Straight talking on Drogheda's future
Drogheda and District Chamber welcomed An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to their HQ at Broughton House on the Dublin Road in Drogheda, the meeting arranged by local TD Fergus O'Dowd, who secured the visit to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Drogheda's Businesses and indeed the future development of the wider community.
The meeting was attended by a number of prominent local business leaders, entrepreneurs, members of An Garda Siochana, HSE Primary Care representatives and also some local souncillors from both Louth and Meath County Council. Uniquely, given the impasse on Brexit negotiations, the Chamber were also delighted to welcome MEP Mairead McGuinness to discuss Drogheda's development in the European context, alongside An Taoiseach.
President of Drogheda & District Chamber Shona McManus said ''We were delighted to welcome An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Drogheda on behalf of the local business community. We had a very constructive, fast paced, direct and ambitious meeting outlining our Vision, Strategy and Passion for Drogheda to drive sustainability, business and economic growth, job creation and overall development of Drogheda - which we hope will deliver results for Drogheda in the near term."
Fergus O'Dowd T.D. added, 'I am delighted with the outcome of the meeting. There is now a clearer roadmap for Drogheda's future development, that will utilize the drive, and energy we have in our wonderful town. With Drogheda's designation in the 2040 Plan we must now put in place the most feasible way to achieve 'City Status', and plan for our development as a future city with our very own city manager."
At the meeting the Chamber Delegation of Shona McManus (Chamber President & Owner Osborne) Padraic Kierans (Anglo Printers), Eddie Phelan (VCL Consultants), Jack Gogarty (The Mill) and Richard Hanlon (Vesta) pointed the Taoiseach to the Report of the Boundary Review Commission given to the Minister of the Environment in February 2017, which outlined key actions for both Louth and Meath County Councils to have implemented since that time, to encourage and sustain future sustainable development of Drogheda, which quite simply have not happened.
Breanndan Casey of The Mill Enterprise Centre and Drogheda Chamber called for the Recommendations of the Boundary Review Commission 'to be implemented as a matter of emergency, so that Drogheda's growth is aligned with the regional and national priorities of Government.'
MEP Mairead McGuinness said "This was a well organised, well delivered meeting and probably the best managed regional discussion I have ever attended. Credit to the delegates from Drogheda Chamber who made the case for their town's future development in the context of the 2040 Plan, exceptionally well. Their points were clear and well established."
During an interview following the meeting in the Drogheda & District Chamber offices, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar advised , "It is evident to me having been at the meeting, … the boundary issue, the fact that part of Drogheda is in Meath and part of Drogheda is in Louth causes real practical difficulties with the orderly development of what is an emerging city.
'So, I'm going to take into account what was said. There were some good suggestions about how Meath County Council and Louth County Council could work together a bit better. There's been a suggestion that perhaps an assistant city manager could be appointed with a team to actually make decisions and I think it's going to be as much about people working together in a common-sense way, the solution I think probably lies there rather than moving boundaries because that can be controversial, particularly where there are very strong county loyalties and county identities."