Knowing many people in Skerries as I do, made visiting around Shenick, Townparks, Churchfields, Sherlock and Kelly’s Bay an interesting experience. It was made all the more enjoyable by the good weather and the great company, thanks to Diarmuid, Rita, Jim, Brian, Don and Paul.
Being in Skerries visiting different estates coincided with the publication of the historic 2008 EPA Quality of Bathing Water Report. Naturally as a ‘new’ report it was read as if it was up to date even though the news in it is two years out of date. However Skerries’ bathing water was described as having a ‘sufficiently high standard’. Since then work has taken place to improve standards. Apart from a new local sewage treatment plant serving both Skerries and Balbriggan, the Council is now embarked on a Colombo-esque mission to locate and terminate any rogue discharges of rainwater in to the sewerage system. These misconnections, as they are called by the engineers, become a real problem when downpours occur. They swell the volume of sewage in the system, the teatment plant overflows and raw diluted sewage gets discharged as it has nowhere else to go. So downpours keep people off the beach but they also result in the pollution which was detected by the EPA. The forecast of good weather and the ending of these misconnections will I believe give us cleaner results in the next EPA report. That being said between 2003 and 2008 Skerries had a ‘sufficiently good standard’. The poor year was 2004, but we hope for very good results from now on.
On the other hand, some issues raised by residents were quite individual and personal. For example, adoption procedures, requests for help in finding summer work or more permanent work as well as specific grievances when dealing with state agencies were all raised.
Government policies with regard to financial resources against the background of needing to borrow about €55 million each day to ensure current expenditure and wage cheques do not bounce were important to discuss. There is a very fine balance to be struck between pruning the ‘tree of state’ to ensure it grows back healthy and fruitful or going beyond that point. I pray that heeding wise council on the doors and from expert economists will ensure we get the balance right. The reason for the tough measures is to bring this country to a healthy state of sustainable, fair and entrepreneurial social and economic activity. Meanwhile the full rigours of the law had better deal with those who recklessly abandoned good banking practises which have led us to where we are as a country and which is causing so much pain and distress to so many households at present. The Green Party was not in Government when these problems were caused but we are now having to clean up the mess. It is not easy but it has to be done.
That being said, most of the issues I discussed on the doors related to policies of Fingal County Council. For example a dose of common sense is needed to ensure that kick about areas on open spaces are mown so children can play in safety and not on the roads. In the right places and to protect biodiversity, cutting grass less frequently can be a progressive policy, but not if it forces children to be less active. But as the Beatles (or even beetles) might say ‘we can work it out!’. I have written to Fingal County Council on behalf of several residents who made useful suggestions about various open spaces in and around Skerries.
Many people I spoke with were very happy to hear that about 150 allotments on the Golf Links Road were nearly ready to open. I want to again pay tribute to the Sustainable Skerries team who are an example of the ‘can-do’ community spirit this country needs more of. They have worked on this project in co-operation with Fingal County Council. Check out their website at www.sustainableskerries.wordpress.com/ for more information. Only for people like Mary Marsden and the Sustainable Skerries team, the Council would have not had the resources to proceed. Skerries owes a huge debt of gratitude to the enormous voluntary effort and ingenuity which has gone in to getting the project over the line. I am now meeting other people in Kellys’ Bay who want to establish allotments in the vicinity of the Ballast Pit. The interest in Grow It Yourself activities is definitely growing and I encourage it in every way I can. A number of Skerries GIY enthusiasts were good enough to drop in to my own kitchen garden recently as the photographs below record.
Photos taken by C.Finn: