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Martin says Fianna Fail will not make post office wipeout red line issue in budget negotiations

An Post closing nearly 160 offices.

Sligo News File.

Rural Ireland is up in arms over the destruction of the post office network, but shockingly the Fianna Fail leader Micky Martin has said the party isn’t willing to make an issue of the setback.

Micky Martin, TD, Leader, Fianna Fail …party won’t make post office closures a red line issue.

An Post is pulling some 159 offices from the countryside where already the economy of towns and villages has been systematically gutted under rural destroying government policies.

Now, the leader of the government backing Fianna Failers says his party will not be making the mass closure of the post offices a red line issue in negotiations on the budget.

In an interview with Shannonside FM, Martin said, as an excuse for his party’s inaction on the post office closures, that it was more responsible to come up with solutions rather than threatening to bring down the government.

Martin did not explain why raising the closure of rural post offices would cause the government to collapse.

Announcing what the party’s priority is to be, he said it intends to make a very serious challenge to win back a seat they lost in Longford-Westmeath.

No doubt many will question the wisdom of supporting a party that, like the government it is backing, doesn’t appear to have much time for rural Ireland as it battles to survive.

In Sligo, there are hints that Eir may decide to locate a call centre in the town. Aside from this, there’s at the moment little more about jobs on the horizon. The area has a population of four TDs – MacSharry and Scanlon, Fianna Fail; McLoughlin, Fine Gael and Kenny, Sinn Fein. They all have been on holidays from the Dail for the last few months.

Irish members support EU parliament vote for controversial ‘surveillance and control’ of internet users

‘Measure could bring down all internet activity, as we know it.’

Sligo News File

Irish MEPs are among a majority of EU parliament members who have voted to muzzle the internet.

Marian Harkin, MEP

Under a provision of the European Copyright Directive, the content of all internet users is now set to be monitored by advanced surveillance technology.

The move has been described as profoundly worrying with particular consequences for free speech.

Article 13 of the Directive will authorise the installation of filters to scan the content of messages and other communications before users can upload them online.

Some MEPs have claimed that the purpose of the controls is to guard against possible copyright violations in the interests of musicians and performers, but this is being dismissed as difficult to believe.

Experts in the industry have warned that the measure could bring down all internet activity, as we know it.

Some 70 of the top names of the internet, including the creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee contended in a letter to MEPs that adoption of article 13 would take “an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

Matt Carthy, MEP….voted against EU internet control.

A huge concern of many is that the filternet to be employed under the directive will not be able to distinguish copyright infringements from legitimate commentary or criticism, making it increasingly problematic for those posting news to the internet.

The UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye has referred to the controls as “prepublication censorship”, with automatic filters being unable to detect fair comment, satire, criticism and parody.

It is feared that the filternet or censorship machine could be reprogrammed post-launch to prevent disclosure of issues the EU or member states politicians would wish to be kept from the public.

Despite the concerns, a majority of the parliament’s membership nevertheless yesterday voted in favour of the controversial article 13. They included Irish members Marian Harkin (Independent) and Fine Gael MEPs Brian Hayes, Mairead McGuinness, Sean Kelly and Deirdre Clune.

The following voted against the provision: Matt Carty and Liadh Ni Riada, both Sinn Fein and Independents Luke Ming Flanagan and Nessa Childers. Lynn Boylan, Sinn Fein, and Brian Crowley were recorded as ‘didn’t vote.’

The directive faces a final vote in January 2019.

Remand prisoner who escaped after being taken to Mayo General hospital apprehended by Gardai

Detained in Tullamore

Sligo News File

A man on remand at Castlerea Prison who escaped after being taken to Mayo General Hospital at the weekend has been detained by Gardai.

The prisoner, in his 30s, was reportedly apprehended in Tullamore.

He made his escape when he was taken to the hospital for treatment on Saturda

He is currently in garda custody.

Man charged with assaulting mayor of Galway.

In Galway, a 26-year old man has been remanded in custody in connection with an alleged assault on the mayor of the city.

He is charged with assaulting Niall McNeilis at Wolfe Tone Bridge on September 7.

Judge Mary Fahy remanded him in custody to appear before the court by video link from Castlerea Prison on Monday

AirBnB short term home lettings could face chop under Labour Party Bill

Party wants houses restricted to providing accommodation for students and the homeless.

Sligo News File.

Labour is rolling out a bill which could virtually kill off short-term accommodation property lettings.

Some 3,000 homes are currently being offered for short stays under arrangements with an international organisation known as AirBnB.

House lettings facilitated by the United States company has been one of the growing success stories of Irish tourism, enabling visitors to avail of low priced quality accommodation while travelling the country. At the same time, property owners can enjoy a relatively modest financial return from renting furnished rooms or entire homes for short periods of time.

Labour concerned over expansion of AirBnB lettings.

But the Labour Party is reportedly unhappy with the expanding industry and is proposing to knock it back with controls where lettings in their present form would be restricted to only a few weeks per year. Owners of AirBnB properties would also need planning permission, obliging them to dole out substantial commercial rates to local councils.

Humphreys, one of the small party’s leadership, believe the controls will force the 3,000 AirBnB owners to open their houses to students and the homeless instead.

AirBnB, based in San Francisco, operates the flourishing online hospitality service. The company has over 5 million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191 countries and has facilitated over 300 million check-ins.

Homeowners relying on income from home sharing.

Many people on the brink of losing their homes have come to rely on AirBnB for additional income. Homeowners in the United States who refinance their mortgages with some agencies can include the income they earn from their Airbnb rentals on their refinance loan applications.

The Labour bill would require a register to be kept to prevent homeowners from moving from one letting type to another to supersede the regulations. Those failing to maintain a register will be subject to a ‘Class A fine’ of upwards of €50,000.

Fire at Sligo town centre premises brought under control

Cause of the outbreak at McGarrigles pub is unknown.

Sligo News File

Sligo town centre was closed to traffic for a time today after a fire broke out in a licensed premises in O’Connell Street.

 

A number of business premises were evacuated while local fire services brought the fire at McGarrigles pub under control.

It’s believed the fire had spread to some adjoining properties.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Investigations are being carried out by fire service and garda personnel.

Labour leader meets Green leader for summit on vigil during Trump visit

Planned vigil is in the cause of ‘democracy, decency and international solidarity.’

Sligo News File

The Labour Party is planning an anti-Trump vigil during the American President’s visit to Ireland.

Labour Chief, Brendan Howlin…vigil during visit of President Trump.

In a statement published on the party’s website, leader Brendan Howlin says:

“I have met with Eamon Ryan TD, leader of the Green Party. We have agreed to co-ordinate a public rally for democracy, decency and international solidarity on the occasion of the visit of President Trump.

Green’s leader, Eamon Ryan…met with Howlin about US President’s visit

“There are a number of reasons why this action is necessary.

“We need to take a stand against President Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement on climate change and his unscientific rejection of the grave dangers posed by global warming.

“Trump’s attacks on fair and balanced international trade are destructive to world prosperity and the capacity of countries to develop.

“Trump’s ratcheting up of spending on arms and slashing of aid budgets, most recently to Palestine, are detrimental to world peace.

Always welcome in Ireland…United States President Donald Trump

“Trump’s denial of the human rights of asylum seekers and migrants, including the separation of families, are abhorrent.

“We in the Labour Party will discuss with other groups in the coming days to co-ordinate a platform for a peaceful vigil during the visit of President Trump to Ireland in October.”

Government targets local authorities as housing crisis escalates

Threat to remove powers of some councils.

Sligo News File

In a new twist on the housing crisis, the government is now blaming local authorities for the rising tide of homelessness.

 

Fine Gael Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

The situation is currently at a catastrophic level with thousands abandoned to emergency accommodation.

Day in day out, parents in increasing numbers are seen walking the streets vainly waiting for a permanent home for themselves and their children.

Local authorities.

But now it’s reported that the government is holding some local authorities responsible for the chaos.

In an extraordinary move, it is also threatening to remove powers of the particular authorities unless they get down to tackling the widely condemned housing and homeless situation.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is said to have warned that he would be “calling out” councils that have not done enough to date.

However, a crusader for the homeless, Fr. Peter McVerry has said that the problem is government policy.

Nearly 86,000 households are currently on social housing waiting lists.

Housing and homeless rally outside Leinster House.

With pressure mounting on Murphy to resign, an organisation representing a number of housing and homeless campaigning bodies, Raise the Roof for Housing is urging people to get behind a major rally they are organising outside Leinster House on 3rd October. A large turnout of TDs is expected to take part.

No relief for epidemic of rural post office closures

‘Pensioners using Aldi and Lidl’ to blame.

Sligo News File

Minister for Communications Denis Naughton has said the closure of rural post offices is set to continue.

Minister for Post Offices,
Denis Naughton, Roscommon

Nearly 160 offices are earmarked for the chop as his government yet again denudes the countryside of the means to survive.

The Irish Times reports that Roscommon-based Naughton has suggested “pensioners travelling to the likes of Aldi and Lidl for their groceries are to blame for the imminent closure of village post offices…”

Beat that.

However, Fianna Fail, themselves no stranger to rural closures, have said the government is using the retirement of postmasters and postmistresses “as a smokescreen and cover” to shut the post offices in the 159 rural communities.

In a statement published on the Fianna Fail website, party spokesman Timmy Dooley also highlighted the effect that the shut down is set to have on the countryside and the motion to protect and preserve rural post office network his party proposes to table.

He said:

“These closures as well as harming local businesses will have a disproportionate impact on elderly and vulnerable citizens who rely heavily on their local post office.

Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley

“We are hearing reports that many elderly people will have to travel upwards of 25km, to and from, their next nearest post office, to collect their pension or pay their bills.

“Pensioners are not natural online users and while many are making the switch to digital, a high number are completely unable to do their business online, and therefore the removal of their local post office will be an intolerable burden on them and also their families.

“It must be remembered that these 159 communities are by their very nature located in some of the most isolated parts of the country with little to no regular public transport options available. How can we ask pensioners to spend €15 to €20 on taxis just to collect their weekly pension of €230 per week?

“Our motion is clear that the Government must initiate a Public Service Obligation (PSO) payment to ensure that these post offices remain open. The contracts to run these post offices must also be advertised to allow other interested parties get involved in delivering these vital public services.

The Clare-based TD added: “Post offices cannot be viewed as simple accounting units with a focus solely on profit and loss. They are an immeasurable part of community life across Ireland, but especially in rural Ireland, and the Government must listen and must intervene.”