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 In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over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 Flood: Council Have Dropped the Ball on Graffiti Removal

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at Louth County Council (LCC) for their failure to see through a plan to clean-up graffiti in Drogheda.

Following Cllr. Kenneth Flood’s motion at the July 2016 Municipal District of Drogheda meeting calling on LCC to tackle the graffiti problem in Drogheda, LCC embarked on a clean-up of council owned properties in the town. Cllr Flood said “we were given reports and updates on graffiti removal in Drogheda. We were informed of the number of notices sent to businesses including state and semi-state business, instructing them to clear graffiti from the areas they were responsible for.”

At the same time a comprehensive survey was carried out by Louth County Council’s Community Warden of all areas vandalised with graffiti.

Cllr Flood said “it was a positive step to getting Drogheda cleaned up and free from unsightly graffiti once and for all.”

However, Cllr Flood has noticed a sizable increase in graffiti throughout Drogheda over the past 6-8 months. Cllr Flood was approached by several Drogheda residents and visitors to the area over the St Patrick’s Festival asking what had happened to the initiative and what was being done to continue the work started in 2016.

Cllr Flood raised the issue at April’s Borough District of Drogheda Meeting and “I was frustrated and annoyed to find that Louth County Council not only has ceased to focus on graffiti removal but had also no intention on chasing up on their notices issued to businesses as they had previously committed to.”

Councillor Flood has called on LCC to ensure that the notices are followed up on and that an up to date report is prepared for councillors at May’s Borough District Meeting.

Finally Cllr. Flood said “Louth County Council have dropped the ball on this. They need to up their game to clear Drogheda of all graffiti before the start of the Fleadh and ensure that the town is presented in the best possible light so everyone can see how much Drogheda has to offer.


Joanna Byrne – Drogheda Debacle Extended by Another Month

At last Wednesday’s special sitting of the Municipal District of Drogheda, the Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin met with the Drogheda Councillors to discuss the proposed new draft pay parking bye-laws.

On March 5th the Chief Executive immediately suspended pay-parking charges in Drogheda stating that the bye-laws were missing commencement dates and following legal advice that morning they were deemed unsatisfactory. This move plunged Drogheda into a parking nightmare.

At the time of doing this the Chief Executive indicated she expected to call a special meeting within a week with proposed new bye-laws to be agreed to go out onto public consultation, starting a three month statutory process. This meeting did not take place for a further four weeks.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne led the charge at this meeting. “I wanted to know the reason for the delay and queried that if it was only the commencement dates missing from the previous bye-laws, surely it would not take four weeks to draft a new set to include the commencement date. I let the Chief Executive know that the delay fell on her lap, and in delaying the way she did, she added an additional month of disarray onto the people of Drogheda to the initial three month timeframe given for a resolution.”

Speaking the following morning on local radio Cllr Byrne stated that “a month of this chaos could have been avoided, had there been some forward planning”. She deemed the initial suspension of charges a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ from the CEO and indicated that the suspension should have been held off until the new bye-laws were drafted and ready to be put out to consultation.

“Businesses, traders, workers, residents, hospital patients, the list is endless of the people massively impacted by the current chaos. If this could have been avoided for another four weeks, it should have been, there was no thought given to the people of this town and the impact it would have on them.”

The Drogheda Councillors, despite requests, have not been furnished with the legal advice that prompted this move in the first place. Cllr Byrne felt “maybe there was more than commencement dates omitted from the previous set of bye-laws, maybe this was the reason for the delay in drafting the new ones, but the only response given to me by Ms.Martin was that the reason for the delay was that she wanted to ensure that the new ones were indeed this time around satisfactory and they ‘would stand-up’, here’s hoping.”

At the same meeting Cllr Joanna Byrne and her Sinn Féin Colleague’s opposed a motion by Cllr Kevin Callan to reduce the parking rates from €1.20 p/h to €1 p/h.

Cllr Byrne stated “I did not necessarily disagree with Cllr Callan’s motion and we will be considering this proposal in the four week timeframe now given for submissions on these draft bye-laws, but prior to making a submission, I wanted to consider other options discussed including reductions in rates for areas suffering low footfall, or reductions in rates for off-peak days, options that would encourage trade and life to struggling areas of the town. The parking committee is to debate this over the coming week, following that we will be making a submission to reflect the outcome of that meeting.”

“I also want to delve further into the implications of the loss of revenue of such a reduction in parking rates. A loss of revenue in the region of €190k per annum from the proposed reduction is bound to result in cuts to some vital services to the people of this community. The Chief executive assured members that she could match this loss herself and it would not impact on this year’s budget, I wouldn’t be so confident about this, and there was certainly no assurance’s regarding the budget’s for next year and the years to follow. These are all issues that deserve our time and thought before any motions are passed or decisions made.”

Drogheda Easter Comm: Ó Murchú Calls for Israeli Amb. Expulsion

Republicans throughout Louth turned out in large numbers to remember the Easter Rising of 1916 and also pay tribute to all of those who, in every decade since 1916, stood by Ireland and stood by the Republic.

Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú, who is Sinn Féin’s General Election candidate was speaking in Drogheda on Easter Sunday morning to a large crowd. He remembered people from the Drogheda area “like John Moran and Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Halpin who were taken from their homes and shot by the Black and Tans in 1921. We also recall Tim Flanaghan, Liam Leech, Barney Daly and the Republicans who fell during the absolute tragedy that was the Civil War.”

Ruairi Ó Murchú, Joanna Byrne, Imelda Munster and writer Laurence McKeown

Cllr Ó Murchú also paid tribute to other self-determination struggles throughout the world. “We salute the Basque and the Catalonian liberation Struggle which is presently facing the anti-democratic repression of the Spanish State.”

Cllr Ó Murchú also told those gathered that “Irish Republicans stand with Palestine.” He called on “Leo Varadkar and the Dublin Government to move to recognise the State of Palestine and to expel the Israeli ambassador out of Ireland following the massacre of sixteen Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli military.”

Looking to the future, Cllr Ó Murchú said “a 32 county democratic Republic, prosperous, with real equality of opportunity and outcome in all aspects of life, for all its people is the only rightful payment we owe to the martyrs who gave their lives for Irish freedom.”

The event was chaired by Drogheda Councillor Joanna Byrne.


Cllr Kenneth Flood Secures Council Commitment on Abbey Car Park

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at the lack of traffic management insight shown over the Abbey car park.

Speaking today Cllr Flood said “Before the new court house was built on half of what was The Abbey carpark, motorists could exit The Abbey Carpark onto Fr. Connelly Way and on to George Street to avoid the town centre traffic congestion. However, since the car park has re-opened the second exit has not been re-instated. This means that motorists must leave the town centre through the much slower and protracted West Street Route.”

Cllr Flood has been examining ways to remedy this and “I initially thought that the reintroduction of the second exit would be the solution but this would mean losing two or more car parking spaces in an area where there is far less parking than there is a demand for.”

“However, the council have since given me a commitment that they are seeking to change a section of Dominic Street from one way to two way traffic so people can again access Fr Connolly Way on to George Street to avoid the town centre. This will reduce town centre congestion and is a much better prospect for motorists than the traffic flow system currently in place.”

Councillor Flood however pointed out that “this solves only a tiny portion of Drogheda’s parking problems. There needs to be proper engagement from Louth County Councils officials, beyond lip service and box ticking, to get a proper parking structure in place in our town”.