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Fine Gael plummet in poll ratings

Falling public confidence in Fianna Fail-backed government.

Sligo News File.

Public confidence in the Fianna Fail-backed Fine Gael government has slumped.

According to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll Fine Gael is now down to 31 percent – hardly surprising given the sweeping scale of evictions and homelessness. Fianna Fail, on 26%, is seen to be struggling as usual with an increase of just one percent on the last poll.

Micheal Martin is still trailing Leo Varadkar in the leader popularity show. Both, however, have failed to maintain their rating of a few months ago. Varadkar has tumbled by five points from 60% to 55%, while Martin, in the runner-up slot, has fallen from 42% to 40%.

Labour is up one taking them up to 5 percent while Independents & Others are down from 18% to 16% percent.

Despite the government’s appalling neglect of rural parts of the country and its treatment of the farming sector during the fodder crisis farmers continue to be the backbone of the Fine Gael party.

Students Union denies any involvement in invitation to Pro Life to speak at Sligo IT

Event was organised by ‘group of first year students.’

Sligo News File.

Sligo Students Union has issued a statement contradicting claims that they invited Pro-Life activists to speak to students at the Sligo Institute of Technology.

A caller to Liveline told Joe Duffy that the students union had asked Pro-Life representatives to come to the college but that they were then prevented from addressing students at an event there. It was only later that they were able to speak to the attendance.

However, the Students’ Union has insisted that the Union did not extend any invitation to the ProLife party.

President Barry Clohessy said “IT Sligo Students’ Union are aware of a debate concerning the forthcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment, which took place in IT Sligo on 11th April last.

“The Students’ Union would like to clarify that they did not organise this event or invite people to attend it.

“The Students’ Union understand it was organised by a group of first year Sociology & Politics students as part of their Community Project module.”

The caller to Liveline also claimed that ProLife posters his organisation put up in the town were being pulled down soon afterwards.

He said the people involved in the activity would have required ladders to reach the spot where the posters were displayed.

Icon of the Irish Country Music scene Big Tom McBride has passed away

Tributes pour in following the death of ‘gentle giant.’

Sligo News File

Legend of the Irish country music scene Big Tom McBride died early this morning. His death, at 81, followed the passing of his beloved wife, Rose only a few weeks ago, in January.

In a statement on Facebook, his family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father Big Tom McBride (RIP) this morning.

“Dad passed away peacefully in the company of his family.

“He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

“May he rest in peace.

Tributes to the ‘gentle giant’ have been pouring into radio stations and other media across the country and abroad. Expressing sympathy to his family, the President Michael D Higgins acclaimed him as “one of the most charismatic and influential artists in Irish country music.”

He said lovers and supporters of Irish music everywhere will have heard the news of his death with sadness.

“His name will be recalled with fond memory by those who listened and danced to, his and his band members’ generous nights of entertainment all over the island of Ireland.

“A big personality and one of the country’s greatest country stars, his love of music and his passion and skill have enriched Ireland’s music scene.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar sent his condolences to the family. He said: “I was very saddened to hear of the death of Big Tom this morning. Big Tom was certainly a giant in Irish country music for over 50 years.”

Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith said: “Big Tom brought country music to every corner of our island and he provided wonderful entertainment for countless numbers of Irish people across Britain and America. He was a star attraction on the music scene for over five decades – a career which was a testament to his talent and his personality.”

Journalist and broadcaster Michael Commins, one of his closest friends of many years, described as “palpable” the depth of sadness Big Tom’s passing had evoked throughout the country. He was a man of “unassuming modesty,” and “encapsulated that lovely quality that is the ruralness of Ireland,” he said in an interview with Mid
West Radio.

Star of Irish country music Margo O Donnell, one of his oldest friends, said Big Tom “was so larger than life in the music world.” She had known him since 1966, and never heard him speak ill of anybody. Today, she said, “there’s a big cloud over Castleblayney.”

Big Tom, one of six children – two died – hailed from the family farm in Oram. He worked in Scotland, England and the Channel Islands before finally returning home when his brother of seventeen died. He rose to fame first as a saxophone player then a vocalist with the Mainliners. Success followed with numerous hits including Gentle Mother, Old Log Cabin for Sale, Broken Marriage Vows, Four Roads to Glenamaddy, Bunch of Violets Blue, Sunset Years of Life, the Old Rustic Bridge and You’re Going Out The Same Way You Came In.

He left the Mainliners for a time but later returned to the band. Afterwards, he went on to pursue a solo career as a singer. In 2017 Big Tom and Margo released a beautiful duet entitled “A Love That’s Lasted Through The Years.”

Big Tom is survived by two sons and two daughters.

The Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District has commissioned a statue in Big Tom’s honour which members plan to erect in September – the date of his birthday.

The ‘gentle giant’ who entertained generations of people, young and old, at home and abroad for decades past, will be laid to rest this Friday following his funeral mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Oram, at 11 am. Burial will follow in the adjoining cemetery.

Michael Commins will present a Big Tom tribute show on Mid West Radio tomorrow night.

Flexibility on BDGP terms required following fodder crisis – ICSA

‘Penalties should be waived where farmer can show failure to meet target is linked to the long hard winter and fodder crisis.’

Sligo News File

ICSA suckler chairman John Halley has called for flexibility around the terms of the BDGP in recognition of the extreme difficulties posed by the fodder crisis.

He said:

“Farmers may inadvertently miss out on BDGP targets such as the 20% four and five star rule due to having to sell heifers because of fodder scarcity.

“This measure requires farmers to reach a target of having 20% of female stock over 16 months of age achieving four or five star ratings on the replacement index on 31st October 2018. While there is a tolerance of 90%, any farmer who falls below that target gets an effective penalty of 40%.

“ICSA believes that where a farmer can show that failure to meet the target is linked to the long hard winter and fodder crisis, there should be a derogation from the penalty. This could have arisen where female stock were sold during the first half of 2018 or where an animal was disposed of at a knackery.

“In cases where such animals would have made the difference to the targets, then the penalties should be waived,” he added.

Farmers will have to get a dividend from Chinese exports

‘Farmers have been listening to optimism about China for five years but it’s no use if it does not result in a price rise.’

Sligo News File

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Graham has stressed that farmers will have to see a dividend from the opening of the Chinese market before it can be judged a success.

Edmund Graham, chair, ICSA Beef Committee

He said:

“After a long hard and expensive winter, the price of beef is simply nowhere near good enough for winter finishing. Beef price needs to go to a base price of €4.25/kg in the short term to cover the costs of this winter. Farmers have been listening to optimism about China for five years but it is no use to us if it does not result in a price rise.

“There can be no doubt that the opening of the market should allow for beter prices because meat factories will have options. They will therefore be in a stronger position to negotiate with EU supermarkets, and this opportunity must be used to drive a better price for farmers.

“Minister Creed states that this move is in line with the market development theme of Foodwise 2025, but will it just end up costing farmers more? We have seen that increased production has certainly resulted in more work and more pressure for farmers but not necessarily more reward. The focus has to be on ensuring that new markets have a tangible benefit to farmers.

“ICSA remains convinced that the best way to turn Chinese exports into better prices for farmers is to grow live exports as well.”

His assocation, he added, is calling on the Minister “to now focus on live export markets such as Turkey and North Africa.”

Angry scenes during meeting called to hear plans for erection of mosque

‘This is Kilkenny, not Mecca.’

Sligo News File.

The emergence of mosques across the country is sparking concern among the Irish public.

Kilkenny is the latest to be told of plans for the development of a Muslim place of worship. According to local reports the project is to be sited close to a consecrated burial ground in the city.

A meeting sought by Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness and his councillor son Andrew to discuss the plans is said to have descended into heated chaos on Thursday night. Shouting and heckling dominated the event with one member of the large attendance reportedly saying to applause: “this is Kilkenny, not Mecca.”

John McGuinness’s brother Eugene is understood to have been strongly applauded after he stated that he had walked to every door in the area, “and 99.9 percent of people” did not want the building to go ahead.

The Kilkenny People reports that “on a number of occasions people were asked not to record the contributions that were been made from the floor. People were also asked to refrain from using foul language as there were a number of children present.

As well as a mosque, the €5 million development includes plans for a halal shop and cafe, community hall, library and accommodation.

Meanwhile, the Western Islamic Cultural Centre has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála, against the refusal, by Galway City Council, to grant retrospective planning permission for the use of a house at Mincloon, Rahoon, as a place of worship.

The retention application to the Council had been opposed by a number of residents in the Rahoon area, on the grounds that there had been intensification of the use of the building, which was in a rural area without any public lighting or footpaths.

The 2011 Irish census shows that there were 49,204 Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland in 2011, representing a 51% increase over the figures for the 2006 census. By the time of the 2016 census the number of Muslims had soared from 49,000 to 63,000, an increase of 29%.

The closing date for objections to the planning application is April 19.

ICSA chief pours scorn on Minister’s failure to roll out low cost loan scheme for crisis hit farmers

Cash flow problems ‘crucifying cattle and sheep sector.’

Sligo News File

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said he’s “disappointed” that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed “is not moving heaven and earth” to provide a low interest loan scheme for crisis hit farmers.

Patrick Kent, president, ICSA

Commenting following a meeting with the Minister in Agriculture House on Thursday, the ICSA chief said cash flow difficulties “are crucifying cattle and sheep farmers who have used up all their credit facilities at this point.”

He said:

“The latest advice from Teagasc is to get fertiliser out as soon as possible. However, they are failing to understand the true extent of the precarious position many farmers are in. These are farmers who don’t receive a monthly cheque and with credit limits already overshot buying in meal, many are unable to secure credit for fertiliser supplies.

“Small and medium sized farming enterprises have an immediate need for working capital.”

ICSA, he said, has impressed on Creed that “working capital of up to €10,000 for as many farmers as possible demands urgent consideration if farmers are to have any chance of coming out of this crisis in one piece.”