccant from the pipeline used during the commissioning phase) from the site shall not be discharged to waters or sewers unless licensed under Section 4 or Section 16, whichever is appropriate, of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977 and 1990. f) All storage tanks for fuel and or chemicals shall be surrounded by a bund capable of retaining 110% of the volume of the largest single tank within the bunded area. The intake and outlet for the tanks shall be positioned inside the bund. Provision shall be made to remove and dispose of the rainwater so as to ensure the specified volume is always available within the bund. g) The developer shall, prior to the commissioning of the proposed pipeline, develop detailed emergency response procedures in respect of any leak, rupture, burst, damage or other interference with the proposed pipeline. These procedures shall be subject to the approval of the Planning Authority and other relevant agencies and shall include for review and testing at agreed intervals. h) The developer shall indemnify Fingal County Council against any spillage, incident, accident, emergency or other event likely to cause or giving rise to environmental pollution or damage to the environment arising from the construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the pipeline. i) The developer shall submit digital maps/drawings to an agreed standard in respect of the final “as constructed” pipeline. REASON: In the interest of environmental and water protection.
Condition Prior to the commencement of development, the developer shall submit for the written agreement of the Planning Authority, an archaeological monitoring and geophysical survey programme for that element of the pipeline and associated works, within the administrative area of Fingal County Council. REASON: To protect any as yet undiscovered archaeology and to mitigate any archaeological impacts associated with the proposed development and in the interest of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Condition Prior to the commencement of development the developer shall contact the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) to ascertain their requirements and to submit in writing to the Planning Authority the requirements of the RPA. REASON: In the interest of adequate infrastructure provision and in the interest of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Condition The development shall be carried out in its entirety in accordance with the plans, particulars and specifications lodged with the application, save as may be required by the other conditions attached hereto. REASON: To ensure that the development shall be in accordance with the permission and that effective control be maintained.
Condition That all necessary measures be taken by the contractor including wheel wash facilities, to prevent the spillage or deposit of clay, rubble or other debris on adjoining roads during the course of the works. REASON: To protect the amenities of the area.
Condition That all public services to the proposed development, including electrical, telephone cables and associated equipment be located underground throughout the entire site. REASON: In the interest of amenity. Note 1: The applicant is advised that under the provisions of Section 34(13) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 a person shall not be entitled solely by reason of a permission to carry out any development.

Nearfm: Pat Meehan talks to Tommy Broughan about the proposed Aviation Fuel Pipeline which if goes ahead will run trough residential areas of North Dublin on Near fm’s Northside Today

Concerns over aviation fuel pipeline plan Northside People Pat O'Rourke May 4, 2015

Docs are online now Dublin City Council Ref 2552/15

Docs are online now Fingal County Council Ref F15A/0141

5 objections 4 from people who live on the route in Fingal Thomas Broughans objection on behalf of resident in Dulin Bay North

Finian McGrath Dail Report Northside People 20th May 2015

Dáil debates Wednesday, 13 May 2015 Order of Business
Finian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)

Does the Taoiseach share my major concerns and the major concerns of the residents of Clontarf, Clontarf Road, Copeland Avenue and the Malahide Road about the proposed aviation fuel pipeline going from the Dublin docks to the airport? There are major public safety concerns and there is also the issue of loss of jobs to truck drivers in that industry. Will the Taoiseach convey my serious public safety concerns to the relevant authorities, Dublin City Council and the planning authorities? I raise this matter under the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill.

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill was cleared last week. Deputy Bruton has apprised me of some of the concerns in respect of the proposition mentioned by Deputy McGrath, but it is not listed for legislation.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015 Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications DAA: Chairman Designate
Terence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Independent) I, too, congratulate Mr. Ó Ríordáin on his reappointment and wish him well. In regard to the proposal for an aviation fuel pipeline to connect Dublin Port with the airport, is the planning application ready for submission and what are Mr. Ó Ríordáin's views on the proposal? What benefits will the pipeline bring and has daa identified any safety concerns in regard to it? It will take a number of trucks off the road, but they already use the Dublin Port tunnel. I understand similar plans were drawn up several years ago but they were ultimately shelved because the route was very controversial in that the pipeline would pass through residential areas

Dáil debates Thursday, 23 October 2014 Topical Issue Debate Strategic Infrastructure ProvisionTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
I understand that no revised version of the 2001 plan has yet been submitted to Dublin City Council but I note that Fingleton White approached An Bord Pleanála in 2009 and 2010 and the board's inspector decided that under section 37B of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006, the new proposal was considered to be strategic infrastructure and that planning applications must be made in the first instance to both Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council. This attempt by the developer to circumvent the democratic local authorities reflects the total lack of consultation by the proposers with residents and public representatives in the densely populated areas now proposed for this kerosene pipeline.
Update April 2015 Planning lodged for this Planning Application Reference: 2552/15 by fingleton White Co planning permission notices Via @ImSomeDad
DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL Fingleton White intend to apply for permission for development of an aviation fuel pipeline from Dublin Port, Dublin 1 to Dublin Airport, Co. Dublin. The route of the pipeline is from proposed inlet station at Team CV Ltd, Bond Drive, Dublin Port, Dublin 1 and via Bond Drive, Tolka Quay Road, East Wall Road, under the Tolka River, Alfie Byrne Road, Clontarf Road, Howth Road, Copeland Avenue, Malahide Road (R107) and R139 (formerly N32). (It then enters Fingal Co. Council administrative area at Clonshaugh Rd. and routes via AUL/FAI sports ground, under the M1 motorway via the DAA Long term Red Carpark, adjacent to Eastlands Car Hire Compound, ALSAA complex, under the Swords Road R132 and via Corballis Road to a reception station at Dublin Airport, Co. Dublin. A separate application is being lodged concurrently with Fingal County Council in respect of the development proposed in its administrative area). The development will consist of (a) single storey Control Building, pumps and ancillary pipework in a fenced compound at Bond Drive, Dublin Port, Dublin 1 (b) a 200mm diameter continuously welded steel pipeline, laid generally in the public road at a depth of circa 1.2m below surface level except where it will pass under the Tolka and Santry Rivers and culverted streams. The length of the pipeline in Dublin City Council administrative area will be circa 11.4 km (total length will be circa 14.4 km.) (c) 2no. above-ground control boxes associated with emergency shut-down valves on the pipeline, at the junction of the Malahide Road R107 and Donnycarney Road and on the R139 (formerly N32) east of the junction with Clonshaugh Road South. The pipeline will be laid in the roadway under the Clontarf Bridge which is a protected structure. An Environmental Impact Statement and Natura Impact Statement have been prepared in respect of the application and will be submitted with the planning application. The Planning Application, Environmental Impact Statement and Natura Impact Statement may be inspected or purchased at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of making a copy, at the offices of Dublin City Council, Planning Department, Block 4, Ground Floor, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8 during its public opening hours (9.00a.m.- 4.30p.m.). A submission or observation in relation to the application may be made in writing to the planning authority on payment of the prescribed fee (20.00) within the period of 5 weeks beginning on the date of receipt by the Authority of the application, and such submissions or observations will be considered by the Planning Authority in making a decision on the application. The Planning Authority may grant permission subject to or without conditions, or may refuse to grant permission.
Posted: 07/04/2015 http://www.loadza.com/notices/all

docs are there now ref 2552/15

Original Post


The plan for a aviation fuel pipeline from Dublin port to Dublin airport is being revived, it had got planning 2000 but shelved after 9/11 they say, ( did they really think people would stop flying?, or did plan make more sense before the Port Tunnel was open, certainly a pipeline is still more efficient and safer then trucks through a tunnel. )

Fuel pipeline to link Dublin port and airport

Independent Pipeline Company, is backed by Co Laois-based engineering concern Fingleton White, and Dublin-based fuel transporters Reynolds Logistics

Its relatively small pipeline but very long at about 10km in length across north Dublin from Dublin Port to Dublin Airport.

The pipeline is to be made of continuous welded steel and would have a diameter of 200mm with an outer wall of 12.7mm. It would be set in a trench 1.5m below the road, with 1.2m of cover.


Jet fuel pipeline proposal revived Sunday Times (paywall).

The project got planning approval in 2001 after appeals to An Bord Pleanala, but was not developed and the planning permit lapsed.

Underground fuel pipeline across city to airport gets nod 2001 Irish Independent.

They say its safer then trucks, there certainly an argument there, currently the fuel truck's route is mostly through the Port Tunnel onto the motorway to the Airport. Fuel truck fire in Port Tunnel sparks concern among hauliers.

There were some public information meetings in early September 2014. Did anyone else go to the public meeting, please comment below.

The practiced lobbiest of Clontarf Business and Residents association are keeping an on eye on it
Attention all Clontarf Residents - Aviation Fuel Pipeline

A pic of the route thanks to @niallgean



There a clearer map of the route in this article from the Irish Times.

Pipeline firm to meet backer’s costs if airport project goes ahead

Previous pipeline route plan

The old proposal and route is here, via Fingleton White Pipelines Website it used to go along the Old swords road.

Evening Herald Article from 2009 Jet fuel pipeline through city plan is back on table.

There was Pre-Application Consultation in 2010 and decided it was not strategic infrastructure meaning no fast-track to An Board Pleanala by-passing the local councils.

Old planning appeal docs from 2000 worth a read as a summary of the arguements re safety.

It mentions a number of reports done on the proposal, the board appointed Michael Slattery report and the pipe builders Entec UK Ltd Report (December 1999). The Chief Fire officer also made a report (that made no objections to the proposal) Anybody have them and want to upload them.

at the time the main groups to makes submissions or objections were. a group called Drumconda 2005, Dublin Bay Watch, with observations from Brian Harmon and others,East Wall Residents Association, richard Bruton TD, Roisin Shorthall TD, Sean Haughey TD

Search for mentions of the project in the Parliamentary records

Old article from 1999 Irish Independent Anger at plan to run fuel line near houses

Dublin Port faces problems of access, efficiency, expansion and appearance Irish Times Aug 4, 2000

I still don't know where Una Mullally got that quote she based her opinion column re FF Gender Quotas on.

Rewrite of an email and post and tweets I made March 24th and 27th 2014.

Una Mullally opinion piece in the Irish Times Fianna Fáil’s renewal plans are for the birds only in one way. Original version as published March 27th 2014 follows.


Last July, Fianna Fáil announced its five-year Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP). I don’t know why its plans always have to be five years long. I’ll take it as a given that Fianna Fáil isn’t basing this time period on the theory of productive forces in Marxism, but you never know. After all, it’s a socialist party, lest we forget. Or at least one that appreciates socialising. Preferably in tents surrounded by horses.

Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up “up to one-third” of the party local election candidates. Fair play to whoever drafted the language of that plan for sneaking in the “up to”. Up to one-third could be 0.1 per cent – sure who’s counting?

The plan was the result of the Taskforce on Female Participation in Fianna Fáil, chaired by Senator Averil Power, who is the most intriguing thing to come out of the party since SSIAs. But Fianna Fáil is a lonely, lonely place for women.

Conspicuous absence
Of the party’s 20 TDs, “up to one-third” are women. And by up to one-third, I mean none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Of its 14 Senators, “up to one-third” are women. Well, two – Power and Mary White. Its three MEPs are men. Of Fianna Fáil’s 349 councillors around the country, 56 are women, “up to one-third” at 16 per cent. Fianna Fáil is fielding a whopping 420 candidates in the locals, but the party has admitted that “less than” 20 per cent of those running in the local and European elections will be women. “Less than” is the new “up to”.

There was more likelihood of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft turning up at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis in Killarney at the weekend than the party actually keeping the gender commitment it made last year. However, the party’s failure to even come close to its promise is a colossal embarrassment. And it probably indicates that Fianna Fáil’s so-called renewal will be closer to more of the same than any actual reform. Its aspirations are for the birds – but only the feathered kind.

When political parties do actually make a concerted effort to rustle up some women, give them support and encouragement, lo and behold, it works. Labour Women have nearly managed to hit their 30 per cent target two years ahead of schedule. 29.7 per cent of candidates in the locals will be women. That didn’t just happen. They worked at it.

I was speaking to a person involved in gender equality in politics a while ago, who said that no sooner do you suggest to a man that he should run than his face is staring down at you from a poster on a lamppost.

He practically has the rosette made before the conversation is over. But women need to be almost coerced into running. It is this confidence-building, encouragement, solidarity and support that is key to sustaining women’s involvement in politics while gender quotas light the fuse.

Meanwhile, over in the feminist bastion of Fine Gael, the party spent a whopping €417 on its women’s programme in 2012 and €164 in 2011. If that’s not commitment to equality in the Oireachtas, then I don’t know what is.

In the history of the State, there have been just two female ministers for justice out of the 35 who have held the position. There have been four female ministers for education in the history of our Oireachtas. There has never been a female minister for finance. There have been three female ministers for health. There has never been a female minister for foreign affairs. There has never been a female taoiseach.

When queried about this in this newspaper, Enda Kenny said, “I don’t particularly like gender quotas, but I do like to see more and more women involved in politics.” Sound the paradox klaxon.

Women should be absolutely raging about this. No wonder our interests aren’t prioritised at a legislative level when our political power is so diluted by middle-aged, middle-class, mediocre, male “leadership”.

Parallel universe
Those who oppose gender quotas exist in a parallel universe where the best person should always get the job, yada yada yada. It’s a universe that assumes “all things being equal”. But they’re not.

Come the local and European elections, we’ll have the option to vote for a vast array of men on any ballot paper around the country, from eejits to Machiavellian operators, to hereditary politicians (possibly an Irish genome malfunction), to good guys and smart fellas to nincompoops.

But the women on a ballot paper are nearly always exceptional. They’re exceptional for even getting there. Give us the right to vote for the same breadth of women as we can for men, and then let the best person get the job. No “less than”, no “up to”, just the best.

I generally don't read opinion columnist because they are just paid trolls whose articles are not fact checked but I was alerted to the possibility that Una Mullally's article was misrepresenting FF Gender Equality by the Village Magazine

after reading its mocking of the phrase "up-to" one third..., the famous phrase used when selling broadband of greatly varying speeds, which sounded curious I went and found the Fianna Fail Gender Equality Action Plan referred to in the piece and found no use of the phrase "up to one third", that Una Mullally repeats for effect through out the first page of piece and as the final words at the end.

FF Gender Equality Action Plan 2013 - 2018



Page 2
In 2004 the party agreed that 33% of our candidates in the 2014 Local Election would be women. We now have one year to make this happen.

Page 4 point 4
In order for the party to achieve its gender equality target for the next local elections, it is essential that at least 33% of our area representatives are female.

Page 30
Ensuring that at least 33% of our candidates in the 2014 local elections are female, asper the target set in the Gender Equality Action Plan 2004-2014 and


Neither the press release or the document use the phrase "up-to" in all places it says its target is atleast 33% female.

FF Plan To Boost Female Participation In Politics Posted on 30/07/13 by Averil Power
A target of women making up one-third of the party local election candidates

I even found an earlier dated version of the same document via the irishelectionliterature.com to make sure it hadn't been there at some stage and removed. I also checked the previous 'Gender Equality Action Plan 2004-2014' just in case. I even listened to the discussion Una Mullally had on Newstalk radio with former Fianna Fail politician Mary O'Rourke she refers to in her piece.

I'm not a fan of Fianna Fail, I do generally support gender quotas, I just think opinion pieces can and should be fact checked.

I tweeted at the extremely active on twitter @unamullally could get no response from her.

The women4election campaign tweeted



I thought they would be most interested in this having noted their campaigning and desire to use facts to do so.

So I emailed the Women for Election campaign and explained my inability to find the quote the article was based on, and hoped they would be listened to by Una Mullaly or the Irish Times.

That afternoon 3 days after it was published, the article was edited, which you can see if you hover your mouse over the date date dropdown, but no acknowledgement or explaination of mistake by Una Mullally or her editor, which is disappointing.

Thanks to @women4election if they had anything to do with correction of the record, we have all misread things, but it really needs a public explanation from author and Irish Times opinions editor.

The key quote she uses from the Gender Action plan, the whole premise of her article was erased stealthy without acknowledgement. One of the key problems with newspapers is they still don't consistently link to sources, she could have put the link to the report in her article and it would have helped her editor and anyone reading the piece to easily check for themselves.

Original
Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up “up to one-third” of the party local election candidates. Fair play to whoever drafted the language of that plan for sneaking in the “up to”. Up to one-third could be 0.1 per cent – sure who’s counting?

Revised
Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up at least 33% of the party local election candidates.

The revised article quoted below is a mess and just doesn't make any sense.

Last July, Fianna Fáil announced its five-year Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP). I don’t know why its plans always have to be five years long. I’ll take it as a given that Fianna Fáil isn’t basing this time period on the theory of productive forces in Marxism, but you never know. After all, it’s a socialist party, lest we forget. Or at least one that appreciates socialising. Preferably in tents surrounded by horses.

Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up at least 33% of the party local election candidates.

The plan was the result of the Taskforce on Female Participation in Fianna Fáil, chaired by Senator Averil Power, who is the most intriguing thing to come out of the party since SSIAs. But Fianna Fáil is a lonely, lonely place for women.

Conspicuous absence
Of the party’s 20 TDs, “up to one-third” are women. And by up to one-third, I mean none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Of its 14 Senators, “up to one-third” are women. Well, two – Power and Mary White. Its three MEPs are men. Of Fianna Fáil’s 349 councillors around the country, 56 are women, “up to one-third” at 16 per cent. Fianna Fáil is fielding a whopping 420 candidates in the locals, but the party has admitted that “less than” 20 per cent of those running in the local and European elections will be women.

There was more likelihood of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft turning up at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis in Killarney at the weekend than the party actually keeping the gender commitment it made last year. However, the party’s failure to even come close to its promise is a colossal embarrassment. And it probably indicates that Fianna Fáil’s so-called renewal will be closer to more of the same than any actual reform. Its aspirations are for the birds – but only the feathered kind.

When political parties do actually make a concerted effort to rustle up some women, give them support and encouragement, lo and behold, it works. Labour Women have nearly managed to hit their 30 per cent target two years ahead of schedule. 29.7 per cent of candidates in the locals will be women. That didn’t just happen. They worked at it.

I was speaking to a person involved in gender equality in politics a while ago, who said that no sooner do you suggest to a man that he should run than his face is staring down at you from a poster on a lamppost.

He practically has the rosette made before the conversation is over. But women need to be almost coerced into running. It is this confidence-building, encouragement, solidarity and support that is key to sustaining women’s involvement in politics while gender quotas light the fuse.

Meanwhile, over in the feminist bastion of Fine Gael, the party spent a whopping €417 on its women’s programme in 2012 and €164 in 2011. If that’s not commitment to equality in the Oireachtas, then I don’t know what is.

In the history of the State, there have been just two female ministers for justice out of the 35 who have held the position. There have been four female ministers for education in the history of our Oireachtas. There has never been a female minister for finance. There have been three female ministers for health. There has never been a female minister for foreign affairs. There has never been a female taoiseach.

When queried about this in this newspaper, Enda Kenny said, “I don’t particularly like gender quotas, but I do like to see more and more women involved in politics.” Sound the paradox klaxon.

Women should be absolutely raging about this. No wonder our interests aren’t prioritised at a legislative level when our political power is so diluted by middle-aged, middle-class, mediocre, male “leadership”.

Parallel universe
Those who oppose gender quotas exist in a parallel universe where the best person should always get the job, yada yada yada. It’s a universe that assumes “all things being equal”. But they’re not.

Come the local and European elections, we’ll have the option to vote for a vast array of men on any ballot paper around the country, from eejits to Machiavellian operators, to hereditary politicians (possibly an Irish genome malfunction), to good guys and smart fellas to nincompoops.

But the women on a ballot paper are nearly always exceptional. They’re exceptional for even getting there. Give us the right to vote for the same breadth of women as we can for men, and then let the best person get the job. No “less than”, no “up to”, just the best.


I had to use the internet archive to see the previous version