Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has praised the efforts of fire crews from Dundalk and Ardee who attended a serious fire at Dun Lughaidh (St Louis’s) Secondary School overnight.
Cllr Ó Murchú said “I went to Dun Lughaidh School to see the damage for myself this morning. One building, which I believe was a technology block, separate from the main school building, has been completely destroyed. I have been told the building also contained a lot of the students’ coursework which has unfortunately been lost.”
Cllr Ó Murchú said “My heart goes out to the pupils and staff of the school as I know this will be a very stressful time for them especially with exam time looming.”
Cllr Ó Murchú praised the fire crews who “tended the fire in the early hours of the morning and managed to contain the blaze. They did a fantastic job.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today expressed fury at reports from women in the Louth area who have been told that the free smear tests promised by Simon Harris in the wake of the Cervical Check scandal will cost up to €85 if women elect to have their smear tests analysed in this state, rather than outsourced to American labs.
Deputy Munster said:
“I received calls today from women in my constituency who were outraged to learn from their GPs this week that they would have to pay €85 for a repeat smear test, despite claims made by Ministers Simon Harris and Regina Doherty that free smear tests would be available for all women who had concerns about the Cervical Check scandal and wished to take an additional test.”
“In cases where women choose for their lab work to be carried out in this state, they have been asked to pay €50 for a GP visit and €35 for the smear test.”
“For reasons that must be obvious even to the government since Vicky Phelan went public with her story, many women in Ireland have lost confidence in the outsourcing of lab tests to the United States, and would prefer that their tests be carried out at home.”
“It is disingenuous of Simon Harris to announce that these repeat tests are free, when in fact they are not”.
“It is clear that despite all the hurt, damage, and deaths that this scandal has caused, that the government has learned absolutely nothing.”
“After all that’s happened the government should arrange to have free smear tests carried out and tested in Ireland. It’s the least they could do.”
At this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne called for a multi-agency approach to be implemented to tackle the growing issue of illegal dumping in Louth.
Cllr Byrne stated that her home town of Drogheda is facing an epidemic regarding illegal dumping, with levels hitting an all time high. She put it to the Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan and representatives of Louth County Council that if they can work on a multi-agency basis to tackle illegal parking, the same must be done to combat the littering and dumping that is escalating at a rapid pace.
Cllr Byrne said “My least favourite word has just been mentioned – ‘Dumping’. Let me tell you all here and now – Drogheda is out of control with illegal dumping, it is gone beyond even talking about. There is absolutely no dressing it up anymore. I am calling for a multi-agency approach to tackling this, be it introducing covert CCTV, linking current community CCTV locations to Drogheda Garda Station, an increased presence of An Garda Síochana and Community/Litter Warden’s around litter hot-spots or more emphasis in filtering through this rubbish and following up on prosecutions, but something has to be done and has to be done fast. This is now an epidemic and if the Local Authority and An Garda Síochana can work together so successfully on targeting traffic matters the same effort needs to be put into tackling illegal dumping.”
Joe McGuinness, Director of Services for Louth County Council told Cllr Byrne that they are conscious of the rise in illegal dumping and it is a growing concern for them but assured her that they were launching an awareness campaign around the issue of waste disposal and anti-dumping initiatives over the coming weeks. Whilst Cllr Byrne welcomed this she did however inform him that this “simply isn’t enough”.
Cllr Byrne said “Awareness campaigns are great but they are now, in my view, far too late. The dumping throughout Drogheda, and indeed further afield in Louth has somehow become socially acceptable. This is not acceptable to me as a public representative of this county, it is not acceptable for my constituents, it is not acceptable to the volunteers and community groups left with the task of continuously cleaning up this dumping and it certainly should not be acceptable to the Local Authority or the Gardaí. The time has come for you both to invest in this together with resources and willpower, the time has come to get tough! Re-packaging old commitments and answers on this isn’t cutting it anymore, token gestures such as awareness campaigns doesn’t cut it anymore either, action is what is needed, and is long overdue.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has requested that Louth County Council to explore the option of installing height restriction barriers at litter hot spots in North Louth.
Cllr Watters made the request at this month’s Municipal meeting in Dundalk following and escalation in dumping incidents around North Louth since Christmas.
Councillor Watters said “since Christmas we have had tyres and building rubble dumped which are very costly to remove. While I welcome the funding for the County from the Government’s Dept of Climate Action and Environment through their Anti-Dumping Initiative (ADI), it is not going to solve the problem.”
In April Minister Denis Naughtan TD announced Louth would receive €76,300.
Antóin Watters explained that this sum was to cover the whole county and included Carrickarnon Laneway, Ravensdale. “I spent last weekend helping in the annual spring clean at Rathcor. The spirit and pride of the community in their area was evident as it is in other areas. People who are dumping rubbish are not wanted in the area. They do not care about the people or the area.”
Antoin Watters at Rathcor Clean up
“This money from the ADI will be used up just cleaning up after these people. We need to think more long-term and be more pro-active in tackling this issue once and for all. This is a war on dumping. We need to fund initiatives like amnesties for tyres and larger items like mattresses or suites of furniture. We need to make it difficult for dumpers to drive their vans to these hotspots and that’s where the height restriction barriers would help. We could use CCTV at these spots and even drone technology.”
Councillor Watters has been liaising with Louth County Council and Coillte on an on-going basis since Christmas on this issue and said “Coillte removed a further 260 tyres from its land last week and that is eating into their already tight budget. They shouldn’t have to spend their budget or their time on cleaning up rubbish, they were established for forestry works and illegal dumping is taking them away from that.”
Councillor Watters also said “the greatest resource that we have against these people are the communities themselves. I would again appeal to people to remain vigilant. If they see anyone dumping or if they see strange vehicles acting suspiciously around litter hotspots take note of them and report them to Louth County Council.”
“This is our county, our area, our community and we are proud of it. We are not going to let people treat it like their own personal rubbish tip. The money spent on cleaning up after these despicable people could be better spent elsewhere.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has warmly welcomed the clarification about the role of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) at Monday’s joint meeting of the Louth Policing Committees.
Speaking after a private meeting with representatives of CAB, Cllr. Ó Murchú said he was pleased with the accessibility of the bureau outlined at the meeting by Chief Superintendent Patrick Clavin.
Cllr Ó Murchú said “We have a serious problem with organised drug gangs across this county and in particular, Dundalk and Drogheda. The community suffers terribly from the drug dealing, intimidation, arson and the violence of these gangs. Their extortionate means of drug debt recovery from the families of addicts, backed up with brutality and terror is a huge issue. CAB has operated over the years as a serious tool against organised crime and I welcome any measures that can be taken.
He said: “I was particularly pleased to note that the threshold of assets that can be seized by CAB has been lowered to €5,000 which means that so-called ‘small-time drug dealers’ can also be targeted.”
Councillor Ó Murchú was also concerned “about the figures presented which revealed that Louth has the third highest number of CAB targets in the state after the greater Dublin area and Limerick, which obviously has serious implications for Garda resources in the county.
“To hear Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan frankly admit that he told the Justice Minister as recently as Monday that the budget he has this year is ‘grossly insufficient’ to do what he has to do, is truly shocking and is something that I have already raised with the Sinn Féin team in Leinster House.
“I would hope that we could see the Criminal Assets Bureau operating locally in co-operation with the Gardaí. Successful Garda arrest operations can be difficult in a ‘subcontracted criminal enterprise’ where main players use vulnerable people as their ‘cut outs’ and keep themselves ‘clean’. Many drug dealers are living cash rich and many without intricate money laundering systems and so we would hope this weak point could be used by CAB to disrupt, impact and possibly shut down some of their operations.
“I am also encouraged by the fact the CAB was able to give several reassurances that not only will they take the information they receive seriously but that no-one will have to go to court to give evidence.”
CAB can be contacted on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 01 6663266