Cllr Pearse McGeough: Time for Action over Dunleer Bank Closure

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has said the time has come for action over the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close 103 branches in Ireland including the one in Dunleer.

He was speaking after he hosted an online public meeting with Imelda Munster TD.

Cllr McGeough said “the meeting was well attended and included Independent Cllr Hugh Conlon, members of the business community and the Community Sector as well as other customers of the bank. The debate was lively and everyone had their say and we now have a plan to forge ahead to oppose the closure.”

At the meeting, Cllr McGeough pointed out that although Sinn Fein was holding a series of these meetings across the island, this was NOT a party political issue and indeed in other counties concerned Fianna Fáil Cllrs and independents had attended the meetings.

According to Cllr McGeough, “we were unable to do anything when Ulster Bank made the decision to pull out all their branches but it’s different with Bank of Ireland as they were bailed out to the tune of €4.7 billion and the Minister for Finance, on behalf of the Irish people holds a 14% shareholding in the Bank so that is the leverage we have and we need to focus on that leverage.”

He also pointed out that “Instead of having 103 small campaigns we must consolidate our efforts into a bigger campaign. There is no guarantee that we can save all 103 branches but perhaps we can save some. Pearse Doherty TD is leading the campaign but is depending on local people to get behind it. Louth will not be found wanting.”

When asked about how people can help, Cllr McGeough said “there were a number of good ideas that came from the public meeting and the time has come to forge ahead with them.

  • Email the Minister of finance to get a moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 minister@finance.gov.ie
  • Sign the uplift petition – (consolidation of signatures rather than individual petitions throughout the country)

Petition: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/keep-our-bank-branch-open?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1614717394&utm_campaign&utm_medium=myuplift&utm_source=fb-share&share=535c9548-89b7-46d0-aade-3feac6e5e09f&fbclid=IwAR33YPOSpdL6925tWaTT84_qqW-5WjI_wLhISOHAxnBfhBf1U2kBgJSMwGE

  • Send emails to your TDs – Imelda Munster TD, Ruairí Ó Murchú TD & Ged Nash TD are on record opposing the closure. We have 5 TDs in Louth:

Imelda.Munster@Oireachtas.ie

Ruairi.omurchu@oireachtas.ie

gerald.nash@oireachtas.ie

Fergus.odowd@oireachtas.ie

Peter.fitzpatrick@oireachtas.ie

  • Contact Dunleer branch telling them how valuable the branch is to the area (Telephone 041 6851108, David Duffy is the manager)
  • Banks rely on customer loyalty and traditionally people remain with the same bank regardless of what happens – tell Bank of Ireland, If you leave Dunleer, we are leaving you!

A moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 will allow us to get through this Pandemic and give us time to make a case for Dunleer branch to remain open.

Cllr McGeough: Closure of Dunleer BOI is ‘A Slap in the Face’

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has described the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close their branch in Dunleer as ‘a slap in the face to its customer in the area’.

Cllr McGeough said “Dunleer is progressive community with a strong industry base with a number of very successful community led initiatives that have worked hard to improve the quality of life for citizens and the loss of the Bank of Ireland branch in the area is a huge blow not only to those who reside in the village itself but also to the outlying surrounding areas.”

The Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 103 of its branches across Ireland with Dunleer the only branch in County Louth facing closure.

Cllr McGeough said “I am very concerned at this particular closure because it is the older people who are once again going to suffer. This pandemic has increased anxiety among our citizens and has highlighted the inequality in our society as businesses have been forced to go online while those who are not ‘tech savvy’ or ‘digitally minded’ have been left behind to fend for themselves.

“This is yet another example where big banks ‘assume’ that everyone has a computer, knows how to use a computer, has a sufficient level of literary or has adequate broadband in this rural area. This is a slap in the face for all those customers from the area that have been loyal for probably most of their lives and to make the decision in the middle of a Pandemic when people are already feeling isolated is unforgivable.”

“I am calling on the Bank of Ireland to reverse this decision and think again about the effect it would have on their customers in Dunleer.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Collon Needs Bottle Bank Replaced

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough is seeking a bottle bank for the village of Collon following its removal a decade ago.

Cllr McGeough was approached by community activist Lee Hamill who described the area as being “starved of amenities.”

The Mid-Louth Cllr recalled “the original bottle bank that was there was great but unfortunately when the bottle banks were being emptied and lifted onto the lorry they were coming into very close proximity to overhead ESB cables and so it was ruled it unsafe so it had to be removed from that location.

“That being said, an alternative site needs to be sought in the village so the bottle bank can be replaced. It has never been a more appropriate time to have the bottle bank facility in the village as we are now in lockdown. During the first lockdown the Council had to ensure increased emptying of the bottle banks across the county as people used them more frequently as they were spending more time at home.

“Despite my continued efforts Mid-Louth has no recycling centre so villages and towns rely on these bottle banks to dispose of at least some of their recyclable materials.”

Community activist Lee Hamill, who lives in Collon said “in an age of greater awareness about the climate and our environment, residents of Collon should not be forced to drive out to Ardee or Slane to get rid of their bottles and cans. As a student, I do not have a car or drive as do a number of other people in the village. This is a basic service that is lacking in Collon that others have easy access to. On the one hand we are being encouraged to recycle and on the other the facility isn’t available.”

Councillor McGeough will be asking the Council to source an alternative site in Collon with a view to getting the bottle banks replaced.

Cllr McGeough Stands Against Racism

Sinn Fein Councillor has welcomed the passing of his motion at last month’s County Council meeting on racism.

In a reply to the Councillor’s motion, the Council told him that there was an imminent launch of a new Louth Meath Migrant Strategy 2019-22 which would hopefully address some of Cllr McGeough’s concerns about the rise of racism in the county particularly in the form of graffiti.

Cllr McGeough said “Thank you for the response and I look forward to the launch of the new Louth Meath Migrant Integration Strategy 2019-22 due later this month. I just hope it is strong enough to deal with the ignorance of a small number of people in this county.

“Since May this year there have been 4 incidents of racist graffiti in Ardee and in July the Gardaí said they was an indication of ‘extreme right-wing groups or persons resident in the locality’ and they have stepped up patrols in the area.

“I myself was targeted by these ring-wing groups and faced a campaign of online abuse by supporters of this right wing extremist Party including a video naming me by their so-called party leader. It wasn’t nice.

After the second graffiti incident which took place on a privately owned fence I took a paintbrush myself and went out and painted over it because I didn’t want the home owners to put themselves at risk after what happened to me.

“The latest incident took place just over a week ago and again, it fell to the decent people of Ardee to scrub it off including 2 young lads from Direct Provision emergency accommodation. They are a credit to the community in Ardee.

“Racism needs to be challenged at every level and it needs to be stamped out before it gets a hold. That lack of education can be challenged by diversity programmes/work-shops that will promote awareness of the problem and equip people with the tools to deal with it or address it as it happens.

“The Irish people are a good people, what we are talking about here is a small minority but they are like a cancer, if it isn’t dealt with it will spread.

“There is an excellent project on facebook at the minute called ‘Black and Irish’ which highlights and celebrates the identity of Black Irish people and seeks to tell people of their experiences, struggles and successes. Some of their stories are heart breaking and very upsetting to hear, the level of racism they have had to put up with.

“Our hate crime legislation needs to be strengthened. We need to send a strong message to the country that we have a zero tolerance for racism and those who carry out a hate crime will be dealt with and punished accordingly. This Council needs to send a strong message to our legislators from all Parties that our current hate crime laws are too weak and need to be rectified as soon as possible before it’s too late and the issue is out of control. We need to be pro-active instead of re-active on issues that we can see coming down the road.”

At this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr McGeough again raised the issue with teh Gardaí seeking an update. They assured him that it was on their radar but so far there had been no arrests although they were aware of the rise in the issue and had stepped up patrols in the area.

 

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.”