Thousands gather for national anti-water charges demonstration in Dublin

Water charges a ‘first victory of a mass movement in Ireland for a generation.’

Sligo News File Online

Protesters against water charges have again turned out en masse, testament to the unwavering scale of the countrywide resistance to the levies

Sligo Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree and members of Sligo anti-water charges group who took part in today’s demonstration in Dublin.

Upwards of 20,000 it’s estimated took to the streets of the capital to vent their opposition to the detested charges.

Organisers reckon the figure would have been many times today’s turnout if regular bus services had been running.

Despite the absence of regular transport, however, vast numbers still managed to travel from towns and rural areas to take part in the march.

Mary Lou McDonald, TD, Deputy Leader, Sinn Fein

If Ministers had been hoping that opposition to the levies had eased since previous demonstrations, today’s protest has conclusively shown that anger and resentment over the charges and metering is as powerful and widespread as ever.

The frequently invoked threat of EU sanctions and Ministerial warnings of massive fines if the people of Ireland refuse to submit to the tyranny of charges clearly isn’t frightening the country. Indeed, if there is fear anywhere it has to be in Government circles where Ministers must now know that their days as an Administration is rapidly rolling to an end.

There is no love lost between them and a sizeable part of the electorate.

Speakers at today’s march included TDs Paul Murphy and Joan Collins, and representatives from the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), currently involved in strike action with Bus Éireann.

Ruth Coppinger, TD.
Irish Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said, “Water charges were agreed by Fianna Fáil and imposed by Fine Gael. They thought citizens would roll over. They were wrong.

“The Right2Water campaign won the argument on the streets. We won the battle at the ballot box last year and your Right2Water TDs won the argument at the committee this week.”

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said that the point of the demonstration was to get the message to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that people did not want water charges.

“We’re on the verge of a really important victory for ordinary people in this country.”

Paul Murphy, TD,
Irish Socialist Party

It’s the first victory of a mass movement in Ireland for a generation, she said.

Campaigners are also demanding a referendum to ensure that water services will never be privatised.

Sligo County Council lauded for its resolve on fracking

Fracking: ‘Ireland first State in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund of fossil fuel holdings.’

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Fein has praised Sligo County Council on its decision to stick by the ban on fracking.

Lynn Boylan
Lynn Boylan MEP,
Sinn Fein


Party MEP Lynn Boylan said the councillors “refused to bow to a recommendation of the authority’s chief executive Ciaran Hayes” to remove the prohibition from the new county development plan.

She said:

“I applaud the decision of Sligo County Councillors to maintain their opposition to fracking in the Draft County Development Plan 2017-2023. This process of extracting shale gas by pumping millions of litres of fracking fluid — i.e. water mixed with sand — into a well in order to create cracks in shale formations, is highly polluting. A wide range of toxic chemical additives (1-2% of the total volume) is added to this fracking fluid to ease the operation of the well for the oil or gas company.

“In a State where water has been a major bone of contention for some years now, it is worth noting that fracking wastes and pollutes enormous volumes of water.



“Ireland this year became the first State in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund of fossil fuel holdings. The Dáil has already voted to support a private members bill to ban fracking, a measure that is now before a select committee.

“When it becomes law, the Bill will prohibit the extraction of oil and gas from areas where it would need to be fracked to be taken out of the ground such as the shale deposits across Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry.

“In the North, we have also managed to keep the fracking lobby at bay. What Ireland requires is a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. We cannot allow any backsliding on the progressive decisions made by our elected representatives in the last six months.”

To emphasise the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing, she will be hosting a briefing for Oireachtas members in Leinster House from Food and Water Watch US on the disastrous environmental impact of fracking in the United States. The briefing is scheduled for 13 June 2017.

Courts don’t compile statistics on drink-driving sought by TD – Fitzgerald.

Assembling statistics ‘would be a highly complex process, requiring substantial effort and involving a disproportionate amount of staff.’

Financial cost arising from the necessity to engage external support providers.

Sligo News File Online.

Transport Minister Shane Ross has said that drivers under 44 accounted for 70% of intoxicated drivers in 2015.

More than 80% of them were male, he said.

Justice Minister
Frances Fitzgerald, TD
Minister for Justice

But when the Court service was asked about the number of drink driving offences listed in each court area, it couldn’t come up with the information.

That’s according to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

In a parliamentary question, a TD asked her about the number of driving offences listed in the courts in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Deputy Thomas Broughan also sought details of the number of offences that were “not finalised,” were adjourned, appealed, set aside or the subject of bench warrants.

Fitzgerald told him the Courts Service had informed her that “court statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information sought.”

She said that to obtain the information sought, “if, indeed, it would be possible to do so, would be a highly complex process, requiring substantial effort and involving a disproportionate amount of staff time and a financial cost arising from the necessity to engage external support providers.”

Ross doesn’t appear to have identified the source for claims that in 2015 70% of intoxicated drivers were under 44. Nonetheless, he has gone on to argue that his proposals for an automatic driving ban on first-time offenders will prevent thirty-five deaths on the roads.

Under current measures, driving bans are only imposed for first offences above the 80mg per 100ml level. Where blood alcohol levels are below 50mg, a driver faces three penalty points and a fine of €250.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said drink driving statistics are “shoved down our throats.” Instead of concentrating on drink-driving, other causes of road accidents should be looked at.” In Kerry many road deaths were not in a car, he said.

Roscommon TD, Michael Fitzmaurice said, “Even if the drink-driving levels were set at zero, it is the lack of Gardai out on the beat and on the roads that are the problem.

“Another major cause of serious accidents, especially in rural areas are defective roads but,” he said, “we have heard no announcements of funding to carry our repairs on these dangerous roads.

Remarking further on the Ross proposals, he said, “It might be more in his line to sort out the problems at Bus Eireann and secure a proper budget for the repair of the roads, and these things would have far more of a positive impact on the situation and on rural Ireland in particular.”

Turf and briquette purchases to be criminalised

Penalty and on-the-spot fines proposed in Fianna Fail member’s Bill.

Sligo News File Online

Purchasing peat briquettes is about to become a criminal  offence.

Declan Breathnach, TD,
Fianna Fail.

Legislation being piloted through the Dail also aims to outlaw the purchase of turf, tobacco and alcohol from what the Bill describes as “unregistered retailers.”

The measures are contained in the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill 2017. Introduced in the Oireachtas by Fianna Fail Deputy Declan Breathnach the purpose of the Bill is, he said, “to provide for the introduction of a series of new measures which are directed at tackling the trade in illegal alcohol, tobacco and solid fuel.”

The Bill lists solid fuel as peat briquettes, sod peat and coal. Under the pending legislation, people purchasing the fuels will be liable to the imposition of a penalty and on-the-spot fines of €100.

Breathnach, from Dundalk, is a 57-year-old former school principal. He said, “The introduction of the carbon tax in the Finance Act 2010 had the effect of increasing prices for fuel products throughout Ireland. This has given rise to a sharp increase in the growth of illicit trade in solid fuel products such as coal, peat briquettes and sod peat…The Bill provides a practical solution to the problem of trade in illicit goods.

“Every time a product such as tobacco, alcohol and solid fuel is purchased from an illegal source, not a single cent goes to the State, while the criminals involved in illegal smuggling get richer and richer.”

As I indicated, he said, “the Bill makes it an offence to purchase illicit alcohol, tobacco or solid fuel or to purchase alcohol, or to purchase alcohol, tobacco or solid fuel from an unregistered or unlicensed retailer.

“It provides for the imposition of a penalty and an on-the-spot fine in respect of such offences.

“A €100 fine would apply for the following amounts: up to one litre of spirits, and each additional litre or part thereof, up to 200 cigarettes and each additional 200 cigarettes or part thereof; up to 150g of rolling tobacco and each additional part thereof; and up to 10kg of solid fuel and each additional 10kg or part thereof.”

The Bill has 14 sections divided into five parts.

Fianna Fail are virtual partners in the present Fine Gael-led Coalition

Government happy to see country brought to standstill if it takes Bus Eireann closer to privatisation -McDonald

‘Varadkar comments show why Ross has refused to intervene in dispute’

Sligo News File Online

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said comments from Minister Leo Varadkar to RTÉ News this afternoon have laid bare the government’s privatisation agenda and show the ideological reason why Shane Ross has refused to intervene in the Bus Éireann dispute.


Mary Lou McDonald, TD, Sinn Fein

Minister Varadkar told RTÉ News that Bus Éireann is not essential and that most of what it does could be done by the private sector.

Speaking from Leinster House today Teachta McDonald said;

“These comments reveal the ideological reason why Transport Minister Shane Ross has steadfastly refused to intervene in the Bus Éireann dispute.

“The government’s privatisation agenda has been laid bare for all to see.

“What Minister Varadkar and indeed Minister Ross fail to take account of is the service Bus Éireann provides for our citizens along non profit making routes where private operators will not go. Are these people to be sacrificed for the government’s privatisation agenda?

“The reality is that Shane Ross and this government are happy to see the country brought to a standstill if it brings the privatisation of Bus Éireann a little bit closer.

“So the travelling public and those workers who are risking their livelihoods on the picket lines are simply being used in an ideological campaign to privatise our bus routes.

“That is an indictment on this government and they should hang their heads in shame.”

Thousands celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in West

Mayo parades cancelled as a mark of respect to the crew of lost Coastguard rescue helicopter.

Sligo News File Online

With the Taoiseach still in the States relishing Trump’s ‘new friend’ status, thousands have been celebrating St. Patrick Day events in Ireland.

Taoiseach and Friend Donald Trump

Parades rolled out across the country, some of them designated as ‘themed’ affairs. But it was in places where the day was organised with a mind to the tradition and culture of what many would feel the occasion should be about that there was most evident enjoyment on the ground.

This year was noticeable for the bid in some quarters to change the name of the day from Patrick’s to Patty’s day – how soon until it’s also claimed that the Shamrock is transsexual? Others went on a reel and a jig about a St. Patrick’s wife – another bucket of crap. Should we be surprised? Certainly not. After all, this is a country where relatively recently political parties, including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, the Greens and others joined forces to campaign for the debasement of marriage by the elevation of homosexual unions to the same level as that of regular married couples.

The pressure is also now on to make the killing of unborn babies a human right, meaning a woman who doesn’t fancy giving birth can have the foetus destroyed in the womb and discarded as if it were no more than the clippings of her nails. For the avoidance of confusion, the reference here is to the campaign to terminate the constitutional protection, the 8th Amendment, which protects the life of babies.

As well, the drum is beating for the legalisation of euthanasia, that is the killing of sick and elderly folk. If introduced, Ireland would follow some other EU states, one of which has also changed the law allowing for the killing of even ill young children.

Additionally, the Dail is at present considering a Bill where young people will be able to purchase drugs from illegal pushers on the streets and take them for consumption or use in centres run or paid for by the State. The hands of the Gardai will be legally tied; prosecution of those in possession of substances such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, amphetamines and much more will be ruled out. The development is to be run initially on a pilot basis, with, later, centres, all staffed by health professionals, launched throughout the country.

This is the new Ireland people are now being expected to march to the tune of, and even sing in praise of to the world.

Locally, St. Patrick Day parades were called off in some towns in Mayo as a mark of respect to the crew of the Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter lost when heading on a rescue mission over the Mayo coast.

Parades in Roscommon, Longford, Leitrim and Donegal went ahead, as scheduled.

Gurteen, Dromore West, Enniscrone, and Easkey also held ceremonies.

Overall winners in the Sligo town event were the Filipino Association of Sligo.

Other awards:

O’Hares: Industrial & Commercial;

Best Sports Theme: Sligo Rowing Club

Sligo Rowing Club: Best Sports Theme;

Gaelscoil Sligo: National School Award;

Ursuline College Sligo: School Cup;

Sligo Woodlands School: Special Award

ITSligo: Community Award;

Love Leitrim & Friends: Adjudicator Award;

Hong Ying Martial Arts: Martial Arts;

Youth Award: Lisa Cooper School Academy;

Youth Reach Group: Novelty Award;

10t Sligo Scouts: Scout Award;

The Indian Association: Arts & Culture Award;

Augharonan Pipe Band: Overall Band;

Ballinacarrow National School: Band and

Silver Star Cheerleaders: Highly Commended

Fitzmaurice lays into Ross over drink driving comments that ‘rural TDs bowing to wishes of vintners’

‘We have minds of our own on this and other issues.’

‘Even if drinking levels were at zero the problem is a lack of Gardai out on roads.’

Garda ‘numbers are down by over 3,000, meaning problems not policed properly.’

Minister ‘seems to be on a mission to make people feel guilty for expressing their opinion.’

‘It might be more in his line to sort out problems at Bus Eireann and secure proper budget for the repair of the roads.’

Sligo News File Online

Roscommon-based TD Michael Fitzmaurice has slammed what he has branded the “wrong approach” Transport Minister Shane Ross is taking “by giving out about rural TDs who do not agree with him” on drink driving.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice – a fearless voice for the rural community.

The Independent deputy has condemned in particular the Minister’s apparent comments that rural TDs were “bowing to the wishes of the vintners.”

He said, “It is not the vintners or anyone else who are twisting our arms, we have our own minds when it comes to this and other issues.”

Further rounding on Ross, he said that “unfortunately” the minister “has moved away from the issue of Garda numbers” as the reason for drink driving.

“Even if the drink-driving levels were set at zero, it is the lack of Gardai out on the beat and on the roads that are the problem.

Dublin TD and Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

“The numbers are down by over 3,000 in recent years, and that means that these problems are not being policed properly.

“Another major cause of serious accidents, especially in rural areas are defective roads but,” he said, “we have heard no announcements of funding to carry our repairs on these dangerous roads.

“If Minister Ross is serious about saving lives on our roads, and I presume he is, there are better ways with better results that he can achieve this rather than the way he is going at the moment.

“He seems to be on a mission to make people feel guilty for expressing their opinion.

“It might be more in his line to sort out the problems at Bus Eireann and secure a proper budget for the repair of the roads and these things would have far more of a positive impact on the situation and on rural Ireland in particular.”

Earlier this year, the Galway Independent reported him as saying:

“We appear to be always relating accidents and death to seatbelts, drink and young drivers but in my view the big elephant in the room is the state of our roads but of course that costs money so, hush, say nothing if you’re government or the RSA.”

Irish Water Sligo sewerage planning applications ‘incomplete’

Permission sought for upgrade developments at Ballymote, Collooney and Ballinacarrow.

Sligo News File Online.

Planning applications submitted by Irish Water for the upgrade of sewerage plants in Sligo have been recorded as ‘incomplete.’

According to the Sligo County Council planning website, the applications for developments at Ballymote, Collooney and Ballinacarrow were received by the planning authority on 20 February 2017.

Works proposed to be carried out are detailed in the submissions for the three locations.

But it looks from the council’s website that the applications have not been progressed by authority.

The records show that all – files references 1757, 1758 and 1759 – have been identified as ‘incomplete’

It is not stated why the applications were deemed insufficient.