Category Archives: News

Minister replies to local TD call for hair and beauty business grant

‘Significant package of measures already introduced in Budget 2021’

Sligo News File

Minister of State for Enterprise and Trade was asked by Sligo-based TD and former MEP Marian Harkin if he would consider a “once-off grant to the hair and beauty business.”

Marian Harkin

Damian English replied that “a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors was introduced in Budget 2021.”

The measures included the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, now extended until the 30th of June, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme, and the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID, low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme, had he said “provided vital support to businesses that have been forced to close or restrict access to their premises on foot of public health regulations. As we slowly and carefully start to reopen the economy, the Government has agreed to the extension of the CRSS until 30th of June 2021.

“There is provision in the CRSS for a “restart week” which allows a business to claim for an extra week upon reopening after restrictions are lifted, which will be of particular benefit as businesses start to re-open.”

The Government, he added, “is committed that there will be no cliff-edge end to the economic supports at the end of June. Government recognises that re-opening will be costly and will pose new challenges that will need to be sustained by continued supports and corrective measures to get the balance right between supporting recovery and cost to the Exchequer, and plans for this are currently in development.”

 

 

Mayo TD hits out at decision of PTSB to discontinue counter services to customers in Ballina

‘Should be a stay on all closures and reduction of services until government intervenes with a forum on future of banking’

Sligo News File

The decision of the PTSB to shut its counter services in Ballina has been strongly criticised by a constituency TD

 

Rose Conway-Walsh, TD,
Sinn Fein spokesperson for further and higher education and science

Describing the move as “another cut to banking services in rural Ireland,” Sinn Fein Dail Deputy Rose Conway- Walsh said: “The complete disregard for loyal customers and communities has now become common place in the banking sector. 

“This is galling for citizens who were forced to take on billions in banking debt during the financial crash. 

“The fact that the state owns 75% of PTSB makes moves to close services even worse,” she said. 

“We need Government to intervene and set up a forum on the future of banking as a matter of urgency.” 

She added that there should meanwhile be “a stay on all closures and reduction of services until this forum is set up, a full report is published and an agreed banking infrastructure is established that serves the needs of all citizens,”

The bank has told customers that effective from 14 June 2021 the Ballina branch will become a “fully automated cash and digital experience”. Those who want to use its cash and mortgage counter service will, in future have to travel to its Castlebar branch, nearly 25 miles away, to carry on their business. 

 

 

 

ICSA Chairman calls for Taskforce to tackle ‘lack of transparency’ in Irish sheep sector

‘1,100 whole lamb carcasses were brought in through Rosslare Port from the UK this week and delivered to a prominent Irish processor in the southeast’

Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and retailers need to clarify their positions on this’

Sligo News File

ICSA Sheep chair Sean McNamara has reiterated his call for the establishment of a dedicated Sheep Taskforce to tackle the lack of transparency within the sector.

Sean McNamara, Chairman, ICSA Sheep Sector Committee

“While factory bosses are telling us their fridges are full, 1,100 whole lamb carcasses were brought in through Rosslare Port this week – from the UK – and delivered to a prominent Irish processor in the southeast. That’s around 26 tons brought in purely to depress prices paid to local farmers and they deserve an explanation for this,” he said.

“This incident highlights once again that primary producers are the weakest link in the chain. Sheep farmers are completely at the mercy of these underhanded tactics, which are designed to have an immediate impact on prices paid. ICSA is demanding answers around why this product is coming in and which markets they are serving. We are also questioning why factories are not giving local suppliers the opportunity to fill these orders if they genuinely believe there is a ‘need’ to import live lambs and carcasses on an ongoing basis.”

“It is not only processors who have questions to answer, the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and the retailers need to clarify their positions on this and other contentious issues such as weight limits. The value of sheep exports in 2020 was €360 million; that is not an insignificant sum and primary producers in the sheep sector are justified in demanding a forum where stakeholders can work collaboratively in a transparent manner.”

Baby’s life ended by individuals within National Maternity Hospital in an alleged illegal abortion – Deputy Peader Toibin

‘Fully healthy boy, parents are heartbroken’

Sligo News File

During leaders questions in the Dail, Peader Toibin, TD stated: “Twenty-five months ago, baby Christopher’s life was ended by individuals within the National Maternity Hospital in an alleged illegal abortion.”

Peader Toibin TD,

Christopher, he said, “was a fully healthy boy and his parents are heartbroken. A large number of elements of the law were broken, not least that a senior practitioner signed off on the abortion but never met or examined the mother.”

The family “has met two Ministers for Health and the Chief Medical Officer,” he said.  Toibin said he knew the Taoiseach was aware of the case “because he has spoken to the family directly. However, 25 months later, the family still has not had justice for what happened to Christopher.”

He said: “Peter McKenna has written a detailed report on the family’s case. That report lies on the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly’s, desk and has lain there for weeks without the information being given to the family. The family cannot get access to that report at the moment.

“The Minister once told the family that they could trust him but yet, his office has told the family that if they want to get access to the report, they can ask for it under the freedom of information, FOI, legislation. That is a phenomenally disgraceful response to parents who have had the life of their son ended in a hospital illegally in this country. Will the Taoiseach say today he will put an end to the difficulties this family is experiencing and they will have justice?”

Deputy Bríd Smith:

“On a point of order, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle chastised the last Deputy for going off the point. This Deputy has completely gone off the point. Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle please correct his contribution?”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Catherine Connolly:

Catherine Connolly, TD

“That is not a point of order and I was about—–“

Deputy Tóibín:

“Can I say, Leas-Cheann Comhairle—–“

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

“No, no, no—–“

Deputy Tóibín:

“—–the deafening silence from other political parties in this case is a disgrace?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

“No, Deputy. I am using my discretion to allow Deputies, when they put their hand up, in on the issues that are down and grouped. Deputies have gone to the trouble of tabling questions, as Deputy Gould did and now Deputy Tóibín has done, that bear no resemblance. I will leave it for today. The point has been made and I will certainly be enforcing the rules more rigidly.”

Deputy Tóibín:

“It was an illegal—–“

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

“No, no more—–“

Deputy Tóibín:

“Other issues have arisen.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:

“The Taoiseach, to respond.”

Commenting on the case, the Taoiseach said:

Taoiseach Michael Martin

“I do not want to be seen to be ignoring the issue Deputy Tóibín raised and I am aware of it. There are very concerning circumstances surrounding the case in question and I will certainly see if I can examine the latest position with regard to the report.”

Government Working Group examining local authority use of public surveillance systems

Plans to bring forward provisions that will allow waste enforcement authorities to utilise range of ‘new and emerging technologies’

Sligo News File

A mass of new surveillance technologies could be on the way, all aimed at monitoring  movements of the public.

A Working Group set up by the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green government has been asked to examine a range of systems for use by local authorities, including fixed position CCTV, mobile CCTV, overt vs. covert CCTV, drones over public and private lands, bodycams worn by waste enforcement personnel, dashcams in local authority vehicles, GPS tracking technologies, automatic number plate recognition and “other surveillance technologies.”

Green Minister Ryan further said his department “plans to bring forward provisions, through the Waste Management (Circular Economy) Bill that will allow waste enforcement authorities to utilize all such new and emerging technologies in an effective manner,” while  respecting the privacy rights of citizens.

In the written reply to a question from a Dail deputy, Ryan added that his department is currently awaiting legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General.

PTSB closing its Ballina cash counter service

To lodge cash or pay mortgage over the counter, customers will have to go to  Castlebar branch where full service is being retained

Sligo News File

PTSB has announced it is shutting down the cash counter service of its branch in Ballina.

 

In a notice circulated to customers, the bank states that effective from 14 June 2021 “your Ballina branch will become a fully automated cash and digital experience and there will no longer be a physical cash desk.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that older customers or those with little or no experience of transacting accounts by way of computerised equipment will be grossly discommoded, the only option being left them is to head out to join the queue at the Castlebar branch of the same Ballina bank some 25 or so miles away.

Questions many in Ballina will mull over is why physical services of the branch in the town are being cut back, if its actually not a vote of no confidence in the place, one of the country’s leading tourism venues with a population of around 11,000.

By any measure, removing the cash counter facility is a drastic and deeply worrying development. Long-term customers depend on the bank to have such a service available – indeed such a service is a crucial plank in the any bank’s offering to its customers.

To date, it doesn’t appear there has been any comment from local TD’s or councillors. Why?  After all, this is a relatively huge blow to the town, to that part of the population that has made the PTSB their bank of choice down the years, in some cases since the bank first opened in Ballina.

The new arrangement which will require PTSB customers to travel to Castlebar to access Ballina discontinued type counter services  is scheduled to kick in with effect from the 14th of next month. 

To facilitate the updates, PTSB have told customers that the Ballina branch will be closed from the 9th to 14 June.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FARMER VIEWS MUST BE FRONT AND CENTRE IN ANTIPARASITIC MEDICINES DEBATE – FARRELL

‘Routine veterinary medicines like wormers and doses must be excluded from the requirement to purchase a veterinary prescription in advance’

Sligo News File

ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said farmers’ ability to take care of animal welfare needs and run their businesses efficiently must be front and centre as new rules around accessing veterinary medicines are decided. “This process must be guided by what is best for the 100,000 plus farmers who will be most affected by these changes, and not by stakeholders with a particular vested interest one way or the other,” he said.

“While ICSA accepts that the veterinary profession and the licenced merchants are key players in the process, it is farmers who stand to be inconvenienced the most. The primary goal must be to facilitate farmers in carrying out routine farming tasks in a straightforward and economic manner. The fact that the issue has descended into a face-off between the department, the veterinary profession and the merchants – while ignoring the end users – is unacceptable.”

Mr Farrell said ICSA is adamant that routine veterinary medicines like wormers and doses must be excluded from the requirement to purchase a veterinary prescription in advance. “These are products which have never required a prescription and introducing such a requirement is completely over the top. We see no reason why suitably qualified personnel should be precluded from advising farmers and dispensing such products as and when they are required.”

 

Garda entry on church sparks fury on social media

Deeply upsetting video images

Sligo News File

The entry of gardai to remove people from a church in Athlone has sparked a wave of protest and condemnation across social media.

Video images show gardai standing to the front of the alter as worshippers are directed to leave the church.

It is truly shocking stuff which many will find hard to stomach.

But gardai will say they are carrying out the wishes of government as expressed in the newly enacted laws under which Catholics can be jailed where found attending a religious ceremony. As well, gardai have been empowered to dish out on-the-spot fines for engagements in religious activities they consider contravene government controls and regulations.

The defence offered by the government and large sections of the Dail is that the draconian, some would say Cromwellian measures are essential to the protection of the people with Covid-19 ravaging the country.

However, it’s only very recently that lockdown measures were introduced to restrict the movement of people from heavily Covid infected parts of the world into Ireland. While foreigners and others were arriving largely unrestricted in their thousands, people at home were being subjected to the most severe of severe restrictions on their movements.

There can be no doubt people will contrast what has happened in Athlone with scenes in Salthill where  hundreds, if not thousands gathered at the venue. It is likely also Salthill wasn’t the only place where people converged in large numbers over the weekend. As far as can be seen, social distancing certainly wasn’t maintained in all cases in Galway.

Raiding churches, particularly where social distancing is being observed, does nothing to garner respect for the laws or, indeed the Oireachtas.

Religious ceremonies are an important part of Catholic life. The oppressive laws forbidding Christian practice must be reviewed and removed. Clergy, if they want to, are more than capable of regulating congregations, and congregations themselves are also aware enough to observe social distancing and mask wearing requirements in church surroundings.

Ireland is currently the only country in Western Europe to have a blanket ban on in-person worship.