The great weather we had this week culminated in crowds of visitors to the beautiful village of Clogherhead and its blue flag beach on Sunday.
Sinn Féin Cllr Tom Cunningham said “while I am delighted to welcome all visitors to the village and the Strand, I would ask that they be mindful of where they are parking. Sunday was a beautiful day but Clogherhead was like a car park in places where cars had been parked on double yellow lines, across entrances blocking residents and at road ends making it difficult for traffic to flow.”
Cllr Cunningham was concerned that “at this time of year there is an increase in those using pleasure crafts and using the sea in different ways. It is during these times that the lifeboat is more liable to be called out. However, with the beach entrance blocked, where the life boat is stationed as it was today, the crew stood little chance of being able to attend the lifeboat in a timely manner.”
Cllr Cunningham continued “furthermore, an ambulance would not have been able to access the beach nor indeed the surrounding houses should an emergency have arisen.”
Cllr Tom Cunningham who lives in Clogherhead said “I am asking visitors to come and enjoy the delights of our village but please respect the law, the residents, the lifeboat and the emergency services. There is car parking about five minutes walk from the beach situated beside the playground and doctors surgery which was hardly used today at all.”
“I will also be talking to the Council engineers about how we deal with this in the future. This will be challenging as it really only affects a few days of the year but I will be exploring the erection of temporary signage for those days. Let us all enjoy this great weather without any unfortunate incidents.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has urged fishermen to get involved in action against Brexit.
Councillor Cunningham was at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday discussing the decimation of the fishing industry in Ireland.
Cllr Cunningham said “The British Prime Minister triggered Article 50 so Britain will be out of Europe within two years. My main concern for Clogherhead is that the main fleet is prawn fishermen and their area is British waters which obviously will no longer be available to them after the two years are up.
“Not only that, but as the British waters will be longer available to them or indeed other fleets from other EU countries, where are they going to fish? In Irish waters obviously. We can not be made to bear the brunt of the displaced fleets from British waters. The government is already neglecting the fishing industry, I don’t have much faith that they will represent our interests in any arrangements being made under Brexit.”
Cllr Cunningham said “The fishing industry must get involved, along with the farmers because they are the two groups that are going to be the main losers in the whole Brexit fiasco. We can not allow these displaced fleets to transfer to Irish waters, our fishing industry would be finished as would our coastal communities as we know them.
“No-one knows the fishing industry better than the fishermen. Get involved, oppose Brexit, demand your rights and interests are protected. Don’t leave it to a neglectful government to do it for you because as we all know, they won’t.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham attended European meetings during the week as part of a fisheries delegation made up of Irish councillors and Senators. The meeting was hosted by Liadh Ní Riada MEP who is on the Fisheries Committee in Europe.
Cllr Cunningham criticised the use of Supertrawlers which has practically decimated the fishing industry around Clogherhead and other small fishing towns around the country.
Cllr Cunningham said “more must be done to protect the small fishermen and the smaller fleets as they are in crisis and it seems that no-one is listening.
“If you can imagine huge Supertrawlers casting nets about the same size as the whole of Croke Park imagine what is being lifted and caught in those nets. They then just pick and choose which part of their huge catch is most profitable to them and the rest is thrown back. This has to be addressed. They are sucking life out of the ocean while smaller fleets and small independent fishermen look on helplessly.”
Cllr Cunningham then explained that “they aren’t even processing all this fish in Ireland, only about 5% is actually processed here so they are hoovering up our fish and taking it away. If fish are caught in Irish waters, they should be made to process them here.”
Tom Cunningham, during one of the meetings on the ‘Inequality in fisheries – Supertrawlers and industrial fishing and their impact on small-scale and local fisheries’ said there should be heavy penalties for the supertrawlers who don’t abide by the rules.
“These Supertrawlers are owned by big wealthy companies so a fine of perhaps €20,000 means absolutely nothing to them. I suggested they should lose their quotas altogether. It was also suggested that two observers could be present on the Supertrawlers monitoring their activities and to prevent bribes or intimidation from the owners, they should be fitted with body cameras. This would stop the ‘blind eye’ being turned at the minute by local authorities while the smaller fishermen faces the full weight of the law for the slightest infraction.”
County Louth and the East of Ireland is consistently being touted as the place to go for those visiting or touring Ireland with its rich heritage and the launch of Ireland’s Ancient East programme aimed to attract tourists to the area. Fáilte Ireland believe this initiative will increase the visitors to the area by 25% and has described the area as a ‘touring region’. Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham wants tourists to not only visit County Louth but to stay and spend their Euros and boost the local economy.
At November’s County Council meeting, the Clogherhead councillor asked for ‘serviced parking ’ for touring camper vans. Cllr Cunningham said “what this means is, if a camper van is touring the area they can go to one of these ‘serviced parking bays’ and hook up their van overnight. They would ‘pay as they go’ and it would be similar to the power point for electric cars in Ardee. It gives the tourist freedom to just plug in and charge up without having to return to a camp site. If we could provide these bays throughout the county along with fresh water facilities for camper vans it would boost our local economy and encourage others to visit the area. The bays would pay for themselves.”
Tom Cunningham explained how he has noticed “an increasing number of non-Irish registered Camper vans especially around Annagassan Harbour and Port Oriel in Clogherhead since before the summer months. These people should be encouraged to remain in the area and so need to be catered for and where better than our wee county for breath taking scenery and amazing hospitality.”
The County Louth Tourism and Heritage Action Plan states ‘we aim to encourage more visitors to the county by exploiting the benefits of Ireland’s Ancient east’ and Tom Cunningham believes these ‘safer parking bays’ is a means of doing just that.
Cllr Cunningham said “it also says in the Tourism and Heritage Action Plan that it is a priority to deliver a ‘better visitor experience’ and create a demand for tourists to return and why wouldn’t they want to return to County Louth? But we need to be prepared to cater for them and these bays are a very simple way to do this.”
The response from the Council was that there were already three static caravan parks and one touring caravan park in County Louth.
Cllr Cunningham said “there is no point in publishing Action Plans if we are not going to see them through. I am determined to encourage more tourists to the county and am determined to pursue this.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called for continued updates and an open line of communication on the works due to be done on the Main N2 road at Blakestown Cross just outside Ardee.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland has allocated €1.6 million for realignment work to be done on Blakestown Cross to make it safer following a number of fatal accidents in the past.
Welcoming the funding and the news the work was due to begin at the latest in early 2017, Cllr Tom Cunningham said “this work promises to improve visibility for drivers as the hill will be taken away and will make it safer for those turning onto the main road on both sides.”
The works will mean a full road closure of three months and Cllr Cunningham said “we need to ensure certain basic precautions are in place before this goes ahead. My colleague Pearse McGeough and I had a meeting with Louth County Council officials and gave put these forward. For example, there will be weight restrictions of HGVs but we need to ensure gardaí are prepared and ready to enforce these. We are talking about rural roads here and they were never built to accommodate huge weighty trucks even for a short time let alone cope with the increase in the numbers of general traffic that will occur.”
With the time of year in mind Cllr Cunningham also said “we will be into the dark nights so we need to increase visibility on the alternative route as much as we can and that will mean keeping the hedges cut back. In the cold weather we need to make sure the alternative route is well gritted to avoid any further accidents. These are a few basic precautions but I think most importantly all local councillors should be kept updated on the works at every stage because like it or not, there is going to be disruption to the locals of the area and we need to keep them informed. I have also asked for an ‘on-site’ contact so that any issues that arise can be communicated directly to the contact on-site and dealt with expeditiously.”
Concluding Cllr Cunningham said “These are essential works and very welcome to make a dangerous stretch of the road safer but disruption should be kept to a minimum and sometimes communication and consultation can go a long way towards alleviating some of the stress of the situation.”