‘Farmers opting to switch to the later reference period will be starting from scratch’

 Sligo News File

Edmund Graham, chairman ICSA Beef Committee


ICSA Beef chair Edmund Graham has said farmers should give serious consideration to moving to the second BEAM reference period of 1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021. “Failure to meet the 5% target in the current reference period will result in severe penalties. Those who do not reach a 4% reduction will receive a 100% penalty, with a sliding scale of penalties applicable to those who are within the 4-5% margin. It is up to farmers to calculate their own figures but if those figures do not match the Department’s figures come August unforeseen penalties could accrue. Farmers who have any doubt about reaching the target must apply to be included in the second reference period by Monday, 21 June.”

“It must be borne in mind however that farmers opting to switch to the later reference period will be starting from scratch. The requirement will be to reduce nitrates by 5% over the period 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2021 and reductions made so far in the scheme will count for very little. Choosing the extension option could therefore mean an overall reduction of 7-8% during the lifetime of the scheme, rather than the 5% if the first reference period had been workable.”

Mr Graham also advised farmers to be mindful of stocking level commitments made to other schemes. “Minimum stocking requirements for ANC and GLAS payments are interfering with some farmers’ ability to reduce their numbers to comply with BEAM stipulations. Each scheme has its requirements, but the requirements are pulling in two different directions; one being to reduce stock and the other being to keep a minimum stocking rate.”

He said no farmer should have to choose one payment over another where such anomalies arise. “Allowances must be made to factor in minimum stocking rates when those stocking rates are part of a commitment to another scheme, such as ANC. We know the scheme has been fraught with difficulties, and ICSA will continue to look for the maximum amount of flexibility from the Department to ensure farmers don’t lose out unfairly.”

Green’s Climate Action Bill backed to the hilt by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein in the face of strong rural opposition

Only ten of the Dail’s TD’s – all Independents – voted against the Bill.

Sligo News File

Marc MacSharry TD…supported Green’s Climate Bill

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein showed what they thought about the future of rural Ireland by voting en masse for the Green’s Climate Action and low Carbon Development Bill.

Despite being widely opposed by sectors of rural activity, most particularly the farming industry, the TD’s of the three parties nevertheless ignored this and elected overwhelmingly to sanction the controversial bill in a vote this week.

Marian Harkin, TD…supported Green’s Climate Bill

Of the Dail’s total membership, only ten, all Independents, stood up for the countryside. Earlier, the ten had staged a massive campaign of opposition to the measure, pointing again and again to the dangers it poses for rural life and generations to come. However, it all proved in vain in a Dail where it now appears that government and main political parties – shifting more and more to the left – are increasingly giving rural Ireland the cold shoulder.  

The Dail record names the ten Independent TD’s who voted against the Green’s  Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill as:
Sean Canney
Michael Collins

Michael Fitzmaurice
Danny Healy-Rae
Michael Healy-Rae
Mattie McGrath
Michael McNamara
Verona Murphy
Carol Nolan
Peader Tóibín

The following, according to the Dail record, all voted for the Green’s Bill:

Sligo –Leitrim:
Marc MacSharry – Fianna Fail
Marian Harkin – Independent
Frank Feighan – Fine Gael
Sinn Fein voted for the bill but Martin Kenny not named on Dail list.

Padraic MacLoclainn – Sinn Fein
Thomas Pringle – Independent
Charlie McConalogue – Fianna Fail
Sinn Fein voted for the bill but the name Pearse Dohery not shown on Dail list.

Dara Calleary – Fianna Fail
Alan Dillon – Fine Gael
Michael Ring – Fine Gael
Rose Conway-Walsh – Sinn Fein

Roscommon – Galway:
Denis Naughton -Independent
Claire Kerrane – Sinn Fein

Cavan – Monaghan
Matt Carthy – Sinn Fein

Ending of Ballina – Dublin Port rail freight service aired in Dail

Irish Rail seeking restoration of the service

Sligo News File

Alan Dillon, TD, Fine Gael…Dail questions on cessation of Ballina -Dublin Port freight service


A Castlebar-based TD has questioned the ending of the Ballina-Dublin Port rail freight service in the Dail, stating that the decision was taken by Dublin Port without prior consultation with Irish Rail or its customers.

Alan Dillon said the service has not operated for more than a week.

Irish Rail, he said, “has confirmed it is seeking the restoration of these services and will continue to engage with Dublin Port to achieve this.

“There is increasing demand for rail freight services from Mayo and a new Ballina to Waterford rail service is set to commence next month. This should not happen at a time when climate action is seen as a key priority for society.

“We should be promoting more sustainable mobility and decarbonisation, not moving away from them. I urge the Government to remind Dublin Port of previous investment in rail. I recall that a new rail spur opened by the Tánaiste in 2011.

“It is foolish to reduce rail services for what appears to be operational convenience to free up parking spaces for HGVs.”

Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar said the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, was “very concerned that the question of continuation of rail services into Dublin Port should arise at a time when the focus is on ensuring that our transport modes are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

He said: “The ultimate aim is that rail freight continues to be facilitated by Dublin Port in line with Government policy, particularly having regard to the strategic review of rail freight under way at present.

“It is also acknowledged that freight by rail can make a significant contribution to climate action and in reducing road congestion in Dublin,” he added





New county council CEO for Sligo

Post vacant since January

Sligo News File


It’s understood that a new CEO is soon to be appointed to Sligo County Council.

The position has been vacant since the departure of the former office holder Ciaran Hayes in January. He stepped down after some seven years in the job.

According to reports, the incoming executive previously held a position at the Sligo authority and is at present employed as a county council director of services.

His appointment by the public appointments commission has to be ratified by the county council.

Tom Kilfeather has been acting chief executive of the council for the last six months.


Anger as Ballina-Dublin Port rail freight service dropped

‘Decision made without warning’

Sligo News File

Ballina’s public representatives are up in arms over the ending of the rail freight service linking the town with Dublin port – but the protest has come after the operation was discontinued.

Irish Rail has described the decision, made without warning, as disappointing.

The rail operator is quoted as saying that Dublin Port last week dropped the service for operational reasons without notice to the company managing the service.

A Group responsible for handling rail containers at the Port is understood to have said they can no longer manage the train service as ship work takes priority

The service out of Ballina moved nearly 10,000 containers last year.

Local councillors have vowed to fight the cessation of the service which was already scheduled to be officially wound down from 2023.


‘Likely almost half of the thousand who have got letters  from Department of Agriculture potentially facing a BEAM penalty’

Sligo News File

 ICSA Beef chair Edmund Graham has insisted each farmer who has received a BEAM Scheme associated herd letter must be individually assessed and treated fairly by the Department of Agriculture. “It is unfair to throw a curveball in at the eleventh hour, making it virtually impossible for farmers to rectify their stocking rates with less than a month to go.” 

Edmund Graham, Chairman. ICSA Beef Committee

“One thousand farmers have got letters and it is likely that almost half of them are potentially facing a BEAM penalty. Some of these farmers – who thought they were on target to meet the requirements of the scheme – have now been left in an impossible situation.” he said.

According to the Department of Agriculture where a BEAM farmer has, during the period concerned, had one or more associated herd numbers linked to their BEAM application herd number on the Department’s corporate customer system (CSS), these herd numbers are deemed to be part of the participant’s holding. As such they must be included in the nitrates figures for the holding and show a combined reduction of 5%.

“If this has been the case, why then have nitrates figures not been supplied all along for associated herds? At least then farmers would have been in possession of the all the relevant information and been able to act accordingly.”

Mr Graham said the BEAM scheme has proved difficult for many to navigate. “The lack of timely and accurate figures throughout the scheme has been very problematic. However, in order to access this badly needed compensation farmers have done their utmost to see the scheme through, and curveballs like this on the home stretch are inexcusable.”

“I am urging Minister McConalogue and his Department officials to look carefully at each case before they deny payment to any farmer.”

Coal lives on

UK fails to persuade G7 summit to end use of the fuel

Sligo News File

There has been a major – some will say welcome – blow to plans to outlaw the use of coal after members of G7 failed to agree on a timeline to end its application for the generation of electrical power.

An EU official is quoted as saying that while the UK had pressed for a commitment to drop the use of coal in the 2030s, some members were unable to agree because the challenge “would be too high in terms of energy supply” in their countries.

A draft announcement from the summit in Cornwall, hosted by the UK, only referenced a vow to merely “accelerate” a reduction of the fuel.

Higher tax on family home in the pipeline

Gardens, sheds, driveways to be factored into dwelling valuations

Sligo News File

Feeling angry you’re being taxed to the hilt? Well, it looks from reports that there’s worse to come. Now, the government apparently has family homes in its sight again with proposals for yet another major tax grab.

Having just recently revealed plans to raise the iniquitous levy on the family dwelling to a new record high, a further measure now said to be on the way is the taxation of everything associated with the dwelling: the driveway, sheds, lawns, front and back gardens. According to accounts, everything is to be factored into the valuations, inclusions which will inevitably see the tax on the dwelling soar to an impossible level.

Never mind that there are families currently struggling to survive, much less able to pay the huge sums already levied on their home, it seems that this is of no concern to the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green Coalition. All homeowners are reportedly to be forced to shoulder more of the running costs of local councils whose part-time elected members incidentally the government is this year lining up for thousands of a pay increase on top of the existing several thousand representational allowance and expenses they currently receive.

Family home overheads were only recently raised with increased electricity charges, a couple of hundred euro standing charge and PSO levy on the electricity bill; massively increased carbon taxes on coal, gas, turf, heating oil, and VAT on goods pushed back up again from 21% to 23% . 

Minister of State Peter Burke, TD

Responding to a parliamentary question on the family home tax, Fine Gael minister of state Peter Burke said it was a matter for each local council to consider “how it can maximize local income sources and manage its own spending, in the context of the annual budgetary process.”

Elected local authority members, he said, “may decide, as part of that process, to vary the Annual Rateable Value (ARV) and the Local Property Tax (LPT) “in order to increase the revenue available to them.”

Noting that the power to vary the Local Property Tax is “a reserved function” (meaning it is the task of the elected council) he added that local authorities “must balance expenditure priorities against available resources.”

The valuations of all family homes for the purpose of the Local Property Tax are set to be reviewed every four years.

It’s estimated the new taxes on homeowners should raise an extra €560 million.