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Millions for outdoor recreational amenities

Nearly 40 projects to benefit under infrastructure scheme

Sligo News File

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys has announced more than  €6.5 million in funding for 38 projects under Measure 2 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. 

The scheme provides funding for the development, promotion and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways, and blueways. The funding announced today will benefit 38 medium-sized projects, with funding of up to €200,000 each (Measure 2 projects). 

This investment is in addition to €3.2 million approved for 174 smaller Measure 1 projects in January and is being funded in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.

Examples of the projects awarded funding include:

  • Co Leitrim – Sheemore Walk and Cycle Track: €149,400
  • Co Wexford – Forth Mountain Equestrian Trail and Ballybrittas Portal Tomb Walk: €166,500
  • Co Sligo – Benbulben Access Upgrade Project, including new disability and age-friendly spaces: €198,000
  • Co Clare – O’Briensbridge canoe trails with floating pontoon jetty: €200,000
  • Co. Roscommon – Portrun Water and Land Outdoor Recreation Amenity Improvements: €200,000
  • Co Cork – Trails at Mallow Castle Grounds and Blueway facilities along the River Blackwater: €200,000
  • Co Cavan – Dromore Greenway: €200,000
  • Co Longford – Newtownforbes Bog Walk: €200,000
  • Co. Monaghan – Ballybay Trail Network: €200,000

Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said:

“The value we place on our outdoor amenities, and the contribution which they make to our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more appreciated than during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We can also expect our outdoor recreation facilities to play an important part in supporting Ireland’s social and economic recovery as restrictions on movements are relaxed and the tourism sector re-opens. 

“That’s why I’m delighted to support the continued development and enhancement of our outdoor recreation infrastructure through this €6.5 million investment. In total, 38 projects across the country will benefit. This brings the total investment this year alone under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme to €9.7 million. These facilities will make such a difference to communities and will also have a hugely positive impact on tourism.”

The Minister is expected to make a further announcement in respect of Measure 3 projects (larger projects accessing funding of up to €500,000 each) in the coming weeks. 

Fund for preservation of traditional farm buildings

Grants between €4,000 and €25,000

Sligo News File

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of the 2021 GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme with a fund of €1.25 million.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue

The scheme supports the conservation and preservation of traditional farm buildings and structures “of significant heritage value and which are conserved for agriculture use.”

Restricted to applicants who participate in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme, McConalogue said the scheme “continues to make a great contribution to the conservation of our rural heritage and the enhancement of the rural landscape.

“These are beautiful structures, made of local materials by local craftspeople, and I think we are all learning to appreciate the importance of this part of our heritage.

“They also serve as a practical shed for the farm long after they were first built. The earliest structure supported on the scheme so far dates from the early 15th century, still standing, still functional.

“The greenest building is the one that already exists, embodying carbon and offsetting the need for expensive new buildings as long they are well used.”

Grants available range between €4,000 and €25,000 with up to 75% of the cost of the project eligible for funding with a maximum available grant of €25,000.

He added that “The benefits of the scheme go beyond retaining the structures for future generations because it can also have significant biodiversity benefits.

“Even the smallest building can provide roosting sites for bats and nesting sites for birds. Many can support a great diversity of wildlife, including species of conservation concern and this scheme works with farmers to support, enhance and safeguard the wildlife inhabiting these buildings. I am delighted that my Department is supporting this scheme and I would encourage all GLAS participants to consider it.”

The closing date for receipt of online applications is Monday, 5 April 2021 at 5pm.  The terms and conditions and the online application form are available at www.heritagecouncil.ie

Meat plant workers: ‘low paid, highly exploited, regime of fear and intimidation…’ – TD

‘Almost half of workers face bullying, Covid has run rampant’

Sligo News File

Conditions in meat plants have been raised in the Dail where a TD has described the treatment of workers as “particularly shocking.”

Paul Murphy TD

“They are,” said Deputy Paul Murphy “low paid and highly exploited and are often migrant workers.”

Speaking during Leaders Questions, he said: “They work in workplaces where a regime of fear and intimidation often exists, where almost 50% of workers say they face bullying and where Covid has run rampant in the past year.

“I know of one worker who spoke up about conditions in the factory, including on social media. As a result, the employer did not sack him because then he could take an unfair dismissals case. Instead, he kicked him out of his accommodation because for many working in these plants the boss is not just their employer; he or she is also their landlord.

“These workers have been abandoned repeatedly by a Government which is more interested in appeasing the beef barons than protecting the health of workers and the wider community. Today’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HPSC, report reveals that out of 56 meat plants in the State there are 34 open outbreaks now. That is an extra four outbreaks in the past week. Almost two-thirds of meat plants across the State have had Covid cases in the past 28 days.

“In the Larry Goodman-owned ABP Bandon plant, 70 out of 300 workers have tested positive for Covid. It is clear that the big beef barons are putting their wealth before their workers’ health and the Government is letting them away with it. SIPTU has reported that the level of serial testing has been cut back in recent months also.

“None of this, he said, “should come as a surprise to the Government. It is now ten months since I first raised it in the Dáil. The response then of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine was to accuse me of smearing the meat factory owners.

“When the scale of the Covid outbreaks became clear, the Government was forced to feign concern. Last September, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine told the Dáil that the issue of sick pay for meat factory workers was being addressed but nothing has changed. Ninety percent of those workers still do not have sick pay. Many feel compelled to go into work even if they feel sick. I have asked the Minister about that repeatedly and have got no response.”

The Tanaiste Dr. Leo Varadkar said meat plants were a “high risk environment, and not just in Ireland.” Serious outbreaks of Covid occurred in meat plants all over the world, in Europe and in America, he said.

Tanaiste Dr. Leo Varadkar

“As we learn more and more about the virus we know that it is to do with the conditions in the plant itself more so than living conditions or transport, although they can be part of the picture. It is also to do with the air, the speed, the flow and the fact that people can be in quite close quarters and that often there is a lot of noise. That is why we now understand that they are a high risk environment.”

The government is carrying out “serial testing,” he said. He did not have the exact figures but understood the incidence of the virus was low. “I believe it may be substantially lower than 3% or 4%, which is the current rate in our community for symptomatic people.

“As for sick pay, it is really important we get this message across: anyone, no matter where they work, is entitled to the enhanced illness benefit if they have Covid or symptoms of Covid, if they are waiting for a test or a test result or if they have been told by the HSE or their GP to self-isolate. The benefit is €350 per week and can be paid for up to ten weeks. It is important that this message comes across because sometimes I think that when workers hear they are not entitled to sick pay, they think that means they are entitled to nothing. That is not true. Any employee, any worker, no matter where he or she works, is entitled to €350 per week in the enhanced illness benefit.”

Deputy Murphy: “If the Government does not represent the interests of the beef barons, who had sales of €5 billion in 2018, which is huge money, why has serial testing been reduced at the plants? If the Government does not represent the interests of beef barons, why is it the case that employers who have their employees in so-called tied accommodation are not covered by the eviction ban? Why are they able to evict their workers if they speak out? There is lots and lots of evidence, unfortunately, to suggest that from the very start, when this issue was raised and the Government’s response was to dismiss it, deny it and talk it down, the Government has consistently had the back not of the workers – and the workers need support – but of these big beef barons.”

A warning of what the Green plan for all electric vehicles could mean for Ireland

Chaos!

Sligo News File

The experience of electric vehicle owners in a city in California is recounted in an article published on the Watts Up With That? website

It reads:

As for say California going all electric, it simply isn’t practical. In 2019 Black Friday there was a half mile queue for an EV recharging station in Kettleman city. Despite Kettleman City at the time having 40 charging stations, the station couldn’t maintain maximum supply to all the charging points.

Tesla’s fast chargers deliver up to a quarter of a megawatt, though this tails off very quickly if you want an 80% charge (45 minutes), because when recharging the battery gets hot, and a quarter megawatt of heat is not easy to dissipate. But think about what this means if you have 40 chargers operating simultaneously:-

0.25MW x 40 = 10 Megawatts of power.

That’s a lot of electricity – enough to power 5000 homes. Just for one charging station, operating at full capacity.

The California electric grid can barely service current requirements  – so where will California find 10s of gigawatts of extra power, to recharge a 100% statewide EV fleet?

Compare this to a gasoline filling station, which is essentially just a big underground gasoline tank and a pump. Gasoline pumping stations deliver power to vehicles at an even faster rate, but since the power is conveniently stored in liquid form, it’s much easier and cheaper to handle and deliver.

My point is, without some major breakthroughs, all electric national vehicle fleets are just as much of a fantasy as the rest of the green package of climate “solutions”.

This article appeared on the WattsUpWithThat? website at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/03/01/

 

Medical students ‘passed over’ when Covid vaccines administered to relatives of hospital staff – Senator

‘Master of the Coombe told colleagues hospital not in a position to vaccinate them’

Sligo News File

Senator Annie Hoey, Labour Party

Medical students at Dublin’s Coombe hospital were denied Coronavirus vaccinations on the night they were administered to relatives of staff at the facility, the Senate has been told.

Labour party Senator Annie Hoey said thirty-nine students were on standby to get vaccines “but instead vaccines were given to 16 relatives of staff.”

Speaking yesterday of her concerns about “the news that came out this morning,” she said the decision “means that medical students who are working with women, people who are pregnant, maternity services and vulnerable people were passed over for a Covid-19 vaccine on the night those vaccines were given to 16 family members of staff.

“Two days after his own children were vaccinated, the master of the Coombe told senior colleagues that the hospital was not in a position to vaccinate the students,” she said.

“I am sure everyone here was appalled to hear it.

“We do not want,” she said, “to keep digging over past things, but it was incredible that it was allowed to happen and that we had medical students who were passed over for getting a vaccine in favour of family.

“I particularly commend the staff member who came out and told this story, but I am sure everyone will agree that this is appalling,” she added

 

 

More money for councillors

Reports of a several thousand euro increase on the cards

Sligo News File

The government is reportedly set to agree to a major wage increase for councillors.

Currently, members of local authorities receive a basic representational allowance of €17,359. The part-time job also attracts upwards of €5,000 in expenses with thousands more for chairing or membership of council committees.

Other monies include vouched expenses for mobile phone bills, broadband, office outgoings, training and mileage in connection with conferences, estimated to be collectively worth about €10,000

Pay for the chairman of a county council runs to €30,000 with a budget of several thousand euro.  

There are also retirement gratuities, some close to €70,000 – the scale is dependent on years of service.

Most of the elected members have other jobs, paid full-time occupations such as company directors, contractors, builders, developers, landowners, farmers, retail business owners, solicitors, accountants, nurses, teachers, council employees, trade unionists and so on.

But still, TD’s and senators whose own salaries have just been increased are demanding that the elected members must now be also paid more – councillors once did the job for free. Reports suggest that the government is already considering measures which could result in the basic €17,359 being powered up by another nearly €8,000, a whopping increase which, with the various expenses and allowances, would leave most councillors right up at nearly the industrial wage – that for a job of a few hours a week!

There are concerns about the impact the likely salary increases for councillors will have on homeowners. It will be remembered that soon after the last local elections, Sligo was among local authorities where a majority of elected members voted to raise the local property tax on family dwellings by a colossal 15%.

Then, last year, Sligo County Council announced that members had again “passed a resolution at a meeting held on 7th September 2020 to the effect that the basic rate of local property tax should stand varied by an increase of 15% for the 2021 year – 1st November 2020 to 31st October 2021, in respect of relevant residential properties situated in this local authority’s administrative area with effect from the liability date of 1st November 2020.”

 

SL Controls to create new jobs

Company aiming to expand operations in Ireland and the United States

Sligo News File

News of new jobs is always welcome, most particularly any brought about in the North West.

SL Controls has just announced that the firm is to create 50 posts within the next 18 months, 15 of them at its County Sligo headquarters.

Established in 2002, SL Controls, which provides a range of solutions to a number of industries including medtech, pharma, healthcare and technology, has offices in Dublin, Limerick, Galway as well as in Sligo.

The company is aiming to expand its operations in both Ireland and the United States.  

 

Call for appointment of independent meat regulator

‘Power to investigate anti-competitive practices in the industry’

Sligo News File

Sligo County Council is being asked to request the Minister for Agriculture to seek the appointment of an independent meat regulator “with statutory powers.”

Cllr. Thomas Healy, who has tabled the notice, said “the purpose of such an independent regulator will be to have legislative powers to investigate anti-competitive behaviour by meat processors, meat traders, bodies associated with the trade of meat, trade of meat by-products and trade by retailers who operate along the meat supply chain.”