Nearly 20% of Sligo’s commercial properties lying idle

Sligo vacancy rate highest in the country – and worsening, says TD

Roscommon, Leitrim and Donegal similarly affected.

Sligo News File.

The scale of vacant commercial properties in the North West is at a record high.

In Sligo alone, some 18.9 % of the commercial premises are vacant, according to the town-based Fianna Fail TD, Marc MacSharry.

Roscommon, Leitrim and Donegal are also recording a disastrous level of vacant commercial structures.

Mac Sharry believes the situation is getting worse. Despite this, however, his party leader has still signed up to an extension of the confidence and supply agreement to keep the Fine Gael-led government that’s failing the North West in office for another couple of years.

In any event, the Deputy is insisting that “a new strategy must be pursued.” This, he explains,”could include incentivising people to live in town and village centres to breathe new life into our streetscapes to complement retail and other commercial enterprises.” He does not say from where he thinks the population to occupy the towns and villages would be drawn, particularly in the absence of satisfactory broadband service.

Empty shop units no longer suitable for modern retail and commercial activity could, he adds, be converted to use as dwellings.

Calleary, it’s understood, backing LGBT activist to be Fianna Fail European Election elections candidate in Dublin

Tiernan Brady is a former member of Bundoran Town Council.

Sligo News File.

Tiernan Brady is said to be seeking a Fianna Fail nomination to run in the European Elections.

Calleary, TD, Ballina

According to reports, Ballina-based Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary is backing the LGBT-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-activist to be the party’s candidate in Dublin.

Brady, a former Bundoran Town councillor, was involved in the campaign to allow same-sex marriage in Ireland.

Bishops call for ‘dialogue and consultative planning’ following fires at Rooskey Hotel

Hotel earmarked for housing of 80 migrants.

Opposition to planned anti-racism rally at hotel premises later today.

Sligo News File.

Bishops of two local dioceses have condemned the recent fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey.

The hotel is earmarked by the government as a centre for the housing of some 80 migrants, most understood to be of African origin.

According to tourism promotional literature, Shannon Key West, which is on the banks of the Shannon, is “a passionately designed and handcrafted hotel, where fine art adorns, inducing total serenity and relaxation in the most tranquil and peaceful surroundings. Corporate and leisure guests depart feeling refreshed, invigorated and determined to return.

Elegantly styled rooms

“All bedrooms are elegantly styled and beautifully appointed, most with enchanting River Shannon views. Discerning guests will appreciate the comfort of our hospitality tray, garment press, hair dryer and satellite TV with in-house video. All telephones are modem compatible and executive rooms have a dedicated line to a telephone, facsimile and answering machine.

“The gracious and classic Kilglass Restaurant, with its grape and leaf cornice, cut glass chandeliers, pilasters and original prints combine to create the perfect intimate ambience.

“The ergonomic and air-conditioned conference centre and Lough Rynn boardroom offer your business state of the art information technology with ISDN video conferencing, graphic digital projection and custom built 21st century IT network training facilities.”

Doran and Duffy, bishops of Elphin and Ardagh and Clonmacnois respectively, have condemned the most recent fire attack on the premises.

Fires have caused upset

The fires at the hotel have caused significant upset to local parishioners, they say.

They have called for “dialogue and consultative planning” to bring about the best outcome for refugees and the people.

Meanwhile, many of Rooskey’s small population have spoken out against an anti-racism rally planned to take place outside the hotel later today.

There is also growing anger throughout the country over the government’s continuing housing of relatively large numbers of foreign migrants in sparsely serviced rural locations. The government has shown no inclination to engage in any prior consultation with communities before bussing foreign migrants into an area.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that between 7 and 8 million irregular migrants from Africa live in EU States, including Ireland.

Fianna Fail selects Nigerian to contest Longford local elections

Candidate has set up the Longford African Network.

Sligo News File.

Fianna Fail is to run a Nigerian in the local elections for Longford.

Uruemu Adejinimi has been selected by the party to contest the Municipal District election in May.

Adejinimi moved from Nigeria to Longford some years ago.

She has established an organisation called the Longford African Network.

Illness Benefit Payments chaos

TD says his office inundated with complaints.

‘No rhyme or reason to the timings of payments.’

Sligo News File.

Payments to people on Illness benefit are being disrupted by the Department of Social Protection.

Eamon Scanlon TD

TD Eamonn Scanlon has said his office is inundated with protests over the situation.

“I have had dozens of complaints from ill and vulnerable people genuinely upset by disruption to their payments. For many, they depend on this money.

“To have such irregular payments is causing a lot of distress…something must be done.”

He said that even when claimants try to contact the department calls are not answered.

“It is alarming that the Illness Benefit department is leaving calls to ring out or not replying to messages.

“In one particular application, a constituent of mine has had ongoing difficulty from Sept 19th when the claim started until February 4th. During this entire time, there has been irregular payments and difficulty from the department.

“I have seen dozens of letters, direct from the applicant and my office, call logs, and other efforts to normalise this particular Illness Benefit payment. This has been a six- month ordeal for my constituent, all the while he is completely entitled to this payment.

“There appears to be no rhyme or reason whatsoever to the timings of payments.” The Minister, he said, “must step in and stop the weekly chaos and uncertainty for Illness Benefit recipients in Sligo-Leitrim.”

Last November, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty reportedly apologised to 5000 people affected by the delays in Illness Benefit payments, saying at the time that issues with her Department’s new IT system had been rectified.

Rooskey hotel earmarked for migrants damaged by fire again

Incident condemned by local group.

Sligo News File.

A prime hotel earmarked as a reception centre for mainly African migrants has been damaged by fire for the second time.

Shannon Key West Hotel

Fire previously broke out at the Shannon Key West hotel in Rooskey last month.

Despite a critical lack of services locally, the government has said it proposes to house 80 migrants in the rural Leitrim hotel. 

Abbeyfield Hotel

Currently, about 220 migrants or refugees are being housed nearby at the Abbeyfield Hotel in Ballaghaderreen.

A hotel in Donegal which had been booked by the government to accommodate a further 100 migrants was damaged by fire last November.

Locals calling themselves the Leitrim Roscommon United Against Racism group have denounced the Rooskey incident.

According to a tourism marketing advertisement, the Shannon Key West Hotel has 39 “elegantly styled and beautifully appointed” rooms, “most with enchanting River Shannon views.”

The hotel is located by the River Shannon, 14km west of Longford on the N4 Dublin to Sligo route.

“Discerning guests will appreciate the comfort of our hospitality tray, garment press, hairdryer and satellite TV,” states the advertisement.

Group protest outside the home of health minister

Growing anger over nurses’ strike and children’s hospital overrun.

Sligo News File.

Protestors earlier today staged a protest outside the home of the health minister, Harris.

Meanwhile, public anger over the government’s handling of the nurses’ strike and the multi-million euro overrun on Dublin’s new children’s hospital is growing.

A video placed online claims Harris is not qualified for the job and references issues including the smear test scandal and the hospital trolley crisis.

The video adds: “Simon is part of Fine Gael party the same party who voted for the eviction bill to be signed.”

The group, who apparently said the protest was about “austerity” dispersed quietly.

The protest has been condemned by the government-backing Fianna Fáil party.

No garda station or cath lab for Sligo

Cold comfort for the North West.

Sligo News File.

Is there a hope of Sligo being provided with a new garda station anytime soon? From accounts, it does not seem likely. Sligo also continues to be sidelined for the long-promised permanent cath lab.

Some say the multi-million overrun for the €2 billion children’s hospital in Dublin has drained the State of funding which could have been dipped into for projects in the North West.

As of now, local TDs do not, at any rate, appear able to get things moving on either the CAT lab or the garda station.

Marc MacSharry, whose Fianna Fail party is keeping the Fine Gael-led government in power has said he is disappointed that despite the purchase of a site and the chronic conditions officers are expected to work in at the current garda headquarters, “no timeline could be provided for the delivery of the new station in Sligo.

“The need for additional capacity at Tubbercurry is also being ignored,” he said.

Referencing the CAT lab, he said the Minister for Health “could not detail when or even if Sligo General Hospital will receive approval for a permanent CAT lab.”

Waterford, he said, has received funding approval for an additional CAT lab while the people of the North West continue to be ignored.

“At the moment patients suffering a cardiac arrest are forced to travel to Galway despite the fact that best practice dictates that these people need to be admitted to hospital within a 90-minute window if they are to get the best outcome.”

Sligo-Leitrim has four Dail deputies: MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fail, Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael and Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein.

One welcome bit of good news via Scanlon is that a new GP will be moving into Carrigallen in May. Until then the community will be served by a locum practitioner.