Trucks line up to take cargo from a ship at Drogheda Port before driving off through the streets of Drogheda. Photo: Andy Spearman.
The Drogheda City Status Group has accused the Government and Louth Co. Council officials of “actively downgrading Drogheda” to deny Ireland’s largest town becoming the regional capital for the North East and delay it’s designation as Ireland’s next city.
In a statement issued this morning they say that the Government’s recent Ireland 2040 plan ignored both Drogheda’s need for another bridge over the River Boyne to alleviate the chronic traffic situation and also the Northern Environs Plan to provide thousands of badly needed new homes for the increasing population.
“The word ‘Drogheda’ didn’t appear once in the draft National Planning Framework,” said the Chairman of the group Vincent Hoey, adding “it was only through intensive campaigning by the Drogheda City Status Group and many other concerned business and community groups and individuals that we got mentioned in Ireland 2040 as a development centre alongside Dundalk, which Drogheda is rapidly dwarfing.”
Hoey acknowledged that Drogheda was mentioned in the final Ireland 2040 document, but he said it was designated alongside smaller towns such as Letterkenny, Sligo, Athlone and Dundalk.
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“It’s no big deal that Ireland’s largest and fastest growing town should feature – rather, it was an affront to the people of the Greater Drogheda Area – including East Meath - to be excluded from the draft plan, as has happened in the past,” said Vincent.
The City Status group have discovered that unlike Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, no population projections were calculated for Drogheda out to 2040 and they believe this was a deliberate decision, given that in 2015, several speakers at the RIAI Colloqium in Drogheda predicted a population of 250,000 in the Greater Drogheda area by mid-century.
The Group also discovered that the CSO introduced a new methodology which ensured that the suburbs of Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington were excluded to reduce the true population of the Greater Drogheda area.
Group members are concerned that whilst the Plan proposes a bridge on Carlingford Lough, it ignores the urgent need for an “Eastlink” type bridge to remove heavy trucks from, and ease congestion in Drogheda town centre.
“Without this critical infrastructure, the Port cannot grow; East Meath won’t have an easy connection to the north eastern side of the town and environs and the environmental risks posed by diesel emissions from heavy trucks will continue to threaten communities in the inner town,” Mr. Hoey said.
“Another issue of concern for Drogheda and the country is the fact that the ambitious Northern Environs Plan – which aims to provide much needed housing for thousands – has been ignored in the Plan,” Hoey said, adding “instead of accelerating this much needed development, the Plan has completely ignored it, and instead of identifying areas for critical job growth locally, we’re being offered a DART service which the Taoiseach stated would pick up passengers in Drogheda. What we need are local jobs that see people using trains to travel into – rather than out of – Drogheda.”
More recently, Minister John Paul Phelan is indicating the restoration of Drogheda Borough Council, but the City Status Group are concerned with indications that – rather than a new Council that would reflect Drogheda’s size and rapid growth - the Minister may be planning to restrict the geographic scope of such a Council, further downgrading Drogheda’s status.
“All these issues are wake up calls for businesses and communities and their political representatives in the Greater Drogheda area,” concluded Vincent Hoey
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