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Friday, 7th September 2018

Council not fit for purpose – former Mayor

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Michael O'Dowd.

"Sound bites coming before citizen’s needs"

Former Councillor and one-time Mayor of Drogheda, Michael O’Dowd, says that the Council as it operates at the moment is not fit for purpose.

O’Dowd who is the chair of the Renua Party says in a statement released today that the recent walk out by the Council Chief Executive from a Borough Council meeting raises the question of whether the current arrangement is fit for purpose.

“Without going into the details of the current row it is a fact that the atmosphere has been described by both officials and elected representatives as toxic” he says.

“What is irrefutable is that such conditions are not in the best interests of the citizens of the town.”

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The default position of some to blame ‘Dundalk’ he says is a “convenient faceless conspiracy” on which to blame all the ills of the largest town in the country.

“We will hear it trotted out time and again between now and the next local election. The reality is somewhat different.”

He says that Drogheda would be better served if it had complete control of its own destiny through a functioning Council that could raise its own revenues and plan spatially and economically across both south Louth and east Meath.

He warns however that this will take time and in the interim the citizens must come first.

“Funding shortfalls should come as no surprise” he says. “Prudent proposals for modest increases in funding have been consistently shot down by a majority of elected representatives who now are shedding the largest of crocodile tears.

“A case I’m afraid of sound bites coming before citizen needs” he said.

“Recent improvements in the town have been instigated and spearheaded by civic groups. The Fleadh could not have happened without the full support of the officials of Louth county Council but it was the local committee that drove this project.

“Similarly the successful closing of the Gate and the Music at the Gate programme were driven by a combination of civic minded individuals, elected representatives and the council officials.

“The business community came up trumps in relation the Fleadh. Their investment in the event was appreciated by all. It is now time to ask if they should have a greater say in the running of the town.

“Dundalk may show the way forward with their Business Improvement District (BID) scheme. I for one would have full confidence in our own business community managing the resources for the development of the core area in Drogheda.

“The lesson surely is that the Municipal Council needs to work with all. If that means that a facilitator has to be brought in to deal with the personalities then so be it.

“If we have to establish a Civic Forum to bring diverse interests together let’s do it. If it involves handing resources to others to manage the town centre then let it happen.

“What’s clear is that the current impasse can’t be allowed to continue. It is not in the best interests of the citizens of Drogheda who must come first.”

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