Cllr Pearse McGeough: Fund Exposes Scale of Help Needed for Elderly

Age Action Ireland and the Irish Red Cross launched the Covid 19 Hardship Fund back in April offering a maximum of €500 to older and vulnerable citizens in need of help while they were cocooning.

Councillor Pearse McGeough was just one of many councillors in Louth who were approached by a number of potential beneficiaries who were struggling during the pandemic.

Cllr McGeough said “this fund was badly needed and would cover additional costs that older people were facing during lockdown. For some it could be the upgrade of a phone so they could have visual contact with their families, or it could have been an extra fill of oil because despite the good weather, older people at home not moving around as much feel the cold and they would be at home 24/7 during this time. It was basically to cover additional costs incurred because of Covid 19 to help with their physical and mental well-being.

“Remember, some of these people would rely on support from day centres or family support and suddenly they were cut off from everything as the lockdown occurred. Day centres closed and normal family visits were banned with essentials being delivered to the door and visits taking place through a window or from the garden gate.”

Age Action Ireland and the Red Cross had fundraised over €103,000 but unfortunately were inundated with applications from our most vulnerable and were only able to grant 453 of the 21,000 applications received. The fund brought forward its closing date from August to April because of the sheer volume of applications.

Cllr McGeough said “they sought assistance from the Department of Social Protection to meet the huge demand but unfortunately their calls went unheard so many vulnerable older citizens were left with no additional financial assistance when they needed it most.

“The older people have really suffered during this pandemic and have been proved to be most at risk should they contract it. This payment would have helped them through this both physically and mentally. We really appreciate the efforts of Age Action Ireland and the Red Cross and they have certainly identified the scale of help that is needed among this vulnerable group so it’s now time for the Government to step up and offer financial support to those who need it most.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Ardee not deterred after attempted ATM theft

                    Cllr Pearse McGeough on RTE in Ardee

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has hit out at those responsible for the attempted robbery of an ATM in Ardee in the early hours of this morning.

This is the second attempt on an ATM in the mid-Louth area in the past five weeks and Cllr McGeough has described it as “an attack on the community and on the business community.”

Cllr McGeough described the scene when he arrived to open his weekly clinic in the town. “Part of Irish Street has been closed which is causing disruption to the businesses in the area. Gardaí are on site and there is a mechanical digger and a tractor on the road with a burnt out vehicle nearby. The Ulster Bank appears to have been badly damaged.”

Irish Street, Ardee after the robbery attempt

However, Cllr McGeough was defiant, “these people are no addition to Ardee nor indeed anywhere. Businesses in Ardee are having their last few busy shopping days before Christmas and certainly don’t need something like this but it won’t deter them. Ardee is open for business despite these people and the people of the town will not be deterred, it is business as usual.”

“The inconvenience caused to shoppers and businesses lies solely at the feet of the thieves who are attacking small communities like ours up and down the country.

“Once again, Gardaí resources have been discussed and that is a matter for the Government and the Gardaí to address. I and Deputy Imelda Munster have been very vocal on this issue and are hoarse screaming for more resources to be allocated to Louth Gardaí, especially the rural areas. There was some success last August when a criminal gang who carried out a spate of ATM robberies were apprehended in County Cavan following a joint operation between Gardaí and PSNI but we need more of that. These robberies are still happening and we need to keep the pressure on.”

Cllr McGeough also pointed out that “Gardaí can’t be everywhere but there are things that we as a community can do. Keep your eyes open for any suspicious activity around ATMs, any strange vehicles in the area and also be aware of heavy plant and machinery moving at night. I would also urge owners of plant and machinery to ensure they are secure and immobilised at night when they are not in use.”

Gardaí are appealing to anyone who was in Ardee between 3am and 5am this morning, or anyone with dashcam footage to contact them at Ardee Garda Station or any Garda station.

If you see any suspicious activity in or around ATMs please phone Garda confidential line 1800 666 111 or Crimestoppers on freephone 1850 250 025

Cllr McGeough Welcomes Traffic Calming in Kilsaran

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed new traffic calming measures being introduced in the village of Kilsaran.

Cllr McGeough said “Over the years there have been a number of fatal accidents on the road and I have been approached by a number of residents in the area concerned at the speed of some vehicles passing through.

“With there being a school in the area, child safety was a worry for parents so these new traffic calming measures were designed around that.

“Work will begin in the next month and we will see four or five ramps or raised platforms on the R132 which is the main road in Kilsaran. This will certainly slow vehicles down around the school and will be beneficial for the village in general.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough: ‘Tenants have Rights Too’

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough informed Louth Chief Executive Joan Martin that “council tenants have rights too” at this month’s Council meeting.

The issue was raised by Cllr McGeough and several other councillors during the manager’s report. Cllr McGeough said “there are council tenants that are waiting for maintenance works to be carried out and many have been waiting for quite some time. Financial constraint is the reason being given as to why these repairs are not being carried out. Repairs are still being prioritised but what M/s Martin fails to recognise is that Council tenants have rights too.”

Cllr McGeough compared the Council to a private landlord and said “if a private landlord said they couldn’t afford to repair a tenant’s home because they didn’t have enough money, can you imagine the furore there would be? Their tenants would be entitled to report them to the Residential Tenancy Board.”

“All landlords have responsibilities including ensuring the property is in good condition and to carry out repairs within a reasonable time. There is an onus on landlords to ‘reimburse the tenants for any repairs they carried out on the structure that they requested with the landlord which the landlord did not carry out within a reasonable time’. Louth County Council is a landlord and they are not adhering to these rules.”

Councillors also raised the issue of ‘voids’ or vacant properties in the county. M/s Martin told the chamber that the only way she could afford to turn these properties around was if the Cllrs present increased the Local Property Tax by a full 15%.

Cllr McGeough said “there is a fund at central government to help with vacant properties and we need to avail of that to the maximum. It is a disgrace that we have over 70 ‘voids’, not to mention the vacant properties boarded up around the county while there are families with children living in B&Bs and hotels and people living on the streets.”

Adams commends Community for anti-drug stance

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams attended a packed meeting of the Mid Louth Joint Policing Committee in The Market House, Dunleer on Thursday evening.

The meeting was called to demonstrate solidarity with a local family facing extortion and violence from drug gangs; to discuss the drugs crisis facing families and communities; and to hear from An Garda Síochána about their efforts to address the scourge of drugs.

The Louth TD commended Cllr Pearse McGeough and the JPC for calling the meeting and described the briefing from An Garda Síochána as “very useful, informative and helpful.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Along with Cllr Ó Murchú and Cllr McGeough I met the family who have made a stand against threats from a drug gang. They are being very brave and courageous. In my humble opinion they are not just making a stand for themselves. They’re making a stand for the rest of us.

So the question for us is what are we going to do? It is therefore important that when this meeting is over that we have some clear idea about what we are going to do next.

The most important information we were given this evening on this issue from the Chief Superintendent. He said we don’t have enough Gardaí. He told us that last year he was over budget and this year he will be over his budget. He and his colleagues also elaborated on stations that are only part time and why. It is clear that if you want boots on the street and Gardaí in the stations you can’t do if you don’t have the resources.

The Chief Superintendent also said – and I know this myself from battling with the government – that there are not enough resources for the support services for drug addiction. Talk to any of the people at the coal face of dealing with drug addiction and with families suffering as a result of drug addiction, and they will tell you that they don’t have the resources. We don’t have proper mental health resources and our health service is starved of the means of providing a holistic service.

Another striking point made by the Chief Superintendent is that if we fail to tackle the drug crisis effectively “we will lose a generation of our young people”. There is an old expression in Irish – Mol an óige agus tiochfaid siad – praise the youth and they will flourish – so I would like to suggest that we think of actions that the community can undertake to support An Garda Síochána. 

The community alert should be reactivated. We also need to reach out to our young people. And we particularly need to do what this family have called on us to do – give any information whatsoever to An Garda Síochána. The message from here should be very clear – we’re not putting up with this – we’re not putting up with what is happening here to a decent family who are doing their best because someone wants to make a profit on the back of an alleged addiction.”