The government supporting Fianna Fáil party is welcoming the announced €10m investment by VistaMed in Carrick-on-Shannon. Sligo-based party TD Marc MacSharry says the move, which will create 150 extra jobs, is testament to the talent and skills of the workforce in the North West region.
However, concern is growing over the absence or lack of industrial investment in Sligo town and county, where many have fears about the future of the area’s economic and social development.
Although more and more young people are being forced to migrate, there is little evidence of any political urgency to arrest the decline in activity across key fronts.
The area has four TDs – McSharry and Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fail, Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael and Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein.
‘Towns and villages devastated by complete withdrawal of supports.’
‘€60 million annually taken from area payments of rural communities.’
Sligo News File Online
A €10 million rural Fund recently announced by Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys will do next to nothing for rural regeneration. That’s according to
the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association who have said that while the allocation is welcome “, further and on-going investment …is needed to keep the lights on in rural communities.”
Seamus Sherlock, chairman of the organisation’s rural development committee, said, “Anyone who travels the back roads of Ireland can see first-hand the devastation inflicted on towns & villages by the complete withdrawal of supports to these areas over the last decade.”
“To put it in context, the cut to the ANC (formerly Disadvantaged Area Payments) has taken over €60 million per annum out of rural communities,” he said.
“Our view is that we need to get more funding into rural areas as quickly as possible through as many routes as possible. Farmers are renowned for reinvesting their profits back into their farms, and this has a positive effect on local business & employment thus keeping rural Ireland alive,”
The ICSA, he said, is now calling for a full reinstatement of the ANC payment to previous levels as well as “a more worthwhile package for reinvigorating rural villages,”
‘Extremely important that all of the transactions involving any of the assets which were the subject of leaks be examined’
Sligo News File Online
Newly elected Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry wants the Fianna Fail-backed Fine Gael/Independent Coalition to launch an investigation over concerns surrounding information allegedly leaked by the National Asset Management Agency about assets of the agency.
The Fianna Fail Deputy said:
“As I understand it, information in relation to approximately 800 Nama clients, including the identity of property assets, valuations of those assets and loan values, were leaked and may have been received by entities who ultimately bid and purchased those assets. For this reason it is essential in the public interest that the Government establishes a full independent investigation into the Nama leaks and their relationship, if any, to property sales.”
He added that “it is extremely important that all of the transactions involving any of the assets which were the subject of leaks be examined to see whether those who bought these assets had access to any information which may have given them an unfair advantage in the purchasing of these properties from Nama.”
Main opposition Sinn Fein calls for end to water metering
Dail main opposition party Sinn Fein has called on Irish Water to drop the controversial water metering programme.
TD Eoin O’Broin, Sinn Fein spokesman on Water services, said his party and the other Right 2 Water TDs “will be tabling a private members motion in two weeks time calling for the abolition of water charges and Irish Water.
“As a majority of TDs in the 32nd Dáil campaigned to end water charges we expect this motion to be passed.
“If it fails to pass it will be because politicians who promised to oppose water charges during the election did not keep their word.”
Commenting on the metering programme, O’Broin said Sinn Fein has consistently argued that water meters “were the wrong use of €500 million
“We said this money should have been invested in fixing the water infrastructure which is the main source of water wastage.
The Minister responsible for water services, Simon Coveney, should he said, “contact Irish Water management and instruct them to stop their metering project.
“No more tax payers money should be wasted on this controversial scheme until the future of water and sanitation service delivery is clear.”
Party sending terms to expected new Fine Gael-Fianna Fail partners in minority government arrangement.
Sligo News File Online.
The prospective Dail main opposition party has published terms of reference for the commission being set up to examine public ownership issues surrounding Irish Water.
Sinn Fein has said they will send the terms to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail “with the recommendation that they be used for the commission that the two parties have agreed to form.”
Speaking from Leinster House, party TD David Cullinane said:
“Irish Water is a failed entity. It has no public support. Water charges have been given their marching orders from the voting public.
“It is vitally important that any new body established to replace Irish Water has the full confidence of the public to manage and deliver our water and sewerage services and to fund and govern those services appropriately.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have agreed to establish a commission on this and Sinn Féin is today publishing what we believe should be the terms of reference for that committee.
“In order for any new body to have full public confidence water charges must be gone and gone permanently.”
Terms of reference for Independent Commission on Irish water services
The aim of this Commission is to ensure that there is public trust and confidence in the arrangements for financing and delivering water and sewerage services for all citizens in this State.
To independently advise the Houses of the Oireachtas on the level of Exchequer funding required following the abolition of domestic charges and related options to finance the State water and sewerage services now and in the future.
To advise on the level of investment in our water and sewerage infrastructure needed to deliver quality water and sewage infrastructure in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
To bring forward an organisational model to replace Irish Water, which will be publicly owned protects the public interest and complies with EU standards.
The Independent Commission will consist of a chairperson and no less than 4 additional members and should as far as possible collectively reflect the following elements:
– Expertise and knowledge within Ireland North or South, or International.
– Public administration
– Regulatory, operational/management and environmental expertise in utility;
– Economic and academic expertise;
– Workers rights and consumer interest expertise
Process would be completed and presented to the Oireachtas within 9 months of being established. It would have an independent secretariat.
The public ownership model options presented by the Commission to replace Irish Water would come before the Dáil and Seanad and be enshrined in legislation once agreed.
‘Ireland cannot take anything for granted particularly at the peripheral Intel sites in County Clare.’
Sligo News File Online.
As fears grow over expected job losses at Intel, Ireland, Sinn Fein has called on Acting Minister for Enterprise, Richard Bruton, to immediately engage with management on the company on the issue.
Party Spokesman on Enterprise, Peader Tobin said, “Ireland cannot take anything for granted especially at the peripheral Intel sites located in County Clare.
“Intel is a massive employer in the state, he said. “It contributes significantly in terms of wages, consumption of services, business rates and the technology development of the Irish economy.
“It’s important that the Acting Minister for Enterprise quickly engages with senior management of the company with the view to safeguarding as many jobs as possible.
He said, “It is hoped that considering significant recent investment into the Irish sites, that many of the jobs should be safe. However, Ireland cannot take anything for granted especially at the peripheral Intel sites located in County Clare.
“Foreign Direct Investment is an important and welcome part of the Irish economy. We must continue to vigorously pursue FDI into the future.
He said fears of job losses in Intel also “put the over reliance of this state on FDI into sharp perspective.
“The Irish economy is extremely unbalanced. Nearly 90% of exports are from foreign multinationals. This makes Ireland highly vulnerable to economic shocks such as exchange rates, interest rates or even a new
“The Indigenous enterprise sector with far stickier jobs has for so long been the poor relation with regards Irish enterprise policy. This needs to change. We need to emulate comparable countries such as Denmark and Austria in developing the size and export capability of indigenous firms.
“This generation has seen the wide scale damage that can be wrought on an economy which is over exposed to one sector.” He said “fixing the problem when that sector is in retreat is too late.”
Council payroll function to be moved to Portlaoise.
Sligo News File Online.
Sligo County Council is believed to be planning for yet another reduction in the authority’s staffing levels.
As many as 20 workers could be affected, according to sources. If confirmed, it would mean that more than 200 staff will have either left or been redeployed to other statutory bodies or duties in the last few years.
On top of this, the debt-ridden authority has recently announced that it is winding up its entire payroll function and transferring the facility to the centralised Shared Services Centre in Portlaoise.
The move is scheduled to take effect from 22 April 2016.
As far as is known, councillors have not been informed of the transfer.
Richie Carrothers of the Impact Trade Union, which represents local government workers, said today that there would be no “compulsory” redundancies in the existing county council workforce. He was not aware, he said, of staff proposing to leave the authority
The Impact Union members’ 2015 e-bulletin said a financial plan developed by the council that year “included plans for staff redeployment, to suppress posts, abolish acting positions, as well as proposals for the closure and reduction of some services.”
It also stated at the time, “trade unions representing staff have been excluded from the workforce plan discussions entirely.”
Job losses in the Sligo area have spiralled with, among other worrying trends, the recently announced closure of the locally long established Elanco global animal health company in Finisklin and the lay-off of more than 100 workers at the plant. Some 30 jobs were also impacted with the transfer of the Aurivo, formerly Connacht Gold, milk processing plant from Barnasraghy to Killygordon, Donegal.
In Tubbercurry, the government has closed two State offices and relocated the staff to Mayo and other areas. Aurivo has moved its headquarters from the town to Sligo and announced it also plans to close its 24- job butter packing plant at Achonry and transfer the operation to Mitchelstown in Cork.
In all, the south Sligo town has already lost over 200 jobs. According to a local councillor, “not a single new job has been created in Tubbercurry in the last 5 years.”
Fine Gael: No substantial commitment to investment in Sligo industrial or service sectors.
Sligo News File Online.
Fianna Fail is promising to raise the state pension – that is if they are in government following the general election.
A press release issued on behalf of Senator Marc MacSharry states that the party will increase both the contributory and non-contributory rate by €30.
They will also improve the Living Alone Allowance by €15, says the statement.
In Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael’s position is more or less as it has been for the last five years – no significant new investment in industrial or service sector provision, and no substantial commitment to tackling business closures, struggling enterprises or the area’s joblessness, migration, and emigration. Homelessness is at a record high.
It is said party TD, Tony McLoughlin is encountering squalls of protests regarding the water charges, property tax and the carbon levies that have added hugely to the household costs of heating oil, gas, briquettes, diesel and much more besides.
Fears are growing that if Fine Gael is returned to government major increases in the family home tax will follow sooner or later. The party is also adamantly sticking to its decision to maintain water charges – it is also felt they will roll out a higher charge for metering and a raft of other consumer costing measures, possibly including levies on household and other insurances to create a fund for the alleviation of flooding problems in parts of the country.
Taxation appears to be a mindset of the Coalition as a whole – not even the anger it is arousing within weeks of the general election has deterred them from setting conditions for what inevitably is destined to be higher charges for household waste collection.
Fianna Fail has stated that there will be no water charges in the lifetime of the a next government they might be part of. Not much reassurance in that for consumers – after all, Fianna Fail signed up the country to water charges, the creation of Irish Water and the taxation of the family home in the agreement with the Troika. It is a legacy the Fine Gael – Labour Coalition have continued to operate in spite of the hardship it has inflicted on families throughout the country.
At a local level, the electorate has not forgotten the demolition job that the previous Fianna Fail-led government did on cancer services at what then was Sligo General Hospital and their cold dismissal of the widespread protests by sick and elderly campaigners desperately seeking to have the services retained. The subsequent efforts of TD John Perry to secure the restoration of the facilities might have been successful if he had not been let down by his party in government.
An RTE Prime Time team is visiting Tubbercurry today, Tuesday.
The venue for what is to be a debate on rural issues is Teach Laighne.
No details have been released to date. However, it appears that although rural matters, including job losses and the possible transfer of the Aurivo butter packing operation from Achonry to Cork are on the agenda, the event for some inexplicable reason is being restricted to only “invited” speakers and a small audience of about 30.
Proceedings are scheduled to get underway in the library of the council offices at 9 pm.
Anger is growing over the spate of job losses in the South Sligo town and its environs, the most recent of which include those announced in connection with the planned closure of the Aurivo Co-operative butter packing operations where it is believed possibly upwards of 20 workers may be made redundant. The Co-operative has announced that it is moving the butter packing facility from the long established Achonry base to a new plant in Cork.
The company recently transferred its headquarters from Tubbercurry to a Sligo town business park. It also closed the co-operative’s milk processing plant on the outskirts of Sligo town
and switched the operations from there to Donegal.
It looks from a letter seen by Sligo News File that Aurivo has declined an invitation to meet with local public representatives at offices of the county council. The letter, dated 19 January 2016, and signed by “Aaron Forde, Chief Executive,” states:
“As a commercial business operating in an exceptionally competitive environment, we will not be taking up your invitation to attend a Sligo County Council meeting.
“However, as previously offered in our letter to you of December 22, we are more than happy to meet a delegation of councillors at our office on a mutually suitable date for a private update on our operations.”
In an earlier letter, 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
As well as serving as CEO of Aurivo, Forde is chairman of the State Dairy Board, Ornua, to whose plant in Mitchelstown, the Aurivo Achonry butter facility is being moved.
According to accounts, south Sligo community interests are mobilising to block the transfer of the Aurivo butter packing facility to Cork. They are also said to have designed and are now erecting posters in support of what a source says will be an intensive campaign.
Additional to the loss of the butter packing operations and the relocation, with 30 jobs, of the headquarters of Aurivo from the founding base of the co-operative in Tubbercurry to a Sligo business
park, two state offices in the town have been closed by the current government. Staff have been moved from the offices to Ballina, part of the Taoiseach’s Mayo constituency, and other locations.
In all, the area has lost more than 200 jobs in the last few years. In Sligo town itself, more than 100 workers are to lose their jobs with the closure of the Elanco manufacturing plant at Finisklin.
The US parent company said, “cost-reduction initiatives at Sligo, including a restructuring last year, have not been sufficient in establishing a competitive business model for the facility”.
The area is represented by Sligo-based government party TDs, John Perry, a former minister for small business development, and Tony McLoughlin. Local senators include Imelda Henry (Fine Gael) Susan O’Keefe (Labour) and Marc McSharry (Fianna Fail)
Both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland have offices in Sligo. Sligo County Council also operates a fully staffed enterprise office set up in 2012 to promote the development of local business
activity. The CEO of the County Council is Ciaran Hayes. He is supported by a team of service directors and officials.