Joanna Byrne: Homelessness Is Not Just A Big City Issue

At the September Council meeting of Drogheda Municipal District, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne queried the monthly homelessness report produced by the local authority.

Joanna Byrne pointed out “that again this month there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are presenting as homeless in the Drogheda district, but I don’t find the report accurate and it is not a true reflection of the current homelessness situation in the town.”

Cllr Byrne said “I note that this month there has been a decrease in numbers presenting as homeless in both the Ardee and Dundalk districts and a significant increase in the numbers in Drogheda. But even at that, to be frank, I don’t find this report worth the paper it’s printed on. I can walk you over this town right now and show you several people sleeping in doorways. These are not irregular patterns, they are consistently sleeping in the same places, some of them for months now.”

Homeless in Drogheda

These comments were met with severe opposition from Paddy Donnelly, Director of Services with LCC who refuted the fact that this report wasn’t worth reading and stressed the work that goes into compiling it.

Cllr Byrne came back and said that whilst she meant no disrespect to the staff in the housing department, “the awareness needs to be there that the homeless crisis in Drogheda is much bigger than the local authority’s report portrays, be it down to the fact that maybe some of these people are not presenting themselves to the authority as homeless, or whatever the case may be, but the reality is that this is a growing epidemic and needs to be addressed.


“With the week that is in it and us having three homeless people die nationally, be under no illusion that these are not just big city issues, it won’t be long until a tragedy like that darkens our doors.”

 

Drogheda Hunger Strike Commemoration on Saturday 9th Sept

Sinn Féin in Drogheda will hold its annual commemoration to Ireland’s twenty two hunger strikers this Saturday 9th September.

The Commemoration leaves Bolton Square at 2.30pm and will march to the monument at Grove Hill.

In attendance this year, as in previous years, will be the Rising Phoenix Republican Fife band from Dublin and the local colour party.

As in past commemorations held in Drogheda, the speech will be given by a former Republican prisoner. This year the speech will be given by Síle Darragh who was the IRA Officer in Command in Armagh Gaol during the hunger strike in 1980 until her release in 1981.

The commemoration will be chaired by Cllr David Saurin and all are welcome to attend.

Imelda Munster TD Welcomes Reports of Ardee Bypass Funding

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today welcomed media reports that funding has been made available for the construction of the Ardee bypass.

Deputy Munster said:

“I am happy to hear that Transport Minister Shane Ross has allocated funding for the Ardee bypass. The project was excluded from the capital investment programme originally, and so it is certainly good news for the people of Ardee that funding has been secured.

“I have raised the matter of bypass with both the Minister for Transport on several occasions and with officials from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). A commitment was given by TII at a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee last November to include the project in the midterm review of the Capital Plan, and I am glad to see that the Ardee bypass has been allocated funding as part of that process.

“I have written to the Minister seeking further information regarding how much funding is to be made available and seeking a start date and a timeline for the project.

“The local community has been campaigning for the construction of the bypass for many years, with many disappointments and delays along the way. The area has been neglected in terms of investment for too long, and so it is to be welcomed that this project is finally progressing.”

Taoiseach must deliver accommodation for mental health in Dundalk – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has today raised with the Taoiseach the lack of accommodation for mental health services in north County Louth.

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, Teachta Adams said;

“On Friday, along with my Louth Sinn Féin colleague Teachta Imelda Munster, I visited the Department of Psychiatry acute in-patient unit in Drogheda.

“This is a world class, state of the art facility which provides intensive short term treatment.

“Patients are then discharged to the community mental health staff for follow up care.

“However in North Louth, community based psychiatric services are practically non-existent and all provision is delivered from a 60 year old building at Ladywell, Louth Hospital, Dundalk.

“Because of issues of damp and the lack of suitable space, much of Ladywell is unusable.

“This means that there is no Child and Adolescent Mental Health provision and no Psychiatry of Old Age in North Louth.

“Additional staff have been allocated to the area and I welcome that, but there is no accommodation for them in Dundalk.

“Unacceptably patients must travel, sometimes up to 60 kilometers, to Ardee or Drogheda to access these basic mental health services.

“There is a longstanding promise of a Primary Care Centre with a facility for community mental health for Dundalk.

“But there is no start date, nothing but a worthless promise which is used to excuse the refusal to upgrade Ladywell.

“I presented the Taoiseach with a choice, either deliver the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible or upgrade the building at Ladywell.

“I have asked both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee to visit Ladywell to see first-hand how unsuitable the premises is.

“I will continue to raise this issue until the citizens of North Louth have access to necessary services in suitable premises in their own area.”

 

Louth missing out on FDI jobs – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described recent figures on IDA jobs created in Louth and the Border Region as “deeply depressing”. Information provided by the Minister for Jobs in respect of IDA investment raises real concerns about the disparity in such jobs across the state but especially in the Border Region.

Gerry Adams said: “Border counties fare particularly badly in the provision of IDA supported jobs and with the Brexit already having an adverse impact on the economy, that situation could get worse without proper planning and funding by government.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Earlier this week my colleague Maurice Quinlivan identified serious gaps in the provision of IDA backed jobs across the state based on responses he received to Parliamentary Questions.

When analysed and set again the recent census population numbers it emerged that there is 1 IDA supported job for every 23 citizens in the state. However, this statistic varies significantly depending on where you live. For example, Galway and Cork top the list for most IDA jobs per capita, with 1 job for every 15 people, followed by Dublin with 1 job for every 16 people.

“Those living in the six border region counties, including Louth, are between two and five times worse off than areas like Dublin and Cork. The disparity for Monaghan is 1 job for every 447 people. For Donegal it is 1 job – 52 people. Cavan is 1 job – 63 people. Louth is 1 job for 35 people. Sligo is 1 job for every 28 people and Monaghan is 1 job for every 447 people.

“In Dublin, 9,000 new jobs were added in 2016, but in Louth the figure was 453. In Sligo the net gain was 190. In Cavan it was 41. In Leitrim it was 3. In Donegal it was 145. While in Monaghan the number of IDA jobs created in 2016 was 7.

“That means the six acknowledged border counties secured a miserly net gain of 839 IDA supported jobs in the border county out of 18,627 IDA backed jobs across the state in 2016.

“The IDA does huge work in creating new jobs. Over the decades it has proven itself to be an invaluable agency in attracting investment into the state. However, there is a huge imbalance in the distribution of these jobs across the state. The responsibility for this must rest with the government. It must ensure that investment and jobs are evenly distributed throughout the state and especially between large urban centres and rural and border regions.

“Border counties fare particularly badly in this analysis and, with the Brexit already having an adverse impact on the economy, that situation could get worse without proper planning and funding by government.”

Note: Please note IDA Jobs (2016) is total number of IDA jobs in each county in that year.