Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at Irish Water following their own report released this week acknowledging that they should have acted sooner in their response to the Drogheda water crisis.
The crisis left more than 80,000 homes and businesses without water for up to eight days in July.Cllr Flood said “Irish Water has had years now to learn its lessons when it comes to burst mains, especially in Drogheda, where we had the North Quay Water-main bursting several times a year before finally being replaced. Even then it was only replaced several years after the funding was allocated to do so.”
“We have highlighted problems with response times and communication repeatedly to Irish Water representatives when they came to the Drogheda Municipal District Meetings and through emails and now their own report is another admission that no lessons have been learned.”
“Irish Water is not fit for purpose. It was never fit for purpose. It never will be fit for purpose. It was set up as a cash cow for government cronies. The responsibility for water services should be returned to the local authorities and properly invested in or else all we will get is more of the same from Irish Water.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on all Parties to support the Sinn Féin Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 which will be voted on next Thursday (28th September) in the Dáil.
Cllr Cunningham said “Wind farms have been a bone of contention in communities for some years now and this Bill seeks to address the issue. It seeks to regulate wind farms and to ensure that while this industry develops that it does so with community engagement and also provides legal protection for the rural communities.”
“This has been an area that has been neglected by the last two Governments simply because it is a contentious issue and because of this lack of legislation in terms of planning regulations for wind turbines, many rural communities have suffered greatly.”
“This Bill has various provisions in terms of creating a legal framework for wind farm development, for example, to protect rural dwellers the Bill proposes a setback of 10 times the height of the turbine, along with provisions to protect against noise and shadow flicker.
“Turbines should only be located in areas designated by County Councillors in the county development plan. We also allow for both optional community ownership and greater consultation.”
Sinn Féin is the first Party to put forward legislation giving firm legal protections for rural communities across the State in relation to where the wind farms are sited.
Cllr Cunningham continued “No-one is denying that harnessing wind to generate power could go a long way to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and renewable energy development is urgently needed but it is essential that we create other renewable energy sources; off-shore wind, biomass and biogas are seriously underdeveloped.”
“Clean green forms of indigenous energy can be further harnessed but we must ensure it is done with the involvement of local communities.”
Tom Cunningham called on all Parties to support Sinn Féin’s Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 and he urged “the public to contact your local TD and encourage them to support regulation of the Wind Farms and turbines. This Bill is about legal protection for rural communities. It’s your community, make sure you are heard.”
Imelda Munster TD is outraged at recent HSE correspondence to haemochromatosis patients who attend the venesection clinic in Louth advising that from 1st September 2017 a charge of €80 per visit would begin with a maximum charge of €800 annually.
The Sinn Féin TD said: “Whilst medical card holders are exempt from this levy, it puts an unfair burden on people who have been diagnosed with this condition. The financial means of these patients are not taken into account, though they may be just over the limit required for access to a medical card”.
Imelda Munster explained that “Haemochromatosis is a life-long chronic illness and patients need regular venesections (the taking of blood) to keep their iron levels in check and to remain healthy.
“This charge of up to €800 a year could well prevent people from attending the venesection clinic which in turn will lead to patients potentially suffering from cirrhosis of the liver due to the build-up of iron, and other serious health problems.
“Given that this is a life-long chronic illness, it needs to be designated under the Long-Term Illness scheme. The health system doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay. The income thresholds for qualifying for a medical card are relatively low, and for people who sit just above that limit, this is an unfair and exorbitant charge.
“I have written to the Minister asking him to include haemochromatosis on the Long-Term Illness scheme so that people who require this ongoing treatment are not deterred from accessing it due to financial hardship. I hope that the Minister realises that this is an equality of access issue, and that the current situation is not fair for patients who are struggling to pay for this necessary treatment.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has called on the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to include Councillors in the budget process.
Cllr. Flood said “during the debate on deciding this year’s Local Property Tax (LPT), Sinn Féin again proposed a 15% reduction, the maximum allowed under the relevant legislation.”
The Chief Executive responded by demanding that if Sinn Féin were proposing any cut in the LPT then they should identify where in the budget it should come from.
Kenneth Flood said “In the pre-budget workshop I had asked questions on the cost to the council of contractors, consultants and third parties writing council policy documents, like the Community Safety Strategy document etc. I did not get that information from the executive. I appreciate there are times when the Council need to employ consultants from time to time but as it is public money being used then the Council is accountable to the public.”
“We in Sinn Féin are more than willing to examine the council’s proposed spending and if the Chief Executive afforded us the opportunity to review the proposed budget in detail, then I am certain that we can identify areas where savings can be made. The process needs to be more inclusive of Councillors from all parties.”
“The LPT is an unjust and regressive tax and we need to ease the burden on homeowners and give families a break.”
At September’s Louth County Council Meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed the inspection of multi-storey buildings by the Fire and Emergency Services. Buildings of seven storeys and over have been inspected following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London with additional fire safety assessments requested of external wall cladding.
Cllr McGeough said “the Fire Prevention section has also requested fire safety assessments of all two storey properties owned by Housing Agencies where council tenants are accommodated and I welcome that. The Fire Prevention Section has also contacted management companies or owners of all buildings in Louth where Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenants are living.”
Cllr McGeough raised the issue of private tenants and private landlords. “I asked if their properties were being inspected but was told that is the responsibility of the landlords themselves. I would now urge all landlords to check their properties periodically and ensure there are fire safety precautions in place. With an average of 60-70 house fires a year we need to be doing everything we can to avoid tragedies.”
Pearse McGeough went on to explain that “there are basic things you can ensure the property has: Smoke detectors, heat detectors and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 requires every house to have a fire blanket and a mains wired smoke alarm or two 10 year self-contained battery operated alarms. These are a few basics that can be done but could be enough to save a life or prevent extensive damage to a property.”