Speaking today, Cllr Cassidy said “it is my intention to escalate these protests in the coming weeks. I am aware there are individuals who wish these actions to cease but hat is not going to happen.”
Cllr Cassidy has consistently raised the issue of the two thatched cottages in Drogheda with Louth County Council’s chief executive and has been repeatedly told that the council is ‘active on the issue’.
Alan Cassidy said “two months ago when I met the Chief executive to discuss the issue again, she informed me that something may be happening, but she was ‘not at liberty to say’. Early last week I again raised my concerns with the chief executive, as always I finished by asking to be kept up to date on the matter, I informed the chief executive of my intention to stage a protest at my frustration with the lack of enforcement.
“As a member of The Old Drogheda Society Committee, I informed them on last Wednesday of my intention to hold a protest the following Friday. I also informed them I was not looking for any ‘glory’ out of it, as the issue shouldn’t be politicised given its gravity. The society issued a statement which had been previously agreed at committee level to the press.”
However, five hours before the protest began, Labour councillor Paul Bell issued a contradictory statement congratulating himself on his own efforts in ‘saving the two’ cottages in Drogheda and one in Castlebellingham. He stated that thanks to his efforts ‘funding had been secured to restore the two cottages in Drogheda’.
Cllr Alan Cassidy has a few questions on this. “Which stream of funding is this? Is it the structures at risk fund? Applications don’t close until the 15th of April and it is in no way a foregone conclusion who gets that funding. I wonder is Louth county council inferring that if you fail in your duty of care to keep your protected structure in good order, that you can then apply for the structures at risk fund? Ironically you only qualify because you the owner have put that protected structure at risk.”
The Structures at Risk fund for last year was only €5,000 for Louth, a county that boasts over 600 protected structures.
Specifically regarding Harty’s cottage Cllr Bell stated that “the council have had discussions with the owner of this property and have designed a plan which will see the property fully restored”. Cllr Cassidy disputes this citing contact with the council as late as 15th March when they confirmed they still hadn’t made contact with the owner.
Cllr Cassidy continued “Even more strangely, there is no plan in place. In fact nothing exists in writing at council level in relation to any of these discussions. That is what the chief executive told me personally over the period of an hour long conversation on the 15th of March”.
“Cllr Bell stated on local radio four hours before Friday’s protest, that not only would the two cottages be saved, but there would be an educational aspect to this restoration project which is included in The draft Louth Local Economic and Community Plan 2016-2022, which will be coming before the council for approval very shortly. However, I again dispute this. On the page and a half dealing with Heritage I could find nothing that specified this in any way.”
Cllr Cassidy said “I have the utmost respect for the Old Drogheda Society, its work, and all its members. It became very evident last Friday that some members felt there was a political tug of war going on. To defuse the situation I immediately resigned from the committee of the O.D.S to avoid damaging its good name. The great and good of our Town have dedicated their lives to building this wonderful organisation. This was, I feel the honourable course of action. Has Cllr Bell treated the society with equal respect? I feel not.”
Concluding Alan Cassidy said “I’m sure Cllr Bell will be able to clarify this whole matter satisfactorily.”
The protests will go ahead as planned despite reports in the media to the contrary, every Friday at 4pm.