Fergus O’Dowd TD says the ministerial change at the Department of Justice should not impact on the delivery of prior commitments made to help tackle the violent criminality and social issues that blighted Drogheda in recent years.
Helen McEntee was appointed to the role of Justice Minister at the weekend, succeeding Charlie Flanagan, as part of a major cabinet shakeup as the new Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition government was sworn in after months of talks, interrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Hailing from Castletown, just over the border in neighbouring Co. Meath, McEntee was among the politicians in attendance at January’s Drogheda Standing Together rally. Deputy O’Dowd says he intends to ensure Drogheda remains a top priority for the new ministry.
“I would like to congratulate my colleague Minister Helen McEntee on her appointment as Minister for Justice. This is very welcome in particular as Minister McEntee is already acutely aware of the significant pressures we have been under in Drogheda over recent years in terms of Garda resources,” he said on Monday.
Referencing previous assurances received from Department of Justice officials in relation to developing an action plan for the town, O’Dowd said, ““I will be meeting with Minister McEntee in the coming weeks to reinforce the need for this action plan to progress swiftly and for the terms of reference to be published as soon as possible so we can support and strengthen the initial reporting stage.
“The programme for government commits to expanding the Dublin North-East Inner City model to other comparative areas experiencing disadvantage and I believe it is critical that Drogheda is front and fore in this process. I have no doubt Minister McEntee will do all she can to assist us going forward.”
The TD says the action plan, what he calls a ‘Mulvey-type’ report, will focus on the root causes of the criminality that has blighted the town over the last number of years and to look at the underlying societal issues that need to be highlighted, addressed and funded.
“I’m absolutely committed to delivering a practical plan alongside my colleagues in local community and voluntary organisations. We must identify key areas in need of immediate investment and work hand in hand with local community organisation and services.”
Additionally, speaking on LMFM Radio’s The Michael Reade Show this morning, Deputy O’Dowd said that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were different but had “a lot in common,” adding that the two parties were united by the difficult situation the country was in. The Drogheda-based TD said party differences paled into significance when compared to what the country has faced and continues to face during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.