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Newry Canal earlier this month beside the busy Buttercrane Shopping Centre. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
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Several Newry, Mourne and Down Councillors have went public on social media with their grievances about Council Services with bin collections, general environmental health, street cleaning and empty flower planters among the issues.

A delegation from Sinn Féin held a meeting with Chief Executive of the Council, Marie Ward to discuss their concerns. Cllr Cathy Mason, the current Chairperson of the Council who was part of the delegation said it was a serious cause of concern and that rate payers are entitled to efficient and effective neighbourhood services.

In a Facebook post Cllr Mason said "Having discussed these issues as a Party grouping, it became apparent that this is not a constituency-based issue but is a serious cause for concern across the entire district of Newry, Mourne and Down. Basic services like this should be bread and butter for any council and the rate payers are correct to demand efficient and effective neighbourhood services.

"We are working for the people to ensure an efficient bin service collection, one which residents can be both confident and proud of."

Sinn Féin Group Leader in the Council , Cllr Barra Ó Muirí said "I was happy to facilitate recent meetings with the Chief Executive and unions to ensure that people have access to a high quality, fit for purpose schedule that involves reliable bin collection, regular street cleansing and services that should be second nature to everyone.

Unemptied bins on the Carlingford Lough Greenway.
Unemptied bins on the Carlingford Lough Greenway.

The Slieve Gullion representative added "We are proud of our front-line workers who do their best every day, but we want more from management, better services for the communities we represent when it comes to the cleanliness of our towns and villages."

Downpatrick Councillor, Cllr Oonagh Hanlon added "It is imperative that Council management ensure adequate staffing levels,resources and a robust cleansing & maintenance schedule across our district. Frontline staff have been amazing working at the coal face during the Covid 19 pandemic and deserve support."

Cllr Gerry O'Hare spoke of several issues in Hilltown including planters sitting empty over the summer and a broken public toilet. The Crotlieve Councillor said "Sinn Féin MLA Sinead Ennis and myself have been saying that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council need to improve the delivery of basic services in Hilltown and Mayobridge and address the lack of action to restore amenities in Hilltown Square.

“I have been contacting the council over the last three months to have the four empty planters in Hilltown Square filled with flowers in time for the summer months. Although the council have agreed to plant flowers, there has been no action taken to deliver on these promises.

“Furthermore, I raised the issue on two separate occasions that the ladies public toilets in Hilltown Square has been broken. The toilet has been rendered out of service and has been barricaded for the last six months. We are yet to see the issue rectified.

“Hilltown is meant to be the gateway to the Mournes, this reflects poorly on our village when tourists visit.

“Those living on our country roads are being neglected the very basic service of having their bins emptied. I’ve been working with residents who didn’t have their blue or brown bin emptied in four weeks. Residents are rightly angry.

“It is evident that the issue does not lie with the on-the-ground council workers carrying out their responsibilities, it is the extreme lack of resources and manpower leaving staff stretched to the limit and unable to provide the very basic of services.” contacted the Council in relation to the matter. A spokesperson said "“Newry, Mourne and Down District Council can confirm the Chief Executive, Marie Ward recently met with representatives of Sinn Fein to discuss their concerns regarding issues in the Neighbourhood Services Directorate. Council Management take these concerns very seriously and will continue to review the effectiveness of service delivery and implement arrangements to deal with the concerns raised.”

We also raised with them issues regarding the emptying of bins on the Carlingford Lough Greenway and the general state of the Canal outside the Buttercrane earlier this month with rubbish sitting on top of duckweed. In reply they spoke about dealing with the issues raised "as resources permit" The area has since been cleaned up.

Speaking about the Canal the spokesperson said “The duckweed which has travelled down the Canal from the Sugar Island area has collected at Dublin Bridge and is being held at this location using booms until weather condition are suitable to release it and allow it to travel into the main body of the Canal and be dispersed.  Whilst it is held our Maintenance Team, as resources permit, will remove any collected litter on top of the duckweed and larger weed within the mass.  We continue to monitor the wind direction and once the wind direction changes to allow this dispersal process, the booms will be lifted.

"As further duck weed makes its way to Dublin Bridge from Sugar island it too will be gathered within the main body of duckweed being held at Dublin Bridge."

 The Spokesperson added "In relation to servicing of the bins along the Carlingford Lough Greenway, the Council’s Maintenance section services these bins as resources permit."




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