Drogheda - a city divided by a river.
Senator Ged Nash has said that only the restoration of Drogheda Borough Council will allow Drogheda to be master of its own destiny.
Responding to the news late last week that both Drogheda and Dundalk look set to see separate council officials appointed to help administer both areas, Senator Nash said: “It would be churlish not to welcome additional resources for Drogheda, but it’s important too not to exaggerate the importance of this appointment for the area and to manage expectations in terms of what the reallocation of a Council official to administer the town will achieve.
“This does not restore Borough status to Drogheda. This does not restore planning and development functions to a Council charged with looking after Drogheda. This does not empower our elected Councillors to raise revenue in Drogheda that can be spent in Drogheda only.
“Despite the hype, neither does this planned appointment bring us any closer to city status. In order for that to be done, the area should in the first instance have its own Council. It doesn’t, and if Fine Gael has anything to do with it, it wont.
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“Labour is the only party to have a piece of legislation designed to restore Borough status before the Oireachtas. This legislation was opposed by Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance.
“The restoration of the Council in Drogheda, with the continued development of strong and structured engagement with Meath County Council is the key to unlocking the potential of our area and ultimately to city status.”
The City Status Group has also reacted cautiously to last week’s announcement by Deputy Fergus O’Dowd that a “Senior Executive Officer” will be appointed as a “Town Manager” to manage aspects of Local Government in Drogheda.
“We await seeing full details of this proposed position,” said the DCSG spokesperson, adding “at this early stage it is not clear who is funding these positions. Neither is there any indication of their seniority; what exactly they will have full responsibility and authority for; who they will report to; and what financial and human resources they will be responsible for in Drogheda.
“At this point, we would be concerned that the position may only be a throwback to Drogheda having a Town Clerk – at a time when Drogheda, Ireland’s “Cinderella City” needs an appointment at Deputy/Assistant County CEO level that can “morph” into a City Manager in the near future. In any event, the title ‘Town Manager’ is entirely inappropriate at this stage of Drogheda’s development.”
“We are also anxious to ensure that the Local Government structure for the Greater Drogheda area reflects the emerging city and deepens the emerging working relationship between Councillors in Drogheda; East Meath and South Louth, which DCSG has been actively supporting. A priority for the region is the urgent creation of more local jobs as Drogheda evolves into Ireland’s next city.
“The deficit of local jobs is why 22,000 vehicles diminish the quality of life for those commuters; their families and the people of Julianstown every day, with thousands of people from our communities condemned to 3-4 hour daily commutes to work or college in Dublin. As well as local jobs, we need Third Level education facilities to ease the commuting and financial strain on local students and their families,” said the DCSG spokesperson.
“It is of continuing regret that, despite sustained efforts on our part to bring Drogheda’s case before An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, he has so far been unable to meet our representatives.
“We will continue to seek a meeting with him to ensure he hears the case for city status for Drogheda. We are also seeking to meet with Minister Eoghan Murphy, given his role in relation to funding the Northern Cross Route and the appointment of the so called “Town Manager,” concluded the spokesperson.