Bell ends thatch crisis, or does he?

Drogheda mayor for life* Paul Bell yesterday announced the end of all heritage problems in the town. Speaking through the curtain of his sedan chair en route to important meetings, Mr. Bell declared that he, and only he was allowed to save historical monuments from dereliction – or at least be seen to be doing so.

The announcement came after a rather curious incident centred around the last remaining thatched cottages in the town. According to Mr. Bell and the Labour division of the Old Drogheda Society, the Mayor has been spearheading efforts to save the properties for the past four years with much success.

A Mayoral sympathiser spoke to The Faa Side about the issue.

“It simply isn’t on for anyone else to try and do something about it, especially if it’s a Shinner. Sure they’d be more adept at demolishing buildings! Conserving buildings, especially ones that require a Thatcher? Pull the other one. Has the world gone mad?”

So last week Cllr. Cassidy along with the Old Drogheda Society (don’t ask – they have more divisions than a 3rd class tables buke) organised a protest for Friday outside Harty’s Cottage on the Ballymakenny Road to highlight the lack of action taken to preserve these important heritage sites.

On hearing this, Mayor Bell set to work about reclaiming ownership of an issue he sees as his alone. A statement was released outside Harty’s announcing that he had secured funding to preserve the cottages. An appearance on local radio followed. Mayor Bell had singlehandedly with some help saved the day.

Except he hadn’t. Not really. Councillors have no legal powers in this respect. Those powers lie in the pen scrawling hand of Louth Chief Executive Officer Joan Martin. According to our sources nothing has been signed and no funding has been secured. There’s been some grand sounding promises about the near future and the near to middling future of the cottages. Someone even said they heard the future future of the cottages being mentioned.

It seems to us that the most important thing at play here is not the preservation of the cottages but Mayor Bell’s ownership of the issue. The Faa Side couldn’t give two tups of a Meathman’s wife who preserves the heritage of our town as long as it is preserved. But the petty vanity displayed by our first citizen is worrying.

The Faa Side has followed local politics long enough not to even raise an eyebrow at the depths local councillors are willing to go in pursuit of publicity and power. So we are not surprised by allegations that the Mayor allegedly called the Old Drogheda Society and allegedly advised their members to cease and desist from joining this Friday’s protest at the Thatch pub or allegedly face the consequences of alleged fund withdrawal. Allegedly.

It would be such a shame if Harty’s cottage was left to complete its descent into dereliction. It would be a shame if an order was made to bulldoze it in the interests of public safety thereby creating an entrance to the larger farm site behind it, and this might sound crazy, raising the value of the property and paving the way for developers to lob up a load of properties that you can bet your arse won’t be of the social kind but will be heralded in the local media as ‘great for the town’ and ‘solving the housing crisis’. But as I said, crazy talk. Would never happen, sure politicians can’t rezone land.

There’s been some well crafted soundbites about creating “a future for Drogheda’s past.” How about doing it in the present, for a change.

*It’s like the World Cup – if you win it three times you get to keep it.