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Post offices closed ‘twenty times faster under Fianna Fail’

More than 720 offices shut between 2000 and 2100.

Sligo News File

More than 720 post offices closed during the period of 2000 to 2010, when Fianna Fáil was in Government.

The Dail has also heard that only 41 have closed since the change of government in 2011. It was stated that under Fianna Fáil post offices were closing 20 times faster than they are closing at present.

The North West still continues to rank as one of the most government neglected regions of the country.

No major new industry has been announced in years. Commercially, shopfronts are being abandoned on a sweeping scale, not least of them in Sligo town centre. Bank branches are being shut on an unprecedented scale, evidence of the desperate state of the regional economy.

The Sligo -Leitrim area is represented by no fewer than four TDs, including Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein, Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael, and Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fail. Scanlon is the Fianna Fail spokesman on business.

No decision yet on future of Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory

‘Initial consultative process with relevant stakeholders completed.’

Sligo News File

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said that to date no decision has been taken in respect of the options proposed for Sligo and other Regional Veterinary Laboratories.

He said:

“My Department completed an initial consultative process with all relevant stakeholders on the Working Group report (including on the options for RVLs) earlier this year. A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the various options proposed will be undertaken shortly. My Department has tendered for independent economic expertise to carry out this CBA and a tender award notice has issued.

“Any decision I make on the RVLs, including Sligo, will be informed by the consultative process and the outcome of the cost-benefit analysis.”

New Sligo Garda Station still years away

‘Local Garda management and Office of Public Works working closely to improve accommodation in existing station’

Sligo News File

Minister of State David Stanton has said the provision of a new Garda facility in Sligo is a component of the Garda station building and refurbishment programme 2016-2021.

Taking questions, he said:

“In the context of the proposed new station in Sligo, the Office of Public Works is progressing the acquisition of a suitable site, having placed advertisements locally earlier this year. I want to repeat that because I do not think it was heard earlier. The Office of Public Works is progressing the acquisition of a suitable site. Furthermore, local Garda management and the Office of Public Works are working closely to improve the accommodation in the existing station. This is in addition to the other short-term measures that have been taken to address and improve the accommodation situation at the station. For example, works to fully refurbish toilets above the public office were completed and a new industrial standard kitchen has been installed.

“On behalf of the Minister, I again want to reassure the House that the Government is fully committed to proceeding with its major investment programme that aims to provide new stations and modernise older stations at key locations around the country, including Sligo, to ensure a safe, modern working environment for gardaí as well as fit-for-purpose facilities for visitors, victims and suspects.”

No fodder or animal welfare crisis, says Creed.

Call for fodder aid scheme ‘premature.’

Sligo News File

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has dismissed calls for the establishment of a fodder aid scheme.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture.

He said to speak at this stage about the need for a uniform, nationwide fodder crisis was premature.

“Notwithstanding the fact that there are individual farmers who have had cattle in, some full-time, some in by night, because of ground conditions, there is no fodder crisis,”
he added.

He confirmed that 70% of the basic payment scheme will issue with effect from 16 October, with the balancing amount payable from 1 December.

 

McWilliams land tax calls ‘redolent of the kind of thinking based on begrudgery that inspired Robert Mugabe’s thugs to take over farmland in Zimbabwe’

‘During the crash when this country was at risk of going under, farmers kept their shoulders to the wheel and used the land to increase our agri-food exports year after year to some €11.15 billion in 2016.’

Sligo News File

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has hit back at calls by David McWilliams to tax land to the hilt.

Mc Williams

“This is the sort of populist nonsense that would be more at home in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and we all know how that has panned out.”

Mr Sherlock went on to say that the extraordinary comments by Mr McWilliams describing land as a “useless asset which generates no innovation, no creativity, no enhanced productivity” ignored the fact that outside of the cities, land in Europe is used not only to feed the population but is also the basis for attracting tourists, is a store for carbon and is increasingly used as a source of renewable energy.

“During the crash when this country was at risk of going under, farmers kept their shoulders to the wheel and used the land to increase our agri-food exports year after year to some €11.15 billion in 2016. This would not have been possible if we had taxed land to the hilt or dismissed it as useless. Unlike other sectors, the value of agri-food exports has minimal import content and has a trickle down benefit to all rural communities rather than being repatriated internationally.

Seamus Sherlock, Chairman, ICSA Rural Development Committee

“Far from analysis, Mr McWilliams’ article (Irish Independent, 23 September) is redolent of the kind of thinking based on begrudgery that inspired Robert Mugabe’s thugs to take over farmland in Zimbabwe which has resulted in the large scale displacement of some of Africa’s most successful farmers. The outcome has been catastrophic and the bread basket of Southern Africa has become the basket case.”

“While there may well be a case to incentivise the development of inner city sites in Dublin for housing, this is no excuse to impose another burden on hard working farmers in rural Ireland who are already under severe income pressure. Far from being privileged, farmers who own land have seen their labours increasingly undermined by greedy retailers and processors who take more and more margin from the food chain. A far better focus would be to take a fair share of tax from such operations who are clearly making billions off the back of farmers,” concluded Mr Sherlock.

Government accused of ‘inaction’ on future of rural post office network

Deadlock as the Postmasters Union pulls out of negotiations.

Sligo News File

The rural post network is in jeopardy following the decision of the Postmasters Union to pull out of negotiations with Government on the future of the service.

Martin Kenny TD, Sinn Fein

Expressing disappointment at the situation, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny has laid the blame for the apparent deadlock on what he said were “inaction by the government and procrastination by senior management of An Post.”

He said:

“There are many post offices around the country in small towns and rural areas that are under threat of closure such as the Ballygawley in Sligo and Aughavas in Leitrim and their future has been on hold pending these negotiations. I am seeking reassurances from Minister Denis Naughton that such post offices will be kept open and that this development is not used as an excuse to close them.

“I understand that part of the negotiations was around a changed model of payment for postmasters with low transaction post offices which had other businesses operating on the premises. This would mainly affect the more rural part of the network. The provision of additional services at the post offices including banking and state services is regarded by all as the way forward, yet progress is at a snail’s pace on all these issues.”

Naughton, he added, now needs to take the issue in hand “and set deadlines for progress as rural Ireland is hearing a lot of talk about regeneration but this break down is a signal of the reality that people fear.”

Hogan given award for services to Austria

Previously served as Irish Minister for Water.

Sligo News File

The Times reports that Phil Hogan has been made a presentation for services to Austria. Hogan served as Irish Minister for water services before his appointment as EU Commissioner for Agriculture. The nature or extent of the work for which Austria has recognised him is not mentioned in the report.

 

Low level of IDA sponsored site visits to North West

Two visits to Sligo – 82 to sites in Dublin.

Fresh buildings needed to attract new industry – existing older premises ‘not suitable.’

Sligo News File.

The North West fared poorly in IDA site visits during the earlier part of 2017.

Data released by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald has revealed that Sligo, for instance, had only two IDA-led potential investor visits in the first quarter of 2017. Site visits to other regional locations included just one to Donegal and one to Leitrim. Roscommon had one visit, Mayo none. In the same period, however, the IDA organised 82 visits to sites in Dublin – 80 more than Sligo. There were ten each to Limerick and Clare, nine to Cork and twenty-three to Galway.

This week, a Ballymote TD Eamon Scanlon has called on the Fianna Fail supported Government to immediately lay on funds for a Sligo inner relief road which, he submitted, is needed to accommodate the development of new industrial estates.

“Currently in Sligo,” he claimed, “IDA Ireland has not a square inch of land on which to build a plant or factory, mainly because the Finisklin industrial estate is full to the brim.”

However, last year the Sligo Progressive quoted John Nugent, Regional Business Development Manager with the IDA stating, “There are quite a few vacant commercial premises in the town centre and around the periphery from Collooney down to Finisklin and down to Cleveragh and at other locations. “But they are older buildings and not suitable for the type of companies we see coming through to Sligo.”

He reportedly instanced the kinds of businesses the IDA envisaged for the area. “If it’s manufacturing it will tend to be in a fairly advanced clean industry like medical devices where there are cleanliness height requirements, for clean rooms and similar facilities.

“Or it may be the technology or a services company. We can see what companies need and the building stock that is currently available in Sligo does not really meet those needs.”

The IDA had just embarked on the construction of a new 31,000 sq ft advanced technological building at Finisklin, expected to be completed by last November. Two other advanced factories were also being built in Castlebar and Tralee.

Nugent is said to have stated, “We don’t want to be using up millions of euros of taxpayers money to erect buildings. In a normal functioning property market, banks and developers would play in that space for us.

“But in places like Castlebar, Tralee and Sligo, it is clear that the banks and developers will not develop because it is higher risk. They do not want to speculate.”

Deputy Scanlon said Sligo County Council has applied for funding for an inner relief road, “which is expected to cost around €14m. It is essential that this money is approved because without it investment in the region will remain static,” he added.