Category Archives: News

SLIGO FOCUS.

‘Round the County.

 Sligo News File Online.

Week from 29 October 2014.

 ‘NO’ TO WATER CHARGES.

Sligo Water Charge Protest March

 More than 4,000 took part in protest march in Sligo.

Sligo protest against water charges

 

 Water charges on agenda for meeting of County Council

There will be more than passing interest in how councillors react to motions on water charges down for discussion at next Monday’s meeting of Sligo County Council. This is the council that only a short time back had farmers up in arms over charges for water.

Remember the protests?.

Then there was the more recent action where members sanctioned compulsory registration of all households for waste collection and service charges.

As if that massive financial burden on families wasn’t enough, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael also blocked a proposed 15% reduction in the tax on the family home.

The motions scheduled to come before councillors on Monday include a lengthy submission in the names of Sinn Fein members Thomas Healy and Sean MacManus. They are demanding that:

 Sligo County Council calls on the Government to;

– Immediately reverse domestic water charges which are an unfair and unjust double charge being forced on already struggling households.

– Stop the roll out of metering and redirect the €539m loan finance from the National Pension Reserve Fund towards fixing the massive leakage problems and interruption to supply.

– Recognise that Irish Water is not fit for purpose since it is unaccountable to the Minister and therefore to the Oireachtas and the citizens of this State.

– Prevent Irish Water from any further excessive spending of taxpayer’s money, including the proposed further €35m on the use of external consultants in 2015.

– Oppose any duplication of services being delivered by Irish Water and Local authorities and retain these services within full public ownership now and in the future.

– Listen to the widespread public anger that exists towards this Government and Irish Water by the Irish people, who are now rightly organising and mobilising in protest and opposition to these water charges through the Right2Water public campaign which includes activists, citizens, community groups, political parties and trade unions.

Another notice of motion in the name of Independent Cllr. Margaret Gormley makes a plea for the farming sector submitting that the council “rejects the proposal by the Commission for Energy Regulation and Irish Water to charge the farming community (a) a standing charge for meters and (b) to bill them on the double for household and farm water supplies…”

Fianna Fail councillor, Seamus Kilgannon is set to demonstrate how far seeing “we” were when it came to the setting up of Irish Water. A notice of motion in his name states:

“Now that it has been proven over and over again, as we suspected for some time that Irish Water, as set up by Government is indeed a ‘Gold Plated Bonus Driven Super Quango’, Sligo County Council calls for a full Review of Irish Water’s Role Model, its policy and delivery.”

Figure that, say us! Does it mean he disagrees with the establishment of Irish Water which Fianna Fail signed up to with the ‘Troika’ when the party in government agreed to slap charges on domestic water users and also hit families with a property tax on their homes?

Cllr. Michael Clarke (Ind) has listed a motion calling on the county council to sell off McFirbis House on Enniscrone’s Pier Road, and “purchase and build” more houses in the area.

Cllr.Jerry Lundy (FF) wants the minister for health to tackle hospital waiting lists where, he states, 41,000 patients are waiting a year or more for outpatient appointments.

Cllr. Declan Bree (Ind) has on the agenda a motion to,ask the chief executive the “value of commercial rates not collected in 2013” owing to premises being vacant, and the council’s policy on commercial rates in the case of partly occupied properties.

Cllr. Marie Casserly (Ind) apparently has in mind the promotion of business activity in primary schools. No kidding, Marie! Are you talking – or about to talk – about four or five year olds? Anyhow, her motion on the agenda for Monday reads:

“That Sligo County Council support an initiative to work in collaboration with public and private interests to develop and promote entrepreneurship in primary schools.”

Cllr. Hubert Keaney (FG) is to request the council to do an audit of all routes along the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ and draft a schedule of works and costings to be submitted for department funding.

 Death of Sligo Ploughing Champion.

The death has taken place of Sligo ploughing champion, Joe (Josie) Harte.

The deceased, of Grangebeg, Skreen, represented the county in the National Ploughing Championships over a number of years.

His funeral took place to St. Joseph’s Cemetary following Mass in St. Mary’s Church, Templeboy.

WATER CHARGES: SINN FEIN MOTION CARRIED.

 A Sinn Fein motion to abolish water charges was carried by members of Sligo County Council. Councillors voted 14- 3 in favour of the motion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THOUSANDS BRAVE ATROCIOUS WEATHER CONDITIONS TO MARCH AGAINST WATER CHARGES.

Barely concealed fury as public take to the streets  over government water  fiasco.

Sligo News File Online. 

Braving atrocious weather conditions thousands of all ages turned out across the country to demonstrate against water charges. Almost every town and village was represented at rallies where total turnout has been put at over 180,000. In the west, people were converging from early on at assembly points in Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Roscommon, Castlebar and numerous other local and regional locations. A major surprise was Ballina where the number reportedly swelled to upwards of 5,000.

For the government, the message could not be clearer: IT IS TIME TO STEP DOWN. Barely concealed fury was evident as protesters took to the streets to show their opposition to a Coalition that has turned the lives of families into a living nightmare.

Soup kitchens have had to be opened to feed men, women and children whose social conditions have been reduced to penury under a Fine Gael-Labour partnership that has taken the country to hell. Food banks are planned while ministers try to talk up Ireland as the fastest growing economy in Europe.

Older people and sick elderly are dying or suffering because they cannot afford to heat their homes. Hospital and care services are in chaos. Incomes of whole swathes of the working population are at rock bottom, and even at that the government is plundering incomes for more taxes, more charges, more levies.

As every local and national politician of the government parties is now well aware, today’s show of mass revulsion is not just about charges for water services or Irish Water squandering of money forced from the pockets of the people, it is also in at least equal measure about government cosseting of the rich, the well heeled, the multinationals at the expense of the hard pressed, the worst off financially and otherwise.

Water is one of our last remaining public commons. It is a precious asset. However, it is also a massively valuable asset powerful vested interests want to see ownership of in the hands of the same kind of speculative financier class that has already stripped the country to the bone.

We have seen where local authorities have moved in to take possession of group water schemes for transfer to the calamitous Irish Water service which Fianna Fail agreed to introduce, together with property tax on people’s homes, in a deal done with the infamous ‘Troika.’ Local councilors voted through the takeover of the schemes. Although worth millions of euro, and built on funds put up by local communities, members have not been offered even a cent in compensation for the infrastructure.

Across in Riverstown, a community is mobilising after discovering that Sligo County Council has handed over century old water pumps to the Irish Water utility. Where does the stripping of community assets stop? Oil, gas, fisheries, beet industry, state organisations, all sold off or handed away by one rotten government after another.

The present Fine Gael-Labour ‘combo’ would like people to believe Irish Water was rowed out with the aim of bringing greater efficiency to the country’s water services, and about the conservation of water resources. To that people are bluntly replying ‘bullshit.’ Even the dogs in the street know that our water resources – including, longer term, the wells, ponds and underground water in private lands – are being ‘packaged’ for privatisation, for sale to global multinationals.

A few nights ago, a Fine Gael TD panelist on the Vincent Browne show was thought to say farmers were not opposed to charges for water. The fact is they are, and as prices for water rise more and more smaller farmers will be forced out of the industry because they will not be able to pay the bills.

Another less publicised fact is that, in Sligo, domestic users of group water schemes had a free water allowance amounting to 50,000 gallons per household annually – it was a volume the City and County Managers Association deemed households needed for normal domestic usage. This has now been slashed by 46,000 gallons to roughly 6,000 gallons per year. As well, the charges for water, if not blocked, are set to skyrocket in the next few years.

The call now made for our water to be placed under constitutional protection is not a demand confined to the political left alone; it is the demand of virtually every citizen of this country. In the present political environment, it also is a safeguard that must now be worked towards, and implemented through a referendum with the greatest possible urgency.  

SLIGO-LEITRIM OVER 70S STRIPPED OF MEDICAL CARDS

Close to 1,500 cards withdrawn in last 12 months

Sligo News File Online

New figures have revealed that almost 1,500 medical cards have been removed from people in Sligo and Leitrim in the past year. The statistics, which also show that 300 of those who lost the cards were in their seventies, are contained in a reply to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Fianna Fail Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher 

Senator Pascal Mooney
Senator Pascal Mooney. Fianna Fail.

Denouncing the move, party senator, Paschal Mooney said the cuts “are proof that Government promises to protect the sickest and most vulnerable have been broken once again.

“I am shocked by the drastic reductions in medical cards in Sligo and Leitrim.  The figures indicate that the numbers have been slashed from 43,384 in September 2013 to 41,899 last September. 

“More than 300 of these were 70s cards, which fell from 9,080 to 8,738.   These cuts have had a significant impact on people’s lives.”

Senator Mooney said that for years the Government tried to cover up the fact that it was carrying out a full scale cull of medical cards. 

“They refused to accept that they were subjecting some of the sickest and most vulnerable people to months of unnecessary anxiety and stress as they targeted cards in a bid to cut costs.  Despite the issue being raised repeatedly by Fianna Fáil, Ministers only admitted to the scale of the cutbacks during a backlash ahead of the local elections.

“The latest figures reveal the extent of the cuts, with almost 1,500 people in Sligo and Leitrim losing their cards over the course of one year.  It is appalling to think that the Government is continuing to remove cards from people with serious illnesses and disabilities, as well as from people over 70. 

“I have been contacted by numerous families whose loved ones have had their cards withdrawn or who have been denied their cards on appeal. 

“The Government’s handling of this fiasco has been contemptible and is creating fear among sick and elderly patients, which I believe is completely unnecessary”

Sligo News File. com

BALLINA, SLIGO AND CASTLEBAR RALLIES AGAINST WATER CHARGES.

O’Dea and Harkin set down marker on Irish Water demands.

Sligo News File Online.

More than a hundred attended a meeting ahead of a planned major rally against water charges in Ballina next weekend.

Last night’s meeting in the town heard demands for the abolition of the Irish Water utility and a referendum to block commercial exploitation or privatisation of the country’s water resources.

It’s understood that TDs and councillors were invited but failed to make an appearance.

One of those behind the planned protest said upwards of 10,000 flyers were being circulated for what was hoped would be a strongly supported public rally.

He said “The assembly point for Saturday’s protest is the Diamonds’ car park, and a march through the town is set to commence from there at 2 pm.”

The protest is being organised by the Mayo branch of National Citizens Movement, “a body formed to fight Irish Water in the courts and to get accountability from our government.”

Protest marches are also being organised for next Saturday in Sligo, Castlebar and other towns and cities throughout the country as part of a national anti water charges campaign.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail front bench spokesman, Willie O’Dea has said he will not provide his PPS number to Irish Water while MEP Marian Harkin is urging the public to oppose proposed Irish Water charges for leak repairs. However, both it seems will be paying the charges for water.

Irish Water has also come under pressure in the Senate to move forward with plans for sewerage treatment plant upgrades in Tubbercurry, Grange and Strandhill.  The issue was raised by local
senator Marc MacSharry. Existing facilities were “substandard” he
said.

NEW GOVERNMENT TAX ON COMMUNITY SPORTS CLUBS.

Measure will threaten clubs across North West, says MacSharry

Sligo News File Online.

Voluntary sports clubs could be facing major new taxes following changes moved by the government under the Valuation Act.

A Bill currently being steered through the Oireachtas by Minister of State, Simon Harris, provides that any club deriving income from the leasing or use of the premises for a commercial purpose stands to be hit with the full weight of commercial rates.

The Bill appears to indicate that a range of activities may be regarded as commercial, including crèches, small community promoted business start-ups and provision of space for meetings unconnected with the clubs defined activities.

Rates will be payable even where the survival of a club is heavily dependent on income from commercial usage or lettings.

Describing the move as “regressive”, Sligo Senator Marc MacSharry said the amendments being put forward by the government “will serve to threaten the future of sports clubs across the region.”

He said that the Valuation Act that his colleague Deputy Barry Cowan had put forward in the Dail was designed to reduce unfair rates by limiting charges to club premises served by a bar.

However, an amendment introduced by Minister of State Harris will, he said, “see sports clubs charged rates on income generated from areas other than membership fees.

“This could see organisations forced to pay commercial rates for renting out pitches or other facilities. It will place a massive financial burden on many hard-pressed clubs across this region, which are struggling to remain viable.

“While I believe that rates should be paid on the bar areas in clubs, the imposition of rates on other facilities, which are essential revenue raising tools right across the North West, goes too far.

“I am also concerned that the government is attempting to row back on its commitment to introduce a self-assessment model for rateable valuations. Considerable changes have been made to the self-assessment proposals, which dramatically alter the intended objectives which would have allowed businesses to set realistic valuations on properties for rates.”

Senator MacSharry said that despite promises to reform rates, the amendments to the act put forward by the government were “regressive, and will only serve to harm small businesses and threaten the future of sports clubs acoss the region”

SLIGO FOCUS

‘Round the County.

 Sligo News File Online.

WEEK FROM 22 OCTOBER 2014

FEARS FOR PUBLIC SAFETY FOLLOWING SLIGO TOWN CENTRE VIOLENCE.

Fears are growing about public safety after violence flared in Sligo’s main shopping street.

At least one person is reported to have been left with a severed finger when the violence erupted during afternoon shopping hours in O’Connell Street. Another allegedly had a knife plunged into his side in the town centre.

The violence comes as plans are being drawn up for the development of the town centre as a hub of nightlife activity under a Diageo sponsored programme known as the Purple Flag. Diageo is one of the world’s leading purveyors of alcoholic products, and owner of iconic brands including Guinness, Bushmills and Smithwicks.

Assessment for the Purple Flag award appears from a press release to extend to an evaluation of the town centre economy between the hours of 5 pm and 5 am in the morning.

Commenting on the recent violence, a town shopper said the account was “frightening, not least of it details that it occurred during hours shoppers were present in the town centre.

“There’s a very real danger of shoppers being hurt in this kind of disorder.

“I would also question how it’s planned to control things during the hours of the proposed nightlife programme when you have behaviour like this in the middle of the afternoon. It’s something I think the public would need to hear a lot more about.”

The garda press office has confirmed that there have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

Riverstown Plans by Irish Water to shut down the area’s water pumps has struck a raw nerve in the local community. Sligo County Council turned over the century-old pumps to Irish Water earlier this year, but now residents of the area have launched a campaign to block the national utility dismantling the pumps. More than 200 have signed a petition in a bid to have the pumps placed under a preservation order. They are also calling for the existing water supply to the sites to be maintained. Organisers say they are also proposing to take the campaign nationwide to ensure the survival of the valued village heritage in every county of the country.

Tubbercurry The Mayoral race is on with five candidates vying for the honour of representing the town. The ‘contest’ is a fundraiser launched by the local GAA club. Candidates in the running are Michelle O’Hara, Pat Kilcoyne, Michael Foley, John Murphy and Stephen Gilmartin. The last mayoral election was more than 30 years ago when the successful candidate was the late Joe Masterson.

Dromard Edward (Eddie) Neary, who died recently, was a well known GAA figure and referee. St Patrick’s GAA Club, with which he was closely associated, formed a guard of honour at his funeral, which took place to St. Mary’s cemetery following requiem mass at St. Adamans’ Church, Skreen. He is survived by his wife Mary and children Eamonn, Maire, Caoimhe and Richie.

‘DISABLED IGNORED WHILE WELL OFF GET TAX CUTS’ – SENATOR

Government failure to replace promised supports ‘damning indictment of the importance it places on people with disabilities.’

Sligo News File Online

Fianna Fáil Seanad spokesperson on Health Marc Mac Sharry has       accused the Government of discriminating against people with disabilities by failing to restore important support schemes, which were discontinued early last year.

Senator Marc MacSharry
Senator Marc MacSharry

The Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant were closed to new applicants in February 2013 with, he said, the Government promising that the supports would be replaced.

“However, it’s now 20 months later and no new schemes have been established.”

Denouncing the government’s lack of progress on the issue, the failure, he said, was “a damning indictment of the importance it places on people with disabilities”.

Senator MacSharry said people were “shocked and appalled when Fine Gael and Labour announced that these essential supports were being cut. Now it appears as if Ministers are content to allow some of the most vulnerable people in our society languish in limbo without any replacement scheme on the horizon.

“Hundreds of people across the North West have been affected by the decision. It is completely unacceptable that people who have a difficulty getting from one place to another because of their condition have no support to turn to.

“Is the Government hoping that these people will simply go away?”

He said that when the government dropped the supports, Minister Kathleen Lynch stated that steps would be taken to establish an alternative scheme.

“I don’t see any justification for the Government cutting taxes for people on €70,000 and claiming they can’t afford to support people with disabilities.

“This is about choices and Fine Gael and Labour have clearly decided that tax breaks for the well-off take precedence over payments for some of our most disadvantaged citizens”.

Sligo Focus.

‘Round the County.

 Sligo News File Online.

WEEK FROM 15 OCTOBER 2014

 Millions of euros for ‘powerless’ councils.

 It seems the Coalition has rolled out ‘powerless’ bodies which are costing the country millions of euros.

According to reports, the system has been slammed as “a farce” by long-time Independent councillor, Declan Bree in comments on the status of the Sligo Municipal District Council.

The district body, he declared, was nothing more than a sub committee of the county council.

“We have no powers whatsoever”, he insisted. 

All of which raises what should be public concern as to the function bodies without statutory powers serve, and if their abolition would not save millions of euros in councillor allowances and expenses which could be more profitably invested in our overstretched hospital and care services.

Chairman of the Sligo District council is Fianna Fail member, Cllr. Tom MacSharry. The South West Sligo municipal council is chaired by Cllr. Martin Baker, Fianna Fail.

Tubbercurry. The town has lots of space for industry but jobs are ‘walking’. Public servants in the local government offices are being transferred to Ballina, and Aurivo, the co-operative, is switching its headquarters to Sligo. Councillors Gormley and Lundy have been raising concerns but it doesn’t appear to have attracted any great attention. President of the Chamber Romould Mullarkey now wants the government to launch a task force to help stimulate local business and employment opportunities.

Easkey. West Sligo Family Resource Centre are said to be calling for bras to be dropped…in a bin at Enniscrone. The ‘Give your Bra’ campaign is in aid of the Marie Keating Foundation, which will receive a euro for every bra donated. A good cause.

The town is also preparing to bring grace and elegance to Enniscrone with a night of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ at the Hotel Diamond Coast. Support for the twenty-two dancers is being requested for the show, which is on Sunday night, 26 October.

Enniscrone. Rev. Eddie Rogan has been welcomed as new curate
in succession to Rev. Kieran Holmes. With Very Rev. George MacHale, Fr. Rogan is one of two priests in the Kilglass parish.

The ‘Irish Garth Brooks Experience’ is a fundraising night of music and dancing organized by Enniscrone National School for tomorrow night, 18 October. Venue is the Ocean Sands Hotel. Tickets are €15.

Castleconnor. Sligo County Council takeover of the local group water scheme is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman and the EU. Complaints have been submitted by a farming group in the parish. Meanwhile, it looks that, contrary to claims, water costs for farming in particular are set to soar in the future. The free water allowance for domestic usage has also been slashed, down from  from 181,843 litres (50,000 gallons) to 30,000 litres (6,500 gallons) – a loss of 151,000 litres (or 43,500 gallons)
The takeover of the Castleconnor and other schemes was proposed by Cllr. Margaret Gormley, seconded by Cllr. Joe Queenan, and agreed by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members of the council.

Sympathy is extended to the Mahony and Loughney families on the death of Mary Mahony (nee Loughney) Bunree, Ballina. May she rest in peace.

Congratulations to Paul Hughes who was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) degree at UCD. Dr. Hughes is the son of Evelyn and Liam Hughes, Corballa.

Collooney. Village Re-Development is organising a 5 km walk – an annual event. It is being held on Sunday 19 October, with the message ‘all are welcome’.

Beltra. No escaping the demands on water users. Members of the local water scheme are being informed that they need to submit the ‘official’ forms in order to qualify for the household allowance.

Maugherow. The long standing tradition of a Harvest Day is being revived by the owners of Lissadell House. In past years, the occasion was a harvest celebration for workers and tenants on the estate. The event, on next Sunday, 19 October, will showcase food producers and craft makers from the North West of the country, and give visitors an opportunity to sample and purchase from a diverse offering on the day.

Dromore West. A meeting of the Ballygilcash Group Water Supply scheme has elected to retain the supply as a private scheme. Bully for the local community. The scheme is a valuable asset, and unlike Castleconnor and other areas that have surrendered schemes to the county council, the farm families have some leverage in the event Irish Water pricing becomes too top heavy. Water is supplied
from the public Lough Easkey service.

Tireragh. From an informal survey carried out by Sligo News File Online, it appears more people are opting to shop local. Parking charges in Ballina and Sligo are turning shoppers away, as well as which ‘bargains’ as good as, if not better  than on offer in either of the two main towns are to be found locally – everyone also saves on the costs of motoring.