Talented Sligo young musicians gear up for the National Concert Hall

Academy of Music Sinfonietta prepares for trip to the 21st Festival of Youth Orchestras.

Sligo News File Online.

Rehearsals are well under way as the Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta prepare for their trip to the 21st Festival of Youth Orchestras, which will take place at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on February 13th.

Formed in 2005, directors have said that this is the second time the Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta has been privileged to perform at the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras Festival.

Commenting on the scale of its activities, the Sinfonietta, say directors, “has a busy concert schedule both nationally and internationally with performances in the Czech Republic, Hungary, France and The Netherlands.

“In 2015, members of the Sinfonietta were chosen to perform for Prince Charles during his visit to Ireland.”

The directors said the Festival of Youth Orchestras “was one of the first activities to be undertaken by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras on its formation in 1994. To date, over 7,000 young musicians have performed at the Festival.

“This annual showcase of the very best in Irish Youth Orchestras from around the country will along with Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta also feature Music Generation Louth Senior Strings, Clare Music Makers Orchestra, Roscommon County Youth Orchestra and Moate Community School Orchestra, County Tipperary Ryan Youth Orchestra, Fingal Youth Orchestra with Carlow Youth Orchestra, Queen’s University Symphony Orchestra and Cork School of Music Chamber Orchestra.

This year the Festival will see over 400 young players from around Ireland perform classical works and arrangements for youth orchestra in a variety of styles. Performances by the Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta will include “The Barber of Seville” by Rossini, arranged by Meyer, “Brave” arranged by Longfield / Crowley, “It don’t mean a thing” by Ellington & Mills, arranged by Longfield / Crowley, “Downtown Abbey” by Lunn, arranged by Moore / Crowley and “Soul Bossa Nova” by Jones, arranged by Longfield / Crowley.

A family event not to be missed, says directors. Tickets are available from www.nch.ie or from the box office at the National Concert Hall on 01 417 0000.

The Sligo Academy of Music was founded in 2000 by its current Director of Music, Sligo-born musician Niamh Crowley, to create opportunities for instrumental tuition in the classical and jazz genres in the Northwest.

Sligo Academy of MusicThe school offers expert tuition by more than 20 experienced and dedicated teachers and provides individual and group lessons for all ages and levels. The vast majority of the students range in age between 3 and 18 and attend on a part-time basis after school and weekends. The school also caters for a growing number of adults, many of whom are returning to further their music education or to fulfil an ambition to learn a new skill.

All students are encouraged, but not required, to further their training through the Royal Irish Academy of Music exam syllabus and their progress is monitored through annual assessments.

School and class concerts give students the opportunity to share their achievements with family and friends. Many opportunities also arise to perform at various functions throughout the year both locally and nationally.

Once they have achieved a basic level of competence, students are actively encouraged to apply their performing skills by joining one of the School’s many ensembles which regularly perform in Ireland throughout the year.

Many of the school’s past students are pursuing successful careers in the music industry both in performance and education.

Coveney under attack over delayed farm payments

‘Hold-up leaving countless farming families in severe financial difficulty’

Sligo News File Online

HSE 2016 Health Plan "fantasy." Senator Marc MacSharry, FF.
HSE 2016 Health Plan “fantasy.” Senator Marc MacSharry, FF.

The Department of Agriculture has been accused of dragging their feet in distributing overdue payments to farmers in the North West.

Farmers in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Cavan have been left waiting for the payments over the last few months, said Sligo Senator, Marc MacSharry

He said he has been inundated with calls from families complaining that they haven’t been able to get even an indication from the Department as to when the payments will be made.

Those affected, “are waiting longer now for the payments to be processed than they were before Christmas,” he said.

“It’s resulting in severe financial difficulty for countless farming families across the country and … preventing them from planning ahead.”

Hitting out at Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, MacSharry said the minister has failed to ensure “a speedy application process” as a result of which farmers “are being left out of pocket.”

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

Minister Coveney, he said, “seems to think that farmers have thousands of euro in the bank to tide them over for months on end until they receive their farm payments. This is not the case for farmers here in the North West.

“Farmers have come through a very difficult period, particularly with the poor weather and flooding. The least they can expect is for their payments to be made on time.”

It is now time for Minister Coveney “to up his game and resolve these ridiculous delays in processing farm payments,” he said

Aurivo: ‘No councillor engaged with the company following communication announcing transfer of butter packing from Achonry to Cork.’

Company informed ‘TDs, Senators and South Sligo councillors of the decision.’

Sligo News File Online.

Councillors, it would seem, raised no objection or concern when they were told by Aurivo that it planned to transfer its butter packing operations from Achonry to Cork.

In a letter to Sligo County Council, Aurivo has stated that “senior management” contacted local public representatives after the decision to wind down the Achonry plant was taken.

Aaron Forde, CEO, Aurivo
Aaron Forde, CEO,

Company Chief Executive Aaron Forde stated that “on the day the regrettable, but necessary announcement regarding our Achonry site was made on 6 November, Aurivo’s senior management made contact, by phone and follow up email, with local TDs, Senators and South Sligo Councillors once impacted employees and the local advisory committee had been communicated with.

“No councillor engaged directly with Aurivo following this communication,” he said

Mr. Forde was apparently responding to a letter and copy of a resolution agreed by councillors which Aurivo had received from the Council.

It is understood that the jobs of 30 workers at the Achonry plant will be affected by the closure of the operation.

Connacht GoldMr. Forde stated that “as a successful business operating in what are challenging market conditions, all management decisions are made in the best interests of Aurivo – its future viability, its employees and its members.

“A strong, commercially successful and sustainable Aurivo is positive for Sligo and the North West.”

He said the company would be “more than happy to meet a delegation of councillors at our office on a mutually suitable date for an update on our operations.”

The letter is dated 22 December 2015.

During 2015, Aurivo transferred the headquarters of the company from Tubbercurry to the Finisklin Business Park in Sligo. It also earlier switched its milk processing operations from the outskirts of Sligo to Donegal.

Sligo gets €2 million improvement grant

Funding for a new community centre and town centre facelift.

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo has been granted €2 million under Designated Urban Centres Grants Scheme.

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

Local Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin said the funding has been sanctioned for a community centre at Cranmore and improvements to O’Connell Street.

The allocation for O’Connell Street is to be used for “limited vehicular access with pedestrian priority,” he said.

“New widened pavements finished in concrete pavers will be added and new street furniture and landscaping will be provided.”

The location, he said, will be made “more pedestrian and cyclist friendly by narrowing the traffic carriageways and providing shared space for cyclists.

“Parking for persons with a disability will be provided as will time limited service bays to enable businesses to get stock in.”

The project at Cranmore “is targeted and focused at regenerating a disadvantaged urban area and promoting sustainable urban development as part of Sligo’s integrated plans to tackle the economic, environment, climate, demographic and social challenges which effect the urban area of Sligo.

“Strong urban centres enable their regions to realise their potential in attractiveness for business investment, for Foreign Direct Investment, for talent and for tourism thereby creating conducive and attractive locations for investment and for people to live and work in,” he added

ICSA: Abuse of Country of Origin labelling leaving Irish beef farmers struggling to secure fair price for produce

‘Single European market being undermined.’

Sligo News File Online

Farmers are being denied a fair price for their produce owing to what has been described as the “widespread abuse of country of origin labelling.”

ICSA National Beef Committee Chairman, Edmond Phelan
ICSA National Beef Committee Chairman, Edmond Phelan

The claim has been made by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association who are demanding immediate action on “the abuse of country of origin labelling by supermarkets.”

Commenting following an ICSA meeting with Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy, the organisation’s beef committee chairman Edmond Phelan said “such obvious abuse of country of origin labelling by multinational retailers cannot be tolerated.

“The single European market is being undermined in respect of cattle being sold into Northern Ireland and Britain.

“Irish cattle are being discriminated against and this cannot be allowed to continue. The free movement of goods, as enshrined in EU law, should, in theory, protect Irish beef farmers, but the widespread abuse of country of origin labelling leaves them out of pocket and struggling at every turn to get a fair price for their produce.”

Calling on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to work with MEPs to “put pressure on the European Commission to take a robust approach where labelling laws are being flagrantly abused,” Mr. Phelan also urged that Department of Agriculture officials “ensure the problem is addressed in Europe on behalf of Irish beef farmers whose produce is not being valued.”



Search resumed for missing Ballina resident

Missing man not seen since New Year’s weekend.

Sligo News File Online.

Gardai have appealed for people in Ballina to check outhouses and sheds in the search for a missing 40- year-old Moy Court resident last seen on New Year’s weekend.

Members of the man’s family and local community along with the coastguard, the Granuaile Sub Aqua Club and the Moy Search and Rescue group have been carrying out extensive searches in the vicinity of the River Moy since Friday. The search is also being assisted by members of the River Boyne Fisherman’s Search and Rescue team.

Water levels in the Moy have been described as high at present. Persons engaged in the search are being urged to exercise caution and use high viz jackets during the operation.

Landowners alongside the Moy and Moy Estuary have been asked to inspect their lands

Sligo County Council to discuss RTE Investigates Programme on Standards in Public Office.

Members seeking ‘report of the review carried out by the council’s Ethics Registrar.’

Sligo News File Online

There is a likelihood Monday’s meeting of Sligo County Council will be adjourned; however it can be expected that there will be more than a passing interest in at least one matter down for discussion whenever the meeting is held.

RTE InvestigatesThis concerns the RTE Investigates programme which featured interviews with councillors, including former chairman of the Sligo local authority, Joe Queenan (Independent) The notice of motion, submitted by Councillor Declan Bree (Independent) and Councillor Gino O’Boyle(People Before Profit) is calling for the council “to be provided with a copy of the report of the review carried out by the Council’s Ethics Registrar in response to the screening on the 7th December of the RTE Investigates programme on Standards in Public Office.” The notice is also demanding that the council requests the Standards in Public Office Commission to outline its response to the contents of the RTE programme.

Separately, Bree is seeking clarification regarding funds he says the government allocated in 2008 for social housing apartments that have not yet been acquired by the council and partially spent loans obtained for the provision of burial grounds in 2010. He wants the Chief Executive to indicate what he claims to be an unspent balance of €1,812,000 is being used for, and if any other funding has been received or borrowed for projects which has not been used for the projects as specified.

Cllr. Tommy MacSharry (Fianna Fail) wants the government to acknowledge “the extraordinary commitment of the people of Sligo” regarding the debts of the council and offer a €50 million bail out before the general election. We cannot find any record showing where the people made the extraordinary commitment to which he refers.

Cllr. Tommy MacSharry, Fianna Fail.
Cllr. Tommy MacSharry,
Fianna Fail.

Anyway, Tommy’s penned notice reads: “That Sligo County Council call on Central Government to acknowledge the extraordinary commitment of the people of Sligo in bearing the brunt of cuts necessary to meet the council’s financial debts and, therefore, allocate a once off, immediate bail out of €50m in early 2016 before the general election to alleviate debts caused by the expansionary policies demanded by the Department of the Environment in pursuit of the targets and ambitions set out in the national spatial strategy.”

He also proposes the council ask the minister for justice to “re-establish Ballymote Court and re-open garda stations closed in this area.” The stations aren’t identified – Easkey has been closed and sold.

Cllr. Marie Casserley (Independent) is proposing to talk about an Employment Regulation Order for childcare workers and the appointment of an ombudsman to oversee the regulation of waste. She is also calling for the council to support the GloHealth All-Ireland Schools and Universities cross country finals being held at Sligo Racecourse in March.

Cllr. Jerry Lundy (Fianna Fail) wants the Corrib Gas to service Sligo. He states in the notice that it would attract industry and create employment in the county.

Cllr. Michael Clarke (Ind)
Cllr. Michael Clarke (Ind)

Cllr. Michael Clarke (Independent) is proposing that the council ask the Department of the Environment to launch a home improvement grant scheme.

Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon (Fianna Fail) is pressing for improvement to sight lines at the junction on the Rosses Point road with Scottman’s walk for health and safety reasons and extend the graveyard.

Cllr. Thomas Healy (Sinn Fein) is asking the council to contact the NRA about water flowing on to the dual carriage on the Sligo side of the Ballisodare exit.

Anger over hold-up in agri payments.

‘Difficulties in getting through to the Department on the phone adding to the frustration.’

Sligo News File Online

Farmers are extremely frustrated over delays in the release of agri payments, according to ICSA Rural Development Chair, Billy Gray.

Billy Gray, chairman, ICSA National Rural Development Committee.
Billy Gray, chairman,
ICSA National Rural Development Committee.

The delays in delivering national reserve payments and the young farmer top are causing “immense frustration among the eligible farmers,” he said.

There is also, he pointed out “frustration among a core of farmers who were still not paid ANC or BPS payments by the first days of January.”

He said that while the ICSA accepted that the examination of applications involved a lot of work, “every effort must now be made to clear the backlogs.

“Affected farmers are extremely frustrated by the lack of progress and there is a huge annoyance that information is not being made available to them.

“Difficulties in getting through to the Department on the phone is adding to the frustration.”

The Department, he said, “needs to put extra staff on the phone lines to handle queries and provide some indication of when people will be paid.

“While the percentage of farmers paid ANC and BPS is high, this is no consolation to farmers who have got nothing yet and are under severe pressure.

“The Minister needs to look at staffing resources and deployment early in 2016 with a view to ensuring we do not have a repeat in 2016,” he added.


Patrick Kent, President. ICSA
Patrick Kent, President.

Meanwhile, the president of the ICSA, Patrick Kent, has given a ‘cautious’ welcome to the government announcement of additional funding for victims of flooding. But he questioned whether there will be sufficient funds to cover the widespread damage.

He said, “Farmers have been calling for urgent practical and financial help so our hope would be that these schemes will be delivered promptly to those in need.

“However, a more comprehensive compensation fund similar to the UK’s Farming Recovery Fund would assist a greater number of farmers struggling to recover their livelihoods.

“In addition, to prevent future flooding, funding must be made available to increase the capacity of the lower Shannon between the lakes and the ocean. De-silting and dredging need to be carried out to remove impediments and get the floodwaters moving more efficiently out to sea. I once again call into question the ESB’s ability to independently manage the levels of water in the Shannon”.

Stating that the introduction of a flood management coordination agency “is a step in the right direction,” it concerned him that “it could be bogged down in bureaucratic wrangling between the different agencies.

“We have heard a lot of this before, action was promised and not delivered upon. Difficult and expensive decisions on flood prevention require a real political will to overcome environmental objectors and financial constraints. It remains to be seen if that political will exists.”