Ó Murchú: Latest Brexit Proposal is Absolute Farce

Cllrs Ó Murchú & Campbell with Thomas McEvoy (Louth LEO)

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has hit out at the latest Irish Border Crossings Proposal being considered by British Government as “an absolute farce and it flies in the face of the December agreement”

The British government is considering a ‘Brexit proposal’ for people to pre-register to facilitate fast track technological checks at the Irish border.

Cllr Ó Murchú has said “This would be unwieldy, unworkable, expensive and above all, unacceptable. Anyone not having this pre-clearance would have to use designated crossing points or would be considered to have entered the state ‘irregularly’. The proposal requires substantial technological infrastructure and physical barriers at some border crossings. Basically, a hard border!

This proposal is contained within ‘Smart Border 2.0: Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland’, a report produced by an EU parliamentary committee.

Ó Murchú explained that “this reports talks of CCTV, vehicle tracking, technology that interacts with mobile phones and ‘specially enhanced licences’, different lanes for people who don’t have Irish or British citizenship and aren’t covered by the Common travel Area. Within it there is mention of a ‘trusted traders database’.

Ó Murchú, who is seeking election at the next General Election finds it “difficult to see how this sort of solution doesn’t involve physical custom and passport checks, particularly at major crossings like Carrickarnon on the N1 and Rassan on the N53 Castleblayney Road. Not everyone can be pre-registered, documents and licences can be mislaid or damaged, machines can go down and it is inconceivable that there wouldn’t be some sort of spot checking. Also this is a ‘solution’ in a world of complicated tariffs and compliance rules”.

“Simply, it just won’t work.”

This comes on top of Theresa May’s rejection of the legal text of the backstop deal with the EU, which she agreed to in December.

“While there are obviously elements of muscle flexing, posturing and negotiating gambits, it is becoming more likely that we are facing the prospect of a hard Brexit.”

“The Dublin government and the EU need to ensure that this doesn’t happen. There needs to be regulatory alignment on the island of Ireland. The island must stay within the Customs Union and the Common Market and ensure the rights and protections contained within the Good Friday Agreement are protected. The best way forward is for the North to have designated special status within the EU.”

“The deadline is 11pm March 29th 2019. Solutions need to be in place long before that. This is a countdown to chaos, a hard border is inconceivable and unacceptable.”

Businesses Should Prepare for Brexit – Cllr Ó Murchú

Cllrs Ó Murchú & Campbell with Thomas McEvoy (Louth LEO)

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has warned that Companies and businesses especially in the border area need to prepare for Brexit.

“While the emphasis needs to be on an EU and governmental solution to Brexit, small and medium enterprises should prepare for a worst case hard Brexit situation.

“Only 6% of SMEs in the South and 2% of SMEs in the North have a plan in place to deal with the possible impact from Brexit according to AIB’s fourth quarter 2017 Brexit Sentiment Index.”

Cllr Ó Murchú said “Thomas McEvoy, Head of Enterprise, and the Louth Enterprise Office have been briefing Louth County Council on the twists and turns of Brexit and they were instrumental in putting on the truly informative ‘Post Brexit International and Cross Border Conference’ in the Carrickdale Hotel recently.

“Not only were the obvious dangers to the economy across the island highlighted but also the varied facets of the impact of Brexit; it will have a bearing on taxation, employment, trade, customs, transport and logistics, compliance rules, legislation, importation, exportation etc. During council briefings and this conference there has been a strong emphasis on Brexit preparation programmes that are being put on offer for companies.”

Cllr Ó Murchú advised that “here is a necessity to draw the business community’s attention to these Brexit preparation aids. InterTrade Ireland has a ‘Brexit Voucher’ system which allows companies to engage a professional, to the value of €1,250 to evaluate its exposure to Brexit. Enterprise Ireland offer ‘Be Prepared Grants’ for SMEs who would benefit from further research and may need specialist services in developing their Brexit plan. This grant can be up to €5,000.

“Any measures which may mitigate some of the negatives of the Brexit process on Irish companies are to be welcomed. I would encourage companies and businesses in Louth to seek further information on ‘Brexit Vouchers’ and other related programmes from the Local Enterprise Office. We are very unprepared for Brexit and we are just over a year away”

For information on the Brexit Vochers or other related help go to localenterprise.ie/louth.


Cllr Kenneth Flood Urges Residents to ‘Shout’ To Get Streets Swept

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood is urging Drogheda resident’s to contact the Council if they think their road or street needs to be swept because it’s the “only way to get it done”.

Councillor Flood said “I have been contacted by a number of residents lately from various estates querying why they hadn’t seen a council road sweeper in more than a year and in some cases, several years. I contacted Louth County Council to ask for the street sweeping schedule so I could inform residents exactly when they could expect to see the elusive road sweeper in their area.”

Although main roads are swept on a weekly basis Louth County Council confirmed to Cllr Flood that “there is no daily or weekly rota for road sweeping.” Cllr Flood explained that “all other streets or roads are dealt with following visual inspections and/or complaints so basically if residents want to see their surroundings swept, they need to contact the Council and complain. Yet again, it is those who shout the loudest that will be heard.”

“It saddens me that I even have to raise this issue with council staff and inform the public that there is no actual schedule.  This issue has again highlighted the lack of funding for services and the lack of proper management of Drogheda, this state’s largest town. However, I and the Drogheda Sinn Féin Team will continue to fight for Drogheda until we have the status and services this town deserves.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood: In the Dark on Street Lighting

At this month’s Drogheda Borough Council meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood raised the issue of the number of street lights that were out of order.

Cllr. Flood said “As I go about my business in Drogheda, be it on the school run or just going to the shops I always note out of order street lights and report them to Airtricity to repair. They have an online street map facility where you can see the exact streetlight that you are reporting and you just click on it. Airtricity are contractually obliged to repair the streetlight within 10 working days and up to now, I had always found them to be quick and efficient in their repairs.

But the reason Cllr Flood was raising the issue at the Council meeting was that he “noticed that street lights I reported as out in January had not been repaired within the usual ten day time frame. I contacted Airtricity directly to query this and was told that there was a nationwide shortage of a particular type of bulb and that they had made Louth County Council aware of this late last year.”

Councillor Flood asked for clarification on this matter at the Council meeting and the Council confirmed to him that they had indeed been briefed along these lines and informed Cllr Flood that Airtricity are actually phasing out this particular type of bulb over the next two years.

Cllr Flood said “This means that Louth County Council will have to go to the expense of replacing certain lamps with newer, more efficient LED Lamps.  Both Louth County Council and Airtricity officials have assured me that no light will be left unrepaired and that it should happen in the usual ten day time frame.  However, this is a transitional period and unfortunately I have already seen lights being left unrepaired for much longer than the usual time frame. I have followed up on any I have noticed, to have them repaired.”

The Sinn Féin Councillor urged any member of the public who notices a streetlight out and feels it needs attention, “please contact us so we can chase it up with the relevant authorities”.

The website for reporting out of order street lights is: www.airtricitysolutions.com

In conclusion Cllr. Flood said “Public representatives should have been briefed on this when Airtricity contacted the council last year.  I don’t know whose bright idea it was to leave us in the dark about this transition but it shouldn’t happen again.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Lets Work Together to bring Rough Sleeper Count to Zero

At Monday’s meeting of the Drogheda Municipal District, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne expressed her shock at the results of this years Rough Sleeper Count.

This count took place unannounced by Louth County Council at 2.30am on Wednesday 15th November in both Dundalk and Drogheda and no persons were found to be sleeping rough.

Following Cllr Byrne raising this issue at the start of the meeting and asking questions regarding the zero count, which sparked wide debate, Senior Executive Officer Aoife Lawlor confirmed to the meeting that she herself had participated in this Rough Sleeper count and she could categorically say that there was not one person sleeping rough on these streets between the hours of 2.30am and 5.30am.

Rough Sleepers in Drogheda earlier this year

Cllr Byrne says ” To be honest I am shocked at this result returning at a count of zero, most people in this room knows of somebody somewhere sleeping rough in this town, a small number of people it may be, but is still a number.

“My understanding of this rough sleeper count taking place in the first place is to get a clear assessment of the problem, understand the magnitude of it, and allow the local authority to make provisions to provide effective and safe accommodation to these people to help deal with the issue.

“A zero count on the night, in my view, does not portray a clear image of the situation.”

Cllr Byrne stressed that whilst she was shocked by the result she did not doubt the merits of it, but made the suggestion that perhaps the local authority should liaise with the public reps in each area in advance of future rough sleeper counts to be aware of the hotspots known to the members and to include them on their route going forward.

“Let us all share our knowledge and work together to try bring that number down from the handful it probably is, to a realistic zero.