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Monday, 10th June 2024

Brady's building demolition a shameful symptom of the neglect of Drogheda

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The once beautiful, now derelict, building that once housed the Brady's Department store at the corner of Narrow West Street and Scholes Lane. Photo: Anthony Murphy, Drogheda City Status Group.

Brady’s demolition would not be happening if Drogheda had its own city administration says City Status Group

The imminent demolition of the derelict former Brady’s Department store in Narrow West Street was hardly mentioned in the many and varied conversations at the election count over the weekend but it must certainly be high up the agenda for the new councillors from the very start of the next term.

In a statement issued yesterday the Drogheda City Status Group said that the looming demolition of the building would not be happening if Drogheda had its own city administration.

“This unforgiveable situation is a symptom of the rot and neglect of Drogheda caused by years of inaction and indifference by property owners and Louth County Council to the plight of our city,” said Drogheda City Status Group (DCSG) Chairperson Anna McKenna.

“With the bulldozers set to move in within days to demolish this fine 260-year-old building, we along with the citizens of Drogheda can only stand by and watch in despair and astonishment at just how far the neglect of this emerging city has been allowed to fester,” she said.

Addressing her comments to the incoming councillors who will serve Drogheda for the next five years, DCSG said: “You must now take a stance, be firm and resolute, and stand with the people of Drogheda who say ‘no more’ to neglect, indecision and apathy. They want action, not words, as do we.

“Nothing short of a declaration that Drogheda is a city and the establishment of a city administration with its own city manager and directly elected representatives will rectify the appalling situation that has been allowed to develop over a long number of years,” said Anna.

She said the incoming councillors must, at the earliest opportunity, call an emergency meeting to address the many issues that afflict Drogheda as it grows (faster than most other urban areas in the Irish State), and as an interim measure there is an urgent need for Louth County Council to appoint a Drogheda-based senior manager in charge of prioritising their response to dereliction and the risks to public safety and the local traders/economy.”

“It’s an utter shame on our local authority that the situation has allowed to get to this point. Enough is enough.”

Louth County Council is legally obliged to take action on the serious issue of dereliction. The Derelict Sites Act (1990) provides the power to local authorities to address derelict sites within their jurisdiction and to seek to have owners or occupiers take remedial action, or else to compulsorily acquire the property. There are scores of abandoned buildings in Drogheda, many of which have been highlighted by the Derelict Drogheda group, and a great deal of which are located on the main thoroughfare.

“Urgent action must now be taken to prevent a repeat of the situation in Narrow West Street in many other streets in our city.”

The expected razing of the Brady’s building to the ground within the coming days has led to the closure of Narrow West Street to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and has directly impacted other businesses in the immediate vicinity.

“Those businesses have done nothing to deserve this, and are operating in an environment where costs have gone up and they are also paying rates to Louth County Council. They may well be wondering why they pay rates to a local authority that has shown not just neglect but contempt for Drogheda.”

“Sadly, the Narrow West Street saga is just the latest in a long history of wanton dereliction and destruction in Drogheda. Many residents will recall the bulldozing of ancient streets such as James’ Street, John Street, the Bull Ring and Dyer Street, not to mention the part-demolition of one of our oldest and most historic structures, the Butter Gate,” Anna said.

“People also remember painfully the fire at the derelict Donaghy’s Mill, and the middle-of-the-night demolition of the old Drogheda Grammar School. This kind of thing has been going on for decades.”

DCSG considers the situation in Narrow West Street to be a tipping point and a watershed moment. “Nothing less than immediate and urgent action to tackle Drogheda’s many challenges as it becomes a city will be acceptable. The rot must stop. We cannot and will not allow the abandonment and disregard of Drogheda to continue for another moment.”

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