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Wednesday, 21st July 2021

A turning point reached as Government pledges to prioritise Drogheda

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Minister for Justice Heather Humphries and Drogheda native Michael Keogh, who is chair the Drogheda Implementation Board pictured at today's launch of the ‘Drogheda: Building a Bridge to a Better Future’ implementation plan.

Cabinet pledges to put a “special focus” on Drogheda and its environs

Today could well turn out to be a red letter day for Drogheda and it’s people after the Cabinet agreed this morning that the Government will put a “special focus” on the town and its environs.

Speaking this afternoon at the launch of the implementation plan for the ‘Drogheda: Building a Bridge to a Better Future’ report in the Drogheda Institute for Further Education, the Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, said the Government has agreed that Departments and State agencies will prioritise funding applications for projects in Drogheda.

“...The actions of the minority involved in serious criminality have tarnished the reputation of this community “she said, “but they do not represent this community. It is the hard working, law abiding residents of Drogheda that are the heart of this town.

The Minister said that her Department since April this year had engaged with relevant Departments on the implementation of the recommendations made by Vivian Geiran, and has developed this Implementation Plan on that basis.

 “I am delighted to say that some of those recommendations, such as additional school funding, have already been implemented in line with the finalisation of the implementation plan.

“This also includes providing funding to the Red Door project and engaging with the HSE on funding to the Family Addiction Network.

“Implementing the recommendations are a priority for me and for my Department, and my Department is already working with colleagues across the public sector to provide help and support to Drogheda” she said.

She also welcomed the commitment from the Louth-Meath Education and Training Board to host these new structures to deliver services in Drogheda and thanked Martin O’Brien, Chief Executive of the LMETB, for his support on delivery of the plan.

She also expressed pleasure that Michael Keogh, a Drogheda native and former senior official in the Department of Education, has agreed to chair the Drogheda Implementation Board saying she looked forward to working with both the LMETB and Michael Keogh to improve the safety and wellbeing of Drogheda and its people.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphries with Superintendent  Andrew Watters, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan and Deputy Fergus O'Dowd at today's launch.

O’Dowd welcomes “special focus” for Drogheda

Local Fine Gael TD, Fergus O’Dowd welcomed the new “Special Focus” for Drogheda saying it will ensure that all Government Departments and State agencies will prioritise funding applications for projects in the Drogheda area that are supported through the Drogheda Implementation Plan.

“I want to thank my colleagues in government the Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, and Minister Helen McEntee, who is currently on maternity leave, along with An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar who committed to supporting Drogheda in this process following the Drogheda protest march in early 2020.

The Fine Gael Deputy added “I remain absolutely dedicated to supporting this process and I look forward to working closely with the Chairperson of the Drogheda Implementation Board, Michael Keogh and facilitator Martin O’Brien of the LMETB.”

“This plan must be driven forward without delay and whilst I welcome the government’s re-affirmation of their support for key local organisations such as the Red Door Project, we must now work to strengthen our wraparound services and supports in the town going into the future.”

He added that this is a living document which can be amended if the board identifies further requirements as we move forward, such reviews will be conducted on a quarterly basis and progress reports produced twice yearly.

Minister Heather Humphries with three of the five Louth TDs at today's launch.

Landmark day for Drogheda - Nash

Labour TD Ged Nash described today as “ important turning point for Drogheda. But he warned that “The conditions giving rise to the activities of criminal gangs required much more than a heavy policing and criminal justice response.

“Since the autumn of 2018 Cllr. Pio Smith and I have brought Drogheda’s case for a multi-faceted and multi-agency government-led response to the serious issues being experienced in Drogheda to the local authority and the Department of Justice.

“To the credit of the Department officials and successive Ministers, they listened and following the publication of the scoping review carried out by Vivian Geiran, they are now taking action.

“I am reassured that the government has this morning pledged to prioritise departmental funding for the 73 recommendations that emerged following the consultation carried out by Vivian Geiran.

“It is also important that there is ownership of the plan locally and I am pleased that the local agencies and stakeholders will co-ordinate their actions under the aegis of Michael Keogh, former Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Education.

“Significant too is a commitment that the measures in the plan will be time-lined, with responsibility for activating the various recommendations given to relevant departments and agencies.

“I am also very pleased that the overall responsibility for the plan will be housed with the Department of Justice with a commitment to undertake progress reviews every six months.”

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