Ó Murchú: Gov Need to Get Realistic over Garda Resources

The lack of resources for policing Dundalk and North Louth, while Gardaí should be preparing for Brexit in less than six months’ time, was “laid bare in a frank and shocking fashion” at the public meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Carlingford, according to Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú.

“Louth Garda’s Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan was “very forthright” in his assessment of the resources available to Gardaí in this area” Cllr. Ó Murchú said, “and highlighted, a number of times, the ‘deplorable’ state of Dromad Garda station on the border.”

The meeting, which was held in the Four Seasons Hotel, heard from CS Mangan about how he has been ‘forceful’ in his pleas to the Assistant Commissioner for more resources, including better Garda stations, and for more cars, particularly for the community policing units in Dundalk and Drogheda, which currently have none.

Cllr. Ó Murchú said; “CS Mangan was articulate and very forthright in his assessment of the resources needed immediately for policing in Dundalk and North Louth. It was shocking to hear how he has been asking repeatedly for an upgrade for Dromad station, which he said is in a ‘deplorable’ state. In addition, he revealed that he has been involved in planning for policing post-Brexit, which he admitted will take a huge amount of resources.

“And on top of this, this is one of the busiest districts in policing terms in the State.”

Cllr Ó Murchú said “It is clear there are serious problems in this area and Garda management have to listen to what CS Mangan is saying. And more importantly, the government, who are framing the budget next week, have to give proper and realistic regard to the additional resources needed, not only for everyday policing – which is clearly suffering – but also to prepare adequately for Brexit.

“In the wider context, the government needs to ensure there is no intensification of customs and security checks at the border and for this to happen, the experts now widely agree, means the North has to stay within the customs union and the single market.”

Ó Murchú Welcomes Dundalk Respite Services

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed commitments made by the HSE during a meeting of the Louth Disabilities Forum this morning that respite services will be operational in Dundalk by mid October.

Councillor Ó Murchú said; said;

“This Forum, which includes parents of people with disabilities, political representatives and HSE staff, has been meeting for over a year on the issue of respite.

“During this time my colleague Gerry Adams TD and I have been raising gaps in provision which exist across the county and particularly in the Dundalk area.

“I am satisfied that commitments made during this morning’s meeting in Ardee have confirmed that respite will finally be operational in the coming weeks.

“For far too long citizens with disabilities in north Louth have been ignored. Their parents are extremely frustrated and understandably so.

“I will be working closely with the HSE disabilities manager for CHO 8 to ensure that his commitments come to fruition.

Ó Murchú: Brexit Breakfast, Useful Info for Local Businesses

Vincent Power (L) and Thomas McEvoy (R) with Cllr Ruairi Ó Murchú

Louth Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú attended the recent business themed Brexit briefing hosted by Louth Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in the Ballymascanlon Hotel on Thursday last.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“The SCBI / LEO breakfast was certainly more impressive than recent commentary from Boris Johnson and others in relation to the entire Brexit debacle.

“This event, which had presentations by the SCBI, Enterprise Ireland, InterTrade Ireland and the LEO was designed to inform local businesses of the range of supports and finance that are available to business for Brexit proofing.”

Cllr Ó Murchú advised that “there 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.

The SCBI Brexit Loan Scheme offers amounts of between €25,000 to €1.5m, loan terms ranging from 1 year to 3 years and unsecured loans up to €500,000. All information relating to these schemes are to be found on each organisation’s website.

“The LEO contribution by Thomas McEvoy was a comprehensive list of the many services available to companies in relation to planning, marketing, their online platforms etc. and didn’t just relate to Brexit.

“For information on the all these services go to localenterprise.ie/louth.

“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 from the Local Enterprise Office.”

This event was attended by representatives of many local businesses both SMEs and larger companies.

“Their attendance is proof of the levels of concern among the business community regarding the negative effects Brexit could have on their ability to trade competitively.

“Sinn Féin has consistently said that Brexit will be bad for Ireland, north and south, in economic, political, social and cultural terms. I believe that the Irish Government must ensure the backstop agreement is enacted in the event of a no deal Brexit.

“Dr Vincent Power, the highly entertaining keynote speaker told of the spectrum of Brexit in relation to the multiple facets of the economy and society and its impact upon them. Brexit in relation to people and goods being different to Brexit in relation to services and that’s not to speak of medicines and aviation etc. He explained the Customs Union and Single Market as being maintained by a hermetical seal along EU borders which are a lot less porous than ours. He stated that any Brexit deal likely to be done would be a ‘skinny deal’ and a perpetual state of negotiations between Britain and the EU.

“Following my question on how he foresaw the Irish border post Brexit. He couldn’t see anything other than a ‘Hong Kong’ type solution and a border in the Irish sea. Anything else would have definite ramifications for border communities and businesses.

“This solution sounds to me like special designated status for the 6 counties, which would allow it to stay within the EU and maintain the necessary alignments between North and South.

“This was a useful event and I commend the staff of Louth LEO for convening this information briefing.”

Ó Murchú: Land Bank interest payments strangling Louth County Council finances

“The land banks held by Louth County Council need to be part of any housing solution by central government”, says Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú.

“Sinn Féin does not think much of Eoghan Murphy’s deflective proposals to strip County Councils of powers to deal with emergency accommodation and our planned motion of no confidence in him is well highlighted.

“The government’s idea of a Land Development Agency would only be worthwhile if  adequately resourced and operating greater, more realistic home building targets.

“Many of these land banks were bought by Louth County Council for building social and affordable housing, as was required by the government of the time. Not only are they not being built on but to date Louth County Council’s finances are being strangled by paying interest on loans on these lands. Next year the cost of this will be an estimated €1.5 million on loans of about €60 million.”

Cllr Ó Murchú described the situation as ‘ludicrous’.

Ruairi at a recent Housing Presentation by Eoin Ó Broin

“We have a responsibility to the people of Louth to ensure their budgets are being used properly and appropriately. People are entitled to value for money and it’s unjustifiable to have over €1.5 million taken out of your budget before you even start and have nothing to show for it.”

Louth County Council is also facing the daunting prospect at the end of the year of having to deal with the capital element of some of these loans.

Some of these land banks were purchased at the height of the boom and are worth a lot less now making it unviable for the land to be sold off according to Louth County Council. Councillors were told at the recent Louth County Council budget meeting that one of the last batches of land bought by LCC were purchased for €1.3 million per acre. These same lands would be lucky to fetch €400,000 per acre in today’s market leaving LCC ‘on the hook’ for the outstanding debt. LCC officials stated they have used this situation to force the issue with Central Government and will continue to make representations to them.

The government in tandem with Louth County Council needs to assess which lands are most suitable for necessary home building and to put plans in operation. If lands are not economically or any other way viable for housing, they should be looked at from a point of view of IDA development or some other solution

Either way, they have been bought by the state and the state needs to find an answer rather than compounding Louth County Council’s problem with underfunding from Central government.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “Across this state we have about 10,000 people in emergency homeless accommodation, tens of thousands of households on the housing waiting list and a huge level of tenants on HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) at a huge cost to the state. We have a huge cohort paying exorbitant rents and many unable to purchase their own homes.”

Sinn Féin is enthusiastically supporting the ICTU led ‘Raise the Roof: Homes for All’ rally which will take place outside the Dáil on October 3rd at 12.30pm.

A number of elected reps and activists travelled to Carrickmacross to hear Eoin O’Broin highlight this rally and to hear Sinn Féin proposals to address the public housing problem in this state.

Cllr Ó Murchú: No Notice on Bay Estate Works by Irish Water

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has criticised Irish Water for its failure to notify people living in the Bay Estate area of impending road closures and works.

Cllr Ó Murchú said,

“I welcome the fact that Irish Water will be carrying out necessary upgrade works to the sewer network in Bay Estate, however, it is unacceptable that people living in the area were not properly informed of the necessary road closures to complete the works.

“This is a major scheme which will see the Hazelwood Avenue junction with the N52 closed for a ten week period, right up until Christmas. This is to happen during the 14 week period from Wednesday 19th September to 21st December.

“I raised the issue with officers of Louth County Council at Tuesday’s meeting of the Dundalk Municipal Council meeting, held in the Heritage Centre in Carlingford. Councillors were told that, while the Council is responsible for closing the road, it is the responsibility of Irish Water to provide the information to the public in a timely fashion. We were informed that the council would communicate this general dissatisfaction to Irish Water.

“There were also complaints about upgrade works that were carried out over the summer with little or no prior notice to elected reps or the public and other communication difficulties.

“Irish Water has failed in its duty and I have contacted the company today to raise these matters with them directly and to request prior notice for any major schemes across Louth in the future.

“I have also requested additional information in relation to the works and road closures planned for Bay Estate and will keep residents informed as I get it.”