‘Demanding farmers produce more so others can profit won’t cut it for farmers anymore’
‘Processors dropping prices after a night of heavy rain has no place in partnership with producers’
Sligo News File Online.
The country’s leading farm organisation has spoken out against the new Meat Industry Ireland beef policy document, warning that it would be “bad news for producers”
“Increased production has always resulted in a price drop for farmers,” said chairman of the ICSA national beef committee, Edmond Phelan.
“History has shown that if cattle numbers go up price comes down. Recent weeks have seen a severe fall in beef price, partially blamed on Brexit but clearly also linked to cattle being too plentiful.
“We have also seen that the meat industry will pay as little as they can get away with not what the market will return.
“Demanding that farmers produce more so others can profit just won’t cut it for farmers anymore.
“We need to get to a position whereby the relationship processors have with producers is one of partnership. Opportunism, such as processors dropping prices after a night of heavy rain, has no place in such a partnership.
“While many farmers have the potential to increase production, ICSA would see no point in going that route until farmers are fully confident in being rewarded for their efforts.”
Mr Phelan added that the ICSA looks forward to working with MII and “drawing out how exactly an increase in production such as they suggest would benefit farmers, given that we have seen no benefit in the past from such a policy.”
Some 96% all of Down Syndrome children are killed in their mother’s wombs in the United Kingdom.
Irish campaign to legalise destruction of infants in the womb powered by foreign donations
Sligo News File Online.
Kate Bopp is a Wexford-born mother of 5 children living in Rathcabban Co. Tipperary together with her husband, Evert. In the last 20 years, she has worked and lived in half a dozen European countries giving her a wealth of first-hand experience of different cultures, languages, and types of government.
In the following thought provoking piece, Kate sets out to explain
the horrors which allowing the 8th Amendment to be removed from the Constitution would herald for Irish boys and girls in the womb. She also focuses on how infant Down Syndrome babies are being put down in the tidal wave of abortions in States close to home and further afield.
“Despite the clearly demonstrated lack of appetite for liberal abortion demonstrated with the near complete evisceration of the pro-abortion Labour Party by the Irish electorate in our General Election of February 2016, there is a small but determined group of idealistic female and self-proclaimed male feminists industriously manufacturing consensus around the issue of abortion in Ireland.
“We have seen melodramatic videos and gloomy dark sweaters endorsing the ending of infant lives in the womb. Yet despite the abortion lobby’s claim that this is a hot-button issue in Ireland, it is hugely dependent upon outside funding from an US immigrant billionaire… If the people of this island were eager to liberalise abortion legislation no doubt they would demonstrate such eagerness by throwing some cash at it. They aren’t throwing money at abortion. In fact in a recent Irish Independent article referencing the ProLife Campaign’s presence in Tullamore at the National Ploughing Championships, a spokesperson for the abortion lobby said they couldn’t afford €1000 for a stand. A sorry state of affairs for activists who claim to represent the sentiment of the nation.
“Since the historic 1973 case of Roe v Wade in the US some 56 million infants have had their lives ended in their mother’s wombs. The 1967 UK legislation has put an abrupt end to close to 9 million lives and continues to kill close to 200,000 infants annually.
“Some 96% all of Down Syndrome children are killed in their mother’s wombs in the United Kingdom. The percentage in the US is almost as high. Denmark authorities recently revealed that upwards of 98% of Down Syndrome children are killed in the womb.
“It is estimated that by 2030 there will be zero Down Syndrome births in Denmark. This is not the eradication of a condition, as it is often gleefully presented by the abortion lobby, but merciless extermination in utero of all of those who present with that condition. The abortion of Down Syndrome children doesn’t reduce the overall number diagnosed as Down Syndrome is neither contagious nor genetically inherited.
“Since 2002 in the UK some 26 infant’s lives were ended in the womb due to cleft palate diagnosis.”
The mother of five goes on to expound that the abortion discussion in Ireland must center on the reality of abortion culture.
“Every abortion begins with two beating hearts and ends with just one. In some extreme cases, both lives are lost. Article 40.3.3°, the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution states:
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, and with due regard to the right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
This defence of human life, she states, “serves both mother and baby. Without it, there is no longer any legal guarantee of safety for our most vulnerable.”
There is to be no change in the property tax on family homes in Sligo.
Members of the County Council have rejected a proposal that would have raised the rate by upwards of €40.
Sligo family dwellings are among the highest taxed in the country owing to the refusal of Fine Gael and Fine Gael members to allow any reduction in the rate over previous years.
Today’s decision to maintain the levy at its current level comes days after representatives of the alarmingly indebted council met with Local Government Minister Simon Coveney to discuss library closures.
Council management says the authority doesn’t have the resources to maintain the facilities.
Coveney is believed to have suggested that the Council could consider increasing the property tax to secure money needed for local services, including the maintenance of the library operations.
‘Bill for farmers inheriting holdings from parent needing nursing home care may be up to half million euros’
Sligo News File Online.
The alarming treatment of the farming sector under the ‘Fair Deal’ nursing home scheme has been highlighted by the country’s main farm body.
A farmer taking over a landholding from a father or mother opting for the scheme could find themselves exposed to a massive liability on the death of the parent.
Explaining the implications of the provision, Chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association Rural Development Committee, Seamus Sherlock said both 80% of the income and
7.5% of the assets per annum up to the cost of the nursing home care must be met by parent moving into a nursing home.
Denouncing the scheme as “extremely unfair and unworkable” for the vast majority of farmers, Mr. Sherlock said it “should not have the effect of putting a farm out of business.”
He said the ICSA believes the 7.5% assessment of assets on an annual basis is “quite severe” but the key problem is that while this is capped at 22.5% for principal residential assets “there
is no cap for farmland. Hence, a farmer who took over a farm from his father could be exposed to an unlimited liability on the farm at the death of the parent.
“This could arise where a farmer suffering dementia requires 10 years care in a nursing home as it is not feasible to look after him at home.
“The bill here could be up to 75% of the value of the farm or the total bill for 10 years in a nursing home.” A ten-year stay in a nursing home could lead to a bill of about €500,000, he said.
“In practice, the first port of call will be to deduct 80% of the patient’s income but in most cases, this will be the state old age pension which will be well short of the total bill. The old age pension
will contribute about €9,500 to be set against the annual bill, leaving over €40,000 per annum to be deducted from the value of the farm.
“The problem is that there are very few farms generating enough income to build a fund to take care of nursing home costs. The likely scenario here is that the farm will have to be sold to pay the
Fair Deal bill.
He acknowledged that there are exceptions whereby there is a sudden illness or disability and the successor has been farming at that time “but this is the exception rather than the rule.
“On the other hand, even where the assets have been transferred, this will only work if five years have elapsed between transfer and the nursing home care requirement. ICSA believes that this
imposes an impossible strain on farm families who want to see their relative getting the necessary care but where the Fair Deal Scheme sows the seeds of doom for the long-term future of the farm.
“It is clear that the Fair Deal Scheme should not have the effect of putting a farm out of business.
“I know of a case where Trojan efforts are being made to keep a parent at home and cared for. The parent is suffering from extreme dementia. While the decision to keep the parent at home is
complex, it is the case that the Fair Deal Scheme weighs heavily on the decision. This should not happen.
“Of course, we understand that a scheme to cover nursing home costs is regarded as a financial imperative from the exchequer point of view and as a political imperative from a health care policy
point of view. However, it is hard to understand why an elderly person suffering from an acute illness like cancer will have all care needs covered by the state but not where the illness is of a nature
requiring long-term palliative care.”
He reiterated that the scheme “should not have the effect of putting a farm out of business.”
The ICSA holds that the “three-year cap (22.5%)” should apply to farm assets, he said, and the association will “continue to campaign for farmers on this issue.”
Street protests over the closure of library services.
‘May as well close the doors on the majority of its remaining public services…as it simply cannot continue in this way.’
Sligo News File Online.
As Sligo County Council faces its worst ever financial crisis, a local TD has called on the Minister for Local Government to meet a deputation for early discussions on the emergency.
The move follows demonstrations in Sligo town earlier today when groups took to the streets to protest after the council had announced its financial situation left it with no option but to close the county’s library services.
Now, Fine Gael Deputy Tony McLoughlin has stepped forward accusing the Department of Local Government of imposing an impossible financial plan on the heavily indebted body.
In a letter requesting an urgent meeting with the Minister Simon
Coveney, McLoughlin said he wished to highlight his “deep concern” regarding the ongoing financial difficulties being faced by Sligo County Council management arising out of the requirements of a financial plan the minister’s department had thrust on the council.
“I write in order to urgently highlight to you my deep concern regarding the ongoing financial difficulties being faced by Sligo County Council management due to the requirements of your Departments ‘Financial Plan’ with Sligo County Council.
“Simon, I have a strong feeling that Co. Sligo has being given an impossible task of trying to cut its way back to economic prosperity and that the requirements demanded by your Department for Sligo County Council to continue to cut its staff, in particular has had a devastating effect on the functions of the Council and its ability to conduct its statutory obligations and implementation of Government policy.
“In the current Financial Plan, staff reductions at the Council are expected to reach 42% of 2008 levels. This level of reductions is
simply not achievable. Especially as now the local authorities are expected to do more implementation of national Government Policy and greater amounts of work for the community its serves.
“As of today, staff reductions in Sligo County Council now stands at 37%. This is a reduction in 237 staff since the peak of 2008.
“These reductions have left the Council in a critical state or paralysis and from my dealings with Sligo County Council on a daily basis, I can see that it simply can not take any more cuts or reductions to its staffing numbers, let alone continue to offer its current services at this level. If the Council is expected to reach this figure, as this ‘Financial Plan’ required, I fear as though they may as well close the doors on the majority of its remaining public services which it offers, as it simply can not continue in this way!
“The severe staff cuts to date has effected;
“Co. Sligo’s main central library, which next week looks set to be forced to close its doors to a population of 20,000+ (This is a major issue for me personally and needs to be addressed immediately)
“The HAP Payments Scheme, which the Council now oversees, as applications are taking well over a month and more in many cases to be registered and issued for approval, ultimately delaying many people form finding housing,
“The Councils ability to reach its targets for implementing the Government’s Housing Capital Program, which has led to a serious rise in the number of people identifying as homeless in Co. Sligo and also a shortage of rental properties,
“The Council’s Laboratory which was forced to close,
“The Council’s Motor Tax office, which again was forced to close,
“The Councils Housing Department’s public office, which is unfortunately now closed to the public from 1.00 PM in the afternoon,
“The Councils ability to maintain our local roads, as there are not enough road workers to conduct basic road maintenance throughout the County, in fact 12 temporary staff are due to be let go shortly which will make the situation even worse,
“The Councils ability to maintain its general cleanness and upkeep of out towns as our outdoor staff is down from 139 to 79 with a further 15 set to go,
“The Councils ability to tackle illegal dumping as there has been no litter warden in Co. Sligo working over the last number of months, and there is no funding to replace him, in fact your Department has refused to replace this position, despite many new instances of dumping occurring since this information was made public,
“The Council’s tourism promotion ability and its ability to bid for and conduct capital tourism projects, you will recall my countless representations and PQ’s requesting additional funding to allow the Council to hire qualified promotion staff in order to promote Co. Sligo and enable it to compete with our neighbouring counties on the Wild Atlantic Way who have many staff conducting this work,
“The Councils ability and effectiveness at bidding for national infrastructure funding for local projects, which is leading to Sligo missing out on its fair share of funding, you will recall the instance with Rosses Point Pier I contacted you about in your previous ministry and the issue that it did not have planning in place due to staff shortages,
“The ability for the Council to complete its 8 stages of required works on the now accelerated €100 Million ‘N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin’ TII Scheme, which as you know will be the biggest capital investment in Sligo in modern times, I fear that this project could be delayed and that capital funding might be missed in 2017, along with many other public services and statutory duties which are being limited or not being conducted due to the serious reduction in staffing levels.
“Whilst, I do understand the need for every Local Authority to be able to balance its books, I must highlight that after a very difficult period of cuts, re-organisation and technological efficiencies, the Council has now achieved this feat against the back drop of sluggish growth in the local economy together with many other local difficulties and I am pleased to be able to say that it is now returning an annual revenue surplus. The legendary mistakes of the past, which were responsible for the Councils large amount of debt, and which make Sligo’s financial problems so obvious, have now been rectified, and new process are in place to ensure that these large annual deficits which it was returning under previous managers cannot occur into the future.
“However, achieving the financial requirements set down by your Department in the Financial Plan is seriously strangling Co. Sligo and its is limiting our opportunity to attempt to attract gains from the minimal recovery which is under way in the North West Region, and it is severely limiting our efforts to grow our way out of our financial predicament. As you are aware, in Sligo we do not have many large multinational industries paying high amounts of rates and we also have the highest amount of empty retail units in the country again in 2016. The economic recovery which is underway nationally is not as strong in Sligo. On this basis, I believe that special consideration should be given to Sligo as we now face even more uncertainty in the future due to Brexit and falling tourism numbers and an eventual loss of revenue.
“I also question the purpose for the Government allowing larger urban County Councils, to have tens Millions of Euro in surplus in their bank accounts, while at the same time allowing Sligo and other rural County Councils to languish in debt and financial difficulties. The Irish citizen, who willingly pays their property tax in Co. Sligo, in my opinion, should be entitled to the same amount of public services as a person in Dublin, Cork or Galway who is paying the same property tax.
“On the back of today’s announcement that Sligo County Council looks set to now close Co. Sligo’s, biggest and most central library service due to staff shortages, I believe that we have now reached breaking point with regard to this situation.
“I have highlighted these same concerns to Mr. Paul Lemass and former Minister Alan Kelly in the past and on this basis, I am now requesting an urgent meeting next week, or at your earliest discretion, with you as Minister with responsibility in this area, the CEO of Sligo County Council Mr. Ciaran Hayes and myself, in order to discuss the urgent need to alter and update Sligo County Councils Financial Plan.”
Judging from an IDA revealed account of job creation in the county, it looks that Sligo is on the bottom rung of the government’s industrial development programme.
Statements issued to government partners Fianna Fail indicate a continual drop in industrial employment from 2012 onwards.
Figures obtained by Niall Collins show that the number of jobs in Sligo IDA supported companies fell to 2,029 in 2015, more than 220 less than in 2012.
Read another way, it appears the North West Capital is being sidelined while locations on the East Coast are enjoying an era of preferential treatment.
How Sligo has come to be buried in such disadvantage with no fewer
that four TDs elected to fight its corner will also spark increasing concern. Current Dail Deputies are Tony McLoughlin (Fine Gael) Martin Kenny (Sinn Fein) Eamon Scanlon and Marc MacSharry (Fianna Fail)
McSharry has blamed Mary Mitchell O’Connor the Fine Gael Jobs Minister for allowing what he has termed a “two-tier Ireland” to take hold.
He said, “While it is very welcome that there has been a national increase in the number of IDA supported jobs, the figures we have obtained debunk the Government’s claim that it is spreading FDI jobs fairly across the whole country.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Fianna Fail has highlighted debts at local authorities just a week after the party voted with the government to appeal against an EU ruling requiring it to recover billions in back tax from Apple.
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the decision demanding the government redeem €13 billion from Apple followed an in-depth investigation which found that Ireland gave a selective advantage to the corporation over two decades, an arrangement illegal under EU state aid rules. With penalties, the figure would amount to about €19 billion. She said the decision is about illegal state aid; it in no way calls into question Ireland’s existing tax regime or its corporate tax rate.
Against this background, it now looks that the government hasn’t the financial resources to bail out local authorities that, said Fianna Fail deputy Marc MacSharry, are unable to provide basic services. He doesn’t say, in light of what appears to be a major crisis for local councils, why then his party joined in appealing against accepting from Apple the billions in state aid taxes that would more than dig councils out of the debt some are now apparently up to the neck in.
McSharry says the financial condition of the county council in his own county of Sligo is “particularly acute.” This, he asserts, has been exacerbated by a “prohibitive debt reduction plan forced on the council by the Department.” He said, “this plan ordered a 42% reduction in staff, which to date has reduced payroll costs by €8.5 million…” He also points to local services which, he declares,”have suffered massively.”
What MacSharry hasn’t gone on to explain is how in the first place Sligo County Council has ended up with the debt load is now labouring under. Did the Sligo authority not spend millions after a Fianna Fail-led government prevailed on them to roll out a pilot scheme to meter the water supplies of farmers in the county? Did the council also not run up a multi-million euro bill in contracting Veolia, a French company to carry out functions which many believed were well within the capacity of council staff to handle? Legal proceedings in the High Court and, later, the Supreme Court, concerning the dispute over the Lissadell Estate has, too, added to the colossal indebtedness, as has the apparent agreement to join in a costly plan to pay off the debts of the Knock North West Airport?
Former Minister in the last Fine Gael/Labour Government, Alan Kelly could be hardly accused of targeting Sligo unfairly when he took the initiative to call the county council to account for the state of its finances.
This is what Independent TD Clare Daly outlined in a Parliamentary Question she presented for his attention in 2015. She asked “if his attention has been drawn to a new financial plan the council has submitted to his Department on 29 April 2015 showing the council had borrowings of in excess of €23 million on which it was only capable of paying the interest; if his attention has been drawn to the fact the council has had a deficit in its revenue account in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the council’s cumulative deficit currently stands at more than €26 million with long-term debt in excess of €120 million; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Knock Airport, Co. Mayo, has current debts of approximately €9 million; if his attention has been drawn to the fact the Chief Executive of Sligo County Council has recommended that the council provide financial assistance of approximately €1.6 million to Knock airport.”
Surely it is past time the people were told how exactly the council has grown such a massive level of indebtedness – understood to also include the cost of land purchases and rentals – particularly now with existing council-run services, and, possibly, still more jobs so seriously at risk.
For the last few years, families in Sligo have been hit with a tax on their homes far greater than that levied in some other parts of the country in order seemingly to reduce the council’s shocking debt pile. As the record shows, proposals to cut the charge have repeatedly been voted down by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail members of the authority.
MacSharry says Sligo has a proud literary and cultural tradition but because of “drastic budget cuts” the Sligo County Library is set to “close indefinitely this Saturday,” and that he has been informed one of the three libraries in the county will be closed permanently. “This is a massive loss to the community,” he states.
However, if, as ministers complain, exchequer resources are impossibly tight, and with the Government and Fianna Fail refusing to accept the billions in back taxes which the EU has determined Apple owes the state, what does he expect to be accomplished by Fianna Fáil “bringing forward a Private Members Motion in the Dáil calling on the Government to take strategic action to address the local authority debt issue?” Indeed, should there be concern that the move could well result in the government, which is supported by Fianna Fail, revising the family home tax upwards or imposing a whole new raft of levies or charges on the people to cover the debts that McSharry says are disadvantaging Sligo and other local authorities?
A trade union is reportedly drawing up plans for a public protest against the imminent closure of libraries in Sligo on Saturday.