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”.

Cllr Joanna Byrne Repeats Calls for Plastic Bring Banks

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne reported “Monday night’s Municipal District of Drogheda meeting saw the Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin announce to the members that she is immediately suspending charging for parking in Drogheda pending the adoption of new Bye Laws, and the financial implications of this would be to the tune of a loss in €300,000 in revenue at a minimum.

“On a positive note though, the CEO assured the members that she had been able to identify a number of sources to meet the sum involved and would be bringing proposals to the full council in three weeks time to meet the shortfall,therefore avoiding any cuts to the 2018 Budget.”

Joanna Byne said “This 300,000 was identified in the short few hours between the management team receiving legal advice on the Bye Laws on Monday morning and the meeting at teatime on Monday evening.

“The question now needs to be asked, how could such a substantial sum of money be identified in such a short period of time?

Bring Banks overflowing with plastic bottles 1 week after the decision

 

“November 2017’s budget meeting nearly saw the entire Council dissolved over major dissatisfaction amongst the members with many things, cuts in services without consultation and in particular, the collection of Plastics from Bring Banks was a major bone of contention. The cut in this particular service was in my view, always a cost-cutting measure.

“Despite all councillors voting and unanimously backing my Emergency Motion back in July to restore this service, worth €136k per annum, and several lobby attempts for the same in the period since then, this has not happened.

“I have written directly to the Chief Executive of Louth County Council today, asking that if she can pluck €300,000 from the sky to cover the costs of an administrative error then she must pluck another €136,000 from the same place to restore this vital service and stop defying the will of the elected representatives, and indeed the public of this county.”

Munster: Drogheda Needs Action, Not Lip Service

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has voiced concern and disappointment that government have once again only paid lip service to what Drogheda needs to prosper as the largest town in Ireland. Recognition is all grand if it comes with a firm plan of commitment for funding of infrastructure, implementation and timeframe for delivery. Third tier recognition on its own has no substance and could well be just an appeasement to ward off any political backlash for government representatives.

Deputy Munster stated : We all accept we need a roadmap, a plan to work towards going forward, but any plan should be definitive and include and address the immediate and short term needs as well as long term needs. This plan doesn’t do that. Designating Drogheda as a 3rd tier growth centre without defining what that actually means in real terms, considering we are already strategically placed and identified as part of the M1 economic corridor of Newry- Dundalk- Drogheda.

No commitment or timeframe to deliver our much needed Northern Cross Route to ease congestion in our town, no commitment to lift slip road toll on our town, no mention of development of our port, investment, jobs, or housing. No mention of investment of any sort in this area particularly in light of the fact that we are facing the looming impact of Brexit. It is easy to present a plan with promises for the future, you just have to look at the plan to deliver broadband, the timeframe was extended and extended and for many areas it’s still just a promise. Deputy Munster said the plan is big on presentation and gloss, but short on detail and front loading of investment.