Drogheda, the River Boyne and the Viaduct as seen from the top of Laurence's Gate.
The pressure is mounting on Central Government to reconsider the disastrous so-called reform of local government brought in by Phil Hogan in June 2014 when the number of local authorities was reduced from 114 to 31.
Since then Phil has moved on to pastures new as European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development but back home in Ireland things have gone from bad to much worse. There can be no doubt that the abolition of the local councils has had a seriously adverse impact on services in local areas.
The lack of a Town Clerk or some such go-to person who is resident in the town has meant that important things that are important to the community are just not being done. They don’t seem as important to someone sitting in an office in County Hall, it’s just another drain on resources.
There have been some developments recently, certainly in Drogheda’s case that give cause for hope that, when central government sees the error of Phil Hogan’s reforms that Drogheda can benefit.
Last week Drogheda’s new Mayor, Cllr. Pio Smith, hosted a very well attended meeting to advocate the extension of the Living Cities Initiative (LCI) to Drogheda and Deputy Fergus O’Dowd brought Minister John Paul Phelan to Drogheda to see for himself the issues that are holding us back
Minister Phelan also met with a representative of the City Status Group who requested a full meeting with Minister John Paul Phelan to discuss City Status for Drogheda.
“Now that the 2016 Census results have been released, everyone can see what we predicted – the continued, rapid growth of the Greater Drogheda area, which makes the move to attaining city status unstoppable” Chairman of the Group, Vincent Hoey, said.
Vincent also commended the outcome of the Constituency Commission Review which endorses the current Louth-East Meath constituency.
“The Commission firmly rejected any other option, such as using the River Boyne as a constituency boundary,” he said, adding “the Review looked at those areas of East Meath which are naturally suburbs of Drogheda and concluded that having regard to the general proximity of those electoral divisions to Drogheda, the Commission decided to recommend no change to the Louth constituency.
“This sensible and logical outcome considers the Greater Drogheda area as a single entity – unlike the illogical decision of the Drogheda Boundary Review which suggests the area should be managed by not one, but two Local Authorities, who often have conflicting policies.”
The Drogheda City Status Group says that the release of both the 2016 Census data and the report of the Constituency Commission appear to have helped focus local politicians of all backgrounds on Drogheda’s future potential as Ireland’s next city, which they welcome.
“We have come a long way since the Drogheda City Status Group was established in 2009 and the Drogheda Borough Council adopted a motion “That the members of Drogheda Borough Council from this day forward give their consent and approval to the people of Drogheda referring to Drogheda as the City of Drogheda.” as advocated by our Group.
The City Status Group has also contacted Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Eoghan Murphy. At National level, all parties seem to be in agreement that Phil Hogan’s decision to scrap Town Councils was a disaster, so the restoration of Drogheda Borough Council would be a further, necessary step towards attaining city status,” concluded Vincent Hoey.