Cllr Joanna Byrne Warns Council of Consequences of Placement Fees

At last week’s Municipal District of Drogheda’s monthly meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne firmly queried Director of Services for Housing as to whether Louth County Council had bought into the idea of offering placement fees to estate agents.

Cllr Byrne said “It emerged this week that some Local Authorities are offering estate agents €500 + Vat in ‘placement fees’ in return for them securing private rental accommodation for homeless families. I want to know firstly, are Louth County Council participating in this? And secondly, if there has been a direction from Minister Murphy to do the same?”

Cllr Byrne who is Chairperson of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee went on to voice her concerns that this would be a very bad move for the County.

“I understand that until social and affordable housing stock is increased dramatically in Louth it may seem that there is no alternative but to engage in these desperate negotiations but by God, it is plain to see this will distort the market even further. There is already an over-reliance by this Government, and in turn this Council, on the private rental sector and if that stock, in short supply as it is, is removed to facilitate backroom deals without the implementation of subsequent measures, the consequences will in turn lead to more and more families entering homelessness than the local authority will be able to manage!”

In response to Cllr Byrne’s concerns, Paddy Donnelly in his first meeting in the district in his new role as Director for Housing,  confirmed that Louth County Council are not currently participating in this scheme. Whilst stating that this may be a ‘viable option for some’, this then sparked serious concerns to Cllr Byrne that this may a route the Local Authority would consider in the future.

Mr. Donnelly alleviated these counter concerns by committing to the meeting that there are no plans for Louth County Council to engage in this process in the future.

Cllr Byrne has welcomed this outcome and vowed to monitor this going forward.

Anne Campbell Selected for 2019 Local Elections

Louth Sinn Fein have formally selected seven candidates for the Dundalk & Mid-Louth areas for the 2019 Local Council Elections.

Pearse McGeough was selected to re-run in Mid-Louth with his running mate not yet determined.

Dundalk Carlingford has the two sitting councilors selected, Antóin Watters and Edel Corrigan with new face Eugene Garvey from Dundalk.

In Dundalk South the three sitting Councillors were selected, Tomás Sharkey, Ruairi Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell.

Ann Campbell was proposed on behalf of the Watters Brothers Cumann by Pat McVeigh who thanked Anne for all her work since she was co-opted 14 months ago. Anne hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since. “Her appointment to the Regional Health Forum has been instrumental in furthering our health and Louth Hospital campaign.” Anne was seconded by Leigh Walsh.

Watters Brothers Cumann

Speaking after the convention, Cllr Campbell said that “the last 14 months have been the best in my life. I have met so many people from all walks of life and it is very satisfying to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, even if it is just to offer support to them in a time of need.”

Anne wanted to especially “thank my husband Laurence and my two sons Connla and Cillian. Without Laurence’s support and those of my boys, it wouldn’t be possible for me to spend so much time and energy in carrying out my job as a Councillor.”

“I am looking forward to continuing the work of the past 14 months and am always grateful for any help.”

Anne with the other candidates selected and our 2 TDs

If you would like to help out in Anne’s campaign please contact her or call into the SF office 1 – 2 Crowe Street. All help is appreciated, leafleting, postering, canvassing, whatever you can do…

Anne can be contacted through social media, the office in Dundalk or Watters Brothers Facebook page.

 

 

 

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 Pearse McGeough New Chair for Ardee MD

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has been elected the new Chair for the Ardee Municipal District Council.

Speaking after tonight’s AGM, Cllr McGeough said “I want to thank my fellow Sinn Féin councillor Tom Cunningham for nominating me and also want to thank Independent Cllr Jim Tenanty for his vote. For years there was a pact to keep Sinn Féin out but it’s good to see that pact has been broken tonight.”

“I have been proud to serve the good people of Ardee and Mid-Louth Municipal District for over fourteen years and this is the first time that I will have the opportunity of doing so as Chair. I will serve and represent all the people of the area and look forward to what will no doubt be a challenging but very rewarding time.”

“This coming year is an important one as we are facing into an election next year and Brexit with all the uncertainty that brings with it, is looming. Over the last years we have seen the powers in our municipal Districts stripped and diluted, obviously we need to reverse that trend if we want to affect real change in Mid-Louth. We, as councillors, are accountable to the people so it is up to us to represent those people and help Ardee and Mid-Louth to realise its full potential.”

“There are a few challenges that need to be prioritised this year. We need to appreciate the area’s potential for jobs and enterprise. Sometimes we tend to be overlooked in favour of Drogheda or Dundalk but we have a lot to offer too. I would like to see the Ardee By-pass well underway and to tackle the drugs and alcohol usage and addiction in the area especially among young people. These are projects that will require all of us and multi-agencies working together but if we have the will, it can be done.”

“I also look forward to working with Dolores Minogue as Leas Cathaoirleach in the year ahead.”

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.