Housing Unit Turnaround Is Too Slow – Alan Cassidy

Alan CassidySinn Féin candidate for Drogheda Alan Cassidy has said that while on the campaign trail “around Drogheda and its environs, the number one issue that people are raising is housing.”

There are currently 98,000 people on local authority housing lists throughout the state with 4,345 of them in County Louth alone.

Cassidy continued “it is incredibly disheartening canvassing in an estate where there are boarded up houses. For example, in Laphin Park in Tullyallen, there is a four bedroom house that has been boarded up since mid-December. Why? Surely it could have been home to a family by now.”Alan Cassidy, from Tullyallen told of how “in one case Cllr Mathew Coogan and I called to a two bed-roomed house in Drogheda with ten people living there. They had taken the drastic step of temporarily partitioning the two bedrooms in an attempt to improve their families’ quality of life. We are not heading towards a housing crisis, we are already in a housing crisis. In Louth, housing applicants have to wait on average seven years for social housing. That’s a disgrace. The Local Authorities should spend money maintaining their own stock instead of wasting that money paying private landlords and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Local Government have a responsibility to provide an adequate number of affordable homes.

“As revelations highlighted by Sinn Féin Councillor Tomás Sharkey regarding the Housing Department in Louth unfold this week, one thing is clear, a radical and systematic overhaul of structures is necessary. “

Adams – Effective Action Needed To End Fuel Laundering

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the criminal gangs involved in the fuel laundering scam and has said that “the only effective means of closing down this illegal activity is to end the differential between agricultural and non-agricultural diesel. The government needs to introduce in its place a system where farmers can reclaim a rebate on their fuel costs based on vouched expenditure”.

Teachta Adams has accused the gangs involved in diesel laundering of “causing serious environmental and health problems, putting at risk legitimate business and jobs, as well as imposing significant financial costs on local councils and the tax payer”.

The Louth TD was commenting after he received written responses from the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and from the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to a series of Dáil Questions he submitted on this issue.

Mr. Adams said: “The responses from Minister Hogan and Noonan make bleak reading and confirm the adverse impact fuel laundering is having, especially in border counties.

· 900 incidents of diesel laundering and waste dumping

· 490 in Louth

· 406 in Monaghan

· €4,959,005 spent since 2008 on the clean-up of fuel laundering sites

· €4,093,979 of this spent in Louth

· 33 oil laundry plants detected and closed since 2010

· 10 oil laundry plants detected and closed in Louth in this period.

· 87 filling stations closed for selling illegal fuel between 2012-13

“While I welcome the increasing cross border co-operation on this issue and while I accept that the new marker being introduced both in Britain and across Ireland should greatly assist the process of identifying and prosecuting those involved in this activity, the danger is that the fuel launderers will find a way to remove this marker also.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that the only guaranteed means of ending this lucrative trade is to have a single tariff for diesel. A common approach could then be adopted to rebate to farmers the additional costs incurred in fuel purchases.

“The Irish Petroleum Industry Association has estimated that there may be as many as 120 illegal sites in operation (south of the border) and that these are costing the exchequer as much as €155 million per annum in lost fuel duty.

“Until an effective and sustainable solution is agreed and implemented, penalties against these criminal gangs and those who distribute the illegal fuel need to be increased. More resources should be provided to the Garda and PSNI and the Irish government and Executive should urgently review how they can maximise co-operation between policing, customs, justice and environmental agencies.”

Tomás Sharkey – “Report confirms long held suspicions around house purchases by Louth County Council with public money.”

SF Tomas Sharkey 3Tomás Sharkey says “Report confirms long held suspicions around house purchases by Louth County Council with public money.”  He also believes that the 2007 Code of Conduct for Employees has been breached and sweeping changes are needed in the Housing Section.

Sinn Féin’s Tomás Sharkey has received a report from Louth County Manager Philomena Poole into an audit of house purchases by Louth County Council in 2010. A Senior Executive Engineer and a Senior Executive Officer in the Housing section sold houses to the Council and have been on suspension since October while an investigation has been taking place.

“Both houses in question are in my electoral areas of Blackrock and Knockbridge.

“This report gives us an ugly picture of Louth’s Housing Section. The County Manager has written the report because of calls by me to have the purchase of houses audited and investigated and this proves that my pursuit of the issue of senior housing staff being involved in selling their own houses to the Council was correct.

“The audit by Deloitte raised the issues of employees negotiating on their own behalf with persons with whom they worked on a day-to-day basis and attending meetings at which their properties were being discussed. This is in breach of the 2007 Code of Conduct for Employees of local authorities. I have been raising my concerns about this type of practice for some time now.

“The report has been carefully worded to give a stinging criticism of how the Housing Section has been managed over the years. I want to thank the brave and careful work of ordinary staff who assisted the audit and subsequent inquiry.

“It is incredible to read that the results of house inspections undertaken by the Senior Executive Engineer were not documented in a formal report. That Senior Executive Engineer sold his own house in Tullagee, Knockbridge to the Council at a cost to the taxpayer of €142,562.50 and with an additional refurbishment cost of €62,662.03.

“Louth County Council’s solicitor wrote many times advising that structural surveys of purchased houses be carried out but they did not happen. Inspections by the Senior Executive Engineer were not formally documented. There was no record that the houses being bought satisfied a demand from our housing waiting list. In one instance the Council’s solicitor was instructed to proceed with the purchase of a house before the Director’s Order was signed to buy it. There is no record as to how the Council became aware of houses being available for purchase. Policies and procedures did not exist.

“The report from Louth County Manager confirms the grave mistrust that the public holds of our Housing Section. I welcome the fact that there will now be a review of procedures into house allocations, maintenance requests, purchase of units, Rental Accomodation Scheme, Long Term Leasing and Housing Assistance Payments. There now needs to be a sweeping change in our Council. Policies and procedures must be made and followed.

“This document was prepared by Ms Philomena Poole who will leave her post as County Manager after only 8 months. I want to thank her for helping prepare the ground for reform in Louth.”

For further information on this article please contact

Thomas Sharkey

087 9090629 or tomassharkeylouth@gmail.com

Dundalk Council Offices

Dundalk Council Offices

Cllr Green ‘outraged’ at attempt by local council to impose its writ over the Market Square

Jennifer GreenSinn Féin Councillor Jennifer Green was ‘outraged’ when her Party received the following email from Dundalk Town Hall.

“With regard to the forthcoming event that you have advertised for Market Square this weekend, can you also contact the Town Clerk’s office for an application form for Use of Market Square”.

This followed an earlier email requesting that the Party remove the National Flag from the Square. The event they are referring to is the commemoration of the 1916 Rising.

Jennifer Green has taken issue in the past with the Council in relation to its attempt to extinguish the public right in relation to the Square. Councillor Green said “this is a blatant attempt to restrict and eventually prevent the right of assembly at the square unless it suits the Council.”

The Market Square has been at the heart of Dundalk’s civic and commercial life since the 18th century, having been first laid over a 2 acre area in the 1740’s. Councillor Green commented that it “a rejuvenation of the square was long overdue. I would like to remind the Council and the public that it was thanks to a Sinn Féin campaign that we weren’t left with a monstrosity of a 5 storey building complete with an underground car park.”

The Sinn Féin councillor was angry as she said, “my taxes and yours contributed to the refurbishment of the square so we, the public, should have the right to use it. How dare the Town Clerk expect my party or the public to go cap in hand to his office and ask his permission to use this public amenity?”

Jennifer continued “Interestingly at the time, the Architects who designed the Square as it is today are quoted as saying ‘it offers a functional space for townsfolk and visitors to meet, sit and interact.’

“The then Cathaoirleach of the Town Council at that time said ‘in addition to being the geographic centre of Dundalk, the Market Square holds a special place in the town’s collective memory and – in many ways – it’s Dundalk’s meeting place.”

Jennifer Green concluded by saying “if Dundalk Town Council have their way, the public’s right to this public amenity will be extinguished.”

Adams Welcomes Funding From Councils For Dundalk Women’s Refuge

womens-aidSinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision by Louth County Council and Dundalk Town Council to provide €15k each to Dundalk Women’s Aid “in order to remove the immediate threat of closure.”

Teachta Adams praised his Council colleagues, and in particular Cllr Edel Corrigan and Cllr Jennifer Green who “each presented a motion to their respective councils condemning the funding cuts to the refuge and demanding a reversal of those cuts.”

Gerry Adams said: “The decisions by the two Councils are very welcome but they are not the answer to the problem of funding for Dundalk Women’s Refuge and other refuges across the state. Women’s Aid Dundalk is in the frontline of helping victims of domestic violence. It provides a 24/7 service. Last year the demand on its services were such that it was unable to accommodate 293 requests for refuge. One consequence of this is that Drogheda Women’s Refuge which has limited space will now have to cope with victims from Louth, Cavan and Monaghan.

“The loss of the Dundalk service will leave hundreds of women and children vulnerable to continued domestic violence.

“The reality is that services and support for women and children experiencing abuse in the home is at an all-time low as a result of government cutbacks. The decision by the two Louth Councils has provided an opportunity to campaign to reverse current government policy and I would urge all county Louth representatives, but especially government TDs and Seanadóirí, to use their influence to secure government funding for Dundalk Women’s Aid.”Cllr Edel Corrigan

SF Jennifer & Gerry