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Thursday, 4th July 2024

Drogheda’s politicians must unite to get the investment needed to save the town

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Even the iconic symbol of Drogheda, Laurence's Gate, has been somewhat neglected. Eight years since a succesful public campaign to stop traffic being allowed through it, there is still no sign of the promised plaza.

By Andy Spearman

The citizens of Drogheda have had enough bad news – one week it is a building being taken down before it falls into the street and kills someone, the next it is another factory closure. It seems to be never ending but if we work together we can turn the tide for Drogheda. 

Public morale is as low as it could be, we can only hope that yesterday’s announcement from BD, will spur our public representatives, at all levels, into action.

There is no room for big egos though, our political leaders must put their petty differences aside and do what needs to be done to get the government investment that our ancient and noble town deserves.

When Deputy Ged Nash raised the closure of BD, Drogheda’s only IDA backed manufacturing plant, in the Dail yesterday, Taoiseach Simon Harris was almost flippant in his response.

“Drogheda is on the floor at the moment” ” Nash told him, “it has taken too many blows. It seems that this government’s enterprise plan for Drogheda is extending the DART to bring even more workers away from the town into Dublin city centre.

“Drogheda has the workforce in has the expertise for direct investment jobs, what we need is an expert led, enterprise task force to attract and retain FDI jobs.”

The Taoiseach said he would work with Deputy Nash in relation to establishing such a task force but he couldn’t resist the urge to point out that the DART line runs in both directions and that extending it is an opportunity to bring workers and investment into Drogheda.

Really Taoiseach? Who in their right mind would think of leaving the bustling modern city that Dublin has become to travel to work in Drogheda which is a fine old heritage town but which is on its knees and parts of it literally falling down?

Also, where are they going to work? Yesterday’s BD closure was the third in just a few months –Premier Periclase and Flogas are two other major employers who have ceased operations in Drogheda recently.

In living memory, Drogheda has gone from being a boom town with plenty of well-paid jobs in mills and factories to becoming a backwater from where the only news that filters out is of evil drug gangs, derelict buildings, traffic jams and neglected heritage. 

The newly elected Mayor, Councillor Paddy McQuillan, is a very capable man and he has spoken of his ambitious plans for his term in office but this is a job for more than one individual.

McQuillan and the Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Kevin Callan, have said they will be seeking urgent meetings with government ministers to see what measures can be taken.

What Drogheda and its citizens need and deserve is large-scale investment in jobs, infrastructure, tourism and so many other vital areas. We’ve all known that for years but the message does not seem to be filtering through to Dublin.

The Taoiseach and his government ministers must start today to liaise with people on the ground in Ireland’s biggest town and next city and come up with a plan of action.

That plan needs to be broad and imaginative in its scope and ambitious in its vision. The country’s best minds must be put to work to make Drogheda the great heritage town that it deserves to be.

No expense must be spared to return our streets to something approaching the attractive, bustling thoroughfares they once were.

Buildings that have been neglected by their owners and allowed to fall into disrepair must be taken into public ownership, restored and let out to citizens as town centre homes and places for small commercial companies to thrive.

The IDA, which has neglected Drogheda for too long, must get the kick in the derriere they deserve and start finding new companies to establish themselves here.

Wrangling between political parties gets nobody anywhere, Councillors and TDs must put aside their differences and unite in striving to achieve a common goal for our town.

As Ged said in the Dail, we have the expertise locally to get through this.

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