Cllr Pearse McGeough Criticises Substantial Shortfall in Housing Adaptation Grants

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has criticised the allocation in this year’s budget for Housing Adaption Grants (HAGs).

Speaking before the Louth County Council meeting this month, Cllr McGeough said “last year I asked the Council to apply for additional funding for this scheme and this year we are an even worse off situation.”

Cllr McGeough said “Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly. The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and that is just not happening because of the budgetary constraints being placed on it by Central Government.”

Cllr McGeough hit out at what he called the ‘wholly inadequate’ budget this year coming from Central Government. “Let’s do the math, we have 346 people waiting, some since since 2017, for adaptations to their homes, vulnerable people who have found themselves in a situation where they need a bit of work done to their homes to enable their basic daily needs to be met in a dignified way. This is going to cost a total of just over €3 million to clear the backlog and work on the current applications.  Central Government have allocated just under €1.2 million to the Scheme for this year and Louth County Council has to add just under €300k to that and that is all we are allowed.  We only have half the money we need.”

Cllr McGeough said he would be pressing the Council to seek additional funding for this vital Scheme. “If citizens are unable to remain in their own homes, this has the knock-on effect of a greater number of older people seeking nursing home places and they aren’t available either. If I was more cynical I would think the Government was biding its time in the hope some of these citizens would pass away and they wouldn’t need to spend the money. People deserve better.”

Cllr David Saurin: Action Needed on Rathmullan Anti-Social Behaviour

Sinn Féin Councillor David Saurin has criticised both Louth County Council and the Gardaí for failing to deal with the ongoing anti-social behaviour in Rathmullan Estate.

Cllr Saurin said “The issue of anti-social behaviour in this area has been long running and feel their voices are not being heard and their concerns are not being addressed by the relevant authorities. They have been promised several initiatives to address and counter these activities by Louth County Council and the Gardaí and yet the issue is as prevalent as ever.”

One of the issues that residents are concerned about is the use of motor scooters being driven at speed through the estate. Cllr Saurin said “They are being driven on roads and footpaths alike at all hours of the day and night with no regard for the safety of residents going about their daily business or young children out playing.”

A separate issue is the deliberate vandalising of street lights in the back alleys. Cllr Saurin feels this is done to facilitate drug dealing. He has called for these lights to be replaced in a more timely fashion. “The Gardaí seem to be unable to get a handle on the situation with no arrests having been made for this behaviour and between themselves and the Council there seems to be a lack of urgency in solving the problems in this area.”

“Louth County Council some time ago announced the launch of a Cross Directive Initiative aimed at providing solutions to the problems” according to Cllr Saurin, “more speed ramps were promised, particularly along the stretch of road in the estate from the shop through to Ballsgrove, these are still to be installed along with other long term measures such as infill housing. It was also promised that the residents would be consulted as part of the process to finding a solution and this has yet to happen.”

“It is unacceptable that a small number of individuals are allowed to disrupt the lives of the majority with impunity.  Louth County Council needs to implement the current anti-social policy in regard to these individuals and if necessary evict the perpetrators. The residents realistically know that these issues won’t be resolved overnight but it is not unrealistic of them to expect some results in the fight against the anti-social element in their estate. Action not words is what the community wants to see from both Louth County Council and the Gardaí.

Cllr Flood slams removal of North Strand Parking Spaces.

Kenneth with local resident Mr Brady

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has slammed Louth County Council for removing parking spaces from the North Strand without prior notice or consultation.

Cllr Flood said “I have been pursuing the issue of parking for residents on the North Strand with Louth County Council. When I met with officials in the parking sub-committee in April I was given a figure of 32 parking spaces on the North Strand. At a subsequent meeting, that figure was reduced to 24 at the request of the Port Company.”

Cllr Flood said that “although we have had several parking specific meetings this year with the Chief Executive around all of the parking issues in Drogheda, the number of parking spaces, without consideration, consultation or notice, has now been reduced to just 9, with double yellow lines having been recently marked to remove parking.”

Cllr Flood has written to the Chief Executive expressing his dissatisfaction with this decision and has asked for alternative parking spaces to be provided for residents.

“I have also contacted the council’s Operations Department to see if anything can be done to alleviate parking problems for residents. When Mr Brady, ([pictured) contacted me regarding the removal of spaces on his street, he had already received several parking tickets because he now has nowhere to properly park his car near his
home. The residents of North Strand were not considered at all by Louth County Council and the fact that we the Councillors were not informed of this decision, throughout the lengthy consultation process on Drogheda’s Parking is another slap in the face that I do not intend to stand for.”

“I will be pursuing this matter until it is resolved to the resident’s satisfaction.”

GOV LATEST QUANGO WILL NOT SOLVE THE HOUSING CRISIS – MUNSTER

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and Meath East Imelda Munster has said that the proposed Land Development Agency is a case of ‘the Government reverting to mistakes of the past, where the housing market is Private Developer Led and Private Developer Driven.’

Deputy Munster said:

This latest stunt highlights the government’s point blank refusal to provide funding for the roll out of a proper social and affordable house building programme. As Fine Gael and Minister Murphy give ‘state owned lands’ to private developers telling them that they only have to provide a mere 10% for social housing, there are almost 100,000 people on the social housing waiting list nationwide as well as all those who will never be in a position to own their own home.

In Louth alone there are 4112 families on the housing list many of whom have been waiting for upwards of a decade to be housed. Meanwhile the government has consistently refused to fund Louth County Council to enable them to build social housing on the 50 acres of council owned land banks held throughout the county.

And who will the proposed 30% in affordable homes serve? It certainly won’t be the 50% of our population who earn less than €28,000 per annum. The price of an affordable home was put forward yesterday as being in the region of €320,000 meaning that the purchaser will need to have €32,000 in savings for the deposit before they start; then they will have to follow that up with a mortgage of €288,000 for which they will need to be earning a minimum of €82,000 per annum in order to afford an ‘affordable home’.

The Housing crisis will never be solved by this government. Instead they are reverting to mistakes of the past where the housing market is private developer led and private developer driven. They are ideologically opposed to funding the building of social and affordable housing.

Local Authorities should be funded to develop the sites and council owned land banks to build social housing, affordable rental and affordable homes.

That’s the only way to tackle the housing crisis.

Ó Murchú: Brexit Breakfast, Useful Info for Local Businesses

Vincent Power (L) and Thomas McEvoy (R) with Cllr Ruairi Ó Murchú

Louth Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú attended the recent business themed Brexit briefing hosted by Louth Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in the Ballymascanlon Hotel on Thursday last.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“The SCBI / LEO breakfast was certainly more impressive than recent commentary from Boris Johnson and others in relation to the entire Brexit debacle.

“This event, which had presentations by the SCBI, Enterprise Ireland, InterTrade Ireland and the LEO was designed to inform local businesses of the range of supports and finance that are available to business for Brexit proofing.”

Cllr Ó Murchú advised that “there is a necessity to draw the business community’s attention to these Brexit preparation aids.”

InterTrade Ireland has a ‘Brexit Voucher’ system which allows companies to engage a professional, to the value of €1,250 to evaluate its exposure to Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland offer ‘Be Prepared Grants’ for SMEs who would benefit from further research and may need specialist services in developing their Brexit plan. This grant can be up to €5,000.

The SCBI Brexit Loan Scheme offers amounts of between €25,000 to €1.5m, loan terms ranging from 1 year to 3 years and unsecured loans up to €500,000. All information relating to these schemes are to be found on each organisation’s website.

“The LEO contribution by Thomas McEvoy was a comprehensive list of the many services available to companies in relation to planning, marketing, their online platforms etc. and didn’t just relate to Brexit.

“For information on the all these services go to localenterprise.ie/louth.

“Any measures which may mitigate some of the negatives of the Brexit process on Irish companies are to be welcomed. I would encourage companies and businesses in Louth to seek further information from the Local Enterprise Office.”

This event was attended by representatives of many local businesses both SMEs and larger companies.

“Their attendance is proof of the levels of concern among the business community regarding the negative effects Brexit could have on their ability to trade competitively.

“Sinn Féin has consistently said that Brexit will be bad for Ireland, north and south, in economic, political, social and cultural terms. I believe that the Irish Government must ensure the backstop agreement is enacted in the event of a no deal Brexit.

“Dr Vincent Power, the highly entertaining keynote speaker told of the spectrum of Brexit in relation to the multiple facets of the economy and society and its impact upon them. Brexit in relation to people and goods being different to Brexit in relation to services and that’s not to speak of medicines and aviation etc. He explained the Customs Union and Single Market as being maintained by a hermetical seal along EU borders which are a lot less porous than ours. He stated that any Brexit deal likely to be done would be a ‘skinny deal’ and a perpetual state of negotiations between Britain and the EU.

“Following my question on how he foresaw the Irish border post Brexit. He couldn’t see anything other than a ‘Hong Kong’ type solution and a border in the Irish sea. Anything else would have definite ramifications for border communities and businesses.

“This solution sounds to me like special designated status for the 6 counties, which would allow it to stay within the EU and maintain the necessary alignments between North and South.

“This was a useful event and I commend the staff of Louth LEO for convening this information briefing.”