Funding for Addiction Services lower in 2019 than 2007 – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin Councillor and Chairperson of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum, Ruairí Ó Murchú, has written to the Minister of State for Drugs, Catherine Byrne, to request a meeting with her and also with the Ministers for Health and Justice.

Councillor Ó Murchú said,

“Across Louth there are a huge number of families and individuals whose lives are being destroyed by drugs.

“At the last meeting of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum a number of associated groups stated serious shortfalls in funding and that this is having a negative impact on service delivery.  Forum members decided that we need to meet with the Minister to put these points directly to her.

“At a meeting of the North East Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, I learned that in 2007 funding was approximately €1.4 million.  In the past year only €900,000 was allocated.  This is despite an exponential growth in demand for these services, coupled with increases in rent and other operational costs.

“I have written to the Minister of State Catherine Byrne, to outline how any further reduction in addiction services will have severe negative impacts on communities across Louth.

“The prevalence of drugs in our communities is at a higher level than ever before, however government policy and funding has not kept pace with the needs of addiction services.

“At a recent Joint Policing Committee meeting in Dundalk, the Garda Chief Superintendent for Louth Christopher Mangan, stated that there is a decreasing government focus on demand reduction and a severe lack of drug treatment rehabilitation services for people who want to kick their addictions.

 

“In Louth we have a very successful drugs court in operation.  However a key component of its success is the availability of services to those who come before this court.

“The inability of service providers to deliver services will have a hugely negative impact on communities in terms of crime levels, antisocial behaviour and intimidation by drugs gangs.

“A recent report from the EU Drugs Agency and Europol found that violence and intimidation by drug gangs has severely affected communities in Ireland and had major impacts on individuals, families, communities and the functioning of local services and agencies.

“It is not enough for the Government to register huge concern when report after report indicates that this is a worsening problem.  It is time that serious focus and resources were allocated to counteract the vast resources of the drugs gangs.

“On behalf of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum I have written to the Minister to request that she provide a date to meet with me and the other members of the Forum and I hope that the Minister will respond positively and that we can make the case for additional funding for groups across Louth involved in this essential work.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Ardee not deterred after attempted ATM theft

                    Cllr Pearse McGeough on RTE in Ardee

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has hit out at those responsible for the attempted robbery of an ATM in Ardee in the early hours of this morning.

This is the second attempt on an ATM in the mid-Louth area in the past five weeks and Cllr McGeough has described it as “an attack on the community and on the business community.”

Cllr McGeough described the scene when he arrived to open his weekly clinic in the town. “Part of Irish Street has been closed which is causing disruption to the businesses in the area. Gardaí are on site and there is a mechanical digger and a tractor on the road with a burnt out vehicle nearby. The Ulster Bank appears to have been badly damaged.”

Irish Street, Ardee after the robbery attempt

However, Cllr McGeough was defiant, “these people are no addition to Ardee nor indeed anywhere. Businesses in Ardee are having their last few busy shopping days before Christmas and certainly don’t need something like this but it won’t deter them. Ardee is open for business despite these people and the people of the town will not be deterred, it is business as usual.”

“The inconvenience caused to shoppers and businesses lies solely at the feet of the thieves who are attacking small communities like ours up and down the country.

“Once again, Gardaí resources have been discussed and that is a matter for the Government and the Gardaí to address. I and Deputy Imelda Munster have been very vocal on this issue and are hoarse screaming for more resources to be allocated to Louth Gardaí, especially the rural areas. There was some success last August when a criminal gang who carried out a spate of ATM robberies were apprehended in County Cavan following a joint operation between Gardaí and PSNI but we need more of that. These robberies are still happening and we need to keep the pressure on.”

Cllr McGeough also pointed out that “Gardaí can’t be everywhere but there are things that we as a community can do. Keep your eyes open for any suspicious activity around ATMs, any strange vehicles in the area and also be aware of heavy plant and machinery moving at night. I would also urge owners of plant and machinery to ensure they are secure and immobilised at night when they are not in use.”

Gardaí are appealing to anyone who was in Ardee between 3am and 5am this morning, or anyone with dashcam footage to contact them at Ardee Garda Station or any Garda station.

If you see any suspicious activity in or around ATMs please phone Garda confidential line 1800 666 111 or Crimestoppers on freephone 1850 250 025

Rising rents in Louth unacceptable – Cllr Joanna Byrne

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has slammed the Government over continuing rising rents in Louth and has called on all Louth TDs to support the progression of Sinn Féin’s Rent Freeze Bill.

Cllr Byrne said,

“The latest quarterly data from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) shows that rents have increased another 1.3% in Louth with the average rent in the county now reaching €1,010 per month, an increase of 6.8% on this time last year.

“The rents in Drogheda are exceeding €1,100 significantly higher than the northern or mid parts of the county. Unlike the Minister who is living in cloud cuckoo land, I know many renters in Drogheda struggling to meet rent payments that are far in excess of these figures.”

The RTB report contains facts which Cllr Byrne describes as ‘startling’:

  • The average rent across the rest of the State is now €1,243 per month, an increase of 8% on last year.
  • The average rent is now over €1,000 euro in seven counties across the State.

Cllr Byrne asked “When is enough, enough? There is nothing stable about the private rented sector for most tenants and the insistence of the Minister with responsibility for the sector claiming otherwise is not just delusional but worrying. Rent pressure zones are not working. Rents are too high and are continuing to rise even in areas like Drogheda where tenants are supposedly guarded by these RPZ’s.

“We need to reduce and freeze rents immediately. The Sinn Féin bill passed second stage in the Dáil last Thursday with huge support and must be progressed and I am calling on all TDs in Louth to step up, do the right thing by your constituents and support its progression.

“We also need to see investment in affordable cost rental projects to offer renters long term solutions”

Emergency insurance payment to childcare providers welcome amid ongoing crisis- Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin general election candidate Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the announcement today by Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, that an emergency payment of €1500 will be made available to childcare facilities to mitigate against rising insurance costs. 
 
The Louth Councillor said,
 
“This payment will come as a relief to those running crèches and playgroups. However one facility which I have been in contact with saw their insurance quote rise from €500 for 2019 to €2500 for next year, despite no claims being made. 
 
“This childcare facility, in rural North Louth, will still be paying €1000 for insurance, a 100% increase for no good reason. 
 
“Childcare is a huge burden on families and anything which could increase costs or cause services to close is very bad news for families. 
 
“Those working in this sector, mainly women, are very badly paid with poor terms and conditions. It is very unfair that insurance companies are profiteering from an essential service for families. 
 
“I raised this issue when I met with the Minister of State for Insurance, Michael D’Arcy, yesterday. 
 
“He stated that he was confident that a resolution would be found. I hope that this emergency payment, although welcome, turns out to be more than simply a transfer of funds from the State to insurance companies. 
 
“The government urgently need to get to grips with the issue of extortionate insurance costs before businesses close.”

Adams leads Delegation to meet Insurance Minister D’Arcy

    Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú, Mandy Fee & Shane McBride, Gerry Adams TD

 

 

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams led a delegation on Wednesday to meet with the Minister for Insurance

Michael D’Arcy.

The meeting was attended by Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú, and Mandy Fee and Shane McBride from Dundalk based leisure business Pelican Promotions. Its purpose was to discuss the crisis caused by the huge rise in insurance costs.

The meeting also discussed a business proposal produced by Mandy Fee and Shane McBride for the funding of the ‘Irish Leisure Industry Standards Association (Social Enterprise CLG)’ which would regulate the industry.

Speaking after the meeting which Gerry Adams TD described as “very constructive” he said:“The meeting with Minister D’Arcy was a follow-up to an initial meeting that took place in August. In the interval the crisis in the leisure sector over significant hikes in insurance costs has worsened. Businesses, big and small, including many family owned enterprises are at imminent risk of closure because of insurance bills that are driving them out of business.

In the last six years many of the insurance underwriters providing public liability insurance have withdrawn from the market. The impact of this is significant. Community groups, local festivals, men’s groups, Tidy Towns Groups, mother and toddler groups, sports groups, youth services and classes covering everything from yoga to face painters, pet farms and swim clubs are all at risk because of the current crisis.

The proposal from Pelican Promotions is for the establishment of an Industry Standards Association which would maintain accredited standards in the leisure industry. It would work in co-operation with insurance underwriters, the leisure industry and community groups. Its objective is to reverse the withdrawal of insurance underwriters by getting rid of fly-by-night organisations and achieving a recognised standard for leisure service providers.

The Minister indicated his support for the proposal and he has agreed to meet again in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal further. I also urged the Minister to ensure that Pearse Doherty’s Insurance Contracts Bill is passed speedily by the Dáil.”

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú spoke to the Minister about the related crisis for childcare providers as a result of substantial increases in their liability. Cllr Ó Murchú said:

“I raised with Minister D’Arcy the insurance crisis for childcare providers, many of whom are based in Louth.

“I was contacted on Tuesday by a pre-school based in north Louth which received an insurance quote for 2020 which was 500% higher than last year’s premium. The consequence of this is that either the provider will be forced to close or the additional costs will have to be passed on to parents.

“The Minister agreed to my request that individual insurance issues be communicated with his office. I am asking any effected to contact me on ruairi.omurchu@sinnfein.ie with any queries which I will pass on.”