L-R SF Cllrs Antóin Watters, Mickey Larkin, Roisin Mulgrew, Edel Corrigan & Pearse McGeough
The Cross Border Fire and Ambulance Services gave a presentation to Councillors and members of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week.
Sinn Féin councillors from Louth, Armagh and Down expressed concern that the current Memorandum of Understanding between Louth County Council (LCC) Fire & Rescue and NI Fire that has been in place since 2012 would be in jeopardy post Brexit.
Councillor Antóin Watters had raised the issue a few weeks ago following an accident on the main A1 dual carriageway just north of Dundalk. LCC Fire and Rescue were called to assist the Newry Fire Services following a car accident.
Sinn Fein councillor for the Slieve Gullion Area Mickey Larkin said “We need to ensure that this cross border co-operation continues after Brexit. We received a very valuable presentation from Joe Lumdsen for LCC Fire and rescue which related to Cross Border Emergency Planning. He informed us that they have been mobilised to 31 incidents on both sides of the border since the Memorandum of Understanding started in 2012.”
Cllr Watters said “Let’s face it, people from the remote part of North Louth, like Omeath and Edentubber would get an ambulance much quicker from Newry than they would from Drogheda. People in these areas need to be able to rely on these vital cross border services. There is so much uncertainty around Brexit but this is one issue that we need confirmation and clarity on.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan who is joint Chair of the MOU said “We must ensure that response times and access to both sides of the border is not affected. Brexit should not cost people’s lives and with all the uncertainty around the issue and the possibility of a hard border, we in Sinn Féin are calling on the Irish and British Governments to ensure this vital co-operation continues.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the official launch of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which will be held in Drogheda between August 12th and 19th.
The Louth TD said:
“I want to commend all of those involved in the planning and organising of Drogheda’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, especially the Executive Committee, the local credit unions and Louth County Council. This is the most important event in the Irish traditional music and dance calendar and it will provide a unique opportunity for the people of Drogheda and Louth, as well as from all parts of the island and internationally to come together to enjoy the best in Irish music and dance. It will also provide a tourist bonanza for the local tourism industry with many thousands travelling from outside Ireland to attend the Fleadh.
“The programme that has been produced is overflowing with amazing talent and artists.
“Drogheda has been looking forward to the Fleadh Cheoil for some time and will provide a warm, inclusive welcome for all of those musicians and artists participating or the tens of thousands who will be there over the week of the Fleadh to simply enjoy the music, dance and craic”.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the hospital waiting lists as “scandalous” and accused three successive Fine Gael Health Ministers of failing patients and staff and of failing to end the crisis in Health.
The Louth TD was speaking in the Dáil during a Sinn Féin PMB on hospital waiting lists in the health service. Teachta Adams identified the waiting lists in Louth County Hospital and Our lady of Lourdes Drogheda as deeply worrying.
Gerry Adams said:
“Since 2011 Fine Gael has had three Ministers for Health. All have promised an end to the crisis in the health service. They have all failed. This is evident in the cervical screening scandal. It is evident in the ongoing crisis in our Emergency Departments.
The crisis in health is also evident in the failure to retain staff. It is evident in our grossly underfunded, under resourced mental health services. The failure to provide children in north Louth with access to Child Adolescent Mental Health Services; and the absence of a minor injuries unit in Louth County Hospital, are examples of this crisis.
In May over seven hundred thousand people were on hospital waiting lists. Over half a million are on outpatient waiting lists; and almost eighty thousand are on inpatient lists.
The two Louth hospitals – Louth County Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda – have almost fifteen thousand people on their outpatient waiting list. The same two hospitals have 1,330 patients on their inpatient list.
Behind these statistics are stories of real stress and hurt in people’s lives. This is nothing short of a scandal. It is a scandal compounded by the lack of accountability in government. It is a scandal made worse by Fianna Fáil’s propping up of this government and its health policies.
The health service needs practical alternatives to the current mess. Sinn Féin has these alternatives. We have consistently called for an integrated hospital waiting list management system; based on a Portuguese model; which the Minister agreed to pilot.
The government should introduce a SINGLE, Integrated Hospital Waiting List System as a matter of urgency. Sláintecare has to be implemented in full and urgently. And we need to be working toward the early creation of an all-island public health service.
Failure to adopt these proposals will sustain the perpetual health crisis for which this government is responsible.”
At a special meeting on the parking bye-laws this evening in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Councillors voted to end the parking pain that has plagued Drogheda since March this year.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Kenneth Flood said “To be absolutely 100% Crystal Clear , the Sinn Féin group are in favour of €1 parking rates in parts of Drogheda. However, if we had proposed that tonight the parking bye-laws would have had to go back out to public consultation and the current no fee parking debacle would continue for several more months.”
“Businesses have told us they will not survive much longer as their trade has dropped 40% – 50% since the pay parking regime in Drogheda fell. Residents around Windmill Road , Cord Road and elsewhere cannot park anywhere near their houses. That would continue for several more months if we had not passed the parking bye-laws tonight.”
“It was a hard call but we had to make it to end the current parking nightmare for residents and businesses alike. We spoke in favour of the €1 fee this evening. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“We have now finished 1 of 3 parking specific special meetings with the Chief Executive to resolve all of the parking issues that face Drogheda. The parking fee is firmly on the agenda among other just as important issues. We are not interested in a single issue to grab a headline, we are interested in a long-term solution to the parking fiasco. We want to and we’re going to sort out all of the parking issues that face Drogheda.”
“I must reiterate, we could not in good conscience prolong this disaster by months knowing that we had another option, through the special meetings, to address the parking fees.”
Martin McGuinness pictured a few years ago at the South Armagh Volunteers Garden
The annual South Armagh Óglaigh na hÉireann Commemoration will take place on Sunday 1st July at 4pm in Mullaghban. Those attending are asked to assemble outside the Community Hall before parading to the Memorial Garden beside Ti Chulainn.
This annual commemoration remembers all those local volunteers who died during the most recent phase of the struggle for Irish freedom and is focussed on offering ongoing solidarity and support to their families and loved ones as well as honouring their sacrifice.
This year we will also honour Martin McGuinness who opened the Memorial Garden in October 2010. Martin was a Republican leader and internationally respected peacemaker but he was also a great friend to South Armagh and its people. Martin visited this area many times throughout his life, standing with the people in their struggle with British Army occupation, encouraging support for the Peace Process, assisting local Sinn Fein candidates and, at all times, enjoying the hospitality and warm welcome of the people of South Armagh.
Gerry Adams will deliver the oration at the event, which will be attended by members of the McGuinness family, and a specially commissioned stone will be unveiled in memory of Martin. There will also be a photographic exhibition in Ti Chulainn reflecting on Martin’s life and the organisers are grateful to local people who have supplied treasured pictures of Martin visiting families and places in the South Armagh area.
The formal events will be followed by music and refreshments in Ti Chulainn and entertainment will also be provided for children.