The Criminal Assets Bureau will make a presentation at Louth County Council offices on Monday 30th April at 5.30pm at a combined meeting of the Ardee, Drogheda and Dundalk Joint Policing Committees. (JPCs). JPCs consist of senior Gardaí, elected representatives, the local authority and some community representatives. They deal with crime and policing issues in the particular area.
Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí O Murchú stated that “Sinn Féin have a very positive engagement with JPCs. We would like there to be an extension of their powers and greater community involvement.”
“It is a very encouraging move to see the Criminal Assets Bureau make this presentation in Dundalk. They have operated over the years as a serious tool against organised crime. They were introduced following the murder of Veronica Guerin in 1996. In the last period we have seen them in operation against criminals involved in the Kinahan Hutch feud and recently witnessed a major operation across Louth, Meath and Dublin.
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. The public want to see action. We welcome measures taken by the Gardaí and the local authority in the last period against these gangs. We call on greater resources to allow for the deployment of the promised Drugs and Organised Crime Unit and a strategy to deal with these criminal elements. This unit for the County was talked about at the last Dundalk JPC meeting.”
Cllr Ó Murchú said “I would hope that we could see the Criminal Assets Bureau operating local operations in tandem with the Gardaí. Successful 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 will be calling for CAB to become more involved across Louth and in Dundalk and Drogheda.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Kenneth Flood has slammed Louth County Council following two unannounced water outages on two consecutive days in the Newfoundwell/Termonfeckin Road area.
Councillor Flood said “In the early afternoons of Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st of March I was inundated with calls from residents of several estates asking why there was no water in the area. I contacted Irish Water to query this on both days and was told on both days that they had no information.”
Councillor Flood then proceeded to contact Louth County Council who informed him they were ‘aware of an issue and it would be resolved soon.’
Cllr Flood was told on the second day of the water outage “that contractors were stress testing the new water-main for the Newfoundwell/Termonfeckin Road area, but that the water was only supposed to be off for 15 minutes. This was not the case. Residents were without water for up to 5 hours and when supply did eventually return it was murky and undrinkable.”
Councillor Flood said “They must be detached from reality not to think of the thousands of residents who were plagued by water outages for years until the North Quay watermain was replaced. Their unannounced testing caused severe stress and concern among residents. I shared the information via social media and then spent hours phoning residents back to tell them what had happened. Again, a lack of information and communication from Louth County Council.”
Kenneth Flood had harsh words with Louth County Council about these unannounced water outages and told them “they must take heed that this situation cannot be allowed to occur again.”
Sinn Féin Councillor David Saurin has criticised Louth County Council for the delays in the processing of rent reviews and accused them of being responsible for putting some tenants into arrears.
Cllr Saurin said “I have been contacted by tenants of Louth County Council who through no fault of their own have been issued with large bills for rent arrears, in some cases running into thousands of euro. This is due to the fact that it can take up to twenty weeks from when a tenant submits a form for rent review to the case being processed. If that review then shows there should be an increase in their rent, it is being backdated 20 weeks and the tenant is handed a huge bill.”
“This delay means that Louth County Council is effectively responsible for putting their own tenants in arrears.”
Cllr David Saurin raised the issue at the last Drogheda Borough Council meeting and was reassured that this delay in processing submissions should be resolved in the first few months of the new year. However. “That is of little comfort to people who have received demands for rent arrears through the Council’s own system failure, these notices of arrears have caused distress and anxiety to people who have done nothing wrong, in fact who have tried to do the right thing.”
Cllr Saurin said “I asked at the Drogheda Borough meeting that the Council act to reassure those who they’ve caused to go into arrears that their cases will be dealt with favourably and with a large degree of understanding when it comes to resolving the issue of their arrears. Also to reassure people that it will not impact negatively on their rights or requirements as tenants.”
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.
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has called on the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to include Councillors in the budget process.
Cllr. Flood said “during the debate on deciding this year’s Local Property Tax (LPT), Sinn Féin again proposed a 15% reduction, the maximum allowed under the relevant legislation.”
The Chief Executive responded by demanding that if Sinn Féin were proposing any cut in the LPT then they should identify where in the budget it should come from.
Kenneth Flood said “In the pre-budget workshop I had asked questions on the cost to the council of contractors, consultants and third parties writing council policy documents, like the Community Safety Strategy document etc. I did not get that information from the executive. I appreciate there are times when the Council need to employ consultants from time to time but as it is public money being used then the Council is accountable to the public.”
“We in Sinn Féin are more than willing to examine the council’s proposed spending and if the Chief Executive afforded us the opportunity to review the proposed budget in detail, then I am certain that we can identify areas where savings can be made. The process needs to be more inclusive of Councillors from all parties.”
“The LPT is an unjust and regressive tax and we need to ease the burden on homeowners and give families a break.”