Sinn Féin have announced the retirement of Councillor Jim Loughran who represents the Dundalk Carlingford area. Jim has been a serving councillor since 2004.
Following a party convention on Wednesday evening (12th October) it was decided that Antóin Watters from the area would be co-opted to replace the popular Loughran.
Antóin Watters is 27 years old, he was born in Armagh but moved to the Cooley Peninsula in 1998. He married Fionnghula in July and they live in the townland of Lugbriscan.
Antóin attended Rathcor National School, Bush Post Primary School and then went on to receive an Honours Degree in Building Surveying from the DKIT. He plays senior football with his local GAA team the Cooley Kickhams and is also on the committee.
Antóin joined Sinn Féin when he was just 18 and immediately became an activist in the local Campbell/Donnelly Sinn Féin Cumann based in Cooley. Watters said “I wanted to play my part in bringing about a better Ireland, to make life better for those who were struggling, to build a country that people would be proud to call home instead of opting to emigrate. Being an activist in the party allowed me to do that, to make a difference and working closely with Jim Loughran over the years he taught me that local issues can make a person’s life easier, and that’s as important as the bigger picture.”
Antóin will continue his activist work on local issues. Currently his immediate priorities are speed limits and traffic calming measures around our schools. He has also been very vocal in his opposition to Brexit. “As an Assistant Manager at O’Connor Roofing Supplies which is based in Lordship, we are going to be hit very badly if Brexit goes ahead. A big percentage of our trade would come from the north and we can already see a change because of the sterling/Euro rate, imagine what it’s going to be like when the border is erected and custom’s posts are once again in place. Brexit will devastate the border areas and I will continue to support the Border Areas Against Brexit campaign.”
Sinn Féin are the largest party in Louth with 10 councillors and 2 TDs. Antóin said “we are constantly growing in the Peninsula and throughout the county and I want to help continue this.”
Antóin Watters will be co-opted at the November Council meeting.
Friday’s meeting of the Louth Policing Forum had to be cancelled because of a lack of Garda resources.
The meeting between the three Sinn Féin Joint Policing Committee chairs, Cllr Jim Loughran, Cllr Pearse McGeough and Cllr Kenneth Flood was due to take place with Louth council officials and a senior member of An Garda Siochana.
Speaking today, Cllr Jim Loughran said “we were to discuss important community safety issues and organise a work plan for the year. It is ironic that one of the community safety issues in Louth is the Garda cutbacks and lack of resources.”
This cancellation comes after it was announced that of the 295 newly qualified Gardaí in 2015, just 10 of them will be allocated to County Louth.
“Cllr Loughran said “while we welcome 10 new Gardaí to the county, we have to remember that under this government we are actually down 35 Gardaí. Since 2010 the number of Gardaí stationed in Louth has declined from 314 to just 279.”
This week Sinn Féin launched its Citizen’s Charter for Older People which Jim Loughran described as setting out “a series of commitments to reverse some of the harshest cuts and restore dignity and a decent standard of living to our older people. There has been an increase in assaults, burglaries, sexual offences, theft and fraud in 2015 compared to the previous year”.
Cllr Loughran concluded “Older people living especially in rural areas have become more isolated as a result of cuts to the telephone allowance, rural transport and home care and many live in fear in their own homes. We need this meeting to take place sooner rather than later and start trying to clean up the mess that this government have left us in.”
Sinn Féin Councillor, Jim Loughran , who represents the Dundlak Carlingford area and is chair of the Dundalk Joint Policing Forum has offered his deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives in a fatal shooting in Omeath last night. He also wishes a speedy recovery to the young lady who was injured in the incident also.
Cllr Loughran says
“The whole community of Omeath are devastated by the death of a young Garda who was going about his duty offering assistance to a member of the public. I had the privilege of knowing Garda Golden and he was very well liked and respected in the area. I also offer my sympathy and support to his colleagues in An Garda Siochana at this time.”