Cllr Joanna Byrne: Extra Hostel Needed for People with Addictions

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed the passing of her Drogheda Council motion calling for additional homeless services to be provided in Drogheda to facilitate those with entrenched Alcohol and Drug issues.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Byrne said whilst she recognised the phenomenal work Louth County Council and their Homeless liaison team do, she felt there was “an over-reliance” on the NGO’s in the town at times.

Cllr Byrne said “Louth is experiencing much higher presentations of homelessness than our neighbouring counties, but I fear this is not a true reflection of how prevalent this issue is as many homeless people do not meet the criteria and rules of current solutions offered by the Local Authority, mainly down to battling addictions and therefore ending up on the streets. They are not included in any figures or homeless reports.”

In a written response to her motion, Cllr Byrne was told that a multi-agency review for a low threshold hostel in Drogheda has now been listed as an action in the draft Homeless Action Plan 2018-2020, and if the need is confirmed in the review to be undertaken by the HSE and the Local Authority, steps will be taken to open one. Cllr Byrne pushed this with the Director of Service for Housing, Paddy Donnelly, asking how long it would take. “This is urgent, it can’t be allowed to drag on for years.”

Mr. Donnelly advised that the Council recognised the need and assured Cllr Byrne this would be a priority in 2019.

Cllr Joanna Byrne express her thanks for the cross-party support for her motion and re-iterated the fact that “there are people sleeping rough in the doorways and parks in Drogheda and this is solely down to them battling addictions  like alcohol or drugs.”

She added “The current set-up of just a ‘dry facility’ in this town is no longer adequate, we need to be broad-minded enough to recognise Drogheda is evolving and so is our homeless situation, we also need a ‘wet facility’ to ensure we are meeting the needs of everybody experiencing homelessness, and can no longer leave anybody to sleep on our streets. If they have a roof over their heads they can then begin to access other services to help them with their other issues but this is the first step. A roof is a basic human right and the onus is on us as a Local Authority to provide that!”

 

The actual text of the motion said:

“This Council calls for a Homeless Hostel in Drogheda to assist Homeless people with entrenched Alcohol & Drug issues.

We recognise these addictions are significant contributing factors to making these people homeless and at present we do not have the provisions in place to alleviate these issues and assist those in our town who need it.”

 

Figures from the Department of Housing for October showed:

133 people accessed emergency accommodation in the whole of the North east Region

124 of these were in Louth

7 were in Cavan

2 were in Monaghan

Joanna Byrne Selected for Drogheda Urban in 2019 Elections

Sitting Councillor Joanna Byrne has been selected to run in the 2019 Local Government Elections for the constituency of Drogheda Urban.

Joanna was nominated by the Chair of the Bobby Sands Cumann Hughie McShane who said “I am very proud to stand here in front of you all to nominate Joanna. The Cumann has come a long way and we now have Imelda Munster as a TD who we are very proud of and Joanna who has been an outstanding councilor and we know she will continue to be just that. Joanna brought a fresh approach and a new enthusiasm to the Cumann when she joined it and is always ready for a challenge. She is a strong defender of the rights for all, following in the footsteps of Imelda. I am very proud of them both.”

Joanna accepted the nomination and paid tribute to Hughie who she described as the “driving force behind the cumann. The last 2 years have been a whirlwind and there

The team with Hughie McShane far right

have been plenty of highs and lows and challenges but it has been a great experience and I couldn’t have done it without Kenneth (Flood) and Imelda and more recently David (Saurin). Imelda keeps us a very tight team and her precedence on the Council is so appreciated. She taught us that we can debate an issue but we go into the chamber as a unit and we stand as one.”

Joanna also paid tribute to her Mam Martina “she is always by my side and the support

Joanna and her Mam, Martina

I get from her and my siblings is unbelievable. She is doing work that no-one else sees, out in all weathers leafleting and supporting me and guiding me. I appreciate that Mam and of course, she looks after me which can be the biggest job of all.”

Joanna also welcomed Tom Cunningham to the Drogheda team from Mid-Louth.

Imelda Munster TD rounded the evening off by thanking the “grassroots members who a the ones that have helped the party grow from strength to strength by talking to people and communities and relaying that back to the reps. I have always said that if we lead, people will follow but we have to provide that leadership. We need to stay true to who we are, we hold officials to account for the betterment of our communities, we are always pushing for the best interests of the people. We can’t fail if we speak for the people. Despite the challenges thrown at us, the attempted isolation of us by other parties and large sections of the media, just look at what we have achieved. People aren’t stupid, they see through all their dirty tricks. We started with 5 Cumann members and we worked hard over the years and people see that.

“People will be proud to vote Sinn Féin, they know we are not afraid to speak out, they know that their voice will be heard through us. The hard work starts now though. We are a unit on Louth County Council, we are committed and true and we will build and build and continue to build after that.”

The new line up so far in Drogheda

 

Cllr Joanna Byrne Calls For Legislation To Protect Emergency Services Frontline Workers

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed the passing of her Council motion calling for any future sentencing guidelines to consider assaults on frontline worker’s as ‘aggravating factors’, potentially leading to more severe punishments issued by the courts. Her motion was successfully passed with cross-party support.

The motion read as follows:

“Louth County Council recognises the essential role carried out by emergency service workers including Ambulance, Fire Service, Gardaí and Customs, and the risks that these frontline workers take in the service of the public.
We also recognise that assaults carried out upon such emergency services in the course of their duties, can hamper, delay, and prevent these services coming to the assistance of the public, often during situations and events of serious duress and danger.
– Therefore, we consider the nature of such assaults as serious, and it should be considered an aggravating factor, where any assault is made against a frontline worker during the commission of their duties, and that any review or future sentencing guidelines should provide that it would be considered an aggravating factor.”

Cllr Byrne gave a passionate speech to the chamber while delivering her motion. “There is unprecedented levels of violence occurring in the line of duty for these workers and the worrying trend of callout crews being targeted shows no sign of abating, including here in Louth. Crews have come to accept these attacks as an ‘occupational hazard’ which is just wrong; violence against any emergency service worker should never be accepted at any level, let alone expected.”

Cllr Byrne also recognised the need for “specific legislation to protect emergency personnel and send a firm message to the perpetrators that the law will no longer be as lenient.”

Cllr Byrne was able to state cases of a paramedic being assaulted while treating a cardiac patient on a bus, during which he lost his two front teeth whilst his colleague had blood spat in his face. In another case she told of a firefighter losing part of his ear through being bitten, amongst others, and all the while highlighting the impact that these attacks could potentially have on the lives of the people these workers were trying to save.

Cllr Byrne also explained that ‘The Irish Fire and Emergency Service’s Association’’, the Union for 999 personnel, claims that “assaults like these are much more common than statistics even suggest, considering they are only recorded when an injury occurs, incidents with physical contact but yet no injuries are not recorded.”

Cllr Byrne said “We cannot sit idly by just expressing sentiments of thanks to these valuable frontline services, it’s time to support them properly and do our utmost to ensure their safety at all times, only then can they focus on their duties and continue to protect and save the lives of us all in this country.”

Notification of this motion being passed will now be sent to the Minister for Justice, Charles Flanagan, for his Department to consider when next reviewing sentencing guidelines.

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Recruitment & Retention of Retained Firefighter’s of Huge Importance

Louth’s Chief Fire Officer Eamonn Woulfe attended the most recent sitting of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) last Monday at the request of the Chairperson Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne.

Mr. Woulfe gave an informative presentation to the SPC on the recently published report reviewing Fire Safety in Ireland giving Councillors, PPN reps and Union delegates the opportunity to discuss the changes and recommendations suggested.

The report, comprised in the aftermath of Grenfell, initiated a broader review of fire safety legislation and policy, with many recommendations including a focus on high-rise buildings, multi-unit social housing blocks, Community Fire Safety, Integrated Risk Management and legislative responsibility among others.

A major area of concern highlighted by Cllr Byrne is the current issue of Recruitment and Job Retention among the retained ranks of Firefighters in Louth and the impact on the implementation of the recommendations in the Report given that the numbers, especially in Drogheda, is depleting at an alarming rate.

Cllr Byrne said “The retained crew in Drogheda is massively under-resourced, by a third in fact and deteriorating by the week. A major investment needs to be put into recruitment for this particular area and incentives made available to retain current firefighters. We cannot continue to stand idly by and watch these deeply valued public servants leave the service, in particular from the retained ranks who are a solid support to the full-time crew.”

Cllr Byrne called on the Chief Fire Officer to review a multitude of things which she believes are essential and of the upmost importance;

  • a major recruitment drive supported by a Social Media campaign
  • an overall review of the retained/full-time structures within the county
  • work with the Director of Services for Housing to establish suitable housing structures in the vicinity of the Fire Station to accommodate retained firefighters.

Cllr Joanna Byrne said “it is no longer enough expressing our appreciation of this valuable frontline service, it’s time to support them properly and put investment where it is needed.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Pride Flag Flying in Drogheda

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has said that the Pride Flag will fly over the civic offices on Fair Street from Thursday 9th – Sun 12th August covering the whole period of Drogheda’s third Pride Festival.

Cllr Byrne will, for the second year running, officially open the festivities on Friday 10th August in Millmount at 12pm. This is the official launch of the weekend’s events and the ceremony will include a raising of the Pride Flag there also.

Cllr Byrne said “This is the third year of Pride in Drogheda and each year it gets bigger and better. I am delighted to have been part of it every year as have my party colleagues and I am extremely honoured to have been asked to once again officially open this festival. To watch the LGBTQ group in Drogheda grow as much as they have over the years, in both numbers and confidence, I couldn’t be more proud. As an Irish

Cllr Joanna Byrne Opens Pride Week in 2017

Republican, equality is at the core of all that I represent. I genuinely believe that all citizens must enjoy full equality of rights and opportunities under law and indeed everyday life, regardless of their background, sexual orientation or gender. Nothing less can be tolerated in a modern, progressive and inclusive society. Drogheda leads the way in this regard giving tremendous respect and support to our local LGBTQ community and their events. Pride weekend is a fantastic fun-filled weekend of equality, diversity and tolerance as well as raising awareness of many important issues and I would encourage everyone to attend as many of the events as you can.”

The festival opens on Friday 10th August at 12 noon in Millmount followed by a family fun event in The Barbican at 2.30. Saturday will see a Pride Breakfast event in Stockwell Artisan Foods at 9am, Samba – Pride Style at St.Peter’s Church at 12pm and the main event is that evening in McHugh’s Bar at 8pm. Full details are available on all social media sites of Drogheda LQBTQ.