Government happy to see country brought to standstill if it takes Bus Eireann closer to privatisation -McDonald

‘Varadkar comments show why Ross has refused to intervene in dispute’

Sligo News File Online

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said comments from Minister Leo Varadkar to RTÉ News this afternoon have laid bare the government’s privatisation agenda and show the ideological reason why Shane Ross has refused to intervene in the Bus Éireann dispute.


Mary Lou McDonald, TD, Sinn Fein

Minister Varadkar told RTÉ News that Bus Éireann is not essential and that most of what it does could be done by the private sector.

Speaking from Leinster House today Teachta McDonald said;

“These comments reveal the ideological reason why Transport Minister Shane Ross has steadfastly refused to intervene in the Bus Éireann dispute.

“The government’s privatisation agenda has been laid bare for all to see.

“What Minister Varadkar and indeed Minister Ross fail to take account of is the service Bus Éireann provides for our citizens along non profit making routes where private operators will not go. Are these people to be sacrificed for the government’s privatisation agenda?

“The reality is that Shane Ross and this government are happy to see the country brought to a standstill if it brings the privatisation of Bus Éireann a little bit closer.

“So the travelling public and those workers who are risking their livelihoods on the picket lines are simply being used in an ideological campaign to privatise our bus routes.

“That is an indictment on this government and they should hang their heads in shame.”

Thousands celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in West

Mayo parades cancelled as a mark of respect to the crew of lost Coastguard rescue helicopter.

Sligo News File Online

With the Taoiseach still in the States relishing Trump’s ‘new friend’ status, thousands have been celebrating St. Patrick Day events in Ireland.

Taoiseach and Friend Donald Trump

Parades rolled out across the country, some of them designated as ‘themed’ affairs. But it was in places where the day was organised with a mind to the tradition and culture of what many would feel the occasion should be about that there was most evident enjoyment on the ground.

This year was noticeable for the bid in some quarters to change the name of the day from Patrick’s to Patty’s day – how soon until it’s also claimed that the Shamrock is transsexual? Others went on a reel and a jig about a St. Patrick’s wife – another bucket of crap. Should we be surprised? Certainly not. After all, this is a country where relatively recently political parties, including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, the Greens and others joined forces to campaign for the debasement of marriage by the elevation of homosexual unions to the same level as that of regular married couples.

The pressure is also now on to make the killing of unborn babies a human right, meaning a woman who doesn’t fancy giving birth can have the foetus destroyed in the womb and discarded as if it were no more than the clippings of her nails. For the avoidance of confusion, the reference here is to the campaign to terminate the constitutional protection, the 8th Amendment, which protects the life of babies.

As well, the drum is beating for the legalisation of euthanasia, that is the killing of sick and elderly folk. If introduced, Ireland would follow some other EU states, one of which has also changed the law allowing for the killing of even ill young children.

Additionally, the Dail is at present considering a Bill where young people will be able to purchase drugs from illegal pushers on the streets and take them for consumption or use in centres run or paid for by the State. The hands of the Gardai will be legally tied; prosecution of those in possession of substances such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, amphetamines and much more will be ruled out. The development is to be run initially on a pilot basis, with, later, centres, all staffed by health professionals, launched throughout the country.

This is the new Ireland people are now being expected to march to the tune of, and even sing in praise of to the world.

Locally, St. Patrick Day parades were called off in some towns in Mayo as a mark of respect to the crew of the Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter lost when heading on a rescue mission over the Mayo coast.

Parades in Roscommon, Longford, Leitrim and Donegal went ahead, as scheduled.

Gurteen, Dromore West, Enniscrone, and Easkey also held ceremonies.

Overall winners in the Sligo town event were the Filipino Association of Sligo.

Other awards:

O’Hares: Industrial & Commercial;

Best Sports Theme: Sligo Rowing Club

Sligo Rowing Club: Best Sports Theme;

Gaelscoil Sligo: National School Award;

Ursuline College Sligo: School Cup;

Sligo Woodlands School: Special Award

ITSligo: Community Award;

Love Leitrim & Friends: Adjudicator Award;

Hong Ying Martial Arts: Martial Arts;

Youth Award: Lisa Cooper School Academy;

Youth Reach Group: Novelty Award;

10t Sligo Scouts: Scout Award;

The Indian Association: Arts & Culture Award;

Augharonan Pipe Band: Overall Band;

Ballinacarrow National School: Band and

Silver Star Cheerleaders: Highly Commended

Fitzmaurice lays into Ross over drink driving comments that ‘rural TDs bowing to wishes of vintners’

‘We have minds of our own on this and other issues.’

‘Even if drinking levels were at zero the problem is a lack of Gardai out on roads.’

Garda ‘numbers are down by over 3,000, meaning problems not policed properly.’

Minister ‘seems to be on a mission to make people feel guilty for expressing their opinion.’

‘It might be more in his line to sort out problems at Bus Eireann and secure proper budget for the repair of the roads.’

Sligo News File Online

Roscommon-based TD Michael Fitzmaurice has slammed what he has branded the “wrong approach” Transport Minister Shane Ross is taking “by giving out about rural TDs who do not agree with him” on drink driving.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice – a fearless voice for the rural community.

The Independent deputy has condemned in particular the Minister’s apparent comments that rural TDs were “bowing to the wishes of the vintners.”

He said, “It is not the vintners or anyone else who are twisting our arms, we have our own minds when it comes to this and other issues.”

Further rounding on Ross, he said that “unfortunately” the minister “has moved away from the issue of Garda numbers” as the reason for drink driving.

“Even if the drink-driving levels were set at zero, it is the lack of Gardai out on the beat and on the roads that are the problem.

Dublin TD and Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

“The numbers are down by over 3,000 in recent years, and that means that these problems are not being policed properly.

“Another major cause of serious accidents, especially in rural areas are defective roads but,” he said, “we have heard no announcements of funding to carry our repairs on these dangerous roads.

“If Minister Ross is serious about saving lives on our roads, and I presume he is, there are better ways with better results that he can achieve this rather than the way he is going at the moment.

“He seems to be on a mission to make people feel guilty for expressing their opinion.

“It might be more in his line to sort out the problems at Bus Eireann and secure a proper budget for the repair of the roads and these things would have far more of a positive impact on the situation and on rural Ireland in particular.”

Earlier this year, the Galway Independent reported him as saying:

“We appear to be always relating accidents and death to seatbelts, drink and young drivers but in my view the big elephant in the room is the state of our roads but of course that costs money so, hush, say nothing if you’re government or the RSA.”

Irish Water Sligo sewerage planning applications ‘incomplete’

Permission sought for upgrade developments at Ballymote, Collooney and Ballinacarrow.

Sligo News File Online.

Planning applications submitted by Irish Water for the upgrade of sewerage plants in Sligo have been recorded as ‘incomplete.’

According to the Sligo County Council planning website, the applications for developments at Ballymote, Collooney and Ballinacarrow were received by the planning authority on 20 February 2017.

Works proposed to be carried out are detailed in the submissions for the three locations.

But it looks from the council’s website that the applications have not been progressed by authority.

The records show that all – files references 1757, 1758 and 1759 – have been identified as ‘incomplete’

It is not stated why the applications were deemed insufficient.

EU tariffs driving cost of fertiliser to record high

‘Levies designed to protect member states with indigenous fertiliser industries.’

Political intervention ‘does not have widespread support.’

Sligo News File Online.

The EU is forcing up the cost of Irish farming with sweeping import tariffs and taxes on fertilisers.

Michael Collins, TD, Independent, Cork South West

Nitrogen prices have increased by up to seven times within the space of the last nine months alone, Cork Independent TD Michael Collins has told the Dail. As a result, nitrogen is around €60 per tonne more expensive than last summer.

Collins, a livestock farmer, said that currently tariffs and taxes are costing the country’s farming industry €32 million annually.

He said:

“This is making Irish commodities uncompetitive against imports from outside the EU. It is also affecting dairy farmers, who had a desperate year last year because of low milk prices, and grain farmers, many of whom are in danger of going out of business. Beef and sheep farmers are badly affected too, as are the 8,000 or so GLAS farmers who are still awaiting their payments from the Department.”

Michael Creed, TD,
Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that a report published by the International Food and Policy Research Institute in 2016 “concluded that the protection afforded to EU manufacturers by the application of anti-dumping duties and customs tariffs is costing farmers up to €1 billion per annum.

“Against this background, I asked the Commission to consider a temporary suspension of customs tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertilisers in the lead-up to the March 2016 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. I actively pursued this issue at Council level throughout 2016 with the Commission and in
consultation with Council colleagues. I raised the issue again at the January 2017 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, when I asked the Commission to address the significant overpricing of fertilisers in the EU brought about by the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports. Commissioner Hogan acknowledged the desirability of bringing about lower prices but indicated that it was proving difficult to achieve, despite considerable efforts on his part with other member states and internally within the Commission.”

Creed said that “Commissioner Moscovici, rather than the

EU Commissioner for Taxation & Customs Pierre Moscovici.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Hogan, is responsible for anti-dumping tariffs because it is a competition issue. Obviously, this issue has been raised by Commissioner Hogan at Commission level.

“I would be less than honest if I failed to acknowledge that this initiative does not have widespread support. There are member states with significant indigenous fertiliser industries that are protected by these tariffs and anti-dumping levies. That adds a cost to agriculture. Nonetheless, I am personally committed to continuing to raise this matter. I do not think it would be accurate to say this issue lends itself to an easy solution.”

Future of Sligo regional veterinary laboratory still uncertain

Department consulting with stakeholders.

Decision on future will be informed by a cost-benefit analysis.

Sligo News File Online

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has given no undertaking that the regional veterinary laboratory in Sligo will be retained.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed

Replying to queries, Creed said a Working Group led by Prof. Alan Reilly had been commissioned to carry out a comprehensive review of the department’s laboratories. The group had presented a report containing recommendations on:

– Oversight and co-ordination of the laboratories activities

– Re-organisation of Divisions and support functions within the Central Laboratory complex

– Options for the future development of the Regional Laboratories – with a view to improving disease investigative and surveillance capability but with the over-riding imperative of maintaining and enhancing services to farmers and

– Human resources management within the laboratories – with a focus on grading structures, career development opportunities and workforce planning.

The department is currently consulting with all relevant stakeholders, he said.

“A decision on any of these recommendations will await the outcome of this consultative process. In the case of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories, any decision will also be informed by a cost-benefit analysis of the various options that have been proposed for their future development.”

ICSA: Farm Families under seige by crime.

Criminal activity rife in countryside.

Lack of Garda resources to tackle criminality

Frightened farmer who confronted intruders had shotgun seized by Gardaí.

Rural community believes judicial system virtually no deterrent.

Sligo News File Online

An ICSA survey carried out in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology shows that 66% of farming families have been victims of illegal activities.

Patrick Kent, President. ICSA

Association President Patrick Kent said that the survey reveals that crime against agricultural enterprises is “a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest.”

Dubbing the findings as “startling,” he said the figures would “suggest that the courts have adopted a far too lenient approach to offenders, particularly to repeat offenders.

“The rural community believes that the judicial system provides virtually no deterrent to this type of crime,” he said.

The survey was devised by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, Lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, and examines crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA Rural Development Committee.

Chairman of the association’s rural development committee, Seamus Sherlock said the survey results were “in keeping with the feedback I am getting from farmers all around the country.

“The ordinary decent people of rural Ireland are outraged that criminals seem to be acting with impunity. Even where insurance is in place, premiums are always at risk of rising significantly as a result of this type of crime.

“Worse still is that farmers are expected to fund expensive deterrents such as electric gates and security cameras.”

Rural communities, he said “feel under siege due to lack of Garda resources.

“Even where the Gardaí are successful in catching criminals the perception is that they get off lightly in the courts and are given every benefit of the doubt.

However, no such flexibility is shown to law abiding citizens.

“At a recent meeting I was told a story about a frightened farmer who confronted intruders with his shotgun, and within hours his shotgun was seized by Gardaí.

“We also had a report recently from a farmer who was warned by Gardaí after a break in that if a gate fell on the thieves they might possibly sue him for compensation.

Nearly 150 Garda stations have been closed since 2011, most of them rural locations.

“These cases are adding to the sense of outrage and ICSA is committed to bringing the issue of rural crime to the top of the political agenda.”

The ICSA, he said, would like to thank Glanbia Agribusiness and Done Deal for their support in promoting the survey.

A survey carried out by Macra na Feirme in 2016 showed that eight out of 10 young farmers in Ireland hold that they should have the right to bear arms

Meanwhile, the Mail Online reports that, on Thursday, a jury took just 24 minutes to clear an 83-year-old cross-channel farmer of grevious bodily harm after he was put on trial for shooting an apparently convicted burglar in the foot. The incident occurred at the farmer’s isolated farm at Wilberfoss, near York, at 2 am. He is said to have told the court that he was ‘petrified’ when a Land Rover ‘revved up’ without lights on and set off towards him.

He fired two shots – one towards the side of the vehicle and another in the air to frighten the occupants away.

Explaining the law on self-defence as it stands in Britain, the Mail states:

There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves.

A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of:

self defence
defence of another
defence of a property
prevention of crime
lawful arrest

In assessing reasonable of the force used, a judge/jury will consider two questions:

Was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. Was there a need for any force at all?
Was the force used reasonable in the circumstances?