Dolores Minogue, Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, believes that Thursday’s passing of the 2021 Budget restored “balance and harmony” to the council chamber, following unrest regarding the short-lived decision to redistribute discretionary funds, benefitting the north and south of the county and taking money away from mid-Louth.
After talks within and between the various parties, the decision was made to reverse last Monday’s move which would have seen the €225,000 of discretionary money available to three districts in the county be divided by population, rather than equally.
It was agreed to remove the carried amendment, proposed by Fianna Fáil’s Conor Keelan, on the proviso that all parties engagement in meaningful discussion as to how the funding is allocated in the future in early 2021. LouthNow.ie understands a multi-party group, including representatives from each Municipal District, will be formed.
This would be a move away from how such matters are traditionally ironed out, where party whips convene to discuss the issues.
“This decision has brought back balance and harmony to the chamber. We left last Monday in absolute uproar and left on Thursday united,” Cllr Minogue told LouthNow.ie on Thursday evening.
“What the people of Louth voted us in to do is to have mature dialogue and be professional in our conversations – and to make sure no part in Louth misses out. That is the most important part. We must act as one county.”
Independent councillor Paddy McQuillan, based in Drogheda, was happy to see the funding restored in mid-Louth. Speaking to LouthNow.ie after the meeting, he said: “It’s kind of ironic that the TDs and party leaders stand in the Dáil and complain that rural Louth is being ignored and overlooked when at local level, they’re trying to take money away at the rural level in the county.
“The fact that the amendment was reversed can only be good for the county. The councillors there invest in worthwhile projects. They have done CCTV for the elderly and text alerts. I’d hate to see the funding reduced for projects like that in mid-Louth.”
In the last two years, councillors in Ardee have agreed to pool their annual discretional budget to spend on a variety of projects in the the mid Louth area. Projects have included a pilot scheme for the installation of thumb locks and non-recording CCTV in the homes of vulnerable and elderly people and the rollout of a Text Alert system.
Other spends include on a refurbishment of the Tierney/O’Carroll monument, the provision of a new toilet in Ardee Library, periodic speed measures at schools in the district.
In recent years, each district received an equal sum per year to spend as agreed by councillors on each body.