Munster: Utmost priority must be given to Northern Cross Route application by Louth County Council

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on Louth County Council to give the utmost priority to the application for funding for the Northern Cross Route under the LIHAF programme.

The window for applications opened on 1st February, and is due to close on 31st March.

Deputy Munster said:

“This is the third opportunity to apply for funding, with the council previously submitting two unsuccessful applications.

“The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, following a proposal I made to the Minister after the last unsuccessful application, organised a workshop on the 5th February last, and I was glad to hear that two senior staff members of Louth County Council were in attendance.

“It is imperative that the new application fits the new defined criteria, and it’s also imperative that this is a case of third time lucky for the application.

“Once Louth County Council have confirmed that the application has been submitted, and once I have seen a copy of same, I will pursue it with the Minister to ensure that this vital piece of infrastructure, that has been in planning since 2006, can finally get the go-ahead from government.

“We can no longer put up with daily gridlock in Drogheda. This is about a vital piece of infrastructure and sustainable planning, and it is a must for Drogheda.

“We’ve waited long enough.”

Upgrade Work a Sign of a Hardening Border? O’Murchú

Is upgrading work at a former British Army base in South Armagh a sign of a hardening of the border ahead of Brexit?

That’s the question that Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú is seeking the answer to after he raised the issue of work activity on Forkhill Mountain with Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee TD, in Leinster House on June 11.

The Louth TD visited the remote mountain-top site on Forkhill Mountain ahead of his contribution in Leinster House during a debate about Brexit. He was joined by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council representative, Cllr. Declan Murphy.

Mr Ó Murchú said he had been prompted to go to the site after receiving ‘worrying’ reports from people who live in the area about large scale activity on the mountaintop the previous week.

He said that what he saw on the mountain corroborated what he had been told by concerned residents.

Mr Ó Murchú said: “Forkhill Mountain is just half a mile from the border. It was previously the site of a major military installation for the British Army and they officially left in 2006.

“However, the helipad and other remnants of their time at this outpost remain. What I saw on Thursday was a heavily fortified area, which contained a massive mast, with a number of satellite dishes on it, along with six sizable steel container-style structures, some of which emit loud whirring noises. Telecommunications infrastructure, at least one sizable camera, has been maintained and upgraded and major works have taken place recently.

“This was all surrounded with high grade steel fencing, with barbed wire at the top. It is sited right at the peak of Forkill Mountain, which gives unrivalled and uninterrupted views right over Dundalk, Ravensdale and all the way to Carlingford Lough.

Locals have told Mr Ó Murchú that on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week (June 3, 4 and 5 2020), numerous vehicles and huge amount of personnel were on the site including 5/6 Police cars and a further 6/7 ‘civilian’ vans.

“In addition, there was a Bogmaster vehicle brought up the mountain. 

“The last similar sized operation on the site happened at the end of October 2019 and it has been reported that there are regular smaller visits three or four times a month. During some operations helicopters have been used to carry equipment and personnel to the site.”

Mr Ó Murchú said “locals have previously been told the equipment was for
ambulance and fire service communications, but there are fears this is not the case.

“There were also reports that the PSNI admitted that British army engineers were involved in the October operation.”  

The Sinn Féin TD raised the issue in Leinster House on Thursday with Minister McEntee, and asked her to contact the British government to get clarity on these operations.

“We welcome the fact that the Irish Government have stated that they are, and have been, committed to ensuring the border community is protected and no border infrastructure is developed.

“However, there is a low level of trust among the people of North Louth and South Armagh that the British government would keep their word on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Irish Protocol. 

“The people of the border area need certainty from both Governments that no border infrastructure hard or soft will be erected.”

 

Munster calls for Drogheda-Laytown bus route to be extended to Julianstown

Imelda Munster TD for Louth and East Meath has called for the D1/D2 bus route between Drogheda and Laytown to be extended as far as Julianstown with an additonal stop at Sonairte – The National Ecology Centre at The Ninch on the R150.

Deputy Munster said:

“This minor bus route extension which would only add an additional 4km each way from the current terminus at Laytown train station would be of enormous benefit to local people.

“It would also be invaluable for visitors to Sonairte as well as the Tús and CE employees who work there, some of whom have existing medical conditions and have no option but to walk an extra 15/20 minutes from Laytown train station along the R150, a dangerous stretch of road with no footpaths or lighting.

“As it stands Sonairte, an environmental charity since 1986 open to the Public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, is inaccessible to many who don’t drive but would love to avail of its Vegetarian/Vegan Café, Eco Shop selling produce grown in their organic gardens, and nature walk along the Nanny riverside.

“Furthermore, this simple change which would provide a public bus service between Julianstown and Laytown would also connect the existing Bus Eireann Dublin/ Airport/Drogheda bus route which currently stops in Julianstown, to Laytown, Bettystown, Mornington and Donacarney.

“As it is, most people from the East Meath coastal villages have to disembark from the Dublin/ Airport bus at Julianstown or Drogheda and get a taxi for the remainder of their journey.

“I have written to Bus Eireann and the National Transport Authority requesting that they examine the feasibility of extending this much needed service.

“While people living in this area have warmly welcomed the recent improvements to the bus service between Drogheda and Laytown, a bus link to the main Dublin Road from the villages is long overdue especially given the huge and ongoing population explosion in the area.”

Munster welcomes Fáilte Ireland “destination town” funding allocation

Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath has welcomed today’s announcement that Drogheda is to be allocated “significant funding” by Fáilte Ireland to develop its potential as a tourism “destination town”.   

The funding has been allocated through Louth County Council under the “Destination Towns” initiative launched earlier this year by the National Tourism Development Authority.   

The exact allocation has not been finalised yet, however the finding will connect the historic features of the town including the East-West between Old Abbey and St Lawrence’s Gate and the North-South between Magdalene Tower and Millmount Fort.

Deputy Munster said:

“I am delighted that Louth County Council’s proposal was given the go ahead, and that this funding has become available.

“Those of us who live in Drogheda are well aware of the town’s potential as a tourism destination. The town proved itself in the last two years when we hosted Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which saw the biggest visitor numbers in the history of the event.

“Tourism is very important to Drogheda, and this funding will go a long way in improving existing tourist attractions, as well as promoting tourism.

“I look forward to seeing further details when they are finalised in January, and I am sure that the town will reap the rewards of this funding in the coming years”.

Munster requests Housing Minister to meet Louth Council on Northern Cross Route

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called for the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD, or officials from his department, to meet with officials from Louth County Council in order to progress funding for the Northern Cross route, after his department rejected the council’s appeal for funding for the project under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund. His department originally rejected the application earlier this year.

Deputy Munster said:

“I wrote to the Minister this week asking him to meet with officials from the council to address the issues that affecting the funding application, as it is vitally important that this project gets the go ahead as quickly as possible.

“I raised this matter in the Dáil twice in the last two weeks, to ensure that this government is aware of the importance of this road and the fact that it is central to the Northern Environs Plan.

“Under the Northern Environs Plan, Louth County Council would open up lands for housing development, something this government is constantly advocating.

“Without this road Drogheda will continue to face daily gridlock with HGV traffic coming into the town centre.

“We can’t plan for the development of thousands of houses without having the infrastructure in place. This route is central to the Northern Environs Plan, which the people of Drogheda have been waiting for since 2006.

“This government and the last government have failed to deliver this project for Drogheda. I would hope that the Minister will listen to my proposal and take the initiative to work constructively with the council to secure funding for the project.

“We’ve been waiting over thirteen years at this stage. In that time gridlock has worsened in the town and the housing crisis has escalated. It’s time we got moving on the Port Access Northern Cross Route.”