REPORTS OF MEETINGS HELD 2018
Report on Cooley Environment and Health Group Meeting, Sunday 18th November 2018
Potential speakers for our annual Winter Workshop was the major item on the agenda. It had been agreed previously to hold the Workshop on the implications of Brexit for the border counties, but events over the previous few days have plunged us into even further uncertainty as to what form Brexit might take. Opposition to the deal brokered between The UK and EU suggests that the deal might be rejected in the British parliament, casting doubts over Theresa May's leadership and raising the possibility of everything from a new referendum (and possible rejection of Brexit) through to a no-deal Brexit which no-one would favour. Given the uncertainty, it would be impossible for speakers to assess how it will affect them, but it was decided that selected local business people might be invited to talk about what they fear most from the various possible scenarios. Committee members are to approach our identified targets to ask if they would be willing to make a short presentation under these difficult circumstances.
Should it prove impossible to find speakers, it was agreed that we might be forced to postpone the Workshop for a couple of months and run it on a different topic. However, this is regarded as a last resort.
The business meeting was quite brief. Seán Crudden suggested that details about to how to edit the web site should be circulated just in case anything was to happen to the webmaster. The webmaster promised to figure out how he actually accesses the site and pass the details on to the rest of the committee. He also noted that he has moved the site on to a more economical package with webs.com and had not noticed any deterioration in the service. The new package will not expire until July 2020.
Express was concerned at the disappointing turnout for the guest speakers. The general feeling was that most people were no longer interested in attending public meetings, no matter what the topic was or how well advertised the meeting was.
Discussion then focused on the Winter Workshop, which will deal with the local implications of Brexit. However, as no-one (including, we suspect, the British government) has any idea about what form Brexit will take, there was a limit to what we could do at present. A number of possible sub-themes were discussed, and it was agreed to approach possible keynote speakers over the next month or two. It was agreed that after the keynote addresses the Workshop would break up into a small number of smaller discussion groups, following the successful format of previous years.
It was noted that the See Change organisation, dedicated to encouraging people to dispel the stigma associated with mental health issues is running a green ribbon campaign for the month of May . Please see seechange.ie for further information.
The next meeting was fixed for Wednesday 26 September 2018 in The Strand, Omeath, starting at 19:00. It will be held on the theme: “Positive Mental Health.” Speakers will include Aoibhe Kieran and Sean Crudden. It is hoped that Pakie O’Connor, chairperson, Dundalk Mental Health Association, will attend and speak. Speeches must be short and pithy to leave ample room for discussion, possibly in small groups. We expect to cater for about 20 people at the meeting. A short committee meeting will be held at 21:00 to make some arrangements about the winter workshop which will take place in January 2019. The workshop will probably concern itself with the environmental and health implications of Brexit.
Aoibhe Kieran reported on a recent meeting in Cooley Hall about applying for energy conservation grants for retrofitting houses with insulation and with heat pumps. The main speaker was Eugene Conlon from Dunleer Community Development Association. The scheme for group applications is organised by SEAI. The Cooley application is already in train. For further information, see energyteam.ie.
The meeting was preceded by a presentation by Tony Lennon outlining the economic and health benefits of cycleways. The presentation included a proposal for a cycleway which would connect with the cycleway from Newry, to run through Omeath and Carlingford, round to the south side of the peninsula, through Dundalk and more or less following the coast all the way to Drogheda. If extended southwards, this could eventually form a continuous route all the way from Portadown to Dublin. This was followed by a short supporting speech by Liam Kieran. Between them they made a very persuasive case.
There was agreement that the Winter Workshop on 27th January had gone very well, thanks to the efforts of our two principal speakers: Lisa Butterly and Jim Walsh. It was felt there was a lot of latent interest in the topic, so Jonathan Larkin, Sean Crudden and Aoibhe Nikkel are to explore the possibilities of a further meeting on a similar theme before our next meeting. This ideally would be held sometime before the summer.
Sean Crudden reported on the CEHG's financial situation. This is currently in a reasonably healthy state, but Sean warned that the biannual charge for web hosting, one of our larger outlays, would be due shortly, and that some of our traditional income sources could no longer be relied upon.
Some provisional thought was given to next year's Winter Workshop. Our Secretary, Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes, suggested that we might do something associated with Brexit and its implications for Louth and the other border counties. It was agreed that this could well be extremely topical by the beginning of 2019. The Committee decided to mull it over.
A timetable for future meetings was provisionally agreed. It was agreed that our outgoing Chairman, Paul Smyth, who was unable to attend should be invited to become Vice Chairman.
Under Any Other Business, Sean Crudden drew attention to an on-line petition organised by the Dundalk Cycle Alliance on www.change.org requesting Louth County Council to include traffic separated cycle lanes in its €4m upgrade of Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk. The Secretary was also instructed to make a submission if possible, given that the deadline for submissions is actually tomorrow (12th March), on the issue on behalf of the CEHG .
Following the presentations the workshop will split up into 3 groups to discuss Depression; Services and Suicide before reporting back to a concluding round table session.