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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.    

The late Michael Cawley, Castleconnor.

‘Quiet hero…county has lost one of its finest – a true Gael.’

Sligo News File Online 

Michael Cawley, who died recently. was a highly popular figure in Sligo GAA circles.

The father of three passed away after suffering a heart attack at this home in Attychree, Enniscrone.

A builder by occupation, Michael was active in parish development activities, playing a leading role in progressing projects including the construction of a parish community centre and the area’s group water supply scheme.

His input to the parish Foroige club was immense, encouraging in his easy and persuasive style qualities of leadership and responsibility in the club’s teenage membership which earned him widespread respect and appreciation.

He was also active in the Castleconnor Community Games of which he served as committee chairman.

Michael will be warmly remembered in particular for the major role he played in the successful promotion of Ladies GAA football both at local and county levels where he was heavily involved in coaching and administration. He was part of the County Senior Management in 2002 and 2003.

Paying tribute, former Ladies GAA County Board chairman, Ted Maloney, said Michael was “the quiet hero of the ladies football scene in Castleconnor and throughout the county.

“His contribution to the sport was immeasurable, and more. There was also in and about him a generous friend always ready to give of his very best no matter the call on his time or energies.

“Michael will be solely missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. The county has lost one of its finest – a true Gael”.

Michael is survived by his wife, Joan, son Brian and daughters Pamela and Louise.

The Late Owen Gormley, Bunninadden

The funeral took place yesterday of Owen Gormley, Doobeg, Bunninadden.

He was a brother of Cllr. Margaret Gormley, independent member of Sligo County Council.

The deceased is survived by his wife, sons and daughters.

His funeral took place to Cloonameehan Cemetary following Mass of the Resurrection at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Bunninadden.

NO BIDS AT AUCTION OF FORMER MINISTER’S PROPERTIES.

Lots included commercial premises and lands at Ballymote.

Sligo News File Online.

 Properties owned by former minister of state, John Perry failed to attract bidders at auction.

Sligo-Leitrim TD, John Perry
Sligo-Leitrim TD, John Perry

Lots on offer included a commercial property at Teeling Street, Ballymote, and forestry lands at Clooncoose.

No bids were reported to have been made when the properties came up for sale by auction by Dublin-based auctioneers GW2.

Perry (58) of Carrownanty, has been Fine Gael TD for Sligo-Leitrim since 1997. He was previously a member of Sligo County Council from 1994 to 2004.

He was dropped as minister of state for small businesses in the ministerial reshuffle a few months ago, in July 2014.

In 2013, Perry and his wife consented to a judgement of €2.4 million against them at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans to Danske Bank.

A few years ago, he became embroiled in an exchange with Ocean FM when he abruptly hung up the phone while being questioned during an interview about the return of cancer services to Sligo. He told a local newspaper he wasn’t answerable to the media. He promised, during the 2011 election campaign, that all breast cancer services would be restored to Sligo General Hospital within 100 days of Fine Gael getting into office.

Since the removal of the services, patients have to travel to Galway for breast surgery.

Perry served as vice-chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications and Natural Resources from September 2002 to October 2004, and was also chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. He was appointed minister of state for small business in March 2011. The office has been abolished.

BUDGET BOOST FOR BLOODSTOCK AND RACING.

Sector granted €millions as families given €2 weekly water allowance.

Sligo News File Online.

Predictable changes in the farming were recognised in the Budget with a heavy emphasis on measures aimed at incentivising land transfer and leasing post the ending of the milk quota. Provision was also made for expected volatility with the range for income averaging increased from 3 to 5 years. There was the usual old political guff about the annual turnover and spread of the industry into every boreen of the country, but in the heel of the hunt the measures in the main benefit the larger holding. It’s not something which will come as any great surprise to farmers in Sligo and other counties of the west.

 The minister announced he was:

increasing the income tax exempt thresholds by 50% and introducing a new threshold for leases of 15 years and over;

allowing relief where the lessee is a company;

removing the current 40 years of age threshold for leasing relief;

 His other pronouncements included:

targeting Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) relief for agricultural property to ensure it is used by active farmers;

broadening CGT retirement relief so that individuals can now lease out their land for up to 25 years prior to disposal and still be eligible for CGT retirement relief;

extending CGT retirement relief to land let under conacre, which is disposed of, or converted to long term leasing before the end of 2016;

extending stamp duty relief for non-residential land transfers between certain close relatives;

 removing stamp duty on agricultural leases in excess of 5 years;

extending CGT farm restructuring relief to the end of 2016 and broadening it to allow for restructuring through whole farm replacement.

Income averaging has been increased from 3 to 5 years, and extended to farmers who derive income from another trade or profession, if it relates to on-farm diversification.

Bloodstock and greyhound racing are to receive an ADDITIONAL €6 million a year to the existing fund for three years while further capital of €5 million is awarded to Horse Racing Ireland to leverage investment in race courses.

For those into microbreweries the annual excise relief production ceiling or limit is increased from 20,000 to 30,000 hectolitres.