Sinn Féin Stand their Ground Despite Threat of Removal from Office
Sinn Féin Group leader in Louth County Council, Tomás Sharkey said:
“This Thursday Louth County Council is being recalled in another effort to have a faulty budget adopted. Sinn Féin will maintain our opposition to it.
“Louth County Council finances are in disarray. There is an incomplete register of assets. Projected expenditure on miscellaneous items is unsatisfactory. Tenants are being put into arrears. Businesses are unsupported. There is a lack of innovation and entrepreneurship in the document.
Council Group Leader Tomás Sharkey
“The lack of fresh thinking has become culture in the organisation. Culture eats strategy. The structures have failed to learn from a house purchase scandal, write off of 45% outstanding rates, the Narrow Water Bridge debacle, rent collection crisis and waste mismanagement.
“New leadership is needed to fix Louth.
“Sinn Féin is the largest party in Louth Council chamber. We hold 10 of the 29 seats. We take this responsibility seriously. We have been working hard to represent all the people of Louth.
“Sinn Féin does not have confidence in the estimates being proposed on Thursday. We do not have confidence in the way the Council is being managed.
“If and when the budget is defeated Minister Murphy may remove all 29 Councillors from office. He would be mistaken. Councillors have been drawing attention to the problems in Louth for years. The minister should not sack the messengers when the problem remains.
“We want to be clear. We want new leadership and accountability in the County Council. We intend to ask for a new Chief Executive.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has reacted angrily to the decision taken by the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to cut Drogheda’s Municipal district funding from €75,000 to just €60,000.
Cllr. Flood said “The Chief Executive stated that she took this decision because Councillors did not agree to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT) this year and she needed to balance the books. This is news to us.
“At the LPT Meeting the Chief Executive said she was seeking an increase in LPT to put it into the counties roads. We all know that hundreds of millions of our road taxes have been ploughed into the failed entity that is Irish Water instead of being spent on our roads. At no point was it stated that a consequence of not agreeing to a tax increase would mean a decrease in Drogheda’s Budget.”
Cllr Flood explained that “Councillors are excluded from formulating the budget. Not even the Economic Special Policy Committee has any meaningful input into the budgetary process. Yet, we are expected to rubber stamp any budget that is put before us without complaint.
“I have stated it before and I will state it again, that must change!
“The funding made available for each district, meagre as it is, has been used by councillors to fund various groups and projects throughout Drogheda. For the last two years the Sinn Féin team have pooled our allocations to make Drogheda a more disability friendly town. This year we have helped fund various local groups and charities. Now our ability to assist Drogheda’s Groups and Infrastructure has been curtailed by an unfair and arbitrary decision taken by the Chief Executive.
“With Drogheda’s exclusion from the living cities initiative, and the inexplicable overlooking of Drogheda in the Draft National Planning Framework this reduction of the meagre funding made available to us is just another slap in the face.”
Finally Cllr Flood said “we did not accept the Chief Executive’s position on our budget and made our position clear to her. Drogheda councillors have actually passed a motion calling for an increase in our budget and we will continue to push for this right up until 20th of November when the Chief Executive will present the annual budget for Louth.”
At the end of last year, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed the opening of the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme (HAGS) for 2017. Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly.
Each year, the scheme opened, was flooded with applications and then closed again after a few short weeks. However, this year saw an extension to the submission period with the Scheme remaining open all year round.
Although welcoming the extension at the time, Cllr McGeough has since been left frustrated with the long periods of waiting time some of his constituents have been facing for these adaptations to take place.
He said “I have a lady who is in her late 80’s who made a submission for a small but essential adaptation to her bathroom in 2016. She was marked ‘Priority 1’ which is categorising her as ‘urgent’. 2016 has gone, 2017 applications are in and this lady has now been informed that her work should be carried out in 2018.”
“I raised it at the Ardee Municipal meeting and I reiterated my call at the Louth County Council this week, to apply to the Department for extra funding for this Scheme as there is not enough to meet the needs of Priority 1 cases and that is unacceptable. The Council have agreed to do so.”
“There is no point in opening the Scheme all year round, processing and passing applications only to leave them sitting in a pile somewhere because there is no budget to carry out the works.”
“The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and waiting two years is wholly unacceptable by anyone’s standards.”
Out-going councillor Alan Cassidy has extended his congratulations to his replacement on the Louth County Council, his long-time friend and comrade, David Saurin.
At this morning’s meeting of the Council, the co-option was confirmed and Cllr Saurin took his seat.
Cllr David Saurin (48) hails from Tullyallen and is married to Anne and they have three children.
Speaking this morning, Cllr Saurin said “it is a great honour to be representing the people of South Louth and I am proud to be sitting on Louth County Council with nine other Sinn Féin councillors supported by two TDs and an MEP. I have been a member of Sinn Féin for almost twenty years now and have been a republican all my life.”
“I have been part of more elections than I care to remember, the most recent being the election of a former councillor here, Imelda Munster who made history by becoming the first female TD for Louth and East Meath.”
“Both sides of my family have republican history stretching back to the 1916 Rising and the Tan War so our house was a Republican house but I think for me, the greatest influence and what had the biggest impact on me was the 1980 and 1981 hungerstrikes. The commitment, dedication and dignity with which those young men stood up to the might of the British empire has never left me.”
“The prison struggle since the removal of political status in 1976 and what the blanket men and the women in Armagh went through has inspired me to carry on the fight for equality and justice. Bobby Sands said ‘Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small; no-one is too old or too young to do something.’”
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has called on Louth County Council to address the growing trend of illegal dumping on St. Laurence’s Park Green.
Following complaints from several distressed residents of St. Laurence’s Park, Cllr Byrne brought the issue of a growing trend of illegal dumping in the estates green area to the attention of Louth County Council.
The recent weeks have seen the situation escalate from rubbish bags being dumped, which are in turn ripped to shreds by cats and dogs, but now people are physically wheeling their bins directly onto the green areas and emptying them. There is an increasing fear amongst residents that this rubbish will in turn lead to fires which could cause damage to the surrounding area.
After speaking to some residents over the weekend Cllr Byrne said
“There are a few areas of concern on this particular issue, there is of course the obvious issue of the eyesore of the dumping itself, the environmental implications of this action and also the risk of in time youths starting fires. The area involved is in the vicinity of a children’s playground and local children have the right to play in safety.
I have contacted the council and have asked them to act as a matter of great urgency and I am now calling on them to immediately tidy up this area as it is a main walk through between Moneymore and the St. Laurence’s Park & Drive area. I have also asked them to monitor this as ongoing situation before it escalates.”