Garvey: Look out for elderly neighbours

Sinn Féin Local Election candidate Eugene Garvey is asking people to look out for their elderly neighbours during this recent spell of wet weather.

Mr Garvey said “I was called to the Beechmount Drive area today where there is flooding outside the pensioners’ homes. I have reported this to the Council as a matter of urgency simply because it is effectively ‘trapping’ older people in their homes. Walking around the flood is not an option as the grassway is nothing more than mud and muck thanks to all the rainfall we have had recently and unless you are an acrobat or light on your feet, chances are you will slide and fall.”

Mr Garvey asked people to check in on their elderly neighbours “as it may not be practical for some of them to wade through a flood. I’m sure Beechmount Drive isn’t the only place where the rainfall and floods are keeping older people at home so please be aware of your neighbours and realise that they may not feel confident enough to venture out in that weather and check if they need anything.”

“We are always good about checking on older or vulnerable people during snow or really cold weather but let’s remember there are other times of the year where they may need that wee bit of looking after.”

Intimidation of families across Louth by Drugs Gangs at an “unprecedented level” – Ó Murchú

Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has raised the issue of intimidation of families across Louth by drugs gangs at Tuesday evenings’ Joint Policing Committee meeting in Dundalk.

Councillor Ó Murchú said; “Over the past 12 months myself, Deputy Gerry Adams and other Sinn Féin councillors have received an increased number of reports of intimidation by drug dealers and their gangs.

“Drug dealers are no longer attributing debts only to those who accrue the debt but also to their family members.

“I am aware of one family in Louth who over the space of 6 months paid criminals a total of €3,700 for debts their son allegedly owed. However the gang was not content and in November demanded another €6,500.

“The family refused and a few weeks later their house was attacked. “Just this week I learned that a local man paid off a drug debt of €40,000 due to intimidation of his daughter.

“In a number of other cases family homes have been attacked with pipe bombs and petrol bombs, vehicles burned out and multiple threats of violence issued.

“I commend the gardaí for their efforts in these cases and the increased level of importance which they are placing on this issue which is resulting in greater numbers of arrests for drug related crimes.

“I welcome the establishment of Dundalk Drugs and Crime Unit which is now up and running with 3 extra staff along with another 5 person unit in Drogheda.

“However there are no doubt many more cases which I am unaware of and which remain unreported and I encourage victims to report this type of crime.

“The people who use drugs recreationally and believe it is a harmless past time must also realise that they bear some responsibility for this crime.

“To feed their social habit a warren of criminal activity takes place. “And at the hard end of all this are families who are being extorted out of thousands of euro by ruthless individuals who intimidate whole communities.

“There is a need for a well-resourced, multi-agency approach bringing together all of the stake-holders in the state, community and voluntary sectors to tackle the scourge of drugs and its associated health and criminal issues.

“I, along with Deputy Gerry Adams, will continue to lobby for additional funding to be provided to Louth Gardaí to combat this very real and dangerous threat.”

Cllr Flood Condemns Continued Neglect of Drogheda’s Heritage Jewels

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has reacted angrily to Louth County Council’s rejection of his motion to treat and spray to remove foliage on Drogheda’s historic Town Walls, the Old Abbey, St Laurence Gate, the Buttergate and the Magdalene Tower.

Cllr Flood said “I first contacted the Council about this in April last year and included the town’s bridges in my request. The Bridges were treated satisfactorily. “However, it wasn’t until August that I received a response informing me that LCC sprays at the base of these other historic towers but the actual towers themselves are ‘National Monuments’ and are the property of the Office of Public Works who maintain same. The Heritage Department subsequently told me that the council could indeed carry out the work, but only with Ministerial Consent.”

With that in mind, Cllr Flood submitted a motion asking the Council to treat and spray the historical towers.

Cllr Flood said “The council’s response was that there was no funding in the budget to carry out this work but were unable or unwilling to answer my question of how much it would actually cost.”

“The real cost here is to our heritage. These towers are Drogheda’s jewels and the removal of foliage which is damaging them is the bare minimum amount of work needed to preserve them. This short-sighted rejection, along with the council’s unsuccessful application for funding to the Historic Towns Initiative, means there will be no proper investment in our historic buildings this year yet again.”

“Our medieval town centre has not received the attention that similarly sized urban centres like Waterford or Kilkenny have received. The Drogheda Sinn Féin Team has made a submission to ‘The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy’ and we hope that proper consideration is given to address the investment deficit in our Historic Jewels.”

Louth Sinn Féin launch A Plan for Brexit – No Border, No Barriers, Protect the All-Ireland Economy.

Louth Sinn Féin has launched its plan to address the immediate social and economic issues arising from Brexit, including the need for a referendum on Irish Unity.

The event, which took place in An Táin, Dundalk, on Friday 1st March, was chaired by Councillor Anne Campbell and attended by numerous Sinn Féin activists and members of the local media.

Councillor Ó Murchú said, “With just over 4 weeks to go before the March 29th deadline it’s fair to say that the chaos in the British government surrounding Brexit has reached new depths of confusion.

“The British Conservative Party and Parliament are as deeply divided as ever as a result of that government’s incompetence in managing the self-inflicted Brexit crisis. “Brexit poses a significant threat to the economy of County Louth, to jobs and infrastructure. It threatens the two economies on this island, will undermine social cohesion, and directly attacks the Good Friday Agreement.

“In the referendum in 2016 the clear majority of voters in the North voted to remain within the EU. The DUP and the British government continue to disrespect that democratic vote.

“Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned in the European Parliament, the Dáil and Westminster to ensure there is no hard border and that communities and businesses, especially along the border corridor, are protected.

“The withdrawal agreement, and in particular the backstop arrangement, if implemented would go some way to achieving this objective. “However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the current draft withdrawal agreement will not stop Brexit.

“The onus to defend the two economies on this island and the rights of citizens in the North, rests squarely with the Irish government.

“The Irish Government in its lobby of our EU neighbours on Brexit rightly stressed the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

“Yet we have the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach repeatedly dismissing a part of the agreement, which is a referendum on Irish unity.

“That too is a key provision and an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste cannot cherry-pick from the Good Friday Agreement. There is a responsibility and a constitutional obligation to promote the goal of Irish unity and to work to achieve it through democratic dialogue and negotiation.

“This paper seeks to address the immediate social and economic issues arising from Brexit, including the need for a referendum on Irish Unity.”

Learner drivers in Louth still waiting months for test date – Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Co. Louth Imelda Munster has said that driving test waiting times in the county have reached levels that are “completely unacceptable”

The most recent figures show that people are waiting up to three months for a driving test at the Dundalk test centre, with another 734 people still awaiting a test date.

Deputy Munster said: “The RSA say they aim to have a national average waiting time for a driving test of no longer than 10 weeks.

“If you look at the figures in driving test centres across the state, this average time frame target is not currently being met in 22 of the state’s 50 test centres, with people waiting over 6 months in some areas.

“The main factor causing this backlog is that there are nowhere near enough testers to deal with the demand. “A significant number of testers have retired in recent years. This is foreseeable, and I do not accept that new testers could not have been recruited to ensure that these retirements did not affect the service.

“The recruitment process has been slow and is simply not enough. The Minister for Transport needs to support the RSA in recruiting significant numbers of new testers to cope with demand. The buck stops with Shane Ross.

“A new test centre is planned for Drogheda, which I welcome, however progress on getting the centre up and running has been far too slow. This issue needs to be addressed now in order to allow learner drivers to get their licences and travel freely and safely to work and to access education.

“This situation has been ongoing for a long time and it is completely unacceptable that this hasn’t been resolved to date.”