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The "Funeral for Narrow West Street" protest passes along West Street yesterday. Photos: Andy Spearman.

By Andy Spearman

Drogheda town centre was decidedly chilled yesterday afternoon with people basking in the sunshine, sipping a cool beer and watching the world go by as the Summertime Festival drew to a close.

George Gershwin’s fabulous song “Summer Time, and the Living is Easy” would have been the perfect musical backdrop but then a group of people, one carrying a megaphone, came down the street carrying a coffin to remind anyone who cared to listen that the town of Drogheda is dying.

The Group, Drogheda Together 4 All, is a community based group of activists who, like many other citizens of Drogheda, are shocked and frustrated by the current state of dereliction in the town and the ongoing demolition of one of the buildings in Narrow West Street.

To voice their frustration the members of Drogheda Together 4 All staged a mock funeral for Narrow West Street and, dressed in mourning clothes, they carried a coffin through the centre of town shouting “Dereliction is vandalism” and calling out the building owners for their neglect and the Council for their inaction.

The man leading the funeral procession, Brian Condra, said that the dereliction is not confined to the town centre “Let us not forget the derelict houses in Moneymore, Rathmullen Park, Marian Park, Ballsgrove, Pearse Park and Yellowbatter, let us not forget the derelict houses there and let us not forget the children without homes.

“The dereliction in this town began over forty years ago and has not stopped, we want our local council back, this is our town. Today we bring the corpse of Narrow West Street to a suitable burial place where once before we were threatened with an historic building falling.

The funeral cortege pauses outside a derelict building in Duke Street. 

When the “cortege” reached Laurence’s Gate Condra spoke to the followers asking them to look at the town. “It’s a beautiful town, a place so full of hope and beautiful ideas and good people but devoid of investment, devoid of care and concern by those who should show it.”

In a joint statement issued last night, the Drogheda Together 4 All group said: "the Dereliction of our town, be it the historic buildings on Narrow West Street, the lack of public housing across the town, can no longer be ignored.

“The inaction of the council, the anonymous absentee landlords, the failure to invest, the dereliction of civic duty is killing our town. We deserve better, we expect better, we demand better.

The Funeral for Narrow West Street protestors prepare to move through the town.

“Today we buried the spirit of the oldest intact street of Drogheda. Eight years ago the people of Drogheda stood up to protect the built heritage of our town, sadly it would appear that our elected representatives both national and local, along with the privateers, the landlords, the  developers have forgotten or do not understand that where people live there is life, when a street dies so too does the community. 

“Dereliction is vandalism! We want community spaces for all, homes for all. We want our town back, so that our communities can once again thrive. We don't need more coffee shops, we are tired of the endless talk and planning.

“We need action and we need it now. It is time the council acted in the interests of our town, and rather through compulsory purchase, fines or criminal convictions those who have let our town rot must be challenged and made to pay.”

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