Category Archives: news

Former Sligo Councillor dies

Sligo News File

Tommy Lavin, who has died, was a Fine Gael member of Sligo County Council for more than 36 years.

The Ballymote-based councillor served as chairman of the authority in 1984 and, again, in 1992.

Local TD Tony McLoughlin and former colleagues have been paying tribute.

His remains were removed to the Church of the Immaculate Conception this evening.

Funeral Mass is on tomorrow, 9th March at 12 noon with burial afterward in St. Columba’s Cemetary

North West ‘won’t stand for closure of veterinary laboratory’ – MacSharry

Strategically important to the complete surveillance systems envisaged by Foodwise and Harvest 2020.

Shutdown would mean a massive loss of data and delayed response to any outbreak of animal disease in a third of the country.

Sligo News File Online

A local TD has warned that the North West won’t stand for the wind down of Sligo’s veterinary laboratory.

Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry

The facility, says Fianna Fail Deputy Marc MacSharry is seen as crucial to the complete surveillance systems envisaged by Foodwise and Harvest 2020.

“A closure would mean a massive loss of data and a delayed response to any outbreak of an animal disease in a third of the country.

“…the people of the North West will not take it.”

Insisting that the laboratory “must be kept open,” he said the maintenance of the operation had been a matter of concern going back several years.

“In 2015 as a Senator I was pursuing the issue of a proposed closure by the then FG/Lab Government of the Sligo Laboratory.  Clearly, political expediency with a General Election on the horizon back in 2015 prevented then Minister Coveney from proceeding with their planned closure of the lab. 

“Well, an election may not be that far off once again and if FG proceed with this retrograde step in alienating the North West region once again and seriously impeding upon the necessary agricultural support infrastructure not least irreparable endanger biosecurity, disease management and ultimately food quality – the people of the North West will not take it!”

Stating the reasons, he said:

“Sligo is of strategic importance to the complete surveillance systems envisaged by “Foodwise”, “Harvest 2020” and the review group. Our Lab is covering the whole of the North West and, as it showed in a previous survey, is utilised by its customers located closest to it. A closure would mean a massive loss of data and a delayed response to any outbreak of an animal disease in one-third of the country.

Michael Creed, TD, Minister for Agriculture

“With regard to Health and Safety and Biosecurity concerns, questions have to be answered.  Firstly, who determined these and what criteria and data did they apply?  Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory was refurbished and enhanced only four years ago and is located far enough from any public building (like a school etc.) not to justify these concerns.

“A Collection Service for post mortem is mentioned to replace the local service. The idea was taken from a different EU country i.e. the Netherlands. However, two important aspects were not mentioned. In the Netherlands, the majority of farmers would be full-time farmers and available for the collection service.  Also, there would be better infrastructure to make this service function seamlessly.  In the North West of Ireland, the majority of farmers are part-time farmers through necessity given small holdings, longer winters and poorer land limiting agricultural activity to grazing, suckling and dairying.  They would also rarely be available to give a detailed case history to the collector on behalf of a centralised laboratory in Athlone or elsewhere.

“Without an accurate and up to date history the performing Veterinarian doing Post Mortems will not be able to specify what to look for, unless obvious. 

“Important detail may be lost, and there will be diagnostic failures. This impairs the excellence of our Veterinary Laboratory Services and will lead to an impaired surveillance system.

“Collection services will delay the confirmation of any diagnosis. Cross contamination and misshapen carcasses could be another issue arising from that service.

“In addition, a helpline to filter out cases important for a surveillance system in order to deal with an increased caseload will mean the loss of data. Individual cases of zoonosis might be missed because they will not be investigated.

“The Sligo Regional Laboratory is often used to get blood results within 10 hours of cases seen by local Vets. This is very important for a diagnostic approach and results in better Animal Health and Welfare. Diagnosis can be reviewed sooner, and animals retreated, if necessary. Very similar to any outbreak situation. A quicker result will lead to less animal welfare issues because an outbreak can be dealt with sooner.

“The Staff in Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory are very dedicated, and the quality of service cannot be increased by quantity of staff members but by dedication. The mentioned necessity of an increase of staff numbers for a functioning Regional Veterinary Laboratory is questionable and looks more like a manufactured reason to justify closure than one which is genuinely based on international best practice or an optimum professional service.





“The closure of this Laboratory will further marginalise the peripheral nature of Sligo and the North West.  It further underpins the FG Government neglect for our area. It will further undermine the necessary supports to family farmers in our area and above all risks exposing our region to disease outbreak and threatens quality food production in our region. 

“All Government representatives must demand that the Sligo Veterinary Laboratory is kept open.  Nothing else will do,” he said

Government to hit rural dwellers for further millions

Already massive carbon taxes on motor fuel, coal and briquettes to be raised by another 50%.

Sligo News File Online.

Climate change measures debunked by America as junk science are about to cost Irish rural dwellers millions more in levies.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD – surge in carbon tax attack on rural dwellers

Under provisions to be introduced by the Fianna Fail backed Fine Gael and Independent Coalition, the price of fuels on which the rural population is heavily dependent is set to soar to an all-time high.

Although already heavily carbon taxed, Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice has revealed that a further massive 50% levy on diesel, petrol, coal and briquettes is on the way.

The measures, he said, “once again unfairly penalise people living in rural areas of the country.

“And that’s only the start of it.”

On the way also, he said “are further plans to introduce …new restrictions in agriculture, transport, and power generation in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

“There are also proposals to reduce the speed limits on motorways and to cut down on the number of free car parking spaces available in the bigger cities and towns around the country. Obviously, people who live in rural Ireland have not been thought about when these proposals were mooted.”

He said that many rural areas have no proper public transport. As a result, “the vast majority of people have to use their cars to get to work every day and to go about their daily business. Putting up the price of fuel and restricting where people can park for free is grossly unfair and will impact on them more than those who live in cities and who have access to decent public transport.

“With regard to a possible reduction in the speed limits on motorways, the official statistics show,” he said “that motorways are by far the safest roads in the country with the fewest fatalities. Most modern cars have six gears now and are very fuel efficient on motorways.”

The people of the country are currently paying “over 400 million Euro in Carbon Taxes per year” on top of “the many other taxes that we have on fuels, motor taxes other environmental taxes and levies.

“We have seen a reduction in school bus services over the past few years, there is talk about a reduction in train and bus routes in rural Ireland, yet we see these proposals that would further reduce the ability of people in rural areas to go about their daily lives.”

Branding  the proposals as yet another attack on rural areas, he said that “once again they will have to pay for all these changes.”

The Deputy added that he will be vigorously opposing the measures.

Rural call to ban drinking in the Dail

Close bars and end wine service in the ‘lavish restaurants.’

‘Introduce random breath testing of members driving out of the Oireachtas.’

Sligo News File Online

Demands are growing for a ban on the consumption of alcohol in houses of the Oireachtas. This follows apparent moves by the Minister for Transport Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross to introduce measures aimed at disqualifying motorists found to be even slightly over the current 50 milligrammes drink driving limit.

Minister for Transport Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross.

The Minister’s proposal is viewed in quarters as a war on rural Ireland where in many places there is no public transport. It is also argued that Ross as Transport Minister has shown no inclination to improve the situation, yet is seemingly proposing to drive off the road relatively minor wrongdoers relying on a car as their only means of getting to work or to socialise.

A rural-based resident who contacted Sligo News File spoke of what he said was the “exploding anger” over the minister’s announcement. He said people are “getting up in arms” because they consider that consumption of marginally more than a pint of beer does not leave the driver impaired or unfit to drive carefully.

“There is also evidence that so low is the present legal level even small amounts of medication can push a driver over the limit.

“Ross, in the comfortable environment of the Dail, dictating that even first time offenders should be disqualified doesn’t have to bother himself about what being put off the road could mean for some rural drivers. Think of those with a family and mortgage-reliant on a job. Without a car, how are they going to get to work, how are they going to look after the family and the overheads, things the likes of Ross doesn’t have to think of about his bulging salary and bum in a car to take him a few miles from the Dail to his home. Rural dwellers don’t have that kind of luxury, but they pay for his luxury as taxpayers.

“Drivers living in rural areas cannot socialise with a drink because, like smoking, ministers have also made that a potential criminal offence. We are laden down with every cost and levy there is, in spite of which we are still being criminalised and penalised and priced out of it at every turn of the road. There is no one speaking up for us, or seem to care that we are treated as if we don’t have even the right to live in the countryside. It is bordering on apartheid or the system of segregation that was one time a lot of the people under British rule. Now, it’s our own that are turning life in rural Ireland into a living hell for residents.”

The bars in Leinster House raked in nearly €300,000 in 2016. Just under €7,000 was spent in the bars during the day and night of the abortion debate in July 2013.

Attacking what he branded the “luxurious environment” of TDs and Senators, he said it was objectionable and immoral that alcohol should be readily accessible to them while they are conducting the business of the Oireachtas. “The bars should be permanently shut down; it’s just not acceptable that those we elected to manage the country should be able to drink while supposedly acting as legislators. They are there to work. You also need a clear and sober system to do the job properly. Bars and bottles of wine in the lavish restaurants should be prohibited. Of course, there is no suggestion all legislators are into alcohol, but obviously, many are. Otherwise, there would be no need for either wine or bars. How can you think straight if you’re excessively under the influence of alcohol when considering legislative material affecting the people or voting on it.

“There should also be random breath testing for alcohol and drugs when members are leaving the Oireachtas in their cars, the same as the checks they themselves are insisting on for the public across the country. If they think testing is essential, there should be no exception for them. The laws should apply equally to everyone.”

Concluding, he said that, “unless the Dail and Seanad are bent on completely destroying what is left of life in rural areas,  the present plans for disqualification based on a minor breach of the drink laws or first offence should be abandoned.

“It is not, of course, being asserted that drinking to excess and driving is right or ought to be tolerated. But if this is to be a needed measure, TDs must first lobby and procure a proper bus service to take rural people to work and enable them to have a social life, the same as those living in Dublin and other cities and towns. Criminalising rural dwellers when they are stripped of nearly every form of public transport and harassing and prosecuting them because they are otherwise forced to use a car is outrageous.

Leinster House with its bars and restaurants.

“It’s time the TDs we have elected stood up and fought for us. As it is, most of them seem to be little better than ‘yes men’ turning a blind eye to government actions that are leaving rural dwellers a victimised part of the Irish race.” 




Still no new government investment in North West industrial development.

Fears Fianna Fail backed Coalition hell-bent on holding major industry in the East.

Sligo News File Online

Some funding has been allocated for North West projects, but there still has been no announcement of any significant government investment in job-creating industrial development.

Tony McLoughlin, T.D., Fine Gael.
Tony McLoughlin, T.D.,
Fine Gael.

It is feared the Fianna Fail backed Coalition government is intent on concentrating major industry primarily in the East of the country, leaving areas like Sligo and Leitrim to rely on the fragile tourism sector for survival.

Sligo, in particular, is facing an uphill struggle to maintain existing retail business – many commercial units have closed or changed hands in the town and county.

Are TDs too tame in their approach to securing overdue new development? Sligo-Leitrim has four Dail deputies – Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein, Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon, both Fianna Fail and Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael.

Projects for which funding has been announced include a new discovery centre at Knock Airport in Mayo. Other allocations have been made for angling and food tasting in Leitrim, upgrading of town facilities in County Donegal and activities at Ox Mountains biking centre and an enterprise operation in Tubbercurry.

McLoughlin has said the aid will boost the local economy and improve living standards in the rural hinterland.