Jackie Clarke Collection prominent feature of Ballina Easter Rising commemorations

Development reputed to have cost €17 million.

Sligo News File Online

What is known as the Jackie Clarke Collection is one of the main highlights of the Easter Rising commemorations in Ballina.

Clarke 1Described as “a treasure trove of Irish political and social history,” the more than 100,000 items include an original copy of the Proclamation and other material relating to the “revolutionary” history of the State. The collection, gifted to Mayo County Council by Clarke’s widow, Ann, is housed in a building at Pearse Street, purchased by the council in late 2000.

In an application for government aid, the Council stated at the time that the project required capital funding of €17 million. A breakdown of the estimated costs included €5 million for the purchase of properties; €5,930,00 for the refurbishment and fit-out of the Provincial Bank and Coach House as the centre to exhibit the collection; €1,620,000 for the refurbishment and fit-out of additional property and support services; €530,000 for the site Clarke Collection development works and garden refurbishment; €1,261,425 for VAT on capital works; €530,000 to cover miscellaneous costs and €1,955,000 for consultancy fees.

According to the Mayo News, the price sparked “a bitter war of words” when, at a meeting of the county council, a councillor criticised among other things, “a contract with the Clarke family.” The ‘paper reported that the member alleged the contract “ensured that €30,000 per annum over 30 years was paid” to a son of Jackie Clarke.

The collection is reckoned to be worth more than €15 million.

Responsibility for the management and upkeep of the facility is carried by the council.

New retail development.

The town meanwhile has been given a commercial uplift with the Lidlconstruction of a new Lidl retail development at Bohernasup. The German-owned company continues to operate at its other store in Bury Street. Car parking is free at both locations.  Dunnes Stores also lay on free car parking for customers.

Tesco has recently been granted planning permission for the construction of a major retail operation; it is scheduled to be erected on the company’s existing site at the Market Square.

However, there are fears about the impact it’s felt that large-scale commercial operations may have on smaller town centre outlets.

There has been a relatively little government or other investment in the manufacturing or service sector. The area, like so many other places throughout Mayo and the West, continues to be sapped by unemployment, migration, and emigration.

Up to the last general election, the town was represented by two resident Dail representatives, Michelle Mulhern of Fine Gael and Dara Calleary, the Fianna Fail party spokesman on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Calleary, who has been re-elected to the Dail, served as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the last Fianna Fail-led government.

Households would be exempt from water rates if government accepted EU derogation

Lawyers: Now too late to reverse the Coalition introduced charges.

Sligo News File Online

Irish Water parent company Ervia is said to have been informed that Ireland is debarred by EU provisions from scrapping the domestic water charge.

WaterThe Irish Times reports it has seen legal advice where barristers have advised the national water utility that the State is obliged to maintain the existing water charge regime.

According to the account, the OPINION of counsel Garet Simons and Michael M. Collins is that “there is no option under European law to return to the practice of not charging for water.”

The ‘paper cites Simons and Collins as saying that the introduction of water charges by the government means the State can now no longer avail of what was a ‘very limited’ exemption from the charges in the EU Water Directive.

It states the legal opinion as also advising:

“The benefit of the derogation has been lost for all time, and cannot be revived by seeking to reverse the decision to introduce charges.”

“The exemption ‘was only intended’ to allow a member state to continue an established practice of not charging.

“The ‘full rigour’ of the directive applies once the member state decides to accept the principle of cost recovery by water charges, as Ireland did, and

“The Irish State has never sought to invoke the derogation.”

However, the Times does not state whether the legal opinion on the argued irreversible status of the existing water charge programme includes any mention of the State being precluded from slashing charges to a long-term minimal annual rate of say not more than €20 per household.

The position as reportedly presented to Ervia – Irish Water – is likely to stir still more controversy, particularly with people seeking to know why the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition and before them, Fianna Fail and the Green Party, failed to protect households from water charges by seemingly refusing to adopt the EU derogation – an exemption which was reputably there for the taking.

Former MEP and member of the European Parliament on Environment, Public Health and Food, Kathy Sinnott was one of those who time and time again called on the Irish authorities to accept the derogation.

Her many appeals were ignored.

This is what she said in one of the more recent efforts she made to free Irish families from what are now the almost universally hated water charges:

Kathy Sinnott - former MEP and member of European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health & Food
Kathy Sinnott – former MEP and member of European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health & Food

“I recently tried to alert people to the existence of the “Irish Exemption,” Ireland’s unique exemption from domestic water charging based on Article 9.4 of the EU Water Framework Directive.

“The exemption is based on the Irish Department of the Environment’s commitment, strategy and budget to rectify the inadequacies in our water management without metering.

“This commitment is recorded in the 2008 Irish River Basin Management Plan. Former Minister for Environment John Gormley was able to confirm in 2008 that Ireland had obtained and was availing of the exemption from household water charges.

“I was assured at the time by the European Commission that the EU couldn’t take the exemption from us but Ireland could cancel it.

“This week Minister for Environment Alan Kelly publicly denied we currently had an exemption from domestic water charging. He stated, “We do not have a derogation because we now have committed to the model that we have.”

“Fortunately, he is wrong.

“In trying to confirm the current situation, I contacted Brussels.

“The good news is that the Water Framework Directive Article 9.4 exemption is still in place. The challenging news is that it is under imminent threat of cancellation by the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly himself!

“In accordance with Article 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive, our exemption is embedded in the 2008 River Basin Management Plan. Any renewal or cancellation of the exemption is done in the next 7 year RBMP.  And it is the Minister for the Environment who assembles and submits this plan

“This 2015 River Basin Management Plan is due be handed into Brussels by New Years Day. Both the Irish government and the European Commission are expecting that Minister Kelly will not renew the exemption and will instead include domestic water charging as part of Ireland’s strategy.

“Why are they so sure that the plan as yet incomplete and unpublished will include water charging? Because in 2010 the Troika told us to privatize and charge for water and both the Irish government and the EU Commission assume that we will meekly obey, that is we will state in the River Basin report that the only way we can protect our rivers is by charging for domestic water use!

“But is this true?

“If the money spent on metering is spent on pipe work the leaks will be repaired. And if the money already collected in taxes for water infrastructure was spent on upgrading treatment plants we would see a significant improvement to the water infrastructure to domestic homes and meet our part of the next 7 year targets on river basin management.

“Because the EU water legislation is based on the “polluter pays principle”, the most obvious strategy for financing clean water is to identify the real polluters of water in Ireland and make them pay.

“In the 2008 plan, the sources of pollution are listed. They included agriculture and rural septic tanks. These sources have been tackled at great expense to rural dwellers and significant improvement has been made and progress is ongoing.Other sources like quarrying, mining including old tailings ponds, leaking landfills, forestry, industry are still major sources of pollution.

“If it is the polluter who is supposed to pay then it should be these for-profit industries which should be paying for the purification of the water they pollute and for preventative measures; not the ordinary householder who is already paying.

“To give an example. We are told we need domestic water charging to deal with cryptosporidium in our water supply. But again is this true?

“Uplands all over the country were planted in coniferous forests. Unlike deciduous forests natural to Ireland, these plantations of Sitka spruce trees acidify the soil and do not break down animal waste effectively. After a few decades, these forests are “clear felled” with heavy machinery that rips up the forests leaving the soils exposed. Heavy rains wash the animal waste and acid soil down hill to the river below. The resulting pollution provides ideal conditions for Cryptosporidium and other contaminants.

“Why would the people in these areas who are innocent of causing the problem and who are already bearing the expense of bottled and boiled water asked to foot the bill for cleaning up water pollution they did not cause. The Department of the Environment should instead go to the real polluters, and recover the cost of cleaning up polluted water, or better preventing the pollution in the first place.

“Privatization will not solve our water infrastructure problems because private companies are geared to profit. It will make sense to invest in 500 meters of new piping in a city because it will serve hundreds of paying houses. But it will cut into profits to replace 500 meters of leaking pipes which serves only 5 homes. A privatized water system will still be a leaky water system!

“Alan Kelly can save the Irish Exemption by making the commitment in the River Basin Management Plan that actual water polluters will pay, that funds collected for water infrastructure in existing taxes will be used to upgrade our systems and by creating incentives for improvements to domestic water use like rain water collection system.

“There is still time to save the Irish Exemption…and the Irish people are in the mood to defend it because once the exemption is gone it is gone for good.

“We have one month to save it.”

Surely the people have the right to know why Sinnott’s calls were ignored?

Water Tech

Teenager killed in Enniscrone crash

Victim pronounced dead at the scene.

Sligo News File Online

Gardai are investigating following the death of a teenager in a single vehicle crash in Enniscrone..

Garda Car 1The 17-year-old was killed when the van in which he was a passenger struck a wall at Pier Road.

The collision occurred in the early hours of this morning. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 18-year-old driver of the vehicle was uninjured.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has any information is asked to contact the gardai at Enniscrone on 096 36103, Ballymote 071 9189500 or any garda station.

TD: Fianna Fáil cannot be trusted to keep its promises

Party paved the way for water charges; pledged during election to end them but now propose to seize payment from salaries and social welfare allowances.’

Sligo News File Online.

Reports that Fianna Fáil is planning to pursue householders who have not paid the unfair water charges shows that the party cannot be trusted to keep its promises, says Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan.

Marc MacSharry, Fianna Fail
Marc MacSharry,
Fianna Fail

“Fianna Fáil in Government paved the way for water charges. Then, when it became clear that there was huge opposition to placing this unfair burden on hard-pressed householders, they suddenly rowed-in to oppose them,” Quinlivan said.

“In their election manifesto they pledged to ‘end the failed water charges regime’ and yet today they are outlining how they want to

Eamon Scanlon,  Fianna Fail, Sligo-Leitrim.
Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fail

take unpaid water bills from citizens’ salary and social welfare payments. Fianna Fáil are all over the place as they try to balance their support for water charges with the overwhelming rejection of these charges by citizens,” the Limerick TD said.

ICSA threatens to oppose crisis reserve fund support for dairy farmers.

 ‘No logic or justification for confiscating money from beef and sheep farmers’ to alleviate the income crisis in the dairy sector.’

Sligo News File Online

Judging from a statement published on the website of the ICSA – an ICSA association representing the cattle and sheep sector – it looks that the organisation has called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney not to allow dairy farmers benefit from finance stashed in what is known as the crisis reserve fund.

The statement quotes ICSA chairman Patrick Kent as warning that his association “will totally oppose any use of the crisis reserve fund to support dairy farmers.”

He declares, according to the statement, “There can be no logic or justification for confiscating money from beef and sheep farmers’ to alleviate the income crisis in the dairy sector.”

Claiming dairy incomes, “are on average three times that of cattle and sheep farmers,” the statement goes on to say:

“It makes no sense at all for cattle and sheep farmers to financially prop up dairy farmers when we remain such a long way behind in terms of annual income.”

The statement also points to EU aid already provided in 2015 where funding for the dairy industry “was matched to the tune of €14m by a government top-up.”

On other proposals, the statement appears to express support for a voluntary reduction in production, which it said “may not be a bad idea as long as there is nothing compulsory involved.

“While this is a French proposal relating to dairying, …it might be time to look at something similar for beef,” the statement added.

James Reynolds
James Reynolds

Longford farmer James Reynolds is currently treasurer of the association after previously serving as its secretary.

He has said the ICSA is “unique in being the only farm organisation to call for the appointment of an EU-wide regulator for the meat industry…”

Protest over transfer of Sligo Connacht Gold operation to Cork to intensify

Action group not satisfied with the outcome of discussions with Aurivo.

Sligo News File Online.

A protest against the proposed closure of the butter plant at Achonry looks set to be escalated.

Connacht GoldAurivo recently announced that the company is to shut the south Sligo operation and transfer the packing facility to Ornua in Cork.

The move would have implications for the jobs of the more than twenty workers currently employed in the unit, as well as the economy of the local area which has already suffered a spate of job losses through the closure of government offices and other services.

But, now, a group established to fight the planned closure of the plant and possible loss of the jobs involved has warned that public demonstrations are likely in the absence of assurances from Aurivo on the future of Achonry.

The issue is down for discussion at a public meeting in St. Nathy’s Hall, Mullinabreena, this evening; the third such meeting called by the action group in the last few weeks.

A spokesman said the group has been involved in consultations with Aurivo but was not satisfied with the outcome.

He said that while the group was anxious to avoid the company being subjected to adverse publicity, members may, however, be left with no choice than to resort to public demonstrations “if they were pushed that far.”

Aurivo produces the Connacht Gold product range.

The company recently transferred its headquarters from Tubbercurry to Sligo, and before that relocated the co-operative’s milk processing operations out of Sligo to Co. Donegal.

The CEO of Aurivo is Aaron Forde. He is also the chairman of Ornua, the new name of the Irish Dairy Board.

Mayo-based ICMSA President, John Comer is also a member of the Ornua board of directors.