Farm leader ‘not prepared to reveal all income received from the position’

‘Would be ‘nonsense’ to do so.’

Sligo News File Online

As controversy rages over the remuneration of key IFA figures, it’s reported that the leader of another national farm body has refused to disclose details of his earnings from the position.

John Comer, President, ICMSA.
John Comer, President,

According to Mid West Radio, the president of the ICMSA, John Comer has said “he is not prepared to divulge his total earnings or claimed expenses,” as to do so would be “nonsense.”

Mid West reports that the Mayo farmer, who is also a board member of Ornua, the company to which Aurivo is switching its butter packing operations, has said he gets an “allowance” of up to €50,000, but declined  to reveal what he earns in total, including his expenses.

They state Mr. Comer has said that he has a right to privacy and ICMSA members have accepted that.

Sources have meanwhile indicated that the IFA is to withhold a €2 million severance package from its former secretary general, Pat Smith. The president of the association, Eddie Downey resigned during the week.

Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, TD.
Minister for Agriculture,
Simon Coveney, TD.

Earlier today, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said he was shocked to learn of the scale of the salary paid to the former secretary general. While it was not for him to say if it was acceptable or not he thought it was “inappropriate.”

An Agriland poll shows 84% of respondents think that the entire Executive of the IFA should resign.

The constitution of the association provides that the organisation must elect a new president within two months. Acting president, Tim O’Leary is said to have already announced that he intends to contest the election.

Sinn Féin launch campaign of action over hospital trolley crisis

Protest at venues throughout the country this weekend

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Fein LogoSinn Fein has announced a campaign of action over the country’s worsening hospital and trolley crisis. The party’s spokesman on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said venues in which protests will be held this weekend include:

Clare: Saturday, protest at the O’Connell monument in Ennis 11am
Cork City: Saturday. Protest Mercy Hospital 12 noon
 Donegal: Saturday, street campaigning in Letterkenny, Ballybofey and Inisowen 12 noon
Dundalk: Friday, protest Town Centre 2:30pm
Galway City: Sunday. Protest at Eyre Square 1pm
Kerry: Friday, Protest at Kerry General Hospital 5:30pm
Kilkenny: Street stall outside Town Hall on Saturday from 11am
Limerick City: Saturday, street campaigning at the Milk Market and Bedford Row 11am
 Offaly: Saturday: Protest at Tullamore Hospital 1-3pm
 Tipperary Town: Street stall in main street with Seamie Morris on Saturday 12am.

Sandyford: Saturday, street campaigning, Balally Centre 11-12 noon
 Dundrum: Saturday, street campaigning, Lidl shopping centre 11-12 noon
Mater Hospital: Saturday, protest 1pm
 Blanchardstown: Saturday, protest, Shopping Centre, 1-2pm
 Tallaght Hospital: Saturday, 1-2pm


Sligo firms asked to support Business Improvement District project.

Move designed to boost town economic activity.

Sligo News File Online

A group of traders working on plans for the development of a Sligo Business Improvement District is calling on local business firms to
weigh in behind the move.

The BID, says the group, is established to work for Sligo, increase footfall and economic activity and to secure a long-term sustainable model for the management of the town.

More than 50% of businesses within the BID specified zone must vote yes in a county council approved ballot if the project is to come into existence. An annual levy, calculated by reference to rateable valuations, will not exceed €400 each in the case of about of 80% of the premises concerned, the group says.

The group states that the Sligo BID will work to:

Form an umbrella group that will represent all businesses in the   BID Zone
Promote shopping and visiting experience in Sligo and      increase footfall
Improved management of town centre activities
Address issues that effect business performance
Bulk purchasing of services and utilities that deliver cost savings
Be a business-led organisation run for local businesses by local businesses
Work together on rates, traffic management and anti-social behaviour

Business owners will be requested to vote for or against the plan on Friday,11 December.

Ahead of this, an information evening, to which all business property owners and ratepayers are invited, will be held in the Bistro Bianconi at 6.15pm on Wednesday, 2 December.

Farmers invited to attend Fianna Fail arranged South Sligo meeting

Scanlon: ‘Opportunity to have their voices heard.’

Sligo News File Online.

Fianna Fail is asking farmers to attend a meeting in Ballymote next week.

Issues that the party’s general election candidate Eamon Scanlon is proposing to discuss include beef prices, processor specifications, and super levy penalties following the abolition of milk quotas.

Scanlon observes that there are problems with prices and fines, and has invited Eamon O’Cuiv TD, and Macra President, Sean Finan to discuss them.

The press statement mentions that a GP, Dr. Keith Swanick will also be present to speak on farm safety.

Irish CattleHis party, says Scanlon, is “promising a fairer way forward for Ireland’s 140,000 farmers.”

The meeting is in Coach House Hotel at 8 pm on 3rd December.

Scanlon was TD when the Fianna Fail-led government announced the decision to kill off cancer services at what was then the General Hospital in Sligo. The hospital, later a regional facility, is now named the University Hospital, Sligo.

As a Fianna Fail Councillor Scanlon and members of the party on Sligo County Council have, for the last two years, partnered Fine Gael in voting down proposed reductions in the property tax on the family home.

The tax on family homes was implemented by the current Fine Gael – Labour Coalition following an agreement the  last Fianna Fail-led government made with the Troika to introduce the controversial measure. The property tax and water and carbon taxes that the Fianna Fail-led government also agreed to introduce in its Understanding with the Troika have inflicted hardship on families in rural and urban areas of Sligo and the region. Farmers are being hit with water bills by both the county council and Irish Water.

Fianna Fail – expected to form a Coalition government with Fine Gael after the general election in early 2016 – have given no undertaking that they will abolish the water charges, the property taxes or the carbon levies on coal, gas, heating oil, turf briquettes, diesel or petrol. Farmers may see the meeting as an opportunity to raise these issues and the crash that brought the country’s economy to its knees.

National farm organisation hits out against livestock sales levies

‘ICSA does not receive a red cent’

Sligo News File Online

The President of the ICSA, Patrick Kent has said “farmers can no longer carry the burden of levies deducted from livestock prices that are failing to deliver a viable income.”

Patrick Kent, President. ICSA
Patrick Kent, President.

Commenting on non-statutory levies deducted “without the express permission of farmers when they supply livestock to factories and marts” he said, “the ICSA does not receive a red cent of its income” from them.

“Nonetheless, we are delivering strong representation for farmers at National and EU level on a broad range of issues including TTIP, regulation of the food chain, 30-month limits for beef cattle, and fighting against unfair penalties imposed as a result of inspections.”

Mr. Kent also called for a “value for money review” of statutory levies. Though disease levels have dropped significantly “this is not reflected in the levy,” he said.

“Farmers’ see little benefit in Bord Bia levies when the differential between Irish and British beef prices is over a euro a kilo on R grade steers.”


Fine Gael will replace lost jobs by 2018: McLoughlin

‘String of Sligo – Leitrim job announcements this year’

Sligo News File Online

Sligo – Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin has said “we in Fine Gael know that there is a lot more to do” to replace jobs lost under Fianna Fáil Governments.

Tony McLoughlin, T.D., Sligo - Leitrim
Tony McLoughlin, T.D.,
Sligo – Leitrim

“But we are on track to achieve this by 2018.”

According to FinFacts, jobs in Irish exporting firms are down 30,000 since the second quarter of 2008.

McLoughlin says that there has been a “string of recent job announcements” throughout the Sligo – Leitrim constituency this year.



Those who pay the IFA salaries have a right to know – Martin Ferris TD

‘The revelation that the executive did not know what the general secretary was being paid … is shocking.’

Sligo News File Online

Speaking following the resignation from the Irish Farmers’ Association of general secretary, Pat Smith, Sinn Féin spokesman on agriculture, food and the marine, Martin Ferris TD, called for transparency on salaries and benefits within the Association.

Martin Ferris, TD Sinn Fein Spokesman on Agriculture & Rural Development
Martin Ferris, TD
Sinn Fein Spokesman on Agriculture & Rural Development

Deputy Ferris said:

“Not only as a public representative, but as a member of the IFA, I think I and all the members have a right to know what salaries and benefits are being enjoyed by employees of the Association.

“The revelation that the executive did not know what the general secretary was being paid nor what other benefits were being enjoyed by him is shocking.

“I call on the IFA leadership and executive to revise policies and guarantee more transparency about such matters to the members, who after all, pay the salaries and who have a right to know where their money is going.

“If new legislation is necessary to guarantee more transparency about salaries in the voluntary sector, then let it be introduced,” he added.

Commercial rates on Sligo small businesses set to rise as government clears way for cut in rates of major utility companies

Sligo News File Online

It’s understood that a government directive said to have instructed Sligo County Council to decrease the commercial rates on a number of major utility operations will be on the agenda at a meeting of the authority on Monday.

Cllr. Thomas Healy, Sinn Fein, Chairman, Municipal District Sligo.
Cllr. Thomas Healy, Sinn Fein,
Chairman, Municipal District Sligo.

The revised valuation of structures, understood to include those of Vodafone, BT, Meteor and Eircom, comes in the wake of recently amended legislation first introduced by the Fianna Fail-led government in 2001.

Under the measures, it’s believed the council must now slash the rates bill of the various companies by upwards of €300,00, leaving the authority having to make up for the loss in income by, it looks, “rebalancing” upwards the rates load on smaller firms throughout the county.

Sinn Fein Chairman of the Sligo Municipal District, Cllr. Thomas Healy, who called public attention to the change in the commercial rate valuation system, said he was profoundly concerned about the impact implementation of the new Valuation Office adjustment would have on those hit with higher rates on premises.

With many smaller firms struggling to survive as it is, he said that imposing a greater rates burden on them would have serious implications for their future viability and the jobs they offer.

Monday’s meeting will look at how the Council is to cope with budget demands for the coming year. Long-term debts of the authority are in excess of €100 million, much of it a carry-over from earlier councils. Cumulative deficit is €26 million. Despite this, a financial plan reportedly overseen by the Government stipulates that, on top of huge cuts in staffing levels and local services, councillors must make provision for a massive budget surplus of €2.3 million. Should they refuse or fail to adopt the budget within a defined timeframe, the Minister for the Environment can remove the elected members, and replace them with a Government-appointed commissioner.

There are fears that the seriousness of the council’s finances could see householders hit with a future – post coming general election – whopping increase in the existing property tax on their homes. In the last two years, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members of the council have repeatedly blocked proposals to scale down the tax, leaving Sligo now among the highest property tax hammered counties in the country.