Scallywags Community Creche Closure Needs to be Reversed: Munster

Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, has appealed to the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman TD to immediately address the ongoing situation regarding Scallywags Creche, in Togher, Co. Louth which unexpectedly shut its services in recent weeks.

Deputy Munster was speaking in the Dáil on Sinn Féin’s motion on childcare.

Deputy Munster said:

“Scallywags is a community childcare service which operated a creche and an after-school care service in Togher. It was run by the Togher Community Project, which is a limited not-for-profit company and registered charity.

“Recently staff and parents were informed by text that the service has closed. There was no consultation process ahead of this decision.

“This has left 40 parents in the vicinity suddenly without childcare, and 14 staff members have lost their jobs.

“Parents have argued that the service is viable, and has cash reserves of €450,000. They are saying that it has not shut due to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis which according to media reports was offered as a reason for the closure by the board of management.

“I understand that the Gardaí are currently investigating the matter.

“This is a vital community service, and parents and staff in the area should be able to expect that any changes to the service take place in a transparent matter, and that they are consulted on changes of this type. This has not happened in this case.

“Community creches receive state funding, and the Department of Children has an oversight role in how they provide public services. I have written to the Minister for Children, and I have raised the current situation at Scallywags with him in the Dáil. I have asked him to urgently look into this matter and ensure that the service, which is viable, will remain open.

“This decision has had enormous repercussions locally. Staff have lost their jobs. Parents have lost their childcare service at a very difficult time. The Minister must investigate this matter immediately and ensure the service is restored.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham: Illegal Parking Could Cost Lives in Clogherhead

Sunday in Clogherhead with the sun out at its Blue Flag Beach was idyllic and attracted a huge crowds of welcome visitors to the area. Unfortunately it also brought with it a major headache for local Councillor Tom Cunningham, illegal parking.

The Sinn Féin Councillor has fought for Crooked Street in the small village which leads to the Lifeboat Station to be included in the Council’s Low Cost Safety Scheme because of irresponsible parking which blocks access to this emergency service.

His request was granted in February but unfortunately works have been delayed due to the Covid 19 emergency and according to Cllr Cunningham “we are facing the same dangerous problems coming into the summer.”

 Cars parked ON the junction

Cllr Tom Cunningham said “while I am delighted to welcome all visitors to the village and the Strand, they cannot just park where they want. At this time of year there is an increase in those using pleasure crafts and using the sea in different ways. Today was no different and it is days like this that the lifeboat is more likely to be called out.”

Cllr Cunningham was walking around the village on Sunday and was dismayed to witness the thoughtlessness of some drivers. “The beach entrance was blocked, residents were blocked in and cars abandoned on double yellow lines with some actually parked right on road ends. There was no chance that an ambulance could access anyone along that street today should an emergency have arisen.”

Cllr Cunningham pointed out that “Lifeboat crew are on call, they could be at home or wherever, they are not at the Station, so if there is an emergency their bleepers go off and they make their way to the Lifeboat Station located at the beach at the bottom of Crooked Steet, knowing that speed is of the essence if lives are to be saved.

“Today, with so many illegally parked cars obstructing their path, that time would have been lengthened and the time for the boat to enter the water seriously delayed.

“People may not be aware when they park here that at the other end of Crooked street is an emergency service and they are blocking access to it but that is no excuse, they are still parking illegally. If there were cars parked like this outside a fire station or an ambulance station they would be towed away without question. This situation is unacceptable and I will be pressing Louth County Council to get these traffic control measures done sooner rather than later before there is a major incident.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Residents of Tredagh View Living Through Hell

Cllr Joanna Byrne

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne met with residents of Tredagh View estate on Friday afternoon and came away horrified at what she describes as the ‘hell residents are living through.’

Cllr Byrne said “The estate has a major rodent infestation with rats casually coming up the drains in broad daylight, walking along the streets, burrowing in residents’ back gardens without a care in the world. Some residents told me this has been an issue for over 10 years but has escalated very noticeably since February.”

Residents have been reporting this to Louth County Council and according to Cllr Byrne, “have been passed like yoyos between the Council and Irish Water with no solution from either. Rentokil confirmed to residents during a site inspection this week that the holes burrowed in the public drains would suggest the issue is with the public system.

“Both Irish Water and Louth County Council have a part to play in resolving this. They should be ashamed of themselves that this has been allowed to continue for so long. Parents are fearful of allowing their children out to play; residents can’t leave their windows open; one resident had a rat in her car in her driveway a number of weeks ago so even walking from your front door can be an ordeal. Some are not sleeping at night and jumping at any little sound. I’ve never seen anything so bad in my years on the council, I am horrified. This has to be tackled as matter of urgency.”

Cllr Byrne has contacted Louth County Council to take personal ownership of this issue and apply a collective taskforce from both LCC’s operations and Water Services Departments, along with IW to resolve this issue.

“We have a whole estate of people living in fear and being ignored is unacceptable and I will be pursuing this at full throttle until it is resolved and these residents can have some peace of mind.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Fund Exposes Scale of Help Needed for Elderly

Age Action Ireland and the Irish Red Cross launched the Covid 19 Hardship Fund back in April offering a maximum of €500 to older and vulnerable citizens in need of help while they were cocooning.

Councillor Pearse McGeough was just one of many councillors in Louth who were approached by a number of potential beneficiaries who were struggling during the pandemic.

Cllr McGeough said “this fund was badly needed and would cover additional costs that older people were facing during lockdown. For some it could be the upgrade of a phone so they could have visual contact with their families, or it could have been an extra fill of oil because despite the good weather, older people at home not moving around as much feel the cold and they would be at home 24/7 during this time. It was basically to cover additional costs incurred because of Covid 19 to help with their physical and mental well-being.

“Remember, some of these people would rely on support from day centres or family support and suddenly they were cut off from everything as the lockdown occurred. Day centres closed and normal family visits were banned with essentials being delivered to the door and visits taking place through a window or from the garden gate.”

Age Action Ireland and the Red Cross had fundraised over €103,000 but unfortunately were inundated with applications from our most vulnerable and were only able to grant 453 of the 21,000 applications received. The fund brought forward its closing date from August to April because of the sheer volume of applications.

Cllr McGeough said “they sought assistance from the Department of Social Protection to meet the huge demand but unfortunately their calls went unheard so many vulnerable older citizens were left with no additional financial assistance when they needed it most.

“The older people have really suffered during this pandemic and have been proved to be most at risk should they contract it. This payment would have helped them through this both physically and mentally. We really appreciate the efforts of Age Action Ireland and the Red Cross and they have certainly identified the scale of help that is needed among this vulnerable group so it’s now time for the Government to step up and offer financial support to those who need it most.”

Government Formation Reaction from O’Murchú

Sinn Féin will continue to lead the way to ensure that the change that Louth voters signaled in the general election in February will happen, according to Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.

The deputy was one of 37 Sinn Féin TDs who gathered at Dublin’s Convention Centre on Saturday when Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was elected Taoiseach.

Mr Ó Murchú said he was aware that he was ‘attending government formation in Dublin as part of a strong Sinn Féin team because of the sacrifices of others’. He paid tribute to the late Bobby Storey whose funeral takes place in Belfast tomorrow, along with Dundalk republican Sammy O’Hare who passed away earlier this year.

He said: ‘People in Louth voted for change, in a massive way, with the election of two Sinn Féin TDs. Imelda Munster topped the poll with 17,203 votes. The party secured 42% of the vote in this constituency.

‘What has happened in the last few months is that, faced with a seismic change in politics, the old guard of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael circled to wagons and excluded Sinn Féin, using the cover of the Green Party in order to do so.

‘I accept their right to form a government. I accept we didn’t have the numbers, this time, but they didn’t even talk to us ahead of government formation, which disrespects our voters and shows Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s willingness to hold onto power at any cost.

‘Between them, they have produced a programme for government that lacks ambition and big ideas and will not deliver on affordable housing, on building health service capacity, on Irish Unity or on the right to retire at 65.

‘But the voters of Louth will know that Imelda and I, along with the strong team we have in Leinster House, will hold this government to account like never before. We will continue to work for the people and families that voted for us.

‘We will always put forward alternatives to the right wing, corporate-orientated politics of this new government and we will deliver the change that people voted for and deserve’.