Cllr Joanna Byrne Wants Rough Sleeper Count Done!

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has queried why the ‘Rough Sleeper Count’ in Drogheda has been removed from the Housing Progress section of the council agenda. Although no count took place last November as scheduled, it has always remained a standing item on the agenda with Cllr Byrne consistently pushing for progress to be made on it.

Cllr Byrne questioned Senior Executive Officer for Housing about the removal at Monday’s municipal meeting of Drogheda saying “I have raised the issue of the Rough Sleeper Count twice a month at both municipal level and full Council level since August. I began with the pre-planning for November’s annual count where I was seeking Multi-agency input and greater liaising with NGO’s on the ground. When it didn’t take place I kept the pressure on every month and now almost a year later, I am still raising it and it has now disappeared off the agenda.

“We need to make provisions to deal with the homeless issue so we need to have an accurate reflection of the extent of it. To see this item removed from the agenda suggests to me there are no plans for the count to take place. I want it put back on the agenda and for this to be made a priority for the council.”

Cllr Byrne was informed that the item was removed as there was no update on it and it would be returned to next month’s agenda. Cllr Byrne was also informed that the Count will in fact take place in a matter of weeks in conjunction with the HSE. Cllr Byrne said that she felt this surely constituted ‘an update’ and repeated that the item should not have been removed from the agenda. She promised to pursue this matter until the count had taken place.

Flood Puts Graffiti Back On Council Agenda

Following a campaign of persistence, Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has got Graffiti in Drogheda firmly back on the local Council’s Agenda.

Cllr Flood said “Since July 2016 I have been calling for a new protocol to deal with Graffiti in Drogheda. A survey of all of the graffiti in the area was subsequently compiled in September 2016 and a number of
actions taken.”

A year later “in July 2017, we received our first report which detailed the removal of a large amount of the graffiti throughout Drogheda which was very welcome. This pro-active approach was a visible example of how we can improve our streetscape with the correct protocol and focus. But it was clear that we needed to remain focused.”

No further updates or reports were available despite numerous requests from Cllr Flood who noticed an increase in Graffiti once more. “For several months I requested that Graffiti Protocol be followed and that
we should receive a report.”

“Finally, I can report that the Graffiti Protocol is back on our agenda and Drogheda will be surveyed in throughout December and an updated database will be compiled. There will be a focus on tackling graffiti in Drogheda like never before and I look forward, with the public’s help, to getting this problem under control, once and for all. We must not allow this to fall by the wayside again. This is an on-going problem that we must keep on top of. The protocols in place do work as we have seen in the past but they will only work if they are followed and we do not lose focus. People in Drogheda deserve a cleaner town.”

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.”