Cllr Antóin Watters Welcomes Money to Greenway Fund

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed news that €200,000 will be going towards the Carlingford Greenway.

At the Council meeting this month, Cllr Watters received assurances from the Council’s Director of Economic Development, Planning and Infrastructure that funds would be available. Cllr Watters had raised concerns at the long delay in the planning stage and expressed concern that the offer of funding would expire and be lost.

“There has been a lot of work put into this project by the Council and by local people and has been in the pipeline for a number of years. I was happy to received assurance from the Council and am delighted to welcome this €200,000 today that has been awarded to the project. It is a relief to know that everyone’s hard work will not be for nothing.

“Now that the funding has been secured the hard work begins again with engaging with residents in the route selection process.”

The funding received will cover the preliminary design and environmental evaluation for a section of the Greenway almost 12.5km long going from Carlingford to Templetown Beach.

Ó Murchú: Clear Roadmap Needed For Re-opening of Schools

The government must provide a clear and comprehensive roadmap for schools to open and ensure that they can stay open, Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has said.

Education Minister Norma Foley was due to bring a memo to Cabinet on Monday outlining plans and funding for schools to re-open next month.

Mr Ó Murchú said: ‘Schools have been closed now for over four months, and in that time two Ministers for Education have repeatedly promised a comprehensive roadmap for the reopening of schools that seems to be only materialising now.

‘We are now just a month away from when one million children are supposed to return to school.

‘The lack of clarity over the last few weeks is causing real concern, worry and anxiety.

‘We know that more teachers will be needed. We know that more money will be needed. We know that we will need to see increased investment in cleaning and hygiene measures. We know that children will need to get buses and we know that there are other children with additional needs that will need to be catered for.

‘Parents, students, teachers, support staff and transport operators are, right now, completely in the dark as to what is happening to ensure all of these needs are met.

‘This plan needs to be comprehensive and definitive, and it needs to answer all of the questions that all stakeholders need answered. The timing of this plan has been cut very fine as it is. The uncertainty has gone on far too long already. It cannot go on any longer’.

Ó’ Murchú: Minister to Read Report Before Decision on Inquiry

The new health minister Stephen Donnelly will read the report from the nursing homes expert panel, along with the HIQA report into Dealgan House Nursing Home before making a decision about any inquiry, TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has revealed.

The Dundalk TD said he had raised the deaths of 22 people in the nursing home during a Covid-19 outbreak with Minister Donnelly, after he highlighted delays in Dealgan getting negative test results for residents earlier this month.

Mr Ó Murchú used his time during questions to Taoiseach Michéal Martin to point to the recently-released HIQA report about how Covid-19 was handled in nursing homes across the State.

The Sinn Féin deputy told the Dáil: ‘The report lays out in stark terms how nearly 60% of homes inspected following Covid-19 outbreaks were found to have insufficient infection prevention and control measures, which possibly led to greater tragedy.

‘It speaks of deficiencies in governance and management. It also speaks of the unsuitability of some of the units during the pandemic and their need for upgrading. There were many horror stories from families and staff.

‘I have spoken to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, about the testing delays that have become evident in recent days, including at Dealgan House in Dundalk. A few weeks ago, it was able to get Covid-19 test results within five hours.

‘Last week, it took almost 48 hours to get two test results. I am told that prioritised testing facilities that were available to Dealgan House and other nursing homes no longer are. This situation needs to be fixed.

‘Some of the families who lost loved ones at Dealgan House wish to meet the new Minister for Health. Twenty-two people died in the home during a Covid-19 outbreak. The families want to tell the Minister about the need for a public inquiry to ensure that all problems are arrested and the questions of families and management are answered. I would like the Taoiseach to add his voice to this call and ensure there is action to deal with the problems listed in the HIQA report’.

Mr Ó Murchú said Minister Donnelly had told him he would read the report from the nursing homes expert panel, due for release this week, along with the HIQA report into Dealgan House before making a decision about a public inquiry.

Cllr Edel Corrigan: New Covid Tracking App Does Not Serve Border Counties

As the new COVID Tracking App went live this morning it is disappointing to see this is not on an all-island basis.

Cllr Corrigan said “I downloaded the App this morning and already there had been 88,000 check ins by 10.30am. I noticed the statistical information provided Appeared to only cover 26 of our 32 counties.

The App says it is ‘being made available by the Irish Health Service Executive in conjunction with the Irish Department of Health for people across the island of Ireland’. However, Cllr Corrigan said “you can only register as living in your County if you live in one of the nominated 26 counties and you appear to be excluded if you live in any of the remaining 6 counties of Ireland.

“My understanding is that they use Bluetooth technology which could in fact mean that the whole 32 counties could well be covered but what is the point if no-one in the 6 counties registers, and they are certainly not being encouraged to do so?

“This does not bode well” continued Cllr Corrigan “for anyone who lives in a border county or who travels across the border as many people do on a daily basis in this area. I am quite concerned at the obvious flaw in the App. COVID 19 must be tackled with an all-island approach. A virus does not recognise borders, it won’t suddenly stop at Dundalk and I feel the people of Louth are once again being punished and let down simply because of geography.”

Cllr Corrigan is calling on the HSE and Department of Health to enhance or modify the App to ensure that it does what is being promised. “If we are serious about tackling this virus, then we need to get serious about the tools we use and ensure they are fit for purpose. My fear is that if people, especially in border counties, have this App it may lull them into a false sense of security as the data will be incomplete at best.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: online system needed for tenants to register for Mutual Swaps / Transfers

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne is proposing that Louth County Council join an online system, currently in operation by other Local Authorities, to facilitate tenants who wish to transfer from their current home.

Cllr Byrne who has recently been highlighting the growing issue of Louth County Council’s inability to facilitate the vast majority of requests from tenants who have been approved onto the Local Authorities Housing Transfer List said that “as of July, LCC have completed 7 Transfers to date this year out of the 239 requests” and she now wants the Council to follow Dublin and Cork City Councils to join a pilot scheme on Homeswapper.ie.

“This online system allows tenants to register their details, size of property approved for, area of interest and then the system does the work and matches mutual tenants. The local authority has a role to play in overseeing the finalisation of the transfer, as they would normally.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne

Speaking on this at July’s County Council meeting Cllr Byrne said: “Louth has a very stringent policy of approving people onto the Transfer List, some of these are due to change in family sizes but others need to have legitimate reasons to be successful in their applications so to me anybody that is approved has a genuine case for moving. People are languishing on our Transfer Lists for years with no indication of timelines as to when their wait may end.

“I am aware of the financial complexities in transfers and of limited funds but as I’ve said before on numerous occasions, this issue is not going away and is only going to increase. This online system could be the answer.”

Cllr Byrne’s suggestion was well received by the other elected members and received support from various Parties throughout the chamber and she was commended for bringing forward such a proposal.

Director of Services for Housing Paddy Donnelly responded by agreeing to speak to his team and they would explore this possibility but added that it would depend on resources and the capacity of the Housing Team to oversee another system.

However, Cllr Byrne is confident that this is a suitable solution for all involved, “it takes pressure off both the tenants and the local authority alike so this has to be pursued.”