At last week’s Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, the Party overwhelmingly supported a motion brought by Drogheda’s Bobby Sands Cumann calling for City Status for Drogheda.
Councillor Kenneth Flood and Imelda Munster TD both spoke on the motion.
Cllr. Kenneth Flood said “I was honoured to propose and speak on this motion for Drogheda at our Ard Fheis. It is my opinion that local representatives have a duty to bring issues as important as this to their parties National Conferences or Ard Fheisenna and to seek their parties support.”
Cllr Flood excplained “A report by Dr Brian Hughes, a lecturer in urban economics which was commissioned by the Drogheda City Status lobby group said that ‘the population of the municipal borough of Drogheda, along with the neighbouring rural areas of Louth and Meath, has increased by almost 80 per cent over two decades, rising from 46,451 to 83,042 in the 2016 census.’ We cannot administer an urban centre with such a population with the powerless and fragmented local government we have at the moment.”
“Drogheda was stripped of its Borough Council in 2014, we were denied our rightful place in the 2002 National Spatial Strategy, left out of the Living Cities Initiative in 2013 and now we seem to have been forgotten when it comes to the current Draft National Planning Framework which will plan for the 26 counties for decades to come.
Drogheda needs City Status and a City Council to administer it. That is now Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis approved position and we will continue to lobby and fight for it until it is achieved.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has welcomed the first granting of a licence for medicinal cannabis for chronic pain as a progressive step in accessing cannabis based medicines in Ireland.
Councillor Flood said “In June this year I had a motion passed at Louth County Council calling on the government to ‘introduce legislation that would legalise the use of medicinal Cannabis in the treatment of patients with specified medical conditions which have failed to respond to all other previous treatments’. That is exactly what has happened in this case and I welcome that.”
“It is also very welcome news that Ava Twomey is able to return home from Holland after being prescribed the medical cannabis. This is overdue and at least now the family can be re-united and Ava can be at home where she will obviously be more settled.”
“The issue of medicinal cannabis is one of which there are a wide range of views and opinions. However, it should always be looked at from a medical and health perspective and we should always defer to the medical experts and patients advocacy groups on such issues.
“Legislating for medicinal cannabis in Ireland has proven complex. However, I am hopeful that all the Parties in the Dáil can reach agreement on this issue and there will be wider availability of medicinal cannabis in the near future.”
As the issue of Drogheda’s parking problems came to the fore this week, Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood asked if Louth County Council was serious about tackling the issue.
Wheelchair users took to social media with pictures of inconsiderate car drivers parking on footpaths in Drogheda forcing them to abandon their journeys and return to their homes.
Cllr. Flood said “In 2016, following my motion regarding car-parking, it was agreed during the ensuing discussion that Drogheda’s Councillors would meet with Louth County Council officials to discuss ways of tackling the parking problems facing the town.”
The meeting took place on 27th January 2017 in Fair Street Council Building.
“I and all the councillors present raised a number of issues and offered possible solutions to car parking in various parts of the town. Among the issues raised were the lack of park and ride facilities in the town and we also queried the millions of euro spent in the past for car parking facilities that have never materialised.”
Cllr Flood went on to say “Since then, despite repeated queries to the same Louth County Council Officials, not a single query has been answered and there has been no action taken on parking. I have asked for a further meeting to tackle the parking issue but again, no date has been forthcoming. The issue of parking in the estates surrounding Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was raised at that meeting and because of Louth County Councils inaction, this week we have seen Drogheda residents who use wheelchairs not being able to get to where they need to be in the town.”
“I am repeating my statement from the beginning of the year that there cannot be a piecemeal approach to Drogheda’s parking problems anymore. Drogheda’s residents and visitors need to know that our parking problems can and will be resolved, but to do that we need Louth County Council to start taking this issue seriously.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has reacted angrily to the decision taken by the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to cut Drogheda’s Municipal district funding from €75,000 to just €60,000.
Cllr. Flood said “The Chief Executive stated that she took this decision because Councillors did not agree to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT) this year and she needed to balance the books. This is news to us.
“At the LPT Meeting the Chief Executive said she was seeking an increase in LPT to put it into the counties roads. We all know that hundreds of millions of our road taxes have been ploughed into the failed entity that is Irish Water instead of being spent on our roads. At no point was it stated that a consequence of not agreeing to a tax increase would mean a decrease in Drogheda’s Budget.”
Cllr Flood explained that “Councillors are excluded from formulating the budget. Not even the Economic Special Policy Committee has any meaningful input into the budgetary process. Yet, we are expected to rubber stamp any budget that is put before us without complaint.
“I have stated it before and I will state it again, that must change!
“The funding made available for each district, meagre as it is, has been used by councillors to fund various groups and projects throughout Drogheda. For the last two years the Sinn Féin team have pooled our allocations to make Drogheda a more disability friendly town. This year we have helped fund various local groups and charities. Now our ability to assist Drogheda’s Groups and Infrastructure has been curtailed by an unfair and arbitrary decision taken by the Chief Executive.
“With Drogheda’s exclusion from the living cities initiative, and the inexplicable overlooking of Drogheda in the Draft National Planning Framework this reduction of the meagre funding made available to us is just another slap in the face.”
Finally Cllr Flood said “we did not accept the Chief Executive’s position on our budget and made our position clear to her. Drogheda councillors have actually passed a motion calling for an increase in our budget and we will continue to push for this right up until 20th of November when the Chief Executive will present the annual budget for Louth.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath Imelda Munster has welcomed the completion of the refurbishment works in Ballsgrove Primary Care Centre.
Deputy Munster said:
“The centre has been completely ungraded following fire damage in December 2016 to a fully modern state of the art Primary Care Centre to meet the needs of the local community.”
“It is understood that the refurbished Primary Care Centre will be staffed by two Primary Care Teams comprising of Public Health Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Psychologists, and other supporting healthcare professionals. The Public Health Nursing service based in the Primary Care Centre is expected to continue to provide a wide range of services to the centre’s users including a very valuable Tissue Viability Service.”
“It is my understanding that the HSE intend to have Ballsgrove Primary Care Centre the main hub for the delivery of its Immunisation Programme for South Louth with Senior Area Medical Officers based on site.”
“The restoration of this facility to the local community is very welcome and I wish all involved continued success.”