Hippy Crack, Silver Bullets, Laughing Gas, Doing Balloons – these are just some of the slang for the new craze in Drogheda over recent weeks and Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne is urging teenagers and young people of this town to steer clear of this party drug.
Cllr Byrne said “It has been brought to my attention over the past few days that some of these so called Silver Bullets have been found discarded after use in a few different areas of the town.
“These are little silver canisters of nitrous oxide more commonly known as laughing gas, which are inhaled most commonly through balloons. The drug is used to experience the feeling of euphoria and hallucinations and its effects is likened to that of crack cocaine.
Cllr Byrne warned “The consequences of taking this drug includes dangerously fast heart rates, respiratory problems, internal burns and in many cases, fatalities. The pockets of air in your blood travelling to your heart or brain can kill you and this can occur by inhaling only one of these canisters.”
These canisters can be bought in catering wholesalers and very cheaply on the Internet and may appeal to those who want to experiment but fear the use of ‘hard’ drugs.
“I would appeal to young people and parents alike to be more vigilant to the spread of this craze and more importantly to be aware of the potential consequences. Nobody wants to be burying our young loved ones but mark my words, this has the potential to result in this. It really is no laughing matter. These drugs are lethal and they can and will kill you.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne intends to raise this at the next Joint Policing Committee directly with An Garda Síochána and has pledged to work with her party Colleague Imelda Munster TD to raise awareness of the dangers of this craze. At present the gas is legal when sold for purposes like catering equipment or dentistry but is illegal if sold for human consumption under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010.
Cllr Byrne concluded, “Perhaps we need to look at the current legislation to limit the availability of these canisters or to register/trace them somehow.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne with candidate Caitlín Connor
As campaigning kicked off on Friday in Dundalk Institute of Technology for various Student Union positions, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne joined fellow Drogheda girl Caitlín Connor on campus to officially endorse her campaign.
Speaking in DKIT yesterday morning, Cllr Byrne said she was delighted to endorse Caitlín’s campaign, particularly as her flagship policy is to try and end period poverty in the college.
“Last summer saw me successfully pass a motion in Louth County Council to see the implementation of free sanitary products in all civic offices throughout the County. For a large number of women it is fast becoming a choice between food and these necessary products. These choices are leading to all sorts of follow on issues such as the impact on health not to mention the Human Rights aspect of feeling powerless and excluded, leading to a loss of dignity and self-esteem.
“I have no doubt this is extremely prevalent in the daily lives of students and to see Caitlín run such a vibrant campaign tackling this issue I was only too happy to lend my support. If she is elected I will be happy to work with her on this in conjunction with Homeless Period Ireland.”
Cllr Byrne said “I commend any young woman who puts herself forward for positions like this. To put yourself in the public eye is a very brave thing to do and often a thankless task, but from working with Caitlín over the last couple of weeks it is evident to see she is more than capable and her enthusiasm and tenacity is something to be admired and of course the fact she is such a talented young Drogheda lady makes me twice as proud.”
Endorsing Caitlín, Cllr Byrne said “So, if you want somebody on your Student Union representing you who is passionate about Women’s Issues and stands for Equality, I’m asking you to ‘Give Change A Chance’ next Thursday and Vótáil Caitlín Connor, Uimhir a haon.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne & Windmill Rd Residents
Last week’s Municipal District meeting of Drogheda saw a furious Joanna Byrne take the council officials to task over the delay of implementing ‘Resident’s Only’ parking on the Windmill Rd.
Demanding answers on the delay, the Sinn Féin councillor also slammed Louth County Council for failing to engage with the residents of the area at any stage throughout the process.
Cllr Byrne said, “Following a long , hard-fought campaign by the residents of the Windmill Road area, the committee were here on 2nd September to witness the passing of the amended Bye-Laws which would see the introduction of Resident’s Only parking on the West Side of the street and an increased rate of parking fees on the rest of the street. This increase would reflect the rates of the Hospital car-park to encourage visitors to utilise that facility and therefore relieve congestion on the Windmill Road. This was given a commencement date of October 10th.
“Over a month later, no such Residents Only parking has been introduced. Ironically though, the increased parking rates have.”
Cllr Byrne was advised by a Council Engineer present at the municipal meeting, that the delay was due to the signage not arriving on time although it had been ordered, and the Residents Parking Only would be implemented in due course when it arrives.
Cllr Byrne said “Delays happen with orders, that I understand, but here we are a month later and not one level of engagement or communication has been fed down to the residents to inform them of this. We are now entering the winter season which unfortunately always leads to a busier hospital, all the residents here can see is congestion building, increased parking rates and no sign of their parking being introduced. After the hard work and perseverance they put into this campaign, frankly they deserve a lot better from Louth County Council.”
Cllr Byrne who worked closely with the residents of Windmill Road on this campaign urged the Council to follow up on the signage as a matter of urgency and to “not let this drag into another month before any work commences.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has demanded clarification from Louth County Council (LCC) as to what provisions they have in place to assist victims of criminal attacks on their homes.
Speaking at Monday’s monthly County Council meeting, Cllr Byrne said that “while dealing with a case last week I was advised by the homeless department of LCC that in cases of the recent petrol bomb attacks on houses , the local authority are treating these as ‘Anti-Social Behaviour’ and their policy is to ask tenants to stay with family and friends until their houses are repaired, or alternatively to surrender their tenancy.”
“Let me very clear about this” she said, “An Garda Siochana and our courts system have not found anybody guilty of these attacks as of yet and Louth County Council have not established any evidence to suggest that those targeted are anything other than victims. These people need to be treated like victims of criminal attacks and not culprits of Anti-Social Behaviour.”
“To ask anyone who has narrowly escaped these attacks with their lives intact, to surrender their tenancy is outrageous. They have been through enough trauma without being forced to relinquish their rights to a house they spent many years making a home, a house they’ve reared their children in, and a house that may be just a shell right now but you can be sure it carries its weight in invaluable memories – good , bad or indifferent.”
Cllr Byrne told the meeting that “relying on family and friends to take in these people is not always feasible, particularly in some cases that may run for a period of many months until houses are repaired. I believe there is an inconsistent approach to how these situations are currently being handled, some people being awarded emergency accommodation, some people getting re-housed and some people being offered no assistance whatsoever.”
The Chief Executive of Louth Council, Joan Martin, responded to Cllr Byrne agreeing with her and that clarification was needed. M/s Martin asked to take the issue away and meet with the Director of Service for Housing and his team and will report back to the members.
This month’s council meeting of the Municipal District of Drogheda saw Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne table a motion calling for Louth County Council to source an indoor exhibition space to facilitate the return of The Merryweather Fire Engine. The fire engine is currently in storage in Dundalk and Cllr Byrne feels it would be better served here in the town as part of Drogheda’s proud history rather than allowing it to fall into a state of neglect.
Taking the floor on her motion Cllr Byrne stated that “the popular Green Machine is of historic importance to the town”. She reminded the chamber that during World War II (1941), together with an engine from Dundalk, The Merryweather from Drogheda responded to Belfast’s may-day call during the blitz.
Impassioned words from Cllr Byrne cited “Not only is this machine of historic importance to our town, but it is also of sentimental value to many Firefighters who served on this machine, children who watched their parents serve on this machine, and townspeople who took great pride in this machine, and still do.
The Merryweather before and after restoration in 2016
“The Merryweather was restored in recent years and for it to now be lying in somebody’s shed at the far end of this County is a crying shame! The Local Authority needs to source an indoor exhibition space, bring our Merryweather home, put in on proud display and let the Fire Service showcase it at events. Anything less would be dishonourable to the more recent history of Drogheda.”
In response to Cllr Byrne’s initial request, Louth County Council have sourced a protective breathable cover for The Merryweather whilst it remains in storage. They also replied “That this Council will commit to seeking an indoor exhibition space for The Merryweather Fire Engine in Drogheda and return it back to the town for display to the townspeople and the use of the Fire Service for events when required.”
Cllr Byrne said “I will be monitoring this very closely and will not rest until The Merryweather is back where it belongs.”