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.

Cllr Antóin Watters Calls For Pro-Active Approach to Dumping

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.”

Tomás Sharkey: Dumping of Dead Cattle a New Low

Cllr Tomás Sharkey

Sinn Féin Councillor Tomás Sharkey has hit out at the dumping of dead cattle on the roadside in North Louth.

“Rassan is a rural area on the N53 between Dundalk and Culloville. This weekend we witnessed a disgusting act of dumping and endangerment of public health. Amongst the items dumped on the roadside was a dead and rotting calf. I witnessed the site. It was disgusting. The smell was putrid and bluebottles were crawling over the carcass.

“There is a lot of waste on the adjacent site. Last year the Council attempted to establish the ownership of the site and ran into difficulties. This recent event is a new low.

“I am asking everybody to be vigilant for this type of dumping and contamination.”

Rotting carcass of a dead calf

This is the latest incident in what seems to be a huge increase in dumping in County Louth. Since Christmas we have had tyres dumped on several occasions at beauty spots at Edentubber and North Louth and just recently over a dozen mattresses were dumped along a main road outside Ardee.

This latest act was despicable given the nature of what was dumped and the threat to public health is evident.

We need to stamp out this growing trend and let these people know that we are proud of our community and our County and there is o place for these sort of incidents. If anyone has any information or witnesses any kind of dumping please notify Louth County Council with as much information as possible.