Adams questions May’s Commitment to no hard border

Speaking in the Dáil today on his Brexit Bill Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams expressed concern at claims of ‘new thinking’ by the British in dealing with the issue of a hard border said that the “Irish government carries an onerous responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens on this island, both in relation to Brexit and the future of the Good Friday Agreement”.

The Louth TD expressed his disappointment that the government rejected a Sinn Féin Bill which called for additional formal reporting by the government to the Dáil on the Brexit negotiations.

Commenting on recent developments in the Brexit process the former Sinn Féin leader expressed his concern at the commitment of Theresa May to ensure that there will be no border controls. Teachta Adams specifically raised the issue of rights for EU citizens in the North. The EU Legal Text published on March 1st was very explicit on this but thus far we have seen no progress.

Addressing Minister Coveney, Teachta Adams said:

“Today, following his meeting with Theresa May, the Taoiseach reports that the British will now table a new proposal on a future customs relationship within the next two weeks. This is new thinking he said.

We were told that in December when the EU/British joint agreement was achieved only to have the British Prime Minister repudiate the EU legal text in February. Remember her blunt: “No UK prime Minister would ever agree to it.” Why should this time be any different?

This is the same British Prime Minister who last week claimed that only British soldiers are being investigated in relation to legacy matters. As the Minister knows this is a patent untruth.

This is the same British government that refuses to provide information on the role of its agents in the Dublin-Monaghan bombs which took place on this date 44 years ago.

And this is the same British Prime Minister who has done a deal with the DUP which is taking precedence over her obligations in respect of the Good Friday Agreement.

The EU legal text accepts that the alignment option contained in the December agreement means that the North shall be “considered part of the customs territory of the EU”. It explicitly states that there should be “no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out” in the Good Friday Agreement. And it definitively demands that the Good Friday Agreement and its subsequent implementation agreements “should be protected in all its parts”. There is significant concern at the British commitment to this.

In his response to the joint agreement in December the Taoiseach addressed northern nationalist and said: “There will be no hard border on our island. You will never again be left behind by an Irish Government”.
The Irish government therefore carries an onerous responsibility to live up to this commitment and to protect the rights of all citizens on this island, both in relation to Brexit and the future of the Good Friday Agreement.
If an agreement is reached in the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the British government, it cannot fall short of the position that the legal text has established”.

Louth MIU expansion in Jeopardy – Adams

Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams has said that he is gravely concerned following confirmation from the HSE that commitments to expand the service provided by the Minor Injuries Unit at Louth County Hospital Dundalk are now in jeopardy.

The Louth TD said;

“Simon Harris came to Dundalk in November 2017 and announced that by February 2018 the Minor Injuries Unit at the Louth Hospital would begin seeing additional paediatric patients by reducing the current age threshold of 14 years old to 5 years old.

“In January I submitted a parliamentary question regarding the progress of this development and in response the RCSI Hospital Group, which runs health facilities in Louth, Meath and North Dublin, said: ‘It is envisaged that the Local Injuries Unit at the Louth County Hospital will be in a position to start seeing patients over five years of age with minor injuries in Quarter 2 2018. This change in practice remains dependent on staffing and appropriate staff mix’

“I submitted a further parliamentary question this month and the RCSI Hospital Group now tell me that the agreed start time for this service will be delayed due to ‘unanticipated resignations.’

“Furthermore the response goes on to state that ‘while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time.’

Cllr Anne Campbell

“From these responses it is clear to me that there is a real threat that this expanded service for those over 5 years old may never become operational.

“I am shocked that the Minister for Health would make such a grand announcement without any of the necessary ground work being complete.

“I have asked the Minister for Health what recruitment campaign has been undertaken to ensure that the staff are in place to operate this service and I urge him to honour the commitments he has made to Dundalk.

 

“My colleague councillor Anne Campbell will also be raising this matter at the next meeting of the Dublin North East Regional Health Forum, at which representatives of the RCSI Hospital Group will be present.”

Joanna Byrne: Time for Action on Litter

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne told the monthly meeting of the Drogheda Municipal District that “it’s time to get real and actively start tackling the growing trend of illegal dumping.”

Cllr Byrne called for covert CCTV to be introduced in litter hotspots and informed officials from Louth County Council that dumping levels were now at an epidemic stage in Drogheda and that they could no longer hide behind the ‘excuse of budgetary allowances’.

Cllr Byrne stated that she is “blue in the face talking about this month in and month out” and acknowledged that other councillors felt the same.

Cllr Byrne said “Our town is filthy and we as a local authority are relying on volunteer groups week in week out to clean it. It has become the norm that several different community groups, all volunteers might I add, spend their free time cleaning up fly-tipping, commercial dumping, domestic dumping, you name it, it’s happening. It has become the norm that only hours after these groups clean an area, it is savaged with dumping once again. This has now apparently become socially acceptable.”

She continued, “Louth County Council has to step up and introduce covert CCTV in these hotspots. You can no longer hide behind the excuse of not having the budget to do so, just find it! Take on board the opinions of these community groups who are on the ground cleaning up for us, take on board the opinions of the members, let’s establish these hotspots and get real in tackling this growing trend instead of going around in verbal circles.”

Willie Walsh, Director of Services acknowledged that his department was aware it was an escalating problem and admitted the local authority wasn’t tackling it at a pace they should be, but assured the meeting there was cross-departmental strategizing on-going to come up with a solution for this in advance of the Fleadh.

Cllr Byrne responded, recognising the importance of the Fleadh and the implications of hosting it, but she expressed that this should be tackled for the townspeople first.

“I 100% agree that the dire state of our town will reflect badly on us when the visitors for Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann start flocking in, I also recognise the positive economic and tourism impacts the this will bring to Drogheda, but we should be tackling this problem for our people too. People who have reared their families in this town shouldn’t have to put up with this, children should be able to play on greenspaces without jumping over rubbish, and the goodwill of the volunteers in this town should not be taken advantage of.”

Cllr Byrne called for a costing on CCTV, be it covert or not to be brought back to the next meeting and some proposals from the operations department on implementing the same.

 

Cllr Byrne: Drogheda Parking Issue Dismissed with a Shoulder Shrug

The issue of parking remains to be a bone of contention in Drogheda especially around the Lourdes Hospital. At April’s Drogheda Municipal meeting the issue was raised and it was agreed that it should be ‘addressed urgently by the Council and the HSE’. The same issue subsequently dominated a special sitting of the parking committee made up of members and officials from Louth County Council some two weeks later.

As a result of the frustrations of the members over the heightened congestion in the area, and the concern’s raised by local residents in the vicinity the then Director of Service’s for Operations, Catherine Duff, under took to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to discuss options to maximise the use of their own HSE carpark on both the Crosslanes and indeed on the hospital grounds also, with a view to alleviating some of the congestion in the surrounding areas.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, at this month’s Municipal meeting sought an update on the issue.

An outraged Joanna Byrne said “I only discovered that no such meeting has taken place, but it hadn’t even been requested. In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over the actions of the HSE and he could not guarantee any co-operation from them.”

This was like a red rag to a bull to Cllr Byrne who replied to him, “With all due respect Mr. Walsh, we are sitting here six weeks later from when this was requested and agreed to by the members, you yourself sat at the subsequent parking meeting where we delved into this in some depth and now you are telling us that you do not deem it necessary? Whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members. I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report on the same circulated to the members. I do not wish to return again next month to the same laidback, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!”

Following the meeting, Cllr Byrne wrote to the Director of Services expressing her dissatisfaction that there was no follow through on this, especially considering the parking issues that is troubling all of the constituents of Drogheda at present, once again laying down her expectations that officials get on board with the members and endeavour to work with them in fixing this debacle.

Cllr Kenneth Flood confirms Greenhills Road repair

Sinn féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has confirmed that the Greenhills Road will be repaired yet again, making this the third repair in just five years.

Cllr Flood said “While I welcome confirmation that these works are to start soon, after much lobbying from myself, I want this resurfacing to last a lot longer than the previous two repairs. Regular users of this stretch of road that leads to Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, will be well used to having to slow to a snail’s pace and manoeuvre around the potholes. I have had to lobby for this particular road to be repaired yet again after shoddy work in the past.”

The section of road included in the Roadworks Programme 2018 at ‘Greenhills’ is on the Newtown Road from its junction with Greenhills Road at Ushers Corner for 440m.

Cllr Flood said “Unfortunately this is not the only area that needs to be redone after such a short period. We don’t see these issues on our Motorways so we should not be seeing them on our local roads.”

Concluding Cllr Flood said, “I will be working closely with my party colleague Deputy Imelda Munster who is our party Spokesperson on Transport to raise the issue of repeat repairs on local roads in the Dail. What has happened up to now is just not sufficient and poor workmanship and temporary repairs are nothing but an economic nonsense.”