Category Archives: News

‘No Pay for Sex’ – Sinn Fein

Prostitution “a form of men’s violence against women…”

Cllr. Thomas Healy, Sinn Fein.
Cllr. Thomas Healy,
Sinn Fein.

‘No pay for sex’ will be Sinn Fein’s message when party council member, Thomas Healy addresses a meeting of Sligo County Council on Monday.

In a notice of motion, Cllr. Healy will say that the council “recognises that the trafficking, exploitation and abuse of women and girls is taking place in Sligo and throughout the country as a direct result of prostitution.”

He will state that the council understands prostitution to be “a form of men’s violence against women that affects individuals, communities, and society as a whole, and human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a modern form of slavery and an abuse of human rights.”

His overriding concern is for action from the Minister for Justice and Equality who he wants to implement the unanimous recommendation of the Justice Committee for laws “making it an offence to pay for sex…

“This legislation must criminalise the demand for paid sex, decriminalise the seller and provide social supports for those wishing to exit prostitution.

“The council recognises the need for this legislation to be enacted in this jurisdiction, and will convey its views to the Minister for Justice and Equality,” concludes the motion.

A motion tabled by Tubbercurry Fianna Fail member, Cllr. Jerry Lundy will hear him call on the government and “the minister in charge of Community, Rural Affairs and Agriculture” to “help save rural Ireland from devastation.”

He will also be proposing that the minister for Foreign Affairs consider establishing a third passport office to cover the west/north-west and that the office be located in Tubbercurry.

Independent Councillor Margaret Gormley wants to know when promised high speed broadband for 42 rural areas of rural Sligo is going to be rolled out by the government.

Independent member, Cllr. Declan Bree is to ask the CEO “when he intends to provide the council with the report it sought in January…in respect of the legal services provided by the councils’ solicitors and other law agency providers.”

South west Sligo municipal district-based Cllr. Michael Clarke is to ask the executive to seek restoration of the ‘block grant’ to 2009 levels, while council chair, Fianna Fail member Joe Queenan has down for debate the “great hardship” in the farming community arising out of the collapse in cattle prices.

Thousand euro bill for Sligo households

Property tax drives household charges to record high

Joe Queenan
Council chair, Joe Queenan (FF)

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have joined forces to maintain property tax at among the highest levels in the country.

At a meeting of the county council last month members of both parties voted down a notice of motion, tabled by Independent member, Cllr. Declan Bree, which would have allowed families a substantial cut in the rate. They took the decision after hearing an account of the council’s financial position from CEO, Ciaran Hayes.

The move now leaves Sligo householders facing total or combined charges amounting to in the region of €1000 per year for the family home, water rates and the Fianna Fail supported mandatory waste collection services.

The agenda for the September meeting included an item in the name of Cllr. Michael Clarke calling for a 5% hike in the property tax.

Both Cllr. Clarke and Cllr. Margaret Gormley abstained when the vote on the proposed 15% cut in the property tax was taken.

Meanwhile, the council is living with a debt overhang of upwards of €100 million. The prospect of any relief in the form of government funding seems remote, a signal perhaps that next year the vote at council level could be for a substantial increase in the property charge, if not the introduction of an additional new levy.

The prevailing debt is fuelled by among other things the millions of euros that the council has to find for legal fees arising out of the Supreme Court ruling against a resolution of council members relating to rights of way through the Lissadell estate in the north of the county

Back in July, Hayes said he would have difficulty finding funds to maintain road works if members elected to reduce the property tax rate. He said at the time that there were no funds to carry out certain housing activity or the purchase of books for the library.

Despite this, however, the council is planning to embrace a financial partnership arrangement with Knock Regional Airport. It is not yet known what the scale of the investment is destined to run to, or if the arrangement will involve the council sharing responsibility for any existing or future debts of the airport.


Revelatory new book on pivotal point in local history

Terence-Michael Ring
Author, Terry Reilly and Minister of State, Michael Ring at launch of  BALLINA, One Town, Three Wars & More.

World War 1, the War of Independence and the Civil War, all happening within a nine year time frame, form the backdrop to a new book by Ballina author Terry Reilly.

But it’s not all about war – though the struggles are dealt with in graphic details. The narrative covers Ballina and its environs at a pivotal time in Irish history.  All aspects of life and times  are drawn upon to sketch out an enthralling story that will intrigue, enchant,  shock and inform about events that took place between 1880 and 1923.

During this period many of the tattered old buildings were pulled down and rebuilt along the main streets though the poor lived in disease-ridden hovels along many of the lanes.  With over 80 pubs and leading merchants, including Strongs, Laings, Lipton, Hughes, Moyletts, Mullen’s, Strong’s  and Gallagher, Ballina was a busy market town with the contrast between rich and poor stark.

While the have-nots went about barefooted, some merchants  lived in comfort and luxury with private schools for their children.

The political mood was changing, though. The GAA, the Gaelic League, and the Gaelic revival were gaining traction and the mood of locals was becoming much more assured and determined. Strong characters were emerging.

The Volunteers were parading in defence of Home Rule but many of them found themselves in the trenches of WW1. Some did not return: in fact the number of fatalities from the vicinity numbered over 200.

The War of Independence followed  and then the  bitterly divisive Civil War with its bank raids, ambushes and diametrically opposed views . Anecdotes garnered from senior citizens over the ears enliven the narrative over 432 compelling pages.

Ballina – One Town, Three Wars & More casts a wide net around the vicinity, reaching to Foxford, Crossmolina/Lahardane, the ambush at Glenamoy in which many died during the Civil War, Enniscrone and West Sligo – Ox Mountains, setting fore to Enniscrone coastguard station, Corballa ambush, McGuinness (Carns) shooting, etc.

A feature of the book is QR coding which allows the reader to step back in time to experience some of the events described in the book through smart ‘phones. 

From research for this 432 page hardcover blockbuster came inspiration for the play We’ll be Home Before Christmas – the narrative of a town and the trenches during WW1 – which will be performed in Ballina Arts Theatre.

A prolific writer and historian, the former managing editor of the Western People is also the author of ‘On A Wing and A Prayer,’ the story of legendry Mayo churchman, Monsignor James Horan who overcame impossible odds to construct an international airport at Knock, and ‘Dear Old Ballina’ a history of the North mayo capital.

His other works include ‘The Green Above The Red,’ the history of Mayo GAA, ‘The Goal of Victory,’ a history of the Ballina Stephenites, ‘Amazing Mayo Stories,’ ‘A Rambling Tour Through Dear Old Ballina,’ a musical based on ‘A Wing and A Prayer,’ which has raised more than €200,000 for the Mayo/Roscommon  Hospice,  a DVD : ‘Ballina, The Town We Love So Well,’ and a play: ‘We’ll Be Home Before Christmas,’ based on his book surrounding events of World War1.

He was the inaugural winner of the John Healy award  for highlighting lopsided development biased against the west of Ireland, has been recognized as a Champion of the West by the International Humbert Summer School, and is a recipient of the GAA McNamee media award. 

Minister under fire on future of Irish beef industry

Fianna Fail demand fresh government action on worsening crisis in beef sector.

The government is facing fresh pressure to tackle issues surrounding the crisis imperilling the future of the country’s beef trade.

Speaking following a meeting of meat processors and representatives of the farming industry in Carrick-On-Shannon earlier this week, Fianna Fail Senator, Marc MacSharry said the government’s “head in the sand” approach to the crisis must not be allowed to continue.

He said “A series of tangible initiatives must now be pursued to address the crisis so a fairer return for the farm families of Ireland can be achieved.”

Senator MacSharry said that while it was acknowledged the problem was of a nationwide reach the situation had been “further exacerbated in Connaught/Ulster counties where holdings are smaller, winters longer and land is of poorer quality.”

Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, he said “has recently reiterated his hands off approach by calling for little more than supermarkets, processors and farm organisations to communicate with one another.

“If this is the extent of the minister’s vision for the industry then I fear for our export trade.

“We need a hands-on, pro active minister who is prepared to get on a plane and personally engage with decision makers in the relevant sectors to grow our beef export markets and potential.”

He said that at this week’s meeting it was agreed Fianna Fail representatives “will meet with individual processors and supermarket multiples to persuade them to relax the four movement rule and prohibitive treatment of so-called nomadic cattle.

“This will enhance cross border trade where a 30% exchange rate uplift can give northern buyers bigger spending power while securing good value for good quality animals.

“The move would increase competition and consequently give a better return to farming families in the south.

“The multiples need to be made aware of the need to pass their margin back to the farmer through the processor. Currently, the farmer to consumer price differential is between 325 and 1,550%.

“It is surely reasonable for farmers to receive a fairer return for their efforts.”

The senator said it was also agreed at the meeting to identify all international markets which currently restrict the import of Irish beef of under 30 months and proactively seek to meet ambassadors of each of the countries to have the age limit raised to at least 48 months.

“The 30 month restriction is a BSE era legacy which is no longer necessary with the eradication of BSE.

“To date, engagement on this issue is superficial between Irish authorities and their counterparts in other markets with potential for Irish beef export growth. A more hands-on and proactive role must be taken by Minister Coveney and his government.

“We must also begin the process of seeking to have beef produced north and south of the border marketed as an all island product rather than of mixed origin. It will be difficult and  require inter agency, state and department unanimity on regulatory and quality controls together with appropriate global marketing.

“This would ensure that the international buyers recognise product from the island of Ireland as the safest and best. It would also help the market on both sides of the border.

“The head in the sand approach to Ireland’s beef crisis must not be allowed to continue.”

The senator said it was is clear from the department’s Market Access Document that “the superficial approach of merely sending emails to seek improvements to current restrictions will never produce the necessary results.

“We need,” he said, “a hands-on, pro active minister who is prepared to get on a plane and personally engage with decision makers in the relevant markets to grow our beef export markets and potential.”