Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne told the October meeting of Louth County Council that the county boundaries of Louth and Meath were penalising Drogheda people who were languishing on the local authorities housing waiting list.
The discussion came up when the Sinn Féin Councillor queried the provision of Part V’s under the Housing section of the meeting. Part V obliges a developer to allocate a percentage of the development for social housing.
According to Cllr Joanna Byrne “there are several new private housing estates being built around the outskirts of Drogheda, still in Drogheda but falling over the boundary into Co. Meath. This in turn means we are seeing Drogheda or Louth people on the housing list excluded or ineligible to apply for these properties.”
Cllr Byrne demanded that Louth’s Director of Services for Housing liaise with Meath County Council for some cross-county collaboration regarding these Part Vs.
“Why should somebody born and reared in Drogheda be penalised like this because of a boundary? If they have done their time on the housing waiting list in their town they should be as eligible if not more so to apply for a house that becomes available in Drogheda rather than somebody from the far end of Meath. This is very unfair on the townspeople here and should be reviewed, some sort of cross-county agreement needs to be explored that stops Drogheda people being omitted from a chance of a house in these areas.”
Cllr Byrne also highlighted potential disparities between Local Authorities in the timeframes on housing waiting lists which could potentially see somebody 10 years on a housing list in Drogheda overlooked for somebody maybe 5/6 years on a housing list in parts of Meath to be successful in one of these houses. She described this as “exceptionally unfair to people in Drogheda.”
Paddy Donnelly, Director of Services for Housing in Louth, was very quick to dismiss this idea and stated he was sure Meath’s Director for Housing would be as unwilling to share their Part Vs with Louth as he would be to share his with Meath.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Byrne followed on by saying “this just once again highlights the need for a joined up approach to certain things by Louth and Meath County Councils. Drogheda is a unique scenario where it straddles both counties and the townspeople should not be penalised for that. I intend to explore this further and it could perhaps be something on the agenda for the upcoming inaugural meeting of the Drogheda and East Meath Councillors to explore.”
At September’s sitting of the Municipal District of Drogheda Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne requested that Louth County Council extend the footpath from the recycling centre up to the M1 Retail Park.
Cllr Byrne stated that “if somebody coming from the Cement Road heading towards the Retail Park perhaps with a buggy or in a wheelchair, they have to cross a very busy road three times to be able to continue using the footpaths currently provided.
“This is a very busy road in and out of the north side of town. At present footpaths from the Aldi junction up to the Retail Park are staggered on both sides of the Road. Anybody looking to make use of the footpaths have to cross this road a number of times over and back and this poses major difficulties to all pedestrians never mind anybody with a buggy or in a wheelchair.”
As it stands there I are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossing on this road to facilitate those needing to cross.
“I’m asking to the Council to extend the current footpath on up by the recycling centre by whatever means necessary, even if that means acquiring lands to do so. This area is also earmarked for a new driving test centre which will only bring additional cars onto this road. This footpath needs to happen before a serious accident occurs.”
Senior Engineer Mark Johnson told Cllr Byrne this could potentially be facilitated under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and he would assess and explore avenues for funding.
Hippy Crack, Silver Bullets, Laughing Gas, Doing Balloons – these are just some of the slang for the new craze in Drogheda over recent weeks and Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne is urging teenagers and young people of this town to steer clear of this party drug.
Cllr Byrne said “It has been brought to my attention over the past few days that some of these so called Silver Bullets have been found discarded after use in a few different areas of the town.
“These are little silver canisters of nitrous oxide more commonly known as laughing gas, which are inhaled most commonly through balloons. The drug is used to experience the feeling of euphoria and hallucinations and its effects is likened to that of crack cocaine.
Cllr Byrne warned “The consequences of taking this drug includes dangerously fast heart rates, respiratory problems, internal burns and in many cases, fatalities. The pockets of air in your blood travelling to your heart or brain can kill you and this can occur by inhaling only one of these canisters.”
These canisters can be bought in catering wholesalers and very cheaply on the Internet and may appeal to those who want to experiment but fear the use of ‘hard’ drugs.
“I would appeal to young people and parents alike to be more vigilant to the spread of this craze and more importantly to be aware of the potential consequences. Nobody wants to be burying our young loved ones but mark my words, this has the potential to result in this. It really is no laughing matter. These drugs are lethal and they can and will kill you.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne intends to raise this at the next Joint Policing Committee directly with An Garda Síochána and has pledged to work with her party Colleague Imelda Munster TD to raise awareness of the dangers of this craze. At present the gas is legal when sold for purposes like catering equipment or dentistry but is illegal if sold for human consumption under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010.
Cllr Byrne concluded, “Perhaps we need to look at the current legislation to limit the availability of these canisters or to register/trace them somehow.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne with candidate Caitlín Connor
As campaigning kicked off on Friday in Dundalk Institute of Technology for various Student Union positions, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne joined fellow Drogheda girl Caitlín Connor on campus to officially endorse her campaign.
Speaking in DKIT yesterday morning, Cllr Byrne said she was delighted to endorse Caitlín’s campaign, particularly as her flagship policy is to try and end period poverty in the college.
“Last summer saw me successfully pass a motion in Louth County Council to see the implementation of free sanitary products in all civic offices throughout the County. For a large number of women it is fast becoming a choice between food and these necessary products. These choices are leading to all sorts of follow on issues such as the impact on health not to mention the Human Rights aspect of feeling powerless and excluded, leading to a loss of dignity and self-esteem.
“I have no doubt this is extremely prevalent in the daily lives of students and to see Caitlín run such a vibrant campaign tackling this issue I was only too happy to lend my support. If she is elected I will be happy to work with her on this in conjunction with Homeless Period Ireland.”
Cllr Byrne said “I commend any young woman who puts herself forward for positions like this. To put yourself in the public eye is a very brave thing to do and often a thankless task, but from working with Caitlín over the last couple of weeks it is evident to see she is more than capable and her enthusiasm and tenacity is something to be admired and of course the fact she is such a talented young Drogheda lady makes me twice as proud.”
Endorsing Caitlín, Cllr Byrne said “So, if you want somebody on your Student Union representing you who is passionate about Women’s Issues and stands for Equality, I’m asking you to ‘Give Change A Chance’ next Thursday and Vótáil Caitlín Connor, Uimhir a haon.”
Cllr Joanna Byrne & Windmill Rd Residents
Last week’s Municipal District meeting of Drogheda saw a furious Joanna Byrne take the council officials to task over the delay of implementing ‘Resident’s Only’ parking on the Windmill Rd.
Demanding answers on the delay, the Sinn Féin councillor also slammed Louth County Council for failing to engage with the residents of the area at any stage throughout the process.
Cllr Byrne said, “Following a long , hard-fought campaign by the residents of the Windmill Road area, the committee were here on 2nd September to witness the passing of the amended Bye-Laws which would see the introduction of Resident’s Only parking on the West Side of the street and an increased rate of parking fees on the rest of the street. This increase would reflect the rates of the Hospital car-park to encourage visitors to utilise that facility and therefore relieve congestion on the Windmill Road. This was given a commencement date of October 10th.
“Over a month later, no such Residents Only parking has been introduced. Ironically though, the increased parking rates have.”
Cllr Byrne was advised by a Council Engineer present at the municipal meeting, that the delay was due to the signage not arriving on time although it had been ordered, and the Residents Parking Only would be implemented in due course when it arrives.
Cllr Byrne said “Delays happen with orders, that I understand, but here we are a month later and not one level of engagement or communication has been fed down to the residents to inform them of this. We are now entering the winter season which unfortunately always leads to a busier hospital, all the residents here can see is congestion building, increased parking rates and no sign of their parking being introduced. After the hard work and perseverance they put into this campaign, frankly they deserve a lot better from Louth County Council.”
Cllr Byrne who worked closely with the residents of Windmill Road on this campaign urged the Council to follow up on the signage as a matter of urgency and to “not let this drag into another month before any work commences.”