ICSA seeks an extension of closing date for BPS applications

Fifteen EU countries already have permission to reset the BPS deadline.

Sligo News File.

ICSA president Patrick Kent is pressing Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to extend the deadline for the submission of applications under the EU Basic Payment Scheme.

Patrick Kent, president ICSA…extend BPS closing date call on Creed

Commenting following the announcement that EU commissioner Phil Hogan had already allowed 15 EU States to amend the closing date for the BPS, Mr. Kent said that in light of the move to an online process, “an extension makes perfect sense.

“Applying online may not be that straightforward for many, especially older farmers and those with poor or no internet connectivity, so there needs to be as much flexibility
as possible given.”

He said, “ICSA is aware of the huge efforts put in by the Department of Agriculture on this issue and that BPS clinics have been organised throughout the country. However, 2018 has been an exceptionally difficult year for farming with the extended winter and fodder shortages. Farmers have had a lot to contend with, and many are way behind schedule at this point.

“The choice is there now for Minister Creed to extend the deadline to June 15 and I would urge him to avail of that. It is imperative that no one gets left behind during this transition.”

Sinn Fein in Fine Gael camp reportedly claiming Fianna Fail attacking them

New ‘coalition’ secures two Senate seats for Fine Gael.

Sligo News File

Sinn Fein has thrown in their lot with Fine Gael and secured two Senate seats for the Government party.

The new Senate members are Ulster Farmers Union member Ian Marshall, a Unionist, and former Kildare North TD Anthony Lawlor – candidates in both cases proposed by Fine Gael.

A Sinn Fein source claimed they couldn’t support the Fianna Fail candidates owing to the Fianna Fail Leader’s attacks on Sinn Fein in the Dail.

However, many will feel it sounds more like Sinn Fein showing their hand ahead of the next general election.

Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has already said her party would “of course” talk with Fine Gael about entering government together.

A Fine Gael Minister, Jim Daly also recently commented that he has “no ideological objection” to Sinn Fein being in government.

Looks on the face of it then that next election a vote for Fine Gael could be a vote for a coalition with the Shinners, leaving Fianna Fail once again confined to the opposition benches.

Varadkar must be completely in his element.

Bye Bye Micheal, hello Mary Lou?


Aurivo pondering merger with Northern dairy Co-op

‘Very good fit between the businesses.’

Sligo News File.

North West-based Aurivo co-operative is mulling over a potential merger or partnership with LacPatrick, one of the North’s largest dairy operations.

LacPatrick was formed in July 2015 as a result of the merger of Ballyrashane and Town of Monaghan Co-ops and is regarded by the industry as a leader in the dairy sector.

Aurivo said in a statement that it noted the developments in LacPatrick Dairies in recent days and, “following a meeting on Monday, the board of Aurivo has agreed to participate in its formal process to assess strategic options.

“We believe that there would be a very good fit between the businesses of LacPatrick and Aurivo, given our complementary dairy portfolios and milk pools across the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“The consolidation process, in which Aurivo has a successful history, would strengthen our commitment to improving the lives of our member owners in the combined business.”

However, it looks from reports that farmer representatives have urged LacPatrick be given the “space and time” to assess the best option for the co-op.

This is said to follow interest from at least one overseas investor, and domestic co-operatives, about a possible tie-up with LacPatrick.

Lakeland Dairies is mentioned as a likely partner, but interest has also been expressed by others including Northern Ireland’s Dale Farms, which is owned by over 1,300 dairy farmers across the UK.

A merger would have to be approved by 75% of the LacPatrick members.

In February, LacPatrick unveiled a ‘Brexit-proofing’ technology centre near Strabane in a £30m investment creating 20 new jobs. With improved capacity, the co-op is in a position to make two new milk powder products for export.

LacPatrick are believed to have cut milk prices twice this year, in Feb and March, by 5c a litre.

A Sligo farmer has questioned what the future of any merger will be “if the British make a balls of Brexit. What happens to milk access to the south if there are levies or quota controls,” he asks.

Aurivo reported a group operating profit (before exceptional items) of €3.9 million for 2017 – an increase of 10% on the out-turn for 2016.

Doctors’ ‘alarm’ over removal of Eighth Amendment and Government plans for abortion

‘Public are entitled to know that the Government’s proposal has nothing to do with healthcare, and everything to do with introducing abortion on demand into Ireland.’

Sligo News File.

Doctors have come out strongly against the Government-driven campaign for the repeal of the Eighth amendment.

Baby at 12 weeks.

The people of the country by a massive majority inserted the Eighth amendment in the Constitution in 1983 specifically to protect the life of the mother and the unborn child.

Now the government wants to completely remove the constitutional right to life of the child and allow for unrestricted killing of babies up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has reportedly gone so far as to say May 25th will be Ireland’s chance to come of age as a nation by voting Yes to the abolition of the baby protecting Eighth amendment.

Doctors, however, have expressed alarm about the Government’s proposal.

Commenting following a meeting of medical practitioners in Dublin, one is on record as saying the Government proposal “has nothing to do with healthcare,” and “”would introduce unrestricted abortion in the first three months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.”

He said: “As GPs and other healthcare workers, we feel that the public are entitled to know that the Government’s proposal has nothing to do with healthcare, and everything to do with introducing abortion on demand into Ireland.” 

Launching their outreach in Dublin last week, Caroline Simons of the Love Both campaign group warned that if the Irish Constitution is amended, “Ireland will go from being a country that protects unborn babies to one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world.”

She said the government proposal “also allows for abortion on vague and undefined ‘health’ grounds, up to viability and even up to birth, where the baby has a possible terminal illness and in other circumstances as well.”

Government finally yields to pressure and sanctions new garda headquarters for Sligo

Contracts to be signed within days.

Sligo News File.

The government has finally yielded to years of pressure and given the go-ahead for a new garda headquarters in Sligo.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said a site for the building had been found at Caltragh and contracts would be signed within a few days.

Existing Sligo Garda Headquarters on Pearse Road

The announcement follows a long campaign during which conditions at the existing garda structure at Pearse Road were repeatedly
condemned as unfit for purpose.

At one stage gardai walked out of the building in protest over the state of the premises.

Meanwhile, Sligo-based company Kilcawley construction has secured the €8.3 million  contract for the revamp of the garda station in Athlone.



Modular extension for Mayo hospital emergency department

‘Existing facility designed for 20,000 patients catered for 40,000 in 2016.’

Sligo News File

A modular structure looks set to be used to extend the overcrowded emergency department of Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar.

Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary.

Replying to Dail questions from Fianna Fail Deputy Dara Calleary, Minister for Health Simon Harris said there was a long-term proposal to provide a new emergency department in the hospital “but we need an interim solution and to see how we can extend the existing emergency department.

“The only interim solution I see is modular build. The HSE estates office is working with Mayo University Hospital to review and discuss the proposal.

“There is some follow-up work required on the scope of the design and the hospital management is familiar with that. However, I accept the point that we need to see if we can do something quite quickly on it. I will examine it in that context …”

Calleary said the emergency department was designed for 20,000 patients but catered for 40,000 in 2016. This, he said, “is placing the fantastic staff and patients under intolerable stress.”

Marine Survey Office decision banning boats from Innismurray “flawed” says local TD

‘Several skippers from Sligo have tours booked throughout the summer.’

Sligo News File.

A Fine Gael TD has branded as “flawed” a decison made by experts of the Marine Survey Office to ban boats from Inishmurray, an uninhabited 9 square kilometre island situated about 7 kilometres of the Sligo coast.

Inismurray Harbour

According to reports, the Department of Transport has warned boat owners that the Marine Survey Office does not allow plying consent to the island owing to “concerns for safety during embarking and disembarking at the island.”

Tony McLoughlin raised the issue in the Dail where he went on to say that the programme for Government contained specific recommendations to grow tourism nationwide, in particular along the Wild Atlantic Way.

“However, I highlight for the Tánaiste and the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Brendan Griffin, a situation in County Sligo where a flawed health and safety decision by the Marine Survey Office has led to the closure of Inishmurray to tourists seeking to visit the historical site on the island.

“Several skippers from Sligo have tours booked throughout the summer. It is vitally important, therefore, that access be reinstated. I ask the Minister of State to visit the site at his earliest convenience to see at first hand the problems being experienced.”

Deputy Eamon Scanlon said that “like Deputy McLoughlin” he had been contacted by people about the situation.

He said, “A constituent of mine invested €200,000 in a boat to ferry people to the island. There has never been an accident in the course of tourists visiting the island, nor has anybody been hurt. The landing area on Inishmurray is safer than that on Skellig Michael. It is wrong that people are being prevented from earning a living and that tourists cannot visit the island. Many American tourists whose families used to live on the island visit it while on holidays.”

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin said he was am aware of the issue. “Although the specific matters raised are ones for agencies outside the control of my Department, the ramifications for the tourism industry in the area are pertinent,” he said.

“My Department is looking into the issue to see how it can help to resolve it.” he added that he recognised “the importance of the attraction to the tourism industry in County Sligo.

“I will visit the location as soon as possible to see for myself the situation on the ground and how the issue can be resolved.”

Scores of schoolchildren taking their own lives

Seventy young suicides last year alone.

Sligo News File

The Dail has been told that 70 children of schoolgoing age have taken their own lives last year.

Pat Buckley TD

Deputy Pat Buckley also said the number did not include children between the ages of 16 and 18 years who were not at school.

He said he was informed of the situation at the Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care.

The programme for Government, he said “contains a commitment to conduct an evidence-based expert review of the current status of implementation of international best practice in mental health services in Ireland.”

He went on to say that “it is almost two years since that commitment was given in the programme for Government, but the chronic shortage of staff has not improved and the
plan is not working.”

He called for the embargo on the recruitment of front-line staff to be lifted and everything necessary is done to staff CAMHS teams.

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly said the situation “it is not just about resources; it also about finding skilled and qualified staff.

“Since 2012 over 2,000 staffing positions have been approved, but to date, we have only been able to fill 1,352 of them in mental health services. That is not down to finance but to the availability of staff such as consultant psychiatrists, of whom there is a scarcity worldwide, not just in Ireland. That is the recruitment challenge we face in dealing with the increasing demand for mental health services.

“As the Deputy is aware, €910 million has been allocated for mental health services, an increase of €200 million in the past five years,” he added