This month’s Municipal District meeting in Drogheda saw Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne hold officials from Louth County Council to account over their commitment to clean the streets of Drogheda.
Councillor Byrne raised her concerns regarding the “filth of our pavements, particularly on the main streets of the town centre”and was given firm plans for a Deep Cleaning Machine to facilitate aggressive surface cleaning of pavements for a one week period commencing Monday 19th June and a further period three week period before the commencement of the Fleadh on August 12th.
On Monday night Cllr Byrne slammed officials over this blasé commitment – “Firstly I want to ask what streets were actually cleaned on this initial one week period? I can’t see any improvements so either it wasn’t done or the machine isn’t an adequate solution to tackling this issue.” She went on to say “I’m all for cleaning the town in advance of the Fleadh but I have said it before and I’ll say it again, we should be doing this regardless for our own people, residents and businesses alike who consistently utilise these areas. Now I’m asking you to extend this pathetic schedule, no time limits, just clean until the job is done, can you give that commitment?”
Senior Engineer Mark Johnson assured Cllr Byrne that the job was done over the initial planned period, the machine was used for three days with effective results, but he could not clarify where exactly it had been used. He went on to inform her of the extensive cost in using this machine, €900 per week, and an additional €300 to get it on-site and that is why there was only limited cleaning scheduled with it.
Cllr Byrne welcomed the official’s clarification that the aggressive cleaning was effective in the small area it was used on, and that this heightened her request to have the schedule for its use extended, which fell on deaf ears as she was told it would be sticking to the original schedule and would not be in use again until the weeks leading up to the Fleadh.
“This is simply not good enough for the people of Drogheda and I am enraged at the unwillingness of the officials to put some pride back into our town, if senior officials put as much effort into doing something as they do into making excuses not to do it we would all be a lot better off!” she concluded.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the official launch of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which will be held in Drogheda between August 12th and 19th.
The Louth TD said:
“I want to commend all of those involved in the planning and organising of Drogheda’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, especially the Executive Committee, the local credit unions and Louth County Council. This is the most important event in the Irish traditional music and dance calendar and it will provide a unique opportunity for the people of Drogheda and Louth, as well as from all parts of the island and internationally to come together to enjoy the best in Irish music and dance. It will also provide a tourist bonanza for the local tourism industry with many thousands travelling from outside Ireland to attend the Fleadh.
“The programme that has been produced is overflowing with amazing talent and artists.
“Drogheda has been looking forward to the Fleadh Cheoil for some time and will provide a warm, inclusive welcome for all of those musicians and artists participating or the tens of thousands who will be there over the week of the Fleadh to simply enjoy the music, dance and craic”.
At a special meeting on the parking bye-laws this evening in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Councillors voted to end the parking pain that has plagued Drogheda since March this year.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Kenneth Flood said “To be absolutely 100% Crystal Clear , the Sinn Féin group are in favour of €1 parking rates in parts of Drogheda. However, if we had proposed that tonight the parking bye-laws would have had to go back out to public consultation and the current no fee parking debacle would continue for several more months.”
“Businesses have told us they will not survive much longer as their trade has dropped 40% – 50% since the pay parking regime in Drogheda fell. Residents around Windmill Road , Cord Road and elsewhere cannot park anywhere near their houses. That would continue for several more months if we had not passed the parking bye-laws tonight.”
“It was a hard call but we had to make it to end the current parking nightmare for residents and businesses alike. We spoke in favour of the €1 fee this evening. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“We have now finished 1 of 3 parking specific special meetings with the Chief Executive to resolve all of the parking issues that face Drogheda. The parking fee is firmly on the agenda among other just as important issues. We are not interested in a single issue to grab a headline, we are interested in a long-term solution to the parking fiasco. We want to and we’re going to sort out all of the parking issues that face Drogheda.”
“I must reiterate, we could not in good conscience prolong this disaster by months knowing that we had another option, through the special meetings, to address the parking fees.”
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.
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.