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Remembering the legacy of Sligo star of film and community activist Aileen Henry

‘A lady with a heart of gold’

Star of the film “Jimmy’s Hall” and prominent trade unionist Aileen Henry who recently passed away was a passionate community activist.

A popular, loved and universally respected figure, Aileen, nee O’Hara, of Ardtrasna, Ballinful, campaigned with conviction and courage for causes, for people, and the community. News of her passing prompted an outpouring of messages of sympathy and tributes from across the North West, where ‘the lady with a heart of gold’ is remembered for her many voluntary activities and the joy and laughter she shared with so many.

A woman of deep personal faith, Aileen was born close to the idyllic North Leitrim village of Dromahair. Imbued with a caring spirit and concern for others, she embarked on a career in the nursing profession, spending part of her life as a leading staff nurse at St. Columba’s Hospital in Sligo. Later, the welfare of co-workers at Abbots’ became a priority for her when staff there elected her as their trade union representative to negotiate with the company on their behalf, a task she undertook with her usual disarming skill and dedication.

The Samaritans ranked high on the extensive agenda of causes to which Aileen freely gave of her time. She was a powerful voice of the region using local radio and other means to press home demands for better services for the sick and the elderly and the retention and expansion of health and care facilities, issues which were very close to her heart.

She was among the first to take a stand against the closure of rural garda stations, holding that the cutback would gravely undermine the safety and security of residents, the farming community and businesses alike. She fearlessly spoke out against the rundown of the rural post office network and, no less the lack of government support towards the maintenance of jobs and the economy of the North West.

As one of the leaders of a Sligo-based farm group, Aileen campaigned against what was widely perceived to be the unfair imposition of water charges on rural-based households. In this, she was to see opposition to the charges evolve into a national campaign when tens of thousands took to the streets of the Capital in a protest that led to the government finally deciding to drop all domestic water levies on family homes across the country. Motivated by concern for the conditions and incomes of farm families and the protection of rural interests, Aileen’s input to discussions surrounding the sectors was always well informed and sincere.

Showing extraordinary confidence and talent Aileen later stepped into the world of movies after she was invited to play a lead role in the film, Jimmy’s Hall, a production directed by acclaimed British filmmaker Ken Loach. The film, which was launched at the international Festival de Cannes, one of the most important film festivals in the world, and distributed for audiences worldwide, tells the story of Leitrim-born political activist Jimmy Gralton who was deported from Ireland, his own country, when authorities of the Catholic Church and the government took umbrage over his decision, on returning from exile in the United States in the 1930s, to reopen a hall for the entertainment and education of the local community in his native village of Effrinagh where poverty and oppression were rampant.

Cast as Gralton’s mother Alice, Aileen won high praise for her memorable performance in the “rousing…and evocative look at a dark period” in Ireland’s history.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to her beloved husband Alex, sons John, Fergal, and Ronan, daughters Loretta and Edel, daughter-in-law Annemarie; Rose and Edel, son-in-law Eamon, grandchildren Logan, Alex, Dani, Elena and Elsie, brother Mike, sister Loretta, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, neighbours and friends.

Aileen will always have a special place in the hearts of all those whose lives she touched along life’s journey. May her loving and caring soul have peaceful rest.

– Editor

TD hits out over ‘last minute rescheduling of medical procedures at Galway University Hospital’

Claims ‘one patient had stents replacement operation cancelled for the fourth time.’

‘Replacing heart stents is major surgery, and the knock-on health affects due to a delay must be considered.’

Sligo News File.

Sligo Fianna Fail Deputy Eamon Scanlon has called on Harris, the Health Minister to investigate his department’s policies regarding the rescheduling of patient medical procedures.

Eamon Scanlon TD

He said that this week a patient who was awaiting a procedure in Galway University Hospital to replace heart stents “had their date changed at the last minute resulting in significant disruption to both the patient and his family. This is the fourth time this procedure has been rescheduled.

“The approach by the HSE, in cancelling appointments at the last minute, in Galway University Hospital is causing much inconvenience to my constituents,” he said.

“In the first instance, replacing heart stents is major surgery, and the knock-on health affects due to a delay must be considered.

“Secondly, patients and their families book time off work, reserve hotel rooms adjacent to the hospital, and mentally prepare themselves for time spent in the hospital. All of this is undone without any consideration by the bureaucracy that controls the HSE. In this particular case, it has happened four times.”

The Minister for Health and his Department must; he said “look at the approach they take to informing those waiting on procedures, consider the impact rescheduling at the last minute has on families, certainly not repeatedly cancelling procedure dates, and introduce a minimum time out from their appointment that the HSE must abide by for rescheduling surgery dates.

“Only with these changes will some fairness and respect be brought to families.”

Voting material addressed to deceased, says TD

‘Election material being sent to places where addressees have passed away.’

Sligo News File.

It seems that even in death, people cannot escape the call to vote.

According to a Sligo TD, marketing and campaign materials are currently being circulated to the deceased.

Eamon Scanlon TD

Eamon Scanlon has said postmen are delivering election literature to places where the addressees have passed away.

The situation is causing “great distress” to families, he said.

Calling for the system to be updated, he added that the Ballymote register “is off by 250 or so people.”

Industrial dispute at Ballina manufacturing plant

Union seeking to secure improvements in conditions of employment.

Sligo News File.

Union-represented workers at a Ballina manufacturing operation are to embark on a ballot for industrial action in a bid to secure collective bargaining rights.

The dispute at the Coca-Cola plant on the Killala Road has reportedly been the subject of Labour Court recommendations which found in favour of the union’s demands for recognition to engage in negotiations to secure improvements in terms and conditions of employment at the company.

A union spokesman has said representatives remain available to meet with the company and have called on management to engage with the union in advance of the ballot to find a resolution to this dispute.

The ballot is expected to be carried out in the coming weeks.

Euro MEPs salaries and allowances envy of Irish workers and farmers

Newspaper reports on a pension pot of just under €1.5 million.

Sligo News File.

Just under 60 candidates are currently contesting the European Parliament elections across Ireland’s three constituencies.

Nineteen have been declared in Dublin, seventeen in Midlands North West and 23 in the South.

Seats in the parliament are worth nearly €9,000 per month apiece, on top of which there is also a block of allowances and subsidies to be had – more by far that some workers or farmers in the State could ever hope to enjoy.

Reporting on the retirement of an MEP, a newspaper claims that he will be entitled to severance payments of more than  €350,000 over the next two years as well as a pension pot of…€1.4 million.

Ireland contributed €2 billion to the EU in 2017 and received just €1.8 billion from the EU budget in the same period. The country continues to be a net contributor. If the UK pulls out, Ireland’s contribution to the EU will increase while payments from the EU to Ireland will, it is expected drop substantially.

As homeless die on our streets government planning to heap more migrants on the State

Nearly 1,000 more to be invited to Ireland before the end of the year.

Sligo News File.

Despite deaths on streets of the country for want of accommodation, it is believed the government is gearing up to pull more migrants into the State.

The plan, it’s said, is being worked on while currently over 10,000 people, thousands of them children are being left on the streets of the State; there is no place for them to live. They are cold; they are hungry and would be abandoned to even greater suffering if charitable organisations were not around to offer some level of support.

Death is inescapable. Only a few days ago two died while sleeping rough. They are not by any means the only ones to die homeless. But the deaths and the shocking conditions to which families are reduced apparently count for little consideration from government. Their uncaring attitude seemingly knows no bounds; reports are that they are now making ready to invite nearly 1,000 more migrants to the country before the end of this year.

With so many people in the State already dying or suffering on the streets, so many without a roof over the heads of themselves and their children, what is driving the government to ignore the naked hardship? What is driving them to make things even worse by apparently deciding to add more migrants to the number of desperate cases – both our own and others – already stacked up here.

The Immigration Minister has said that migrant Emergency Reception and Orientation centres are bursting at the seams. So bad is the situation, the government is now roaming the country trying to find places for new centres, even though communities are increasingly opposing the action. Migration centres are costing taxpayers millions upon millions. The money is coming out of the wages and salaries of taxpayers many of whom themselves are struggling to survive on often rock bottom incomes.

Fewer believe that the huge number entering the State are all refugees. They are virtually all, however being allowed to stay. Few are being returned. If anything, government is making it easier for foreigners to remain in the State. It doesn’t matter that there’s a housing crisis, it doesn’t matter that schools are under pressure, it doesn’t matter that hospitals are so overcrowded patients have to be heaped onto trolleys; it doesn’t matter that thousands are on waiting lists for hospital procedures. It doesn’t appear anything matters where the current government and its Fianna Fail backers are concerned.

Just a few months ago, in December, the government also went on to sign up the country to a UN global compact in Morocco to make the movement of African and other migrants to States, including Ireland easier. Several states – Italy, Hungary,
Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Chile, Australia, Austria as well as the United States – refused to have anything to do with the accord, an agreement understood to have been encouraged, if not initiated by international banking and global corporations.

A spokesman for the Austrian government reportedly said it feared that to sign the compact would lead to ‘a human right to migration.’ The compact, which aims to ultimately make opposition to migrants a criminal offence still hasn’t been discussed by the Dail where months ago a number of TDs were told it would be presented for debate.

Green light for Pontoon guesthouse development

Permission to demolish existing structure at Knockaglana.

Sligo News File.

An Bord Pleanala has dismissed objections and granted planning permission for the demolition of a former guesthouse on the shores of Lough Cullin at Knockaglana, Pontoon.

The building known as Healy’s Hotel dates back to 1836 when it was used as a Mail Coach changing station. Subsequently converted to a fishing lodge in 1895, the 14 bedroomed part of the building was damaged by fire in 2011.

Mayo County Council last year approved the redevelopment of the site, including the removal of the existing structure and outbuildings. The permission, subject to 22 conditions, granted in the name of Pontoon Angler’s Hotel Limited, and which provided for the construction of a new two storey guest house with 14 guest and two staff rooms, bar, restaurant and function room facilities on the site of the existing premises was appealed to the Planning Board.

Concerns raised in objections to the Board related to, among other issues, loss of the existing building, heritage, history of the building, and sensitivity of the area to development in terms of habitat, ecosystems and landscape.

Recommending that permission be granted, Bord Inspector Colm McLoughlin concluded that the proposed guesthouse development would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. The permission is subject to 17 conditions.

Enniscrone hoping for better results in 2019 Blue Flag Awards

Beach has repeatedly failed to secure the flag or Green Coast Award.

Sligo News File.

Although a record number of beaches qualified for the Blue Flag award last year, Enniscrone was not among them.

Now, many in the West Sligo resort are hoping for better news in 2019.

The resort has failed to gain the flag for several years now despite; it’s understood promises to have the beach brought up to award standard.

The Blue Flag, which demonstrates good environmental standards and safety facilities is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education and managed in Ireland by An Taisce.

An Taisce operates the Green Coast Award, an award which Enniscrone has also lost. The award is made to beaches that meet bathing water quality standards but also retain their natural, unspoilt environment.

It believed a river or stream flowing out from the immediate area and into the waters of the bay has been contributing to problems that have led to the beach failing to measure up for the award of the flag and Green Coast Award.

Some families are reluctant to take their children to beaches where a Blue Flag is not displayed.