Ó Murchú: CAMHS Very Welcome in Dundalk Town Centre

The news that the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) will open in Dundalk town centre this week has been welcomed by Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.

The Dundalk TD has been campaigning for two years for the move, which was confirmed at a meeting of Community Health Organisation (CHO) management last Wednesday.

Earl House is the location for the service, which had been previously located at the Child and Family Centre on the Dublin Road in Drogheda.

Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘For the last two years, I have been pushing for the CAMHS service to open in Dundalk in order to make it far easier for young people from the town, and from North Louth, needing the services to access them.

‘When I raised the issue at a meeting between CHO 8 management and Louth Oireachtas members, I was delighted to learn that the CAMHS will be open in Earl Street shortly.

‘CHO 8 said the project had been slightly delayed due to IT issues, but I understand the service will be open this week and that is fantastic news for the service users from this area.

‘However, it is clear there is an ongoing need for far greater resources for mental health services, particularly in the community, and I will continue to raise it with government and the HSE authorities’.

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Final Push for PANCR

With the upcoming announcement due over the coming weeks for projects approved under the second round of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has asked Louth County Council to give one final push and contact Minister Darragh O’Brien once again highlighting the importance of the Port Access Northern Cross Route and to stress the need for the funding application to be considered. 

“The PANCR is such a significant project, essential for the development of Drogheda and South Louth. It is a vital piece of infrastructure that is needed on so many levels to take heavy goods vehicles out of the town and relieve traffic congestion. It will also pave the way for further residential, commercial and sporting development throughout the Northern Environs of Drogheda. Without the PANCR none of this is possible.”

Director of Service Frank Pentony responded to Cllr Byrne saying that the last correspondence LCC had received from the Minister’s office stated the announcements regarding successful projects under the URDF wouldn’t be made until after the budget but he would be happy to take up her request and would write to the Minister this week.

Ó Murchú Reaction to HIQA Report into Dealgan House

The questions that remain for the families of those who died at Dealgan House Nursing can only be answered by a public inquiry, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú has said, in response to the HIQA inspection report published about the Dundalk facility.

Reacting to the report, the Louth TD, who has been working with some of the families who lost loved ones during an outbreak at Dealgan House Nursing Home in April and May this year, said he was ‘concerned by a number of the findings’.

He said: ‘I appreciate the thoroughness of the HIQA report, which looked at all aspects of the care provided by Dealgan to the residents. The inspectors, however, found that the provider was not compliant in seven out of 22 regulations, including in areas such as staffing and infection control.

‘This inspection report is just a snapshot of Dealgan House over two days at the end of May.

‘It is an important part of the picture about what happened here, and has to be read alongside all the other information that the families have managed to gather, including Freedom of Information documents from the HSE and HIQA.

‘A small number of the families will meet Health Minister Stephen Donnelly next week to press their case for a public inquiry into what happened in this nursing home.

‘I continue to fully support them in this quest. In light of what is currently happening in nursing homes, and with the very concerning news coming from a nursing home in Galway earlier this week, there is every reason why a focused public inquiry into what happened at Dealgan House would ensure that the much-needed lessons for the wider nursing home and care sectors are learned, and learned quickly’.

Cllr Joanna Byrne – Let’s Get Arty about Recycling

October’s monthly meeting of Louth County Council saw Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne bring a proposal that the Local Authority seek to implement an initiative that would see the dull bring bank containers painted with colourful murals.  

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Byrne told the chamber “an initiative like this has recently been undertaken by Dublin City Council in Ballymun and has transformed the area.  This is an opportunity for Louth County Council to connect with local artists and organisations, a chance to encourage and support artists at what is very tough and uncertain time in their industry. 

“Most of our county’s bring bank areas are near to town centres and busy residential areas. Unfortunately they industrialise these areas and even when they are clean and tidy still bring dirty untidy aesthetics to the areas they rest in. 

“I want Louth County Council to roll out an initiative where these bring banks are painted in colourful paintings and murals. This has been done in other Council areas and has really added a bit of colour and brightness. Let’s work with local artists and community groups to showcase local talent at the same time as improving the look of our facilities and bring some colour to our towns.”

Catherine Duff, Director of Services for Operations, stated she had only visited two bring bank areas herself over the prior weekend following up on the recent IBAL report and concurred with Cllr Byrne’s concerns of how drab and dull these areas looked. In turn she committed to exploring if a similar project could be rolled out here in Louth as suggested by Cllr Byrne.

Cllr Byrne concluded “they do say art is the highest form of hope, we will wait in anticipation to see.” 

LandBanks & Small Maintenance Budget Leaves Louth ‘Hamstrung’

The twin issues of a skimpy housing maintenance budget and the €1 million a year spent by Louth County Council on servicing loans on landbanks they own but can’t build on, were raised in Leinster House last week by Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú.

The Louth TD raised the local authority’s problems in the chamber during a debate on a Private Members’ motion to ban co-living.

The TD used the opportunity to tell Oireachtas members about how local authorities are ‘hamstrung’.

He said: ‘In Louth County Council we have a major difficulty in that for even the local authority housing we have, we have no maintenance budget.

‘Combined with this, we are spending about €1 million a year on servicing the loans on landbanks, some of which were bought at the height of the Celtic tiger boom on instruction from the Fianna Fáil Government at the time.

‘Louth County Council has had these landbanks on its books since. Nobody has ever crystallised the losses on them and there have been constant promises from departments but never a solution.

‘In fairness, I spoke to the Minister about this and I believe he will hold a meeting with Louth County Council, to include councillors, elected representatives and the council executive’.

He said the only solution was to ‘empower local authorities to build houses for the public on public lands’.

Mr Ó Murchú said: ‘We are talking across the board of mixed developments. We are talking about local authority housing, or council houses, and also affordable cost rentals for those who can afford to pay a fair rent but not necessarily the €1,000, €1,200, €1,400 or €1,600 one could be paying in urban Dundalk at this point.

‘If it were not for HAP and the extortionate amounts paid into that scheme, people would be completely without housing. We accept the reality, but the problem is that HAP sets the baseline, so we have a completely dysfunctional system that needs to be fixed.

‘Affordable cost-rental accommodation, affordable mortgages and the building of council houses – those are the solutions. We do not need these bonkers battery-cage living places. This was said by people who are now in positions of power while they were in positions over here, so we need follow-through’.