At Blackwater Park in Navan today, Meath Sinn Féin TDs Darren O’Rourke and Johnny Guirke launched their party’s proposals for the priority delivery of public parks, playgrounds and playing pitches for local communities.
The “Delivering Liveable Urban Spaces – A vision for the prioritisation of public green and blue spaces” policy document was prepared by the Meath TDs and their council colleagues Aisling O’Neill, Michael Gallagher and Eddie Fennessy.
It sets out 22 recommendations, including five priority recommendations, which highlight the importance of access to public green space and set out a number of practical measures, including ring-fencing funding and the essential involvement of local communities in the design and delivery of parks, that the Meath Sinn Féin group of representatives say would transform the county.
Speaking at the launch, Teachta Darren O’Rourke said:
“County Meath has seen huge population growth in the past number of years. The population of the county grew from 110,000 to over 195,000 in 20 years between 1996 and 2016, for example.
“Many parts of the county saw rapid growth during the Celtic Tiger period, in particular, and while the houses came – and in their thousands – community infrastructure was promised but rarely delivered.
“Many communities are now forced to fight for what should have been a given – adequate public green space – playgrounds, public parks, public playing pitches – a place to go for a run or a walk, to walk the dog, to kick a ball, to get some fresh air and catch up with friends. We see this right around the county.
“There are active campaigns in Meath East in Ashbourne, Stamullen and Ratoath, to name but a few, for example.
“We, in Sinn Féin, share the frustration of communities. Seasamid i Sinn Féin leis na pobail seo.
“That’s why we’ve published “Delivering Liveable Urban Spaces – A vision for the prioritisation of public green and blue spaces”.
“This policy document draws on national and international research to highlight why access to green and blue space is important. They are essential ingredients in healthy urban spaces.”
Teachta Johnny Guirke continued:
“In the document, we set out a number of clear proposals which would ensure the prioritisation and delivery of public green and blue spaces for communities.
“For example, we want the sequencing of developments so parks, playgrounds and river walks are delivered in tandem with houses and not put on the long finger.
“We want funding to be ring-fenced from development levies and we want the creation, by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, of a dedicated ‘Public Green and Blue Space Fund’.
“We want the development of green and blue spaces to be put on an elevated footing in County and Regional Development Plans and we want to make sure that the voice of the local community is heard at every step of the process – at design, at planning and at delivery.
“If implemented, these proposals would transform our county. They would help us build communities, not just homes, and they would help us avoid making the same mistakes of the past.
“The document is available online and in local Sinn Féin offices. It will be submitted to Meath County Council and to the Minister and Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.”