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Basta closure devastating body blow for Tubbercurry

Manufacturing operation among huge developments lost to once flourishing South Sligo capital.

Sligo News File

South Sligo is reeling following the closure of yet another business operation in Tubbercurry.

Basta, once an industrial powerhouse of the south Sligo economy, ceased operations at the weekend. The major home-grown manufacturing plant was established by the late James Gallagher, a dynamic local TD, and the Gallagher family in 1955. Employing a workforce of more than 200 by the early 1960s when nationally job opportunities were light on the ground, the plant grew to become a leader in the production of a distinctive range of door and window locks as well as building industry components for the home and export markets.

Prosperity and growth

With the addition of the Tool and Gauge in 1956, and the presence of a flourishing farmer-owned co-operative, Tubbercurry and the greater South Sligo area came to enjoy an era of immense
prosperity and growth

The end of the road for Basta coincides with the appalling failure of successive governments to underpin the future of rural economies,
and in this Tubbercurry has been no exception. Indeed, the Fine Gael-led government showed little concern for the welfare of south Sligo and its rural population when it brazenly ordered that State offices and 110 jobs in Tubbercurry be taken from the town and transferred to Mayo.

The shock action soon came to be followed by another massive blow, this time an announcement by Aurivo – a co-operative with roots deep in the economy and history of the area – that it was switching its headquarters and nearly 60 jobs from Tubbercurry to Sligo. The co-operative also closed its butter operation at nearby Achonry, where twenty were employed, and transferred the activity from there to Mitchelstown in Cork.

Upwards of 40 workers

Basta petitioned the circuit court in July following which an interim examiner was appointed to examine the viability of the business. Closure of the plant was announced on Thursday. It’s understood that some of the upwards of 40 workers losing their jobs have been with Basta for more than 40 years.

Tubbercurry is in the Sligo -Leitrim constituency where there are four TDs – Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fail, Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael and Martin Kenny,
Sinn Fein.

Boil notice on Lough Talt lifted, but supply remains on the EPA’s remedial action list for Cryptosporidium and cancer-associated trihalomethanes 

Warning that supply may be reconnected to Charlestown if cryptosporidium detected in supply again.

Sligo News File.

Irish Water last week lifted the boil notice on the Lough Talt water scheme.

However, the water utility has said that if a reoccurrence of Cryptosporidium contamination is detected the supply will have to be connected back to the Charlestown scheme.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that the Lough Talt supply remains on the EPA’s Remedial Action List for both Cryptosporidium and trihalomethanes risk.

Trihalomethanes – a group of four chemicals including chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform – are byproducts of chlorination of water that contains natural organic matter. Taken up by the body by way of oral ingestion, skin absorption and inhalation exposure arising out of the use of tap water, trihalomethanes are associated with colon, bladder, and rectal cancer, adverse effects on the central nervous system, liver, kidneys and heart and potentially harmful reproductive outcomes.

In its 2017 drinking water report, the EPA have stated that Irish Water have indicated that action plans on trihalomethanes will be completed by 2020 in all public systems with the exception of the Lough Talt supply “where planning permission difficulties mean Irish Water have no completion date for the supply.”

The report also states that the European Commission “started a pilot infringement case against Ireland in 2015, (ref
7554/2015/ENVI) due to the number of public water supplies failing to meet the THMs standard.” It adds that “The  Commission is expected to make a decision on the infringement proceedings and a letter of formal notice will be delivered to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government when this happens.”

 

Government protected Geyer’s Whorl Snail at Lough Talt.

According to Irish water, a reduction in the formation of cancer-inducing trihalomethanes and a validated barrier against cryptosporidium will be possible if planning permission for a proposed upgrade at the Lough Talt supply is approved by Sligo County Council. Irish Water made the planning application in May 2018, to which county council responded on 19 July with a 29 point further information request, much of it focussed on preservation issues and the safeguarding of snails and crayfish

Three years ago, in 2015, Sligo County Council and the Planning Board rejected Irish Water plans for a state-of-the-art treatment plant downstream of the existing system because of the implications it would have for a government-backed EU order preserving species of snail and crayfish at the lake.

Had the council and planning board allowed the planned treatment plant to be constructed; it is believed the development would have successfully controlled the presence of the health-endangering microbial parasite Cryptosporidium and trihalomethanes in the distributed drinking water.

Lough Talt home to State guarded white-clawed crayfish

Lough Talt provides the water supply for more than 12,000 users – hotels, businesses and householders – in Ballymote, Ballisodare and Tubbercurry.

Casey takes second place with a sensational 21% of the first preference vote

Powerful campaign focussed on excesses of State welfare system.

Sligo News File

Michael D. Higgins is on course to win a second term as president. But it’s the performance of the Derry-based candidate Peter Casey, rising from 1% in the opinion polls to nearly 22% in an RTE Exit Poll that is the talk of the country.

President Michael Daniel Higgins

As predicted by some, including our local pundit John, Casey has powered ahead with a showing that looks as if he will be officially coming in a strong second following a brilliantly executed campaign.

There were howls of indignation when he controversially spoke about travellers in Tipperary reportedly demanding sheds and lands for horses before they were prepared to move into a gleaming €1.7 million housing development near Thurles.

Politicians and chattering classes took to the media with calls for a retraction of what they branded as Casey’s ‘racist’ comments – observations he always maintained were anything but racist. As well, Varadkar reportedly urged the public not to vote for him. In the event, the taunts and the castigation of Casey’s views on the exploding welfare system angered the electorate, and when given the opportunity earlier today to show what they thought of the statements, the electorate voted for Casey on a scale so sweeping that his rating is said to be up on 21%.

Presidential candidate Peter Casey.

 

A phenomonal result, and surely, too, a resounding message to government and their Fianna Fail partners that the people are weary of carrying the impossible levels of taxation being used
to fund a growing army of persons for whom drawing on generous aid being doled out by the State is a way of life.

The Independent reports that a Red C survey of thousands of people exiting polling stations throughout the day indicates that four of the presidential candidates have polled so poorly they will be unable to claim any expenses from the State.

The Blasphemy Referendum, rolled out with a €3 million price ticket will pass, it’s thought.

It’s believed the official count will show that the turnout has been the lowest ever for a presidential election.

 

Rural broadband plan would cost six times the original estimate

Could talk of a plan ‘B’ be about rescuing the project with funding from the Apple tax billions or…?

Sligo News File.

Well, folks, it looks that government has made a proper bollocks of the planned high speed rural broadband job.

Fianna Fail and themselves have been forever preaching about its nearing launch date, but now the whole process is virtually back on the hind tit.

It seems there isn’t funding enough to take the development anywhere near the heart of the countryside. That’s because it’s reckoned the project would now cost roughly six times the originally targeted price.

The TD charged with guiding the project to an early rollout has also departed the scene. Remember him? Minister for Communications Denis from Roscommon. He bade farewell to the government following some alleged concerns about meetings with bidders for the work.

It’s now said in some quarters that there’s talk of a plan ‘B’ taking shape. Maybe. Maybe somebody is thinking about all those Apple tax billions that government and Fianna Fail have been refusing to take, and how a little of it could now make broadband for rural parts a reality.

Of course, plan ‘B’ could be about the thoughts of rural residents on the future of TDs who have failed to deliver!

Fianna Fail aims to punish consumers obtaining goods without payment of VAT

Former Louth schoolteacher piloting Bill through the Dail.

Sligo News File.

Fianna Fail is proposing legislation to penalise consumers who fail to pay VAT on purchases.

The Bill, introduced by Party TD Declan Breathnach aims to punish people found with goods on which tax hasn’t been paid.

Breathnach, a former primary school teacher, is based in Louth.

Under the Fianna Fail proposal, it looks that consumers will have to produce IDs as well as receipts for goods in their possession including whiskey, cigarettes, coal, briquettes and heating oil to escape punishment with €100 on-the-spot fines or appearances before the courts.

The former schoolteacher said the bill aims to discourage people from buying alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco and heating oil on which they haven’t paid taxes.

Nothing wrong with getting fuel from back of van

TD Michael Healy-Rae said he wasn’t sure about “going after the person who might cut a bit of timber, bag it and sell it out of the back of a van.

Michael Healy-Rea, TD

“Usually when we hear about something from the back of a van, it means there is something wrong with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong, however, with people getting a bit of fuel like that and delivering it to elderly people’s homes or a customer base which they have set up. It is up to them to keep their own tax affairs in order. However, to brand that activity as illegal is wrong.

“My late father, Jackie Healy-Rae, would have stood up here to say that he was here for the man selling the bag of turf or the load of timber. I am here tonight to do the exact  same thing because those people in my book are respectable, providing a required service in estates or in the countryside and helping older or vulnerable people.”

Proposals unworkable

Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael Darcy said would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish the evidence that would support a conviction of a person for knowingly buying illicit goods.

He went on to say: “The proposals contained in the Bill are not just unworkable but would undermine the good work that is ongoing in this area by diverting resources from where they are most required. Accordingly, I cannot support the Bill.”

Tony McLoughlin, TD

Those who voted support for the controversial Fianna Fail legislation include:

Marc MacSharry, Eamon Scanlon, Dessie Ellis, Pat The Cope Gallagher, Michael Fitzmaurice and Dara Calleary.

Tony McLoughlin, JoeMcHugh, Denis Naughton and Michael Ring voted against the Bill.

Drug injecting centres

Fianna Fail are meanwhile supporting a government measure where young people will soon be able to purchase cocaine and other banned substances from drug pushers on the street and use them in government-funded centres staffed by health professionals. An application for planning permission for the first of such facilities – located close to a school – has been submitted to a Dublin planning authority.

It’s believed similar centres are to be eventually laid on in every town and village of the country.

Some consider that centres for addicts to inject themselves with impunity and the growing pressure for the legalisation of illicit substances is proof beyond doubt that the government and gardai have lost the battle against illegal drugs and can no longer safeguard young people falling victim to the out-of-control drug epidemic currently pervading every corridor of the country from cities to towns to villages to rural townlands.

Owing to the failure to tackle the problem, Ireland now has the highest proportion of intravenous heroin users in Europe, and the rate of drug-related deaths in the country is three times higher than the EU average.

 

Farmers must weigh calves and their mothers at cost of €50 to qualify for €40 subsidy – McGrath

‘The Minister’s treatment of farmers is farcical.’

Sligo News File

There were strong exchanges in the Dail when last weekend a South of Ireland Deputy challenged agriculture Minister Michael Creed over his handling of the fodder crisis.

Mattie McGrath, TD …farmers must spend €50 to get €40 subsidy.

TD Mattie McGrath spoke of conditions in “Tipperary, east Waterford, south Kilkenny and east Cork, as well as other parts of the country” where he said farmers were “completely burned by the drought.”

He said: “The Minister has made no real effort to address this.

“I would love to know what inducements he is giving to stakeholders to come up with the figures he has given us. The situation on the ground is very different and many farmers have huge issues with not having enough fodder and no way of getting funding. The banks effectively are not working and the money announced in last year’s budget was not drawn down, while this year’s budget was a damp squib for agriculture.

“Suckler herds are on their knees and farmers in that sector wanted €200 per cow, but the Minister gave them €40, but one must weigh calves and their mothers, meaning the farmers must spend €50 to get €40. The Minister’s treatment of farmers is farcical.”

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture.

Creed: “The Deputy should reflect seriously on the accusation he has made against Teagasc to the effect that it has manipulated figures. It conducted a national fodder survey, the veracity of which has been accepted by all stakeholders. I accept that within the national deficit of 11%; there are individual holdings where it is higher. The best outcome from the stakeholder forum was the advice from the advisory services, namely, Teagasc, private advisers or co-operatives. The Deputy should reflect on his charge that a State organisation has manipulated figures.”

McGrath: “It has questions to answer.”

Creed: “The Deputy is seeking a cheap headline. It is rather unfortunate to try to make a cheap political point on the backs of farmers, who have had an extremely difficult year.”

McGrath: “The farmers have sleepless nights. Certain others do not.”

Creed: “It is a hit-and-run effort by Deputy Mattie McGrath. He will not even stay for the rest of Question Time.”

McGrath: “The Minister does not even run or hit.”

ICSA protest over beef prices at Mayo’s Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis

‘Unless prices improve further disruption cannot be ruled out.’

Sligo News File.

The ICSA have taken their protest over beef prices to the door of Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis just weeks after similar demonstration outside ABP in Clones.

Edmund Graham, chairman, ICSA Beef Committee

Commenting on the move, chairman of the Association’s national beef committee Edmund Graham said beef sector producers “have been crucified by beef price cuts” in a year when substantial extra costs were incurred owing to extreme weather conditions.

He said farmers had faced “an orchestrated effort to drive down beef prices over several weeks,” but the price cutting had now stopped since the ICSA took action against the practice on the 5th of October.

Explaining the reason for the ongoing protest, he said the association “now want to drive price back up and no farmer should dream of selling steers this week at less than €3.85.

“Current prices are totally inadequate when costs of production are at least €4.40/kg for cattle from the dairy herd, he said. The suckler herd is not profitable unless the price is closer to €5/kg.

President of the Association, Patrick Kent said the ICSA was sending a very clear message to retailers that beef farmers were being exploited.

Patrick Kent, president ICSA

“There will be no hiding place for retailers now who claim they are supporting farmers. Retailers cannot boast about sustainable beef and then profiteer when farmers are not even getting the cost of production.

“Retailers and processors need to wake up to the fact that there will be no sustainable beef if they continue to squeeze the primary producer.

“ICSA is calling for a halt to the exploitation of family farms.”

He also hit out at the failure of new international markets to deliver strong prices for farmers.

“Compared to five years ago we have seen the opening of markets in the USA, China, South East Asia and this week Kuwait. Yet there has been no benefit to farmers and prices today are weaker than five years ago.”

“ICSA is sending out a strong message that farmers cannot stand idly by as their livelihoods are being decimated. This is the second day of action and unless prices improve further disruption cannot be ruled out,” he warned.