Cllr Joanna Byrne: Extra Hostel Needed for People with Addictions

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed the passing of her Drogheda Council motion calling for additional homeless services to be provided in Drogheda to facilitate those with entrenched Alcohol and Drug issues.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Byrne said whilst she recognised the phenomenal work Louth County Council and their Homeless liaison team do, she felt there was “an over-reliance” on the NGO’s in the town at times.

Cllr Byrne said “Louth is experiencing much higher presentations of homelessness than our neighbouring counties, but I fear this is not a true reflection of how prevalent this issue is as many homeless people do not meet the criteria and rules of current solutions offered by the Local Authority, mainly down to battling addictions and therefore ending up on the streets. They are not included in any figures or homeless reports.”

In a written response to her motion, Cllr Byrne was told that a multi-agency review for a low threshold hostel in Drogheda has now been listed as an action in the draft Homeless Action Plan 2018-2020, and if the need is confirmed in the review to be undertaken by the HSE and the Local Authority, steps will be taken to open one. Cllr Byrne pushed this with the Director of Service for Housing, Paddy Donnelly, asking how long it would take. “This is urgent, it can’t be allowed to drag on for years.”

Mr. Donnelly advised that the Council recognised the need and assured Cllr Byrne this would be a priority in 2019.

Cllr Joanna Byrne express her thanks for the cross-party support for her motion and re-iterated the fact that “there are people sleeping rough in the doorways and parks in Drogheda and this is solely down to them battling addictions  like alcohol or drugs.”

She added “The current set-up of just a ‘dry facility’ in this town is no longer adequate, we need to be broad-minded enough to recognise Drogheda is evolving and so is our homeless situation, we also need a ‘wet facility’ to ensure we are meeting the needs of everybody experiencing homelessness, and can no longer leave anybody to sleep on our streets. If they have a roof over their heads they can then begin to access other services to help them with their other issues but this is the first step. A roof is a basic human right and the onus is on us as a Local Authority to provide that!”

 

The actual text of the motion said:

“This Council calls for a Homeless Hostel in Drogheda to assist Homeless people with entrenched Alcohol & Drug issues.

We recognise these addictions are significant contributing factors to making these people homeless and at present we do not have the provisions in place to alleviate these issues and assist those in our town who need it.”

 

Figures from the Department of Housing for October showed:

133 people accessed emergency accommodation in the whole of the North east Region

124 of these were in Louth

7 were in Cavan

2 were in Monaghan

David Saurin Selected to Run in Drogheda Urban in 2019

David and daughter Leanne

Sitting Councillor David Saurin was selected last night to run for the Drogheda Urban constituency for the Party.

David was proposed by Nikki Gavin from his Cumann in Drogheda who commended him on the work he has done until now and wished him well for the future.

David was seconded by his daughter Leanne who assured the room she was in no way biased. “I am very proud of you Dad. Dad works hard for his constituents since taking over from former Cllr Alan Cassidy who had to stand down for health reasons. On top of all this Councillor work, Dad also does shift work and he does it all without complaint. I am so proud of him and everything he has achieved and how hard he works and I look forward to campaigning for him when the elections are called.”

David commended former Cllr Alan Cassidy and admitted he “didn’t realise just how much work was involved when he took it on. I didn’t appreciate just how hard the council team actually worked but I certainly do now. It is 24/7 and I am grateful for the team around me. Kenneth Flood and Joanna Byrne have been a great support and help to me here in Drogheda and together we do trojan work. It’s all about bringing the Republican agenda to the people and I, along with the Colonel Leonard Cumann strive to do that on an on-going basis. We have to continue to build up the vote, we can see how it has increased over the years but that doesn’t happen easily. it is hard work and I am prepared to continue to give it 100%”

The new line up so far in Drogheda

Reduced Drogheda Budget Voted Down

Tuesday’s Drogheda Council budget meeting ended with the budget of just €20,000 (reduced from €60,000 last year) being voted down by a vote of 5 for and 5 against leaving the Mayor with the casting vote.

Sinn Féin Councillors Joanna Byrne, Kenneth Flood and David Saurin gave a litany of reasons as to why they could not support the reduced budget.

Cllr Joanna Byrne said “The Ardee and Dundalk council meetings also seen their reduced budgets being voted down. But the difference there was that there was no talk of introducing or increasing pay parking charges. However, at the
Drogheda meeting it turned into a discussion, driven by the Chief Executive, to try and over turn our recent democratically passed motion to decrease Drogheda’s pay parking charges to €1 per hour, (except in the area around the hospital).”

An exasperated Byrne said “This is before we have even seen the decrease take place and see how it affects parking in Drogheda. The pay parking charges have never been on the agenda at a Municipal District Budget Meeting before.”

Cllr David Saurin said ” We have asked many times previously, as have other councillors at the parking meetings, if pay parking was to be increased, is it possible to ring fence it for Drogheda? The answer was always no. Now suddenly we are told and expected to believe that if we vote to increase the charge back to €1.20 we can ring fence it, but only at this specific meeting. No Councillor had ever heard that before. It just beggars belief.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood said “During last year’s budget discussions we were promised specific measures for various parts of Drogheda, none of which has materialised. We were asked by council officials to make submissions to the
budget process for consideration. The Sinn Féin group of Councillors made a varied and detailed submission with initiatives that we believe could save the Council substantial amounts of money. We did not receive a response to our submission.”

Cllr Flood said “We have not received answers to our queries, such as how much does the Council pay it’s PR Company and how much does it pay consultants to write policy documents etc. or even where this money appears on the budget. The Council has removed pay parking spaces on the North Strand without consultation, consideration or notice.  We are excluded from the process. We cannot be asked to pass any budget we are excluded from. We cannot increase parking charges when no one else is being asked to.”

Cllr Flood said “We have stuck to our principles and kept our word to the residents of Drogheda. We are not here to rubber stamp budgets, we are here to represent the people of Drogheda and ensure there is transparency, accountability and value for public money.”

Cllr Flood slams removal of North Strand Parking Spaces.

Kenneth with local resident Mr Brady

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has slammed Louth County Council for removing parking spaces from the North Strand without prior notice or consultation.

Cllr Flood said “I have been pursuing the issue of parking for residents on the North Strand with Louth County Council. When I met with officials in the parking sub-committee in April I was given a figure of 32 parking spaces on the North Strand. At a subsequent meeting, that figure was reduced to 24 at the request of the Port Company.”

Cllr Flood said that “although we have had several parking specific meetings this year with the Chief Executive around all of the parking issues in Drogheda, the number of parking spaces, without consideration, consultation or notice, has now been reduced to just 9, with double yellow lines having been recently marked to remove parking.”

Cllr Flood has written to the Chief Executive expressing his dissatisfaction with this decision and has asked for alternative parking spaces to be provided for residents.

“I have also contacted the council’s Operations Department to see if anything can be done to alleviate parking problems for residents. When Mr Brady, ([pictured) contacted me regarding the removal of spaces on his street, he had already received several parking tickets because he now has nowhere to properly park his car near his
home. The residents of North Strand were not considered at all by Louth County Council and the fact that we the Councillors were not informed of this decision, throughout the lengthy consultation process on Drogheda’s Parking is another slap in the face that I do not intend to stand for.”

“I will be pursuing this matter until it is resolved to the resident’s satisfaction.”

Louth Hungerstrike Details 2018

Louth Sinn Féin will hold its annual Hungerstrike Commemoration in Drogheda next saturday September 1st.

The Commemoration will assemble at Bolton Square at 2.30pm and will march to the monument at Grove Hill.

In attendance this year, as in previous years, will be the Rising Phoenix Republican Flute band from Dublin and the Louth Republican Colour parties.

As in past commemorations held in Drogheda, the main speech will be given by a former Republican prisoner. This year the speech will be given by Fra McCann. Fra who was himself interned on the Maidstone prison ship, the cages of Long Kesh and later imprisoned in both Crumlin Road and Long Kesh. He spent three years on the blanket protest and on release from  prison in 1979 became active in the anti H Block/Armagh Committee. In 1987 continuing in community activism Fra was elected to Belfast City Council representing Sinn Féin and from there was elected to The Northern Assembly in 2003 and has held his seat there ever since.

Local Councillor Joanna Byrne who will chair the event on the day is delighted to welcome Fra to Drogheda, ” It will be a great honour for me to introduce Fra to the Republican Community here locally. I have listened to Fra speak at events over the years in Belfast and his past experiences and memories of tougher times I have no doubt will captivate the crowd on the day. He is a stalwart republican who has inspired many younger generations , including myself. 37 years after the Hunger Strike and the Republican Struggle is at it’s strongest, all the time striving towards our primary political objective in bringing about a United Ireland. This is solely down to the resolve our Republican Prisoners, the bravery of all our 22 Hungerstrikers and the widespread support for them and their demands. County Louth has always played a big role in support of the Hungerstrikes and I think the selection of Fra to give the main oration this year is very fitting. It’s always a proud day for Drogheda to continue this tradition and i’m particularly looking forward to it, hope to see you all there “.