MEET THE CANDIDATES: Community, crime, commuting and coastline the hot topics in Laytown/Bettystown

Story by Sally Harding

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019 9:54am

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Community, crime, commuting and coastline the hot topics in Laytown/Bettystown

Candidates for Laytown Bettystown: (Clockwise from top left) Fergal O'Byrne, Paddy Meade, Anthony Connor, Rob Corr, Peter Whelan, Sharon Tolan.

SALLY HARDING
Bettystown/Laytown is the most hotly contested electoral area after Navan with fifteen candidates chasing just seven seats. 
Commuting, employment, community facilities, traffic management and anti-social behaviour are some of the biggest issues affecting voters in the area that stretches from Mornington and Bettystown through to Julianstown, Duleek and Slane. 
Once nothing more than a busy little seaside resort the villages of Bettystown, Laytown and Mornington have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. It's now the third biggest town in Meath with its population doubling since 2002 now standing at 11,872, according to the 2016 census.
Concerns on the doorsteps have been the lack of infrastructure to support the rapid expansion of housing in the area and the absence of amenities for people both living in and visiting what was once one of the country's most popular holiday resorts.  

Traffic management and the need for a bypass at Julianstown also remain crucial issues. Those concerns are starting to be addressed with the implementation of the council's beach management plan and things are changing for Meath's gold coast but not before time according to Laytown native and beach management committee chairman Alan Watson.
"Bettystown started off as a small holiday resort and is now one of the largest towns in Meath. The council is now trying to back peddle and put the infrastructure in to support the huge amount of housing developed during the boom years.


"There is very little employment in the area so everyone who comes here must commute and that's only going to get worse because there is no third level facility and no employment opportunities. Where will the 2000 children in the schools go to work or go to third level education? It's not going to be in Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington.
"Over 80% of people here commute to work. It would be terrific to think that being on the M1 corridor, being on the rail line and 20 minutes from the airport that we could reverse the flow in some way and people could come to East Meath.

The lack of parking is having a huge impact on local business as Mr Watson explains, 
"There are no parking facilities in the area, therefore, commuters are parking outside businesses all day so there is no encouragement to start a new business here because nobody would be able to get to it."
"Bettystown, Laytown and Mornington started out as a tourist destination, it could be that again and a great one. The encouragement that we have as a community is that there are a lot of things going on in the background trying to improve the area, they are being talked about but we would like to see them happen."

All seven sitting councillors are seeking re-election including Fine Gael councillor Sharon Tolan who is hoping to secure a second term in Bettystown where she resides. Tolan has been an advocate of the beach management plan, that despite some of its controversial recommendations including the ban on dogs off leads and phased removal of cars promises to revamp the seaside town.
Environmental issues such as illegal dumping and littering along the coast continue to be problematic while commuters are faced with spiralling train fares and no parking facilities. Even though the population has grown massively in recent years, Bettystown/Laytown has no community centre, youth club or library. 
Fine Gael's Paddy Meade has completed his first term as councillor, comes from a farming background wants to continue work in his community as does Sinn Fein's Eimear Ferguson also hoping for re-election to improve services in Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington.

Long term Meath Council County member Independent Tom Kelly is looking for another term as a public representative as is Cllr Stephen McKee who has been working on cross county issues with Louth. 
Laytown man Tom Behan running with Fianna Fail is a new face to the scene along with Slane businessman Peter Whelan who is on the ticket for Peadar Tobin's new political party, Aontu. The free-range pig farm owner wants to highlight problems faced by businesses including insurance and expansion. 
Other newbies include Labour's Annie Hoey, Anthony Connor Direct Democracy Ireland, Rob Corr Social Democrats, William Lacey Solidarity – People Before Profit, Fergal O' Byrne Sinn Féin and Patrick Smith Non-Party. 
Slane man and sitting councillor with Fianna Fail, Wayne Harding, has been a long time campaigner for the Slane Bypass that is expected to see a new route announced soon. 
Elsewhere, in Duleek, independent sitting councillor Sharon Keogan is vying for a seat in both Bettystown-Laytown and in Ashbourne. 

 


(Clockwise) Wayne Harding, Annie Hoey, Thomas Behan, Tom Kelly, Eimear Ferguson and Sharon Keogan.

 


Stephen Mckee and William Lacey

LAYTOWN/BETTYSTOWN DISTRICT

Thomas Behan 
Fianna Fail

Tell us about yourself
Born and raised in the area, I have witnessed the population explosion over the past 20 years, whilst at the same time there has been Little increase in amenities or community and sports facilities.
I'm standing in the local elections because we need local representation on local issues. 
As a young local enthusiastic candidate I believe, with your support I can bring about these changes to the east coast of Meath.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
Train fares between Laytown to Dublin, compared to that of Balbriggan to Dublin. Greater cooperation between the council and the NTA is required to address this problem.
Lack of amenities in the area, we have had a huge increase in population over the past 20 years and yet we still have no community centre, youth club no Library.
Investment in the roads and footpaths throughout the east coast. Many areas are affected by this, we need to look at the installation and maintenance of footpaths throughout the area. Demarcation lines and traffic calming measures on roads throughout the area.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
If elected I will work hard to get the changes highlighted within my manifesto. I have taken a common sense approach to my campaign. Living in the area all my life I understand what we need and will fight hard to get it.
I would also like to see more efficient use of local authority funds, East Meath seems somewhat forgotten when it comes to allocating funds to the area. 
I will also fight hard to ensure the local clubs and organisations in East Meath get the support they need, after all, they are providing an invaluable service to the area and should be given all the support we give them. 
These are just some of the many things I would hope to achieve if elected on the 24th of May.

 

Paddy Meade
Fine Gael

Tell us about yourself
Over the past 5 years, I have worked hard on your behalf on Meath County Council to bring better services to this area. I strive to be the public representative the people of East Meath deserve. 

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
Coming from a background of architecture, agriculture and being self-employed, I am a skilled negotiator and bring great experience, vision and ideas to our council, which has benefited this area greatly. I campaign for local businesses, families looking for homes and for our county’s development.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
As the only County Councillor from your area to sit on the Council Transport Committee from the Laytown-Bettystown District (including Donore, Beauparc, Duleek and Slane areas), I fight to deliver vital upgrades to roads and footpaths in East County Meath. Yet, there is more to be done. 

 

Tom Kelly
Non-Party

Tell us about yourself in 100 words    
A member of Meath Co Council for a number of years.
A Trim native, I'm a Pharmacist by profession, I sold my business and doing Locum work now. I have lived in Laytown for 40 years and am married to Helena with three sons.
Having had an accident on my knee and being only able to walk with a frame, I've been unfortunately unable to canvass and requesting your no1 through the media.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?     
Housing, high rents, no social housing. Need more employment and community facilities. The area requires a major investment in tourism with urgent park and ride required as well as coastal protection measures and support for Laytown Races.
 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?  
Enhancement of living in the area.
Bringing the community together working together.

 

Annie Hoey
Labour

Tell us about yourself
I am an activist, having led national campaigns that have changed Ireland. I was the president of the Union of Students in Ireland, where I led the campaign against increasing student fees, and improved financial support for students. I lobbied and secured hikes to the national minimum wage and a ban on zero-hours contracts. I was the national canvassing coordinator for Together For Yes, leading the largest national canvassing campaign in the country. I was the Volunteer Director for the Campaign to Re-elect Michael D. Higgins. I sat on the Board of the Higher Education Authority, AHEAD and ICOS.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
Young people like me are struggling to buy a home in the area and too many are trapped by unaffordable rents.  We are concerned that we cannot afford childcare. We want public amenities, such as a library and a primary care centre, in our locality. We cannot plan for our futures because we are spending hours commuting to and from Dublin for work, instead of working closer to home. Young people are faced with a lifetime of insecure and fractured employment, and our mental health is suffering. We are leaving our rural communities and our families because we have no choice. 
The housing crisis is destroying communities and families. Every single person should have somewhere they can call home. Families struggling to keep a roof over their heads need to be supported. People need fair access to the property market, as they cannot compete with giant conglomerates buying up swathes of housing stock. Public housing needs to be built on public land. 
Many parts of the constituency are rural and lacking in facilities, particularly affordable public transport. People are having to traverse the county in order to access basic public health services. Children in South Drogheda have to travel to Navan and Dunboyne for healthcare. Children with special needs must travel outside their communities in order to get the support they need. Families are reaching breaking point under the strain of trying to keep a roof over their heads and take care of their children. We can do better. 
The biggest issue facing our country is the climate crisis. We need our politicians to stand up and lead the charge. All county council plans, policies and investments must be aligned with climate actions and sustainable development goals. We cannot demand people reduce their car emissions if we do not invest in public transport, shared mobility and active modes of travel, such as cycling or walking. Farmers in County Meath need Just Transition, so they can be supported in the global move towards sustainable farming. Sustainability and sustainable living must be a priority for every public representative going forward. 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?  
Some of my key priorities for South Drogheda and East Meath are:
-Making sure that more of the money raised from property tax, car tax and commercial rates from South Drogheda in East Meath is spent on improving services and facilities in this area
-A ‘Fair Fares’ campaign to end the injustice of Laytown commuters paying €83 more for a monthly train ticket compared to rail users in Balbriggan.
-The urgent development of a permanent school facility for the new Educate Together second-level school
-The building of the affordable and public housing needed to address the crippling housing crisis for this generation
-The development of affordable co-working and enterprise space to develop local business in East Meath
-The completion of the Boyne Greenway from Mornington to Brú na Bóinne to promote cycling, tourism and sustainable transport
-Making Meath County Council a Living Wage employer
-Greater formal co-operation between Meath County Council and Louth County Councils to allow the South Drogheda area to realise its full potential, with a view to securing city status for the area
-The creation of a Council-backed arts and performance space for the Meath coast
-The establishment of a new town council (under reforming legislation from the Labour Party) to empower the local community in Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington  
-There is a climate crisis and local government must play a leading role in tackling it. All council plans, policies and investments must be aligned with sustainable development goals, and the Council should promote and support active modes of travel (walking and cycling)

***

Eimear Ferguson
Sinn Fein

Tell us about yourself
A mother of 3 adult children, I am one of a family of 10 children steeped in GAA and republican traditions, I have lived on the East Coast of Meath for over 33 years. Before being elected in the Laytown/Bettystown LEA in 2014 I had just graduated, as a mature student, with a BSc degree in Environmental Management. I have put my skills into practice on the Environment SPC and in many relevant projects, I deal with on Meath County Council.
As part of my councillor role I sit on the boards of Meath Tourism, Louth Meath Educational Training Board (LMETB), Joint Policing Committee (JPC) and am currently the Chairperson of Indaver Community Liaison Committee (ICLC). I am also an active member of our  Beach Management Committee.
A practical thinker, I always try to look for the positive in things and look for practical solutions to issues. I made a promise five years ago that the East Coast of Meath would no longer remain a forgotten part of Meath and I would be there to keep us high on the Council agenda. While some projects can seem painfully slow, many have been done and a lot more about to start.
But Laytown/Bettystown LEA is on the Council radar now and I hope I am still there to see many projects completed.

 

Cllr Stephen McKee  
Fianna Fail

Tell us about yourself
I am married to Lorna Durkin and we have 3 young children; Ella, Eabha and Freya. I attended Donacarney National School in East Meath, graduated from Trinity College Dublin and am a Secondary School Teacher at Eureka, Kells, County Meath. I live with my family at Deenes, Duleek, County Meath.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
Housing; Roads, infrastructure & public services; Local job creation;Broadband provision; Facilities & amenities for families; Transport. 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
I will continue to strongly support the work of the local community, voluntary and sporting clubs & groups. Ensure that Meath County Council provides sufficient homes for local people. Work for greater co-operation between Louth and Meath County Councils to develop the potential of South Drogheda and East Meath. Promote local business & job creation and ensure proper planning of infrastructure & services. Continue to campaign for the inclusion of Laytown & Drogheda Train Stations into the ‘Short Hop Zone’ and fight for reduced rail fares for hard-pressed commuters. Lobby for broadband provision for everyone in East Meath.


William Lacey
People Before Profit

Tell us about yourself
I am a People Before Profit candidate for Laytown-Bettystown.  I have fought water charges and for public and affordable homes for all.  I also supported Marriage Equality and Repeal the 8th.  I am an experienced volunteer with Bettystown Tidy Towns and Beach Management Committee, where I help to improve the local area.

I will always support Community Groups because they give us confidence which will allow all of us to share in something we can value.  There are many challenges ahead and with our growing population, we must provide public services for all as the foundation for a better and a fairer society.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
If elected I pledge to:
- Campaign for a Public Library
- Call for increased Healthcare Services
- Campaign for Amenities for our growing youth population in East Meath
- Extend short hop zone to Laytown/Drogheda
- Appoint a fulltime Beach Warden to enforce foreshore bye-laws
- Commit to giving my support for a bypass for Julianstown 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?   
- Vote to build public and affordable housing on public land
- Vote to reduce the property tax and lobby to scrap it
- Fight any re-introduction of water charges
- Be a voice for workers, women and minorities
- Advocate carbon tax for corporations, not for people

**
Peter Whelan
Aontu

Tell us about yourself
I'm a businessman in Slane who runs the renowned “Whole Hogg’s free range pig farm. I'm a prominent member of the Boyne Valley Series and have been on national TV and Radio promoting the Boyne Valley.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
- Housing 
- Roads infrastructure 
- Park and ride facilities 
- More gardai
- CCTV at tourist attractions

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
- To help people to get to work easier.
- To help people have a roof over their head.
- To help couples who are renting because they can’t get mortgages

***
Cllr. Sharon Keogan
Independent

Tell us about yourself
I am a full-time councillor in the district of Bettystown/ Laytown since 2014. I am the only councillor to provide a full time 24/7 community support office in Duleek.  I have been involved in the establishment of many important initiatives - Duleek and Donore District Text Alert & CCTV, Duleek & Stamullen District News.
I founded the Duleek Youth Revival Programme supporting teenagers and the Feel Good Project supporting FREE mental health services for our district.
I am passionate about the work I do. If re-elected I’ll work hard to ensure the initiatives I started will be maintained and developed.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
The main issues affecting the local community are; 
• Crime and the need for Crime prevention in particular lack of Garda resource in many small towns
• Supporting people with mental health issues and providing a support network within the community for people in need.
• Supporting the youth of the community and giving them a purpose
• Providing funding for local facilities in our villages and towns
• Social housing is a big concern for many in this district - an area that urgently needs government intervention.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
My main priorities if I am re-elected are: 
• Provide accessible mental health supports for the people of Duleek and
surrounding area
• Lobby for job creation in the IDA Park, South Drogheda
• Make available council-built housing for rent or lease
• Provide more free public parking at Laytown/Gormanston Train Station
• Construction of a playground in Donore/Stamullen/Donacarney
• Seek funding for the proposed bypass for Julianstown/Slane
• Introduce further traffic calming measures in areas like Grangerath, Donore and
other built-up areas
• Seek funding for the Coastal Protection Scheme in Laytown
• Expand the Community Text Alert services in YOUR area to further reduce crime

 

Fergal O'Byrne
Sinn Fein

Tell us about yourself
Fergal O’Byrne is the Sinn Fein candidate for the local elections in the Laytown – Bettystown area which includes Slane, Duleek and Donore. He has been active in the local community for many years, primarily on environmental matters including local representation on the Knockharley visitor committee to monitor and scrutinise the operation of the landfill dump.  He will be campaigning for the dump's closure.
Fergal is a senior manager in the public service in areas of standardisation and conformity assessment. He holds an MSc in civil engineering and other qualifications in health and safety and EU law.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
His local election campaign will focus on job creation in the Boyne Valley area with particular reference to the Slane, Duleek, Donore corridor which he sees as having tremendous potential for tourist growth with long-term sustainable employment for local people. The housing crisis, local amenities, public transport, safe neighbourhoods and environmental protection will also be top priorities for Fergal in this local election year.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
Represent the people of East Meath so as to ensure that local government works for them and their expectations. To deliver a housing programme to alleviate the current crisis. To change our ways to a more sustainable society for our children and grandchildren.

***

Rob Corr
Social Democrats

Tell us about yourself
I’d like to introduce myself as the candidate for the Social Democrats in the Local Elections in the Laytown & Bettystown area.
I have been working in the area of disability & sports development for over 17 years. I am currently working with Malta Services in Drogheda were I advocate on behalf of my clients who have an Intellectual disability. I also have a passion for improving services in mental health and youth services. The area of East Meath has been underdeveloped and the derelict buildings and shop units that we see around us needs to change, to not only create employment but to bring a vibrant backdrop of economic growth to match our beautiful coastal scenery. 
I am an active member of the East Meath area community particularly in the area of sports. 
I am the Chairperson for the New Louth Schoolgirls soccer league, which I have helped form with the F.A.I and Louth Sports partnership.
My political interests are in improving disability provision as a right and the development of a National Health Service – Slante Care - for all citizens’. I want to see a less costly education system on families from primary school to College. I’d like to see a free national waste service for those who are in economic difficulty to eliminate illegal dumping from our beautiful landscape. I am committed to supporting our local community and improving people’s lives in any way I can. 
I am asking that people will give me there No 1 vote on May 24th.
If the Social Democrats can get as many of the over 60 candidates they are running elected, we will then strive to get change at local government that will prove to people that we are a party who demand change and will deliver on quality local services that communities deserve.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?
The lack of implemented planning in the area is shocking. There have been many plans drafted for the area over the last 20 years, but then not implemented, due to lack of funds or political will. 
To think that the simple availability of public toilets near the beaches is not in place in modern Ireland. And yet part of the focus of the resent beach management plan from the Meath County council was on getting dogs, cars and horses off the beach. Something I know even some of the current sitting councillors will not support, as will I not support if elected.
And the lack of infrastructure for park and ride spaces for those using public transport in a time when climate change is all the buzz, but nothing practical and simple is being done to actually create the social change needed to tackle the issues.
We also need a better Garda presence - a full-time station is needed and a community Garda to liaise with the antisocial behaviours that have been plaguing parts of the area.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
Meath as a county has one of the highest intakes of local property tax, but the council is still funded the same as it was over 20 years ago. I along with my colleges who are running for seats in Ashbourne, Navan and trim respectively, will be highlighting this to central government to get this changed so we can start using the proper funds to get services across the board in Meath up to standard.


Eimear Ferguson
Sinn Fein

A mother of 3 adult children, I am one of a family of 10 children steeped in GAA and republican traditions, I have lived on the East Coast of Meath for over 33 years. Before being elected in the Laytown/Bettystown LEA in 2014 I had just graduated, as a mature student, with a BSc degree in Environmental Management. I have put my skills into practice on the Environment SPC and in many relevant projects, I deal with on Meath County Council.
As part of my Councillor role I sit on the boards of Meath Tourism, Louth Meath Educational Training Board (LMETB), Joint Policing Committee (JPC) and am currently the Chairperson of Indaver Community Liaison Committee (ICLC). I am also an active member of our  Beach Management Committee.
A practical thinker, I always try to look for the positive in things and look for practical solutions to issues. I made a promise 5 years ago that the East Coast of Meath would no longer remain a forgotten part of Meath and I would be there to keep us high on the Council agenda. While some projects can seem painfully slow, many have been done and a lot more about to start.
But Laytown/Bettystown LEA is on the Council radar now and I hope I am still there to see many projects completed.

Anthony Connor
Direct Democracy Ireland

Tell us about yourself   
I am originally from Duleek County Meath but now living in Grange Rath, Drogheda Co. Meath I attended Duleek boys’ national school and later returned to college as a mature student to study Law.  I am a Manager in Dublin Airport I volunteer as a suicide intervention officer with suicide intervention organisation SOSAD a roll that I love and cherish. Over the past 10 years, I have campaigned against the water charges, local property tax, evictions, homelessness, as well as many other issues that have adversely affected our families daily. I won’t just speak the change, I’ll be the change.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
Transport and development – East Meath and South Drogheda need a more vigorous development plan as it is expected that the populations of these areas will increase rapidly by the next census in 2021.
The ‘short hop zone’ not been included between Laytown and Drogheda train stations, is unacceptable, it costs the same to travel from Drogheda to Laytown as it does from Drogheda to Balbriggan €6.
Local Property Tax- Meath Councillors all received €60k, which works out at €12K a year over the 5 years,  to vote against reducing the Local Property Tax. This should never be allowed to happen.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
Roads and infrastructure- I will push to have our Road tax that we all pay, do what it is supposed to do, fix roads. All too often this Tax is channelled into areas that see it misused while our roads lay in wreck and ruin.
I will actively seek to have the LPT reduced,  we must remember the Fine Gael Government are currently restructuring the LPT to suit modern house prices, this will have a detrimental effect on us all.  I need your vote to do this and more.
If elected I will open a full-time office in Duleek.

****

Cllr Sharon Tolan 
Fine Gael

Tell us about yourself  
In May of this year, I will have completed my first term as a full-time councillor.  I am married with 3 children and we have lived in Bettystown for almost 20 years. Over the past 5 years, I have served on the Boards of Boyne Valley Tourism and am currently the Chairwoman of Louth and Meath Education and Training Board, and Meath Local Sports Partnership.  I am also a member of the Joint Policing Committee, Chairwoman of East Meath Utd Football Club, am serving on the Boards of Management of Coláise na hInse in Laytown, and Chairwoman of the BOM of St Oliver's Community College in Drogheda, and am also a Peace Commissioner.
Over the past 5 years, I have helped to shape the future for education, sport, tourism and the economy throughout this county, whilst carrying out my day to day work as a councillor.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
Supply of social and affordable housing.  Community and youth facilities, traffic calming measures, footpaths and roads, coastal erosion and protection.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?   
I have delivered a significant amount over the past 5 years, and I hope to be able to serve my community in the hard working and caring manner for another 5 years to continue to deliver on these issues.

Wayne Harding
Fianna Fail

Tell us about yourself   
Have been a member of Meath County Council since 2009. 
Married to Yvette with 2 children. Ethan 12, and Amelia 8. We have had a family pub in Slane Village for 32 years. We have strong links with the GAA and sponsor all community and sporting groups. I sit on the board of a number of school across the Laytown-Bettystown area including being Chairperson of Colaiste na Hinse in Bettystown.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
The Slane Bypass, the N2 in its entirety, every type of housing need.
roads and lack of broadband in rural areas

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
- To continue my work in helping provide a community centre and men’s shed for Slane village. 
- To continue the work in extending the Boyne Greenway which would have a massive impact on the whole Laytown-Bettystown area. 
- To continue my work in education in the Laytown/ Bettystown area.
- To continue my work on delivering the Slane Bypass 
- To continue my work with all community and sporting organizations.

Patrick Smith
No information supplied by candidate.

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