Last Monday Meath County Council held its February meeting at the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office, Kiltale.
Meetings deal with the running of the county, so a lot of issues have to be dealt with by the democratically elected members and the executives of Meath County Council.
Here at Meath Live we have summarised issues discussed at the meeting. We hope to give readers an insight into the affairs of the county in A-to-Z format ;
A New Start
It was the first meeting in 2024 with on site attendance for all members. It was also the first opportunity the new CEO Kieran Kehoe, got to address all the members. He outlined his priorities listing Housing as his number one issue. He wants to drive economic growth and activity in the county. As a well-known GAA man he also wants to develop outdoor recreation and deal with the challenges of Climate change that we all face.
Boyne Valley Tourism
There was common cross-party agreement by Cllr Tolan and Cllr Harding on the importance of tourism in the county and how improving the East Meath area, will bring more people into the county.
Meath county council is committed to put together cohesive actions that will reduce carbon emissions.
Cllr Gilroy pointed out there is plenty of funding available from government and one of the most important issues as members is to ensure we continue to develop policies.
In the aftermath of storm Isha, do we need any reminding?
Both Cllr Bonner and Cllr O’Toole expressed their concerns at a situation arising from the meeting last December regarding the application to build a proposed 57 Nursing home on a flood plain in Ashbourne. The vote failed but Cllr Bonner was not at all happy with the way the meeting was conducted. Cllr O’Toole abstained as did Cllr Tormey.
Cllr Elaine McGinty expressed her concerns on how we can measure climate control urging the need for further funding. Active travel is really missing in east Meath and this needs to come from government, Show me the money she said quoting the famous line in the Jerry Maguire film
Late on in the agenda Cllr Eddie Fennessy called on all members to show support for the continuing conflict in Palestine with the number od deaths and casualties, as western countries take no real action. There was a support delegation led by John O’Regan, some wearing in Arab scarfs.
All members agreed.
Cllr Dempsey voiced her annoyance at comments of conflict of Interest on council matters and said there are insinuations being made. If you have something to say, come to me and talk to me.
One of the biggest issues throughout the county and country but there was encouraging numbers with 346 houses completed in the last year according to Cllr Bray. There were also 17 vacant houses made available with a target of 1320 houses planned 2022-2026. This was also a priority of the new CEO as mentioned earlier, his number one task.
There are currently a large number of independent councillors in the chamber some help give the control of the council voting with Fianns Fail.
It’s not long until the next local elections in June 2024; what will the picture be then.
There is a lot on the monthly agenda each month, most of us will think they are boring . such as variation orders, budgeting, etc., They need competent and dedicated staff to deal with all the issues in running a county. It is then for councillors to act on the on the information to decide what is best for us. There are local elections in June if you are registered to vote it also your chance to have your say.
It’s not essential reading for many but these are the duties of members and employees of Council.
The amount of discussion noise that came to the fore particularly from south Meath councillors of Ashbourne and Ratoath was one of the main issues on the day. People cannot live normal lives
Noise from coming planes at Dublin airport. Cllr Killian described noise he had to endure even in his own office, he thought that there was plane coming to land in Ratoath. Cllr Bonner expressed his wish that the action group in north co. Dublin be afforded an opportunity to address the members for 10/15 minutes at a future meeting. Cllr Gallagher said there was a packed public meeting held in the Coolquay Lodge on a terrible night’s weather. We cannot ignore the existence of what is happening.
Cllr Toole echoed those concerns suggesting proper analysis is needed.
Officer in Charge
Cllr Tommy Reilly is the Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council and at a recent launch of a new six-year plan to guide economic and community for Meath Co Co he said;
‘’We want to make Meath an even better place in which to live, work, and visit by creating new opportunities.
improving connectivity and access between rural and urban areas, and protecting and enhancing services in the community.
This plan gives Meath County Council, businesses, community, voluntary groups, and local communities a roadmap to follow. It also helps to ensure that everyone is working together towards the same goal”.
This is a big concern for a number of the councillors as Meath Co Co as we have no control over the
DAA. There is a 7,700 page submission being made in its application to increase numbers arriving at Dublin Airport, we all use the facilities but we need to recognise the down side, the unintended consequences. We have planes flying over Meath, we have the DAA allowing unauthorised flight paths we don’t need to be used as a buffer zone by Dublin CC and Fingal CC, were points raised by Cllr Bonner.
Cllr Killian was keen to find out how many acres were now being used by solar farms, we have the best of land here in the county for tillage and rearing cattle we shouldn’t forget that Meath is still a major agricultural county.
With the continuing water outages throughout the county business are at their wits end to stay in business bringing in their own supplies to keep going particularly in Ratoath as has been covered in local press and radio. Cllr Trevor Goden said what will it be like in the summer water has been turned off in Trim. The greater Dublin district is being warned to conserve water now there is something fundamentally wrong he added.
Cllr Dempsey suggested salt bins should be provided for various estates around the county. They cost €170 to provide and most resident associations are hard pressed financially. Cllr Meade fully supported the motion along the other councillors.
Storm Isha put the county test with the magnitude of the severe winds. When the emergency and out of service number collapsed under the pressure of calls it came down to the local communities,farmers and the GAA to open the roads pointed our Cllr Meade. Though Cllr Lawes praised the services of the county as he was able to make it to Athboy on the night. In the aftermath of the storms all councillors praised the heroic actions of council workers.
Ukraine and refugees
Cllr Lawes expressed his wish that all people in need of emergency accommodation can be facilitated. He complimented the improvement in Emergency Accommodation.
He did however, call on Meath Co Co to improve the Out of Hours Service which does not function from close of business and particularly at weekends. He has raised this issue on countless occasions and called on the new CEO to look into it.
The last meeting posed questions about how the Meath executive handled the vote. The news had filtered down to Cllr O’Toole that a company involved in lands where the flood plains are located had been dissolved.
What can one say, the reality is Meath Co Co has no longer responsibility, as Irish Water deal with it.
Many of the councillors are getting it in the neck from people with the council being blamed,
Cllr Killian said Irish Water need to be brought to the monthly meetings to account for their inaction
and held to account. They have made promises made but have not delivered. It is a serious issue for families, businesses and the community.
As Cllr French said, welcome to my world in Trim. This was a major bug bearer and as councillors raised the issue, that we bear the brunt of the abuse.
When the councillors speak, they are restricted toa four-minute time slot to state the cases or comments. Most comply with very few over stepping the allowance. A good rule you’d think with all the matters to be covered.
Yes, they are long meetings but necessary to run the county on a budget of over €200m million. I am sure there are many demands for crucial services provided by the council. As the CEO faces into his new role, he comes across as a confident character, looking down the barrel of challenges in the years ahead.
Time for a cup of tea and take it in.