TB in cattle herds increased

‘Disease causing untold hardship for farming families’

Sligo News File

Charlie McConalogue, TD Minister for Agriculture.

The incidence of bovine TB has risen every year between 2016 and 2020, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has stated in reply to a parliamentary question on the issue.

He said the number of dairy herd reactor animals is “8,837 for the year 2019, 12,440 for the year 2020 and 11,502 up to 6th December for the year 2021.

“The number of Suckler herd reactor animals is 5,894 for the year 2019, 7,275 for the year 2020 and 5,816 up to 6th December for the year 2021.

“The number of Beef herd reactor animals is 1,989 for the year 2019, 2,332 for the year 2020 and 1,829 up to 6th December for the year 2021.

“The number of other herd reactor animals is 347 for the year 2019, 515 for the year 2020 and 471 up to 6th December for the year 2021.

“The overall total in respect of reactor numbers is 17,067 for the year 2019, 22,562 for the year 2020 and 19,618 up to 6th December for the year 2021.”

Adding that herd incidence has risen every year between 2016 and 2020, he said “the disease causes untold hardship for farmers and farming families, and although the challenge is serious my Department, working together with stakeholders and engaging with farmers are committed to eradicating this disease.

“Earlier this year, I launched a new Bovine TB Eradication Strategy 2021-2030. The implementation of this strategy is overseen by the TB Stakeholder Forum with support from three new working groups on science, implementation and finance to ensure that all aspects of the Strategy are addressed.

Thirty years on, Ballina still awaiting IDA action on town industrial park

Planning permission allowed to lapse

Sligo News File

Dara Calleary, TD, Ballina

The long-awaited industrial park for Ballina is back in the news, with town-based Fianna Fail TD, Dara Calleary again questioning the status of the proposed development.

Back in June this year, Calleary, stating that he was “a huge fan of IDA Ireland,” told the Dail that the Ballina project had been underway for 30 years “and we are really no further on.”

He also complained that the planning permission granted for the IDA 10.6-hectare site on the Sligo Road had even been allowed to lapse.

At the time, Minister of State Robert Troy, Fianna Fail, stated that the agency “has appointed an engineering firm to undertake detailed technical due diligence, review the master plan design and submit a stage one infrastructure planning application to Mayo County Council,” which it anticipated “will be ready for submission in the third quarter of 2021, subject to ongoing review.”

Robert Troy, TD, Minister for Enterprise

But this week, Troy, responding to another query from Calleary, said in a written statement that a number of external factors delayed the submission of a planning application for the site in the third quarter as originally intended, “namely Covid-19 restrictions for geotechnical site surveys and data analyses required to finalise the application details.”

He added that the IDA is now awaiting “final confirmation of feasibility in relation to infrastructure and utilities to include in the planning application and it will lodge the planning application on receipt of same.”




Donegal councillors seek more for Mica hit householders

Unhappiness over government package

Sligo News File  

Not what is expected: Donegal councillors have given thumbs down to the government’s Mica Redress Scheme offer.

The county council has now resolved to contact housing minister Daragh O’Brien to get back with a better deal.

Chairman Jack Murray suspended standing orders to allow for the issue to be thoroughly discussed by members at the December meeting of the authority.

Members reflected unhappiness with the government offer, which they considered would leave affected homeowners shouldering a substantial financial outlay to rebuild or repair their houses.

Successful applications for Town and Village Scheme funding to be announced shortly

More than 160 projects approved under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Sligo News File

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development

Questioned about the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said that her Department received 167 applications in 2021. The applications, she went on, “are currently undergoing a formal assessment process, and I expect to announce the successful applications shortly.”

Referring to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which provides funding for the development and construction of capital projects in towns and villages and rural areas across Ireland, she said that “to date, 164 projects have been approved for funding of €255m for projects costing over €347m.

The third call for Category 2 applications closed on the 30th of July 2021. Category 2 provides smaller grant funding to enable the development of project proposals suitable for future calls under for Category 1 applications. Her Department received 53 applications to this call. Applications, she said, “are currently being assessed by my Department under the oversight of the Project Advisory Board, which is comprised of representatives from key Government Departments and independent experts. Once that process is complete, my Department will prepare a report setting out recommended projects, and my role as Minister will be to consider that report and make final decisions in relation to the allocation of funding. I expect to announce the successful projects in the coming weeks.

“I will be announcing the fourth call for Category 1 projects before the end of 2021.” Category 1, she added, “relates to large scale ambitious capital projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place and which are ready to proceed.”


Renewables – Fossil Fuels = Energy Poverty: European Edition

‘European electricity grid increasingly delinked from affordable fossil fuels and hooked up to more expensive and intermittent wind and solar projects’

 ‘Expect to see many more Europeans and those in United Kingdom plunged into what’s known as ‘energy poverty’’

“With the recent rise in the price of natural gas in Europe to five times where it was in early 2021, expect to see many more Europeans and those in United Kingdom plunged into what’s known as “energy poverty.”

 “From Greece to Great Britain and everywhere in between, the European electricity grid has increasingly been delinked from reliable affordable fossil fuels and hooked up to more expensive and intermittent wind and solar projects.”

 ….”Canadians — and indeed everyone else around the world — should pay attention. That’s because what Europeans are enduring and will suffer through again this winter will intensify thanks to what governments worldwide are pushing at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) at Glasgow, Scotland: An even faster assumed “phaseout” of fossil fuels.”

This article was first published on the Wattsupwiththat website. Click on the website to read more, including a chart showing high electricity prices for Irish households.


Government clampdown on Christmas festivities

Decision driven by fear of spiralling levels of coronavirus and new variant of the disease

Sligo News File

Taoiseach Michael Martin, TD

The government has announced a wave of Covid restrictions after only recently informing the public that no such restraints were imminent.

Among the latest controls, Taoiseach Mick Martin has ordered the complete closure of nightclubs from 7th  December to 9th January.  Under the directive, all bars and restaurants must revert to the heavily restrictive service arrangements as prevailed before 22nd October, including table service only, a metre between tables, not more than six adult guests per table, no multiple table bookings and midnight closing.

Christmas for families is also under the hammer, with gatherings in the home legally limited to not more than three visiting households.

As well, a maximum of only 50 per cent capacity is permitted for entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events indoors, all must be fully seated.

Digital Covid Certificates are required to access gyms and hairdressers. Mask wearing by school children is mandatory in the classroom, in shops,  and on public transport.

The measures are being taken against a background of sky-high Covid rates, runaway cases of Covid related deaths, currently at nearly 6,000, and, now, the emergence of the rapidly spreading South African Omicron variant of the Covid virus.

Public health sources have confirmed 5,622 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland this afternoon.






‘Extreme position…disaster for Ireland’

Sligo News File

Dermot Kelleher, president. Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said he is deeply alarmed at news that the ANIT Committee in the European Parliament (Committee of Inquiry into the Protection of Animals During Transport) has called for a ban on exports of calves under 35 days, a ban on the transport of animals in the third trimester of pregnancy, and a two-hour time limit on the transport of unweaned animals over 35 days.

“This is an extreme position which, quite frankly, is a disaster for Ireland. I am calling on all our MEPs to use their positions to get this over-the-top position rolled back. Ireland is dependent on live exports, and this will be the end of exports of dairy calves. It is also absurd to suggest that any transport of cows in-calf within three months of calving should be banned. Many cows and in-calf heifers are sold in the final trimester for all sorts of reasons such as herd dispersal, reducing numbers where the farmer doesn’t have sufficient accommodation or feed, or due simply to economic necessity.

“The reality is that these rules are being dreamed up by those who do not understand livestock farming, and the fact is that these rules will create a lot more animal welfare issues. Farmers need to be able to sell animals at a time which is appropriate to their farming system. If you interfere with this, there are unintended consequences.

“We need all Irish MEPs to get to work immediately in building alliances with MEPs from other countries to get a common sense approach. I am also calling on Minister McConalogue to speak to his counterparts on the EU Farm Council, in order to build a coalition to oppose this. This is one of the biggest risks facing Irish farming ever to have come out of Brussels and we must use all means within our grasp to stop it.” 

Sligo County Council additional roadworks 

R287 Pearse Road Resurfacing

Sligo News File

Pearse Road – Cemetery Road Junction:

Resurfacing works at the Pearse Road – Cemetery Road junction will take place through tonight Friday 3rd Dec. Works will be carried out between 18:30-07:00. Main contractor Lagan will have Traffic Management measures in place. Cemetery Road will be closed after 9pm and will be open at the Cleveragh Drive junction for local access only. Signed diversion routes will be in place. Delays can be expected. Sligo County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Pearse Road – Mail Coach Road Junction:

Resurfacing works at the Pearse Road – Mail Coach Road junction will take place on the nights of Monday  13th and Tuesday 14th December. Works will be carried out between 18:30-07:00. Main contractor Lagan will have Traffic Management measures in place. Mail Coach Road will be closed after 9pm. Signed diversion routes will be in place via St. Brigid’s Place. Delays can be expected. Sligo County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.


‘The need for a dedicated red meat regulator equipped with the necessary powers and resources has never been more evident’

Sligo News File 

Edmund Graham, chairman ICSA Beef Committee

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said he welcomes Minister McConalogue’s commitment to establish a new strategic beef forum following the publication of the final Beef Taskforce report, penned by its chair Michael Dowling. However, Mr Graham said while the Taskforce did most of what it set out to do, lessons must be learned from what it failed to do.

“The need for a dedicated red meat regulator equipped with the necessary powers and resources has never been more evident. This is something which ICSA has long since been fighting for, and something which we continue to pursue with Minister McConalogue.”

Mr Graham said, “While the Beef Taskforce did oversee the implementation of the majority of the agreed actions under the Irish Beef Sector Agreement, it is ultimately what the Taskforce was prevented from doing that should inform us going forward.”

He said, “The Beef Taskforce did not have the power to make meaningful changes. Crucially, it did not have the power to compel processors or retailers to co-operate with any of the independent reports it undertook. ICSA does not want to see another beef forum where farmer representatives are operating with one hand tied behind their backs due to a lack of cooperation from major players. Any new beef sector forum that is established must be fit for purpose; it must have the power to deliver meaningful change.”

Farmer compliance with water quality raised by TD

‘Issue of whether a farmer in receipt of CAP payments is not relevant’

Sligo News File

Matt Carty TD, Sinn Fein

Deputy Matt Carthy queried through a parliamentary question “the remedy open to ensure compliance with environmental regulations relating to water quality in which a farmer is not in receipt of CAP payments.

Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConologue  stated in a written response that “overall responsibility for the implementation of the NEC Directive, which covered ammonia, rested with the Department of the Environment…”

He said: “The NEC Directive is focused on overall emissions levels at a national level, it does not cater for farm level emissions, similar to our climate targets. The issue of whether a farmer is in receipt of CAP payments is not relevant in this instance.

“In late 2019, my Department published a Code of Good Practice on ammonia emissions. Teagasc has also produced an ammonia marginal abatement cost curve (MACC). Taking these measures into account, DECC produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme, which sets out the practical measures farmers can take at farm level to reduce ammonia emissions.

“Other legislation, such as the water quality legislation, include limits on chemical fertiliser at farm level with amendments proposed under the Nitrates review will mean that chemical fertiliser usage will likely decline over the coming years. This will have positive benefits for ammonia emissions also. In addition, many farmers will be mandated to use Low Emission Slurry Spreading techniques to apply their organic manures.

“This,” he added, “will also have a very positive impact in reducing on farm ammonia emissions. Any changes to the Water quality legislation (Nitrates regulations) will apply to all farmers, whether or not they are in receipt of a CAP payment.”

Dail question over level of peat produced and exported from Ireland

‘Results for 2020 not yet published’

Sligo News File

Deputy Peader Toibin, TD

Peadar Tóibín TD called on the Taoiseach Mick Martin to supply details of the level of peat produced in Ireland from 2016 to 2021, and the level exported from the country in the same period

Replying by way of written answer, Minister of State at Martin’s Department, Jack Chambers  stated that the data for 2021 to date was not included in the table he was issuing “as some of the data relating to this product which has been received by CSO is inconsistent with previous returns received.” He said CSO had contacted the traders involved, via the VIMA branch of the Revenue Commissioners, “to ascertain the accuracy of this data. Once a reply is received from these traders, and the data is either validated or corrected, it will be available for publication,” he added.

He included the following in his response to the question:

Table A : Exports of peat 2016 – 2020.

The CSO publishes domestic extraction of peat on an annual basis as part of the compilation of Material Flow Accounts. The results for 2020 are not yet published. The figures for 2016-2019 are as follows:

Table B : Domestic extraction of peat 2016 – 2019.

Year Amount
2016 3.8 million tonnes
2017 4.2 million tonnes
2018 4.8 million tonnes
2019 2.2 million tonnes

Sligo council approval for Lidl store at Tubbercurry appealed to An Bord Pleanala

Permission granted subject to conditions

Sligo News File

Surlis Supervalue has appealed to An Bord Pleanala against a decision of Sligo County Council to grant permission for the development of a supermarket planned by Lidl Ireland GmbH at Tubbercurry.

The council approved the development subject to 17 conditions.

According to documents filed with the planning authority, proposals for the site at Circular Road include the provision of a new Discount Foodstore Supermarket with ancillary off-licence sales comprising: The demolition of the existing Henry Tyres (Unit no. 1) & K. & B. Supplies (Unit nos. 2-4) buildings and associated and ancillary site clearance works ; Change of use and amalgamation of existing Unit nos. 5-7 (measuring c. 905 sqm ) to Builders Providers & Retail Warehousing Use, and associated and ancillary development and works; The construction of a single storey (with mono pitch roof and internal mezzanine plant deck) Licensed Discount Foodstore Supermarket with ancillary off-licence sales measuring approx. 2,186 sqm gross floor space with a net retail sales area of approx. 1,415 sqm; The provision of associated car parking and internal traffic and pedestrian circulation routes, free standing and building mounted signage, covered trolley bay, refrigeration and air conditioning plant and equipment compound, an ESB substation, roof mounted solar panels, public lighting, hard and soft landscaping, cycle parking, boundary treatments, new/relocated vehicular and pedestrian access, modification and extension of existing drainage, utility and services infrastructure and connections, and all other associated and ancillary development and works above and below ground level; and, a Natura Impact Statement will be submitted to the planning authority with the application.

A decision is scheduled to be issued by The Planning Board by 11 April 2022.

Council 1.1 million euro Social Housing Development at Bunninadden

‘Houses are a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom semi-detached and detached single-storey units’

Sligo News File

Back Row: LtoR: Fergus Naughton, Executive Architect SCC, Cllr. Martin Donnelly; Cllr. Dara Mulvey, Andrew McMunn, Site Manager, P McHugh & Sons Ltd., Building Contractor
Front Row: LtoR: Martin Lydon Chief Executive, SCC; Paul Taylor Cathaoirleach SCC; Darren McHugh, Director, P McHugh & Sons Ltd. Building Contractor

Work on a new social housing development in Bunninadden has taken a step forward, with Sligo County Council appointing P. McHugh & Sons Ltd for the construction of a six unit social housing project in Willie Gormley Villas, in the village of Bunninadden. The contract signing at Teach Laighne Tubbercurry was attended by the Cathaoirleach Councillor Paul Taylor, Chief Executive Matin Lydon, and the Chair of Ballymote-Tubbercurry Municipal District Martin Connolly.

Welcoming the development, the Cathaoirleach said ‘County Sligo is growing. As a designated growth centre under the Government’s national planning framework, Sligo County Council wants this growth to be sustainable and is delighted to announce a new energy efficient housing development.’

The houses are a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom semi-detached and detached single storey units. They are designed to the current nZEB (near- zero) building standard and include high levels of insulation, triple glazed windows, high level of airtightness combined with a demand control ventilation system and air-to-water heat pumps to provide all heating and hot water requirements.

The design team is being led by Sligo County Council Architects Department with CHH Civil & Structural Engineers, MWP Mechanical & Electrical Engineers & Leonard Gildea Chartered Quantity Surveyors.

The contract value is approximately €1.1million and is expected to take 9 months to complete which means the new tenants should be moving in during September 2022.


Cash no longer accepted as payment for driving licences

Cheques and postal orders also ruled out

Sligo News File

Another new problem for the public has been highlighted in a parliamentary question raised by a Clare TD.

Michael McNamara, TD

Last week, Deputy Michael McNamara called on Ryan, the Minister for Transport, to explain why cash payments are being refused at the Ennis office of the National Driving Licence Service in Clare. He put it to Ryan in a written question that this was happening while the motor tax office was accepting cash payments. Both offices, he pointed out, were under the remit of Ryan’s department.

Replying, Ryan stated that this was a matter for the Road Safety Authority, to which he had referred Deputy McNamara’s question for direct reply.

A notice posted on the NDLS website informs applicants for driving licences that payment at NDLS centres can now only be made by Credit/Debit card or Google Pay/Apple Pay or Payzone vouchers. Cash, cheques, postal orders will not be accepted, it states.