Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has this week asked Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan to address the shortage of Gardaí in Louth, especially ahead of the Fleadh Cheoil in August.
Speaking in the Dáil chamber Deputy Munster asked Minister Flanagan to honour the commitment made by government regarding a strong and visible police force.
Minister Flanagan agreed to convey Deputy Munster’s concerns to the Garda Commissioner regarding personnel shortages in Louth.
Deputy Munster said:
“The government is failing to honour its commitment on Garda numbers. This is very obvious in Co. Louth.
“Louth’s Garda force is short several key personnel, and there are serious concerns in the county about this.
“There is a shortage of sergeants and inspectors locally.
“The Fleadh Cheoil is coming to Drogheda in August, and with it will come over 400,000 visitors to the town.
“Garda leave has been cancelled for the duration of the Fleadh, but Drogheda is still short of Gardai including supervisory Gardai.
“We need to have confidence that there are enough Gardai to manage the crowds and to be in a position to respond should there be an incident. We need to prepare for all eventualities.”
The Drogheda Sinn Féin Team, Deputy Imelda Munster, Cllr Joanna Byrne, Cllr David Saurin and Cllr Kenneth Flood have slammed Irish Water and central government for their handling of the water crisis that has engulfed South Louth and East Meath since a water-main burst at the Slateen Water Treatment Plant on Friday 21st of July.
Deputy Munster said “The attitude of central government has been shameful. Hands off, aloof and distant. Despite the crocodile tears of their representative in Drogheda they have not treated this emergency with anywhere near the urgency it requires. We’ve been given false hope after false hope and there is still no definite end to this crisis”.
Cllr. Joanna Byrne said, “As elected representatives we have been reacting to every situation as it arises as best and as fast as we can. In the four days of this crisis I have liaised with Louth County Council to ensure tankers of water have fed businesses and residential areas throughout Drogheda. This has meant that tankers of water have come from as far away as Thurles, Carlow and Kilkenny. At my request there have been additional water resources made available for the Fire Brigade in Drogheda too with back-up tankers being deployed from Dundalk to ensure the Drogheda Fire Service have sufficient water to tackle any call out they may get.
“What is most vexing is that The Rosehall Water Treatment plant, that I am informed could serve 40 to 80 percent of the Northside of Drogheda, was decommissioned only two months ago. We need to find out why this happened and why was Irelands 6th largest urban centre left to be fed from only a single source?”
Cllr. Kenneth Flood said “I have been on the record from the very start stating that Irish Water was not fit for purpose. Instead of fixing the out of date water network their first priority was metering. For years we experienced water outages when the North Quay water-main burst and even after the funding was allocated to replace it, Irish Water still took years to finally get on with the job. Irish Water must be questioned as to why they have not run a temporary pipe between parts of that main are not damaged as they did during the North Quay water-main replacement works to ensure a continuous supply of water? This crisis has shone a glaring light on Irish Water’s inadequacies and they can not be allowed to continue as they are”.
Cllr. David Saurin has paid tribute to the people affected by the water crisis. Cllr Saurin said, “from The Order of Malta to The Scouts among others, there have been volunteer groups distributing water to the elderly and those without transport who are unable to access the Council Water Stations or to get water from the shops. In this heat it would be understandable if tempers were to begin to fray but at the water stations neighbours have been helping each other out, carrying heavy containers and keeping each others spirits up.”
Finally, Deputy Munster said “the Sinn Fein team in Drogheda will continue to respond to residents needs and requests over the coming days and will assist those in need in any way we can”.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster, has today called on the government to set up an Affordable Housing Scheme as a matter as a priority. The last government announced the scheme in Budget 2016, however it has yet to be set up.
“The state has completely reneged on its duties to provide secure and affordable housing. The homelessness crisis is a national emergency, a fact that the government has not recognised. More families and individuals than ever are homeless.”
“Young people and those on low and middle incomes cannot afford to buy homes. Meanwhile, the private rental sector is seriously under-regulated and only benefiting landlords as tenants are priced out of the market.”
“In my own constituency of Louth and East Meath housing waiting lists have spiralled, with many families waiting up to nine years for a house. There is a chronic shortage of affordable private rental accommodation and the government has yet to open the Affordable Housing Scheme, despite making a commitment to do so two years ago.”
“The government is paying lip service to the housing crisis. They need to fund a proper social housing programme, and to allow those who wish to purchase their own home to do so under an Affordable Housing Scheme rather than relying on the dysfunctional private rental market.”
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has praised the tenacity of Caroline Sloan whose daughter Emma died two years ago from an allergic reaction. “As a result of her campaign the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar today announced a change in the law to allow for members of the public to administer life-saving rescue medicines in emergency situations. I welcome the Ministers decision”.
However the Louth TD has raised concerns at the current shortage of the adult preparations for the three brands of medication for epipens that are in use in this state.
Gerry Adams said: “The Minister’s response does not explain why there is a shortage of injectors. This problem does not exist in other states where epipens are available. This is a matter I intend taking up with again with the Minister and the HPRA.”
The Louth TD said:
“The new laws signed by the Minister will allow for the wider use of adrenaline epipens to treat people suffering severe allergic reactions and other conditions.
Sinn Féin has been consistently raising this issue, including in local councils. I have met Caroline Sloan the mother of 14 year old Emma Sloan, who died just before Christmas 2013 in O Connell Street after suffering an allergic reaction. Caroline’s campaign to ease the regulations around the availability of epipens attracted considerable public and media attention and the Ministers decision is in no small part a result of Caroline’s diligence. I want to commend her for her work.”
Cllr Kenneth Flood & Caroline Sloan
Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster has warned that “the lack of delivery of social housing coupled with the chronic shortage of private rented accommodation in Drogheda and throughout Louth are compounding the housing crisis in the county and will without doubt, lead to more and more people presenting themselves as homeless.”
Cllr Munster, who will be running for Sinn Féin in the upcoming general election stated “we now have the highest number ever on the housing waiting list with 1,907 applicants in Drogheda and 4,764 applicants overall in Louth with many waiting over 8 years to be housed”.
The Drogheda Councillor hit out at the government’s HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) scheme which promised to address the crisis when it was introduced. “The current government policy is to force people in to private rented accommodation ignoring the fact that there is a chronic shortage of private rental property locally. Under this HAP scheme, people on the housing waiting list are being transferred over to HAP and into private rented accommodation and then the government deem their housing need to have been met.”
So what does that mean for families? Cllr Munster explained “families or individuals will forever be living in private rented houses at the mercy of private landlords and the taxpayer paying eternally with no return for their money. Some landlords are taking advantage of the shortage by increasing rents, some by as much as several hundred euros a month, forcing people who simply cannot afford the huge increases out on to the streets.”
In the last few weeks, twenty people presented themselves as homeless to Louth County Council, fifteen of who were there for financial reasons. “there are home re-possessions and increases in private rents. The tenants are forced out of their home and because of the chronic shortage of private rented property, they find themselves with nowhere to go”.
Cllr Munster concluded by saying “When are the government going to see that this policy is not working and indeed compounding the housing crisis? It cannot be resolved until they roll out a direct social housing building programme, introduce rent controls which would help stem the rising tide of homelessness, and amend the Land Conveyancing Act to give greater protection to the family home”.