At last week’s Municipal District of Drogheda’s monthly meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne firmly queried Director of Services for Housing as to whether Louth County Council had bought into the idea of offering placement fees to estate agents.
Cllr Byrne said “It emerged this week that some Local Authorities are offering estate agents €500 + Vat in ‘placement fees’ in return for them securing private rental accommodation for homeless families. I want to know firstly, are Louth County Council participating in this? And secondly, if there has been a direction from Minister Murphy to do the same?”
Cllr Byrne who is Chairperson of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee went on to voice her concerns that this would be a very bad move for the County.
“I understand that until social and affordable housing stock is increased dramatically in Louth it may seem that there is no alternative but to engage in these desperate negotiations but by God, it is plain to see this will distort the market even further. There is already an over-reliance by this Government, and in turn this Council, on the private rental sector and if that stock, in short supply as it is, is removed to facilitate backroom deals without the implementation of subsequent measures, the consequences will in turn lead to more and more families entering homelessness than the local authority will be able to manage!”
In response to Cllr Byrne’s concerns, Paddy Donnelly in his first meeting in the district in his new role as Director for Housing, confirmed that Louth County Council are not currently participating in this scheme. Whilst stating that this may be a ‘viable option for some’, this then sparked serious concerns to Cllr Byrne that this may a route the Local Authority would consider in the future.
Mr. Donnelly alleviated these counter concerns by committing to the meeting that there are no plans for Louth County Council to engage in this process in the future.
Cllr Byrne has welcomed this outcome and vowed to monitor this going forward.
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.
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.
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has today condemned the Local Authority for their plans to remove yet another public carpark in Drogheda.
A recent announcement was made by Louth County Council that they intend to take possession back of the previous O’Reilly’s unit on Narrow West to facilitate the relocation of council staff from Fair St for the duration of the redevelopment of the Council Office’s.
Following this Cllr Byrne sought clarification from the Local Authority as to what this meant for the 40+ public car-parking spaces at the rear of this building, only to be told that this will be used for staff parking.
Cllr Byrne has expressed her utter dismay at this decision.
She says “The decision to close another carpark in the centre of the town in the coming months has been made with no regard to the people of this town who use it, and no regard for the implications of the same to the trade in the town. This carpark is
40+ Car Park spaces are to be taken over by the local authority for staff parking
specifically central to Doctor’s, Dentist’s and Pharmacies, and is also the closest carpark to West St, the main thoroughfare of the town. Parking is already a nightmare in Drogheda at the best of times, never mind the chaos that is currently ensuing over the parking bye-laws debacle, and now this. It is simply unacceptable, especially considering the O’Reilly’s building was originally bought for the purpose of parking, which of course never transpired.”
Cllr Byrne has already expressed her dissatisfaction about this decision to The Director of Corporate Services for Louth County Council and will be raising this further at the next sitting of The Municipal District of Drogheda.
Drogheda SF Cllrs Kenneth Flood, Joanna Byrne & David Saurin
The 2017 Joint Policing Committee (JPC) Public Meeting date has been confirmed for 7.30pm on the 9th of October in The Westcourt Hotel, Drogheda.
Chairperson of the South Louth Joint Policing Committee Kenneth Flood said “I would encourage every Drogheda and South Louth resident to come along to the public JPC meeting. It is a vitally important meeting as it gives the people of Drogheda and South Louth the opportunity to put their questions, queries and worries regarding crime and policing to their elected representatives, the local authorities and the Gardaí. There will be informative presentations on the night, including one on crime prevention that would be very helpful to all residents.”
Cllr. David Saurin said “There have been well documented and highlighted cases of ongoing anti-social behaviour in several areas of Drogheda this year. Not least among them is in the Rathmullen Park area where new bollards have been erected to counteract the joy riding that was happening there. I want to welcome the new bollards but I would also like anyone affected by anti-social behavior to come to this meeting to hear about neighbourhood watch and other initiatives. We will only get on top of crime when the residents, local authorities and Garda all work together to combat it.”
Cllr. Joanna Byrne said “The JPC deals with all crime including headline crime cases like burglary and drug offences but it also deals with the crimes that affect all of us like illegal dumping. We have done a huge amount of work to combat dumping that is plaguing certain areas of our town and countryside but more is needed. If you feel like this issue, or any other has affected you, please come along on the night.”
Finally, Cllr. Flood said “If you wish to have a question answered on the night, please forward it to me in advance so we can assure that the answers are prepared and available.”