Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú at Carlingford’s D’Arcy McGee International Forum

Gen John de Chastelain, Cllr Ó Murchú & Jane Urquhart

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has paid tribute to the organisers of this year’s D’Arcy McGee International Forum event which was held in Thomas D’Arcy McGee’s hometown of Carlingford.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee born in Carlingford in 1825 . He was a revolutionary Irish nationalist who later became a Canadian parliamentarian and was assassinated in 1868. He was a complicated character containing a lot of the complexities of Irish history.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “it is a great event with a myriad of political opinions, backgrounds and identities all brought together under the roof of the Holy Trinity Heritage Centre. The idea of the forum is to ‘bring together interested parties from across Canada and Ireland, to

Ruairi with Jane Urquhart

discuss and debate, to explore new ideas, and to question old ones.’ This is much needed.”

Cllr Ó Murchú said “This year’s theme was ‘Canada and Ireland – exploring new beginnings in uncertain times’ and with the chaos of Brexit looming, I feel this is very apt.”

The event was opened by Kevin Vickers, the Canadian ambassador. The James M.

Flaherty lecture was given by the Canadian novelist and poet, Jane Urquhart, who spoke

Ruairi with General John de Chastelain

eloquently about her Irish roots and the issue of her Quinn antecedents converting to Protestantism.

Cllr Ó Murchú also paid tribute to General John de Chastelain who will be awarded the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Award. “General de Chastelain

was Chairperson of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and had the unenviable job of overseeing the weapons issue as part of the Irish Peace Process. He is very deserving of this award and I wish him all the best going forward.”


Adams raises concerns about new Illness Benefit forms

Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty asking about new claim forms that have been introduced for the illness and injury benefit schemes.

Gerry Adams said:

“Recently one of a number of constituents who have raised concerns about the new forms was handed a letter by her GP practice  in which she was told that this new scheme had been introduced at short notice. The new scheme requires two forms to be filled in, one of these by the doctor. The letter from the practice said that there is a ‘significant amount of work involved in the changeover’ and that it is not ‘achievable on the ground at such short notice.’

The letter from the GP practice said that the doctors’ representative organisations – the IMO and NAGP – were meeting the Department to ‘try to sort out this mess.’ Until that was done the doctors were returning all of the new forms to the department. They said that they intended to continue issuing the old certificates in accordance with the contract they have with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection ‘until a satisfactory solution is found.’

For patients who are ill – some of them very seriously ill – to discover that their illness benefits forms are being suddenly changed and they are caught in a dispute between doctors and government is a matter of great stress and concern.

I have written to the Minister asking if there was any consultation with the NAGP or IMO before this changeover was introduced and what progress if any has been made? I have also asked if the Department will accept the old certificates and if the new arrangements have had any impact or delay in the payment of the illness benefits?

The Department’s website indicates that there is currently a two day delay in issuing some payments, this is unacceptable and I have also asked the Minister if she has allocated any additional personnel or resources to processing forms?”

Teachta Adams concluded:

“The manner in which this issue has been handled is a source of concern. Patients need urgent and immediate reassurance that claims for illness benefit will not be adversely impacted.”

Drogheda Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018 a huge success- Adams

Cllrs Tom Cunningham, Kenneth Flood, Joanna Byrne & Ruairi Ó Murchú with Gerry Adams TD & Imelda Munster TD at Fleadh

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended his warmest congratulations to all of those involved in making Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018 in Drogheda such a huge success.

Teachta Adams said:

“I want to commend the amazing efforts of the Drogheda Fleadh Committee, Drogheda Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Louth County Council, An Garda Síochána and the members of the Emergency Services, and the 1000 local volunteers who all worked hard to ensure that Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018 in Drogheda was a huge success. I also want to thank all of the sponsors who make events like this possible.

The Fleadh Cheoil is the biggest musical event on this island and is one of the most important in the cultural life of this island.

It was expected that around 400,000 local people and others from across the island and internationally would travel to Drogheda for a week of great music, dance and culture.

The atmosphere was electric with musicians and dancers performing wherever an audience was prepared to stand and listen. The decision to pedestrianise the town worked very well and made it much easier for the huge crowds to move about from the various events.

The Fleadh has also been an enormous boost to the local economy with tens of thousands of visitors coming to Drogheda to enjoy the music and craic.

Drogheda with its rich culture and heritage is perfectly placed to hold the Fleadh and I have no doubt that next year it will be even bigger and better.”

Daft report confirms that Government has no plan, no clue – Munster

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, has said that the latest Daft report has only confirmed that which we all knew; “rents have spiralled out of control and show no signs of slowing down”.

Teachta Munster said that it was clear that the meagre government efforts to date have had no impact and it was time for Minister Eoghan Murphy and the government to take strong, definitive action to address the housing situation which has descended far past crisis point.

Rents have risen 12.4% in a year, with the average rent now standing at €1,304. Limerick City and Waterford city has seen rises of 20% since last year.

The Louth and East Meath TD said:

“The Government’s reliance on the private sector to solve the housing crisis and the Minister’s light touch philosophy has had no impact.

“The Rent Pressure Zones were unambitious to begin with and demonstrated the reluctance of Fine Gael to interfere with a market that is dysfunctional at best, fundamentally broken at worst. Similarly, the anaemic level of construction of social and affordable housing is simply driving people towards that private sector market, driving up rents for all.

“Rent certainty, the Focus Ireland amendment that would keep families in their homes, an ambitious and necessary investment in social and affordable housing; these are the policy objectives that the government would be better served in pursuing. Media appearances telling the people that it’s not as bad as it looks are insulting and an embarrassing indication that the government truly doesn’t know how bad the housing emergency has become.

“It is clear that this government, backed to the hilt by their partners in Fianna Fáil, is doing more harm than good when it comes to the housing crisis. They have no plan and it seems they haven’t a clue either.”

Cllr Anne Campbell: Tenants Waiting For Maintenance

Serious delays to maintenance and repair works on houses owned by Louth County Council is causing worry and stress for tenants, according to a Dundalk councillor.

Sinn Fein’s Anne Campbell says “there has been a massive slow-down in getting maintenance and repairs completed with council officials saying that all works are subject to the maintenance budget in the second half of the year.”

Cllr Campbell raised the issue at the last meeting of Louth County Council. “According to the figures,  maintenance requests have increased by 20% in two years, I also noted that work had been approved at tenants’ homes, but had not been done because of cost. I asked director of housing, Joe McGuinness, if there was a problem with money.”

In response, Mr McGuinness said: ‘There are issues with a significant number of housing maintenance requests and there are budgetary pressures. They are being prioritised and some will be done’.

Cllr. Campbell said: “I have noticed that the delays between maintenance or repair requests going in and the work getting done have been getting longer and longer since June. I have sought updates on behalf of a number of constituents and have been told that there are ‘budgetary pressures’ and each job is subject to the funding being available for it.”

“There are people who have come to me who have been waiting for months to get relatively small, but important, work done to their council houses and it’s just not happening. Indeed, there is currently no indication, in many of these cases, when the work may be carried out.”

Cllr Campbell pointed out that “Louth County Council has a responsibility to its tenants in the same way a private landlord has certain obligations to his/her tenants, including repairing and maintaining the structure of the property and maintaining the interior of the property to the standard it was at the start of the tenancy. We would not accept ‘budgetary pressures’ from a private landlord and we should not accept this reason from local authorities either.”

“This is causing a lot of stress and worry for people who are waiting to get work completed.”