Antoin Watters: Commence Research on Brexit Impact

Cllr Antóin Watters

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called on the Government to commence specific research to identify the impact that Brexit will have in the border regions.

Cllr Watters said “In the Government’s ‘Action Plan on Rural Development’ it was proposed that specific research be done to identify the impact of Brexit on rural areas across the State but in particular, the border areas which will be impact most negatively of all.”

“Brexit is getting ever closer and we have MEPs like Guy Verhofstad visiting us from Belguim and a taskforce of MEPs from various countries trying to get an idea of the border area and trying to figure out the best way to proceed. Yet, this vital piece of research has yet to commence. MEPs from other countries are showing more interest than the Irish Government in the border areas.”

Cllr Watters said “We need to start this research without delay so we can have a clear understanding of what the impact will be and more importantly what contingency plans can be put in place to mitigate the consequences.”

For full details of our Alternative Budget 2018 please go to www.sinnfein.ie

Pearse McGeough Welcomes Proposed 50% for Housing Adaptations in SF Alternative Budget

Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the provision of a 50% increase in Housing Adaptation Grants (HAGs) in Sinn Féin’s alternative Budget for 2018.

In June of this year, Cllr McGeough asked Louth County Council to apply for extra funding for this Grant scheme after it was announced that the Scheme was to be kept open all year round.  Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly.

Cllr McGeough said “Each year, the scheme opened, was flooded with applications and then closed again after a few short weeks. However, this year saw an extension to the submission period with the Scheme remaining open all year round. That has had the effect of citizens being left frustrated with the long periods of waiting time for these adaptations to take place.”

He said “I have a lady who is in her late 80’s who made a submission for a small but essential adaptation to her bathroom in 2016. She was marked ‘Priority 1’ which is categorising her as ‘urgent’. 2016 has gone, 2017 applications are in and this lady has now been informed that her work should be carried out in 2018.”

“There is no point in opening the Scheme all year round, processing and passing applications only to leave them sitting in a pile somewhere because there is no budget to carry out the works.”

“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 waiting two years is wholly unacceptable by anyone’s standards.”

“I welcome Sinn Féin’s proposal that the allocation for this Grant Scheme be an extra 50%. We could perhaps clear the backlog and not leave our vulnerable citizens trapped in unsuitable accommodation.

For our full Alternative Budget please go to sinnfein.ie

Drogheda SF Spend their Discretionary Money on Disability

Sinn Féin Drogheda Councillors, Kenneth Flood, Joanna Byrne and David Saurin have welcomed the completion of a comprehensive list of disability access improvements in Drogheda that they paid to be done through their discretionary fund allocation.

Cllr Kenneth Flood explained “We met with Louth County Council Officials to decide, in collaboration, where the funding would be best spent. It was decided to work through a list of needed disability access improvements provided to us and Louth County Council by The Irish Wheelchair Associations, Drogheda Branch, based in Mayorality Street.”

“In the past two years there have been disability improvement works completed at:

  • Rathmullen Housing estate.
  • The bus stop behind Abbey shopping centre.
  • Mayoralty Street beside Wheel Chair Association
  • Shop Street
  • St. Peter’s cemetery.
  • The Bull Ring at Ollie’s Pub
  • Mayorality Street / Bachelor’s Lane junction
  • Twenties Lane
  • Bog Lane, Off Crosslane
  • Midwifery Education Centre at Hardeman’s Gardens

Cllr David Saurin said “These infrastructure improvement works will enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities making access to footpaths and roads safer for wheelchair users, people on mobility scooters and parents with prams or trolleys. The best part about this list of works is that not one cent from the discretionary funds was spent on planners, reports or bonuses, every bit of it went into the works to benefit the people of the area.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne concluded “We did want the dipped footpaths in the town centre at Peter Street and Fair Street worked on to make them safer for electric wheel chairs users and we were disappointed when we were informed that the council would not be looking at that area. We are happy we could play a part in improving disability access in Drogheda and now we will be examining where next in Drogheda and South Louth we can use our discretionary funds.”

L-R Cllr Kenneth Flood, Geraldine Lennon from Irish wheelchair association, Nicola McDonnell & Cllr David Saurin at the disability access improvements done at St Peters Cemetery, Crosslanes Drogheda.

 

 

Cllr Anne Campbell: Celebrate our Older People

Sunday 1st October marked International Day of Older Persons, a United Nations designated day in which we should celebrate the contribution older people make to our society and to ensure the conditions exist to facilitate the active participation of our older citizens in all aspects of life.

Councillor Anne Campbell explained “the theme for this year International Day of Older Person is ‘Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society’. There are 16,077 people in Louth who are over 65 according to the 2016 census and Sinn Féin wants to see their contribution celebrated and this increased longevity continuing.”

“Sadly for some of our older citizens who wish to remain or to be cared for in their own homes, the lack of homecare services which would enable them to do so is turning their later years into a challenging time in their lives. Home care delivered at home is the preferred option for most older people and their families. However, the current government policy has an emphasis on nursing homes as the solution to providing long-term care for our older citizens.”

“We are committed to ensuring that those 16,000+ older people in Louth can live with dignity and continue to contribute to society and we see it as fundamental that they should live independently for as long as possible. So Sinn Féin has put forward costed proposals in our alternative budget for 2018 that would see home help hours increase by 20% which would enable more older people to remain independent in their own homes for longer.

“To prevent the knock on effect of increased trolley and waiting list crises that having older people ‘stuck’ in hospital because of the lack of homecare packages, we are proposing that they are increased by 15%. In real terms that would be an extra 2,485 home care packages across the state.”

Cllr Campbell said “Our older people deserve to have respect and dignity and to be celebrated. Sinn Féin is on their side and I would encourage the government to invest in our older citizens needs in Budget 2018.”

To read our full alternative budget 2018 please visit www.sinnfein.ie

Cllr Tom Cunningham: FF & FG have Failed Rural Ireland on Wind Turbine protection.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has said he is “disappointed that Fianna Fáil and their cohorts in Government Fine Gael have voted to reject the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 which would have afforded legal protection to rural communities across the state.”

The Bill was voted down on Thursday in the Dáil.

Cllr Cunningham said “Wind farms have been a bone of contention in communities for some years now and this Bill sought to have addressed the issue. It would have regulated wind farms and ensured that while this industry developed it would do so with community engagement and provide legal protection for the rural communities.”

“This has been an area that has been neglected by the last two Governments simply because it is a contentious issue and because of this lack of legislation in terms of planning regulations for wind turbines, many rural communities have suffered greatly.”

Cllr Cunningham said “these wind farms and turbines continue to get planning permission in locations that are obviously too close to people’s homes. Our Bill would have required a setback distance of 10 times the height of the turbine. The Bill also had guidelines for noise and shadow flicker as well as optional community ownership. It also provided for greater consultation with communities and for the turbines to be sited in areas designated by County Councillors in the county development plan.”

“Rural Ireland has been abandoned by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael who have refused rural dwellers any legal protections around this issue. It is disingenuous for either of these parties to cite the upcoming ‘Wind Turbine Guidelines’ which we have been waiting for 5 years for as the Minister for Environment just this week said they would not be legally binding anyway.”

Cllr Cunningham said “Rural Ireland needs legal protection as we look for alternative diverse forms of energy and Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have failed to grasp this opportunity and they have failed to deliver.”