Farm organisation calls for ‘common sense’ as EU bans hay-saving during present summer weather

‘Unacceptable that a once in ten year’s opportunity to make real quality hay would be missed only a few months after we imported hay due to the catastrophic fodder crisis.’

Sligo News File

A farm body has called for a relaxation of an EU regulation under which farmers are banned from harvesting hay over the coming summer days.

Seamus Sherlock, chairman ICSA Rural Development Committee.

Participants in the GLAS programme are prohibited from saving hay before 1st July.

However, the restriction has come under fire from the chairman of the ICSA rural development committee Seamus Sherlock.

“It is unacceptable,” he argued, “that a once in ten year’s opportunity to make real quality hay would be missed only a few months after we imported hay due to the catastrophic fodder crisis.

“We do not want farmers to risk losing GLAS money for a breach of regulation but we have to have some common sense applied,” he said.

“We have already seen an extension secured for slurry spreading for nitrates derogation farmers to allow them until July 15 to have 50% of their slurry spread. However, hay making is far more weather sensitive.”

“Moreover,” he added, “farmers in GLAS are at the fore in actively farming in an environmentally friendly way and it would be very unfair that they are made to suffer looking at a hay meadow while the sun shines.”

Cutback in Dublin to Sligo summer train service

‘Changes reflect a reduced demand for some services during summer months.’

Sligo News File

There will be fewer trains between Dublin and Sligo during the summer months. 

Changes announced by Irish Rail – effective from 25 June – will see the Monday to Friday 4 pm service replaced by a Friday only operation.

The 4.00 pm service from Dublin’s Connolly station to Mullingar will operate solely from Monday to Thursday.

The 4.30 pm Sligo to Dublin Connolly (Sunday only) service will not operate during this period.

All affected services will be reinstated from Monday 27 August.

A spokesman for Irish Rail says the changes reflect a reduced demand for some services through the summer months.

TD takes a principled stand and walks out of Sinn Fein over party’s hard line on abortion

‘It is not for politicians or society, in general, to decide who lives or dies.’

‘I do not want to have any hand, act or part in bringing about the end to the life of an unborn child, the most vulnerable in our society.’

Sligo News File.

Sinn Fein’s hard line on abortion has cost them a TD and may lead to numerous supporters also pulling away from the party in the longer term.

Popular Offaly TD Carol Nolan

Carol Nolan resigned in protest after the party’s delegates refused to allow members to have a conscience vote on the issue of abortion.

The highly popular Offaly TD said in a statement that she felt it was unethical to force TDs who are strongly opposed to abortion to vote against their conscience.

She said: “Every TD in Leinster House is directly responsible for the laws that they enact, if a TD votes for abortion they are responsible for all abortions that happen in this state.

“I do not want to have any hand, act or part in bringing about the end to the life of an unborn child, the most vulnerable in our society.

“It is not for politicians or society in general to decide who lives or dies. Every life is precious and every child deserves the chance to live. I don’t believe that abortion is the solution to any crisis, how can it be when it takes the right to life away from the unborn?”

“I cannot and will not support abortion and for that reason I have made a decision to leave Sinn Féin.”

Last weekend, Pope Francis, who is due to visit Ireland in August, condemned abortion as the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics programme.

Under legislation proposed by the government ahead of the papal visit, mothers will be legally free to have their babies killed up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and 24 weeks in specified circumstances.

Local Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs who opposed the removal of the child protecting 8th amendment from the Constitution have reportedly confirmed that, like Sinn Fein, they will be supporting the government’s legislation.

The leader of Sinn Féin Lou McDonald said: “The people have spoken on this issue. The Sinn Féin ard fhéis has democratically agreed the party’s position to support the forthcoming legislation.

The Sinn Fein decision appears to mean that there is now no room in the party for those opposed to abortion.

Pope likens pre-natal tests which result in the abortion of a malformed baby to the eugenics programme of the Nazi-era

A century ago, ‘The whole world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to purify the race.’

‘Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves on.’

Sligo News File

Pope Francis has likened pre-natal tests that can result in parents deciding to terminate a pregnancy if the baby is malformed or suffering other problems to the Nazi-era eugenics programme.

He is said to have raised the issue when he departed from his prepared script while addressing the Forum of Family Associations on the 25-year anniversary of its founding.

Urging families to accept children “as God gives them to us,” agencies have quoted him as saying: “It is fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first few months of a pregnancy doctors do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first idea is: ‘Let’s send it away,'” “We do the same as the Nazis to maintain the purity of the race.

“Last century, the whole world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves on.”

The pope has reportedly also said that a family is one created between a man and a woman.

Pope Francis is due to make a two-day visit to Ireland in August as part of the World Meeting of Families, an event guided by the theme ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.’ The event will discuss what it means to be a Catholic family. 

Roscommon to drone in on illegal dumpers

End of the line for fly tippers as council prepares to rollout camera equipped aerial detection vehicle.

Sligo News File.

Roscommon County Council is about to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle specially geared to cop those behind the scourge of illegal dumping in the county.

The drone will be equipped with the latest in camera technology which the authority is hoping can be used as evidence where incidents of fly tipping are detected.

Meanwhile, the authority is organising a free collection of old mattresses tomorrow, Saturday and on Monday at civic amenity centres in Castlerea and Boyle. Another collection is scheduled for Friday 22 June at the Roscommon civic amenity centre.

The public can contact the council’s environment assistant for information about the mattresses and the workings of the new aerial spotter.

No funds for maintenance of Ballina cemetary

Claimed shortfall in monies from car parking to blame.

Sligo News File.

There are no funds to maintain a Ballina cemetary owing to a shortfall in car parking charges.

Leigue, a 15 acre site in the vicinity of the town’s Killala Road, is in the ownership of Mayo County Council but is being generously cared for by a community of volunteers
known as ‘Friends of Leigue Cemetary.’

This year, however, a €20,000 annual maintenance fund has not been provided to date. CEO of the County Council Peter Hynes has said the money is ‘on hold’ owing to a €400,000 deficit in the authority’s revenue intended to be made up through car parking charges planned for in the 2018 budget.

It’s now feared that in the absence of maintenance works, the cemetary will again become a wilderness of overgrown grass and briars.

More referenda as government to ask the people to remove blasphemy and ‘woman in the home’ clause from Constitution

Bill to legalise killing of sick and elderly also expected to come before the Dail soon.

Sligo News File

Following closely the referenda on homosexual ‘marriage’ and abortion the government is now planning a few more. This time, the focus is on blasphemy, they want to remove all mention of it from the Constitution. Flanagan, the Justice Minister, seems to think it’s out of place, and that by eliminating the provision “Ireland can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”

Minister on Justice, Charlie Flanagan: ‘Ireland can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values’

If the referendum is carried, provocateurs will be free to speak sacrilegiously about God or sacred things, and mock anything to do with the Church.

Last year, the Association of Catholic Priests took issue with some hurtful utterances and attitudes that had raised the ire of many people throughout the country.

An insightful piece, ‘Don’t appeal to ‘blasphemy’ as a defence’, by Fr. Brendan Hoban, which later appeared on the Association’s website, is reproduced below.

He states:

The writer, Clive James, defined blasphemy as mocking the sincerely-held religious views of people. It’s a fair definition. And even though many would believe that blasphemy as an offence shouldn’t be in the Constitution, it doesn’t give anyone the right to be so gratuitously offensive as Stephen Fry was, about a God whom he professes not to believe in, especially on a public broadcasting service. Though we shouldn’t be too surprised.

We’re getting used to it – from the casual insults by commentators anxious to advertise what they imagine is some form of  sophistication, to the anti-Catholic group-think so obvious in some publications, to the venom of individuals whose derision of Catholicism and by extension Christianity must surely emanate from some bitter personal experience.

Understandable, yes. Predictable too. Shortly before he died, in an article in The Guardian, John McGahern wrote: ‘When a long abuse of power is corrected, it is generally replaced by an opposite violence. In the new dispensation all that was good in what went before is tarred indiscriminately with the bad.’

McGahern’s words explain to some degree the avalanche of abuse that rained down on the Sisters of Charity over the National Maternity Hospital controversy (though this is not my focus here) and why a record of selfless service of the vast majority of religious men and women is so easily expunged from public consciousness.

His words explain both the growing religious intolerance of our society and the parallel effort, unviable and probably impossible, to build a secular society. Because religious faith is not a simple thing, especially if it deeply embedded in a society.

The difficult truth for evangelical secularists like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry (and their supporters who quote them as if they were holy writ) is that the religious instinct is so ingrained in human nature that it is never likely to disappear, even when it’s derided and suppressed. And particularly so in societies like Ireland, steeped for centuries in religious vocabulary, emblem, and iconography, what McGahern memorably described as ‘part of the very weather of our lives.’ In an impoverished time, McGahern wrote, ‘the Church was my first book. It was my introduction to ceremony, to grace and sacrament, to symbol and ritual’.

I remember as an altar boy in Ballycastle Church with Canon Paddy Maloney on Fridays during Lent as we did the rounds of the Stations of the Cross ending each of the 14 stations with a prayer I can still recite from memory: ‘I love you, Jesus my love, above all things, I repent of my whole heart . . .Grant that I may always love you and then do with me what thou wilt.’

While my thoughts at the time were more focussed on Randolph Scott and going to the pictures on Friday night (in the school which doubled as a cinema) it’s the Stations of the Cross that are more deeply embedded in my memory. Another memory is the family rosary with, as the poet John Montague wrote, ‘Hail Mary dissolving into Holy Mary’ and ‘the steady drone’ deepening as the beads glide through the fingers.

The poet Seamus Heaney wrote about the fresh, instinctual energy his words achieved when they hovered around his home ground in County Derry and he attributed that to the sense of the transcendental that fired his sense of place. For Heaney, the local landscape was sacramental, a system of signs that drew on deep reservoirs of religious feeling and thinking. (The writer and poet, John O’Donohue, drew on the same language when he described his beloved Burren as ‘a tabernacle of God’s presence.’)

For Heaney, green rushes were a link into St Brigid and the crosses that decked rooms and houses; the buttercups on the windowsills became a mid-summer rite when memory of a pagan goddess morphed into the Virgin Mary; and at Christmas times candles blazed in the windows.

For Heaney, the Virgin Mary – intercessor, Star of the Sea, Mother of Mercy – occupied in common psychology the place of the muse in poetic psychology. (Little wonder that Heaney regarded the ‘Catholic’ poet as lucky in that he saw the Virgin Mary as preserving the feminine in the structure of Catholicism.)

All three – McGahern, Heaney and O’Donohue – went beyond the religious quest into areas at odds with the constraints of institutional Christianity and ended with a very individual view of the world, but the truth is we all do that in our own way.

What happens is that we gradually refine our religious sensibility as some beliefs move into the background and others into the foreground as knowledge and experience produce a workable and authentic faith and we come to realise that this process of communal and individual selection is natural and inevitable, and not the collapse of some God-given scaffolding holding everything together. Part of this personal development is shedding infantile concepts at the heart of our religion, and refining what we believe in the complex crucible of experience and growth.

While this process is often unfairly caricatured as an ‘a-la-carte’ approach to Christianity, the truth is that we are complex beings with individual and varied experiences, instincts, and personalities, and selection is the way we function as human beings. A one-size-fits-all notion of Catholic or Christian, while it may have its advantages in terms of institutional organisation and control, pays little respect to the complexity of the individual faith journey. In simple terms achieving an adult faith is an individual quest.

Against the poetic sensibilities of McGahern, Heaney and O’Donohue, the populist rantings of those who have no sense of God (and no feel for the religious quest) like Christopher Hawkins and Stephen Fry are not just simplistic and patronising but insulting to those who treasure their religious faith and indeed to our intelligence.

But rather than seeking to quell their voices by appealing to a definition of blasphemy in our constitution we need to take our arguments into the public square, despite the opposition of those who imagine that anyone criticising the Catholic Church in Ireland today is always right.

The other referendum on the government’s agenda concerns what’s known as ‘woman in the home.’

Fine Gael and a bunch of other politicians and some women’s movements seemingly don’t like the clause – apparently, it doesn’t sit well with the image of the ‘new’ Ireland we’re hearing so much about these days, whatever it’s supposed to be.

The referenda are scheduled to be rolled out in October.

According to reports, a bill to clear the way for laws under which doctors will be legally empowered to put elderly and sick patients to death by lethal injection is to be placed before the Dail shortly. The practice, known as euthanasia, is common in EU states such as Belgium, home to the headquarters of the EU.

The Belgian legislation which permits the lives of even those with mental illnesses or cognitive disorders, including dementia to be terminated, has been advanced in 2014 to where the life of minors can also be legally ended. A 17-year-old was helped to commit doctor-assisted suicide in 2016.

Euthanasia is currently legal in three EU states: Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In Ireland, it is at present illegal for a doctor or anyone to actively contribute to someone’s death.

TD fury as government shuts out North West young people from State’s Ability programme

‘Not one project in Sligo, Leitrim or Donegal included on the list.’

‘Speaks volumes about government’s commitment to children with disabilities’ in the region.

Sligo News File.

There is fury after the government deliberately passed over young disabled school leavers in the North West seeking places on the State’s Ability project.

Marc MacSharry TD

The programme is designed to help young people with disabilities progress from school to further education and then on to labour market.

But now it’s claimed that young people affected by disability in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal have been denied access to the scheme.

Slamming the decision, local TD Marc MacSharry said: “This is more of the same from this Dublin centric government which appears to be completely focussed on approving funding to projects based in the capital to the detriment of the regions.”

He said: “This is an extremely worthwhile programme, but unfortunately not one teenager or young adult will be able to avail of it here in the North West.

“A number of projects in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim submitted applications to this scheme, but not one was chosen. This speaks volumes about the government’s commitment to children with disabilities in the North West.

“Unfortunately for these kids and their families disappointment and frustration are common emotions, especially when it comes to allocation of resources.

“Thirteen out of the 27 projects which were approved for funding under this initiative were in Dublin. There were others in Cork, Limerick and Galway. The only project approved north of the Dublin-Galway line was in Roscommon.

Ministers Doherty and McGrath announce funding of €16 million for 27 Projects under ‘Ability’ Programme for young people with disabilities.

“The fact that the government has completely ignored the North West yet again, while unsurprising, is completely unacceptable.

“Children with disabilities living in this region should be afforded the same opportunities as those living in Dublin.”

Adding that he was now calling on the Health Minister and the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability to address this issue with urgency, he said they must ensure projects in the North West are included in the Ability programme.”