Cyclist.ie at Healthy Ireland Network Event Launched by An Taoiseach
Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign attended the launch of the Healthy Ireland (HI) Network in Dublin Castle today (Thursday 18th May 2017). Organised by the Department of Health, the event was chaired by Keith Wood, ex-Ireland rugby player and Chairperson of the HI Council. The speakers included An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, National Director of Health and Well-being Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe and Colin Regan from the GAA.
One of the main themes of the launch is that many types of organisations across the country need to combine their efforts to improve the nation’s health and well-being. Dr. O’Keefe described the challenges as ‘wicked’ problems - i.e. they are complex and require the action of multiple stakeholders over several political cycles. They also need real leadership for change to happen.
These points resonate with Cyclist.ie’s experiences of seeking to shape the priorities of government departments, agencies, local authorities and other bodies so as to create the conditions to make it safe and easy for all ages and abilities to cycle. Keith Wood spoke about the need to ‘make it easy to be healthy’. This makes a lot of sense! For cycling campaigners, that means - to take a topical example - making the Liffey quays (and all of the junctions in the city) safe and attractive for cycling which will, in turn, make it easy for people to adopt healthy travel habits. Currently too many streets are simply unhealthy, hostile, environments arising from the utter dominance of motorised traffic. This has to change as has happened in so many cities in Europe.
It was encouraging to hear cycling mentioned a few times at the launch today, but it was generally talked about in a sports cycling context (and whether ‘one looks good’ in lycra or not!). It is great to see the growth in sports cycling, but in Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign we want to see everyday bicycling normalised and see people hopping on their bikes for utility trips while dressing for the destination. It was also encouraging to see so many bikes parked outside of the venue today (as shown above) although it is unclear how many belonged to delegates at the event!
All in all, the HI initiative is a very positive move and through the HI Network Cyclist.ie will be pushing to get everyday cycling embedded in the thinking, policies and practices of the many organisations in the network. If this is a campaigning space that you are interested in and can help out with, do please contact us.
Pictured above at the launch is Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, with his brother John.
You can read more about the event on the Department of Health website: http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/new-network-launched-by-taoiseac….
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