‘Effort to cut EU supports on farms that have safety deficiencies would be ridiculous.’

Sligo News File Online.

Billy Gray, chairman,  ICSA Rural Development Committee.
Billy Gray, chairman,
ICSA Rural Development Committee.

ICSA rural development chairman Billy Gray has called for a sense of
perspective and balance to be brought to the farm safety debate.  “Nobody wants to see a repeat of 2014 in which there were 30 farm related fatalities.  However, when you are dealing with random accident figures, one year where the fatalities are higher is not necessarily concrete evidence of a trend.  Moreover we need to avoid knee jerk responses, which are imposed just to
be seen to be doing something.”

“We need proper assessment of where we stand.  Comparisons with other sectors are meaningless – what is needed is a direct and meaningful comparison with farm safety in other EU member states.  The Health and Safety Authority needs to publish a direct comparison between Irish and EU farms so that we can make a more meaningful examination and also see what lessons can be learnt.”

Mr Gray noted that there was no fatality involving a PTO shaft in 2014 which was positive but he added that machinery manufacturers cannot be left off the hook when it comes to PTO shafts which are not made to last. 

He also pointed out that any effort to cut the EU supports on farms that have safety deficiencies would be ridiculous.  Lack of income is the main reason for deficiencies in equipment or facilities on farms and this is a particular problem on cattle and sheep farms.  “The fact that the Farm Safety grant scheme is over-subscribed demonstrates the willingness of farmers to do what they can. Further funding in this area would be far more beneficial than cutting EU supports.”

However, Mr Gray said that the whole issue is complex.  “Farmers working on their own with unpredictable livestock is inherently risky.  Low income means more part-time farming which leads to greater pressure to get work done at nights and weekends and at the same time means that livestock can be wilder.”

He also pointed out that many farms do not have a successor.  “Of the thirty farm fatalities last year, six involved farmers aged in their seventies and four involved farmers in their eighties.  Do we ban all over-65s from the farm?  Of course not.  We need to balance the fatalities of the elder farmers with the reality that many
farmers continue to take an active role in farming in their later years and derive tremendous health benefits – both mental and physical – from staying active.  Ideally there would be more young farmers in the area available to help the older farmers but this is hampered by the fact that many young farmers are working off-farm due to insufficient farm income.” 

MacSharry: Decision of international bodies to shun Banking Inquiry unacceptable.

‘Why are the Irish people being treated with such disrespect?’

Sligo News File Online.

Senator Marc MacSharry
Senator Marc MacSharry,
Fianna Fail

Fianna Fáil member of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry Senator Marc Mac Sharry has said it is totally unacceptable that the IMF and OECD have joined the ECB in refusing to attend public sessions of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

 Senator Mac Sharry commented: “The people who sacrificed most during the economic crisis deserve to hear from the organisations central to advice, analysis and performance during the relevant period of investigation.  It is unacceptable for the IMF, the OECD and the ECB to publicly shun the Banking Inquiry.  The
organisation most responsible for all monetary policy, the ECB, has already refused to attend and now the IMF and OECD, a key body for economic analysis and forecasting, have also said they will not attend public hearings of this investigation.

“The simple fact of the matter is if this inquiry was being held in another EU member state like Germany these key players would have little choice but to attend. Why are the Irish people being treated with such disrespect?

“The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry is a statutory investigation established to provide answers to the banking and economic crisis so that no-one need suffer in this way again.  Without the participation of all relevant witnesses the completion of this inquiry’s work is seriously called into question.”

Clarke to push for review of bail laws.

‘Murder and other crimes committed by suspects on bail.’

Sligo News File Online.

Cllr. Michael Clarke (Ind)
Cllr. Michael Clarke (Ind)

Cllr. Michael Clarke is asking Sligo County Council to call on the Minister for Justice to review the bail laws in the case of persons suspected of violent crime.

In the notice on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the council, he says that the justice department has released data showing nine murders recorded in the first nine months of 2012 were committed by offenders on bail at the time of the killings. Fifty-two murders, manslaughter and sexual offences were committed by persons on bail “from the penal system” in the period 2007, he says.

The Independent councillor also wants the council to ask the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and Environment Minister Alan Kelly not to seek to have staff levels of the authority reduced further. “If we are to continue to develop Sligo into the Gateway City of the North West and if our outdoor staff are to maintain the County in any sort of reasonable condition, our staff numbers can go no lower.”

Cllr. Hubert Keaney (FG)
Cllr. Hubert Keaney (FG)

Cllr. Hubert Keaney (FG) wants the council to consider a motion condemning all those participating in illegal fuel laundering and to call on the government to immediately implement a plan to eliminate this activity, thus protecting public health, our environment, our farming and food industry and to bring to justice these people, who for their own monitory and criminal gain, continually put the lives and economic welfare of the people of this country at extreme risk.”

Cllr. Marie Casserly (Ind)
Cllr. Marie Casserly (Ind)

Cllr. Marie Casserly (Independent) wants the council  to explore the possibility of allocating an existing member of staff to the position of an Innovation Officer – “someone who is taking the lead for Sligo, positioning it as a location for creative start-ups that don’t want to be part of the usual Dublin story. An exciting lifestyle and dynamic community is here and this needs to be fostered and supported.”

Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon (FF)
Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon (FF)

Councillor Seamus Kilgannon (FF) is proposing to ask the council to call on the Minister for Finance to “urgently Reform DIRT Tax to exempt Old Age Pensioners from this Penal Tax of 41% interest on savings in banks, building societies and credit unions.”


Cllr. Declan Bree (Ind)
Cllr. Declan Bree (Ind)

Councillor Declan Bree (Independent) wants members “to be provided with a report, including the identity of each property rented by the Council, the purpose for which each property is used by the Council, the annual rent paid for each property and the rent paid per square ft, the date on which the rental agreement was entered into in respect of each property and when the lease on each property terminates.”

Cllr. Sean MacManus (Sinn Fein)
Cllr. Sean MacManus (Sinn Fein)

A motion jointly in the names of Sinn Fein Councillors, Sean MacManus and Thomas Healy requests that “the council calls for the abolition of the current proposals to amalgamate the Library Services for counties Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon. Further, that this Council supports the retention of Co Sligo Library Service within the County and that the service be maintained and
protected as a local service for the people of Co Sligo, provided by Sligo County Council.”

Cllr. Joe Queenan (FF)  Cathaoirleach.
Cllr. Joe Queenan (FF)

Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Joe Queenan (FF) is to ask the council to call on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney to intervene in the collapse of cattle prices, “which is causing great hardship in the
farming community.”



Stronger than ever water charges protests across the country.

Thousands brave hostile weather conditions in show of
resistance to government’s water regime.

Sligo News File Online.

Once again sectoral interests antagonistic to the anti water charges
campaign are attempting to downplay the extent of the turnout for
today’s demonstrations.

However, the thousands who have taken to the streets in virtually every corner of the country is visible proof the people are not being fooled by factions whose aim evidently is to undermine the campaign.

Braving hostile weather conditions, crowds on a massive scale
have assembled and marched in counties from Donegal to Cork to Dublin, showing the sweeping national resistance there is not alone to water charges and the continuing vicious austerity but also a government widely perceived to have nurtured the interests of the wealthy and well heeled at the expense of workers, families, the sick and the elderly

Many today will also question where exactly Sinn Fein stands on the
water issue. In the volume of propaganda they have released, they
still, when specifically questioned, have not revealed whether the party supports amending the Constitution, placing ownership of Ireland’s water resources with the people and future generations of the country, and trusteeship with the State, and their position regarding the future of the existing Irish Water utility.

Sligo News File submitted questions on both issues for the attention the party’s spokesperson on the environment, Brian Stanley. Despite follow up requests, and assurances from the party press office that our email had been passed to him, we have not, over a week later, received any reply from Mr. Stanley.


Ballymote library reportedly targeted for closure.

Move rapped by local TD.

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo-Leitrim TD, John Perry
Sligo-Leitrim TD, John Perry

Reports of the possible closure of the public library in Ballymote has
sparked a storm of protest in the south Sligo town.

Closure of the facility is believed to have been down for consideration by a SPC committee of the council today.

The winding down of the operation, which was established only a few years ago, is understood to be part of a planned cutback in services rooted in the need to improve on the council’s finances and multi-million legacy debt.

John Perry, local TD and a former junior Coalition government minister, has hit out at the apparently proposed move . Rapping the council, he said money for the library is not provided by the Department of the Environment.

However, there is some sympathy for the council’s situation as not only has the authority to contend with a massive debt overhang, but the Coalition’s Local Government fund has also been slashed. As well, the authority is facing government pressure to find €10 million over the next few years to reduce the debt pile.

A local library user said last night that closure wasn’t an option.”No
matter what the financial situation is the service must be kept open
and fully serviced. We will be relying our local TD and councilors to see that it is.”







Irish Independent apologises to Gerry Adams.

‘Failure to give due prominence to Press Ombudsman decision in favour of the Sinn Fein Leader’

Sligo News File Online.

Gerry Adams, Leader, Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adams, Leader, Sinn Fein.

The Irish Independent has issued an apology to Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD over its failure to give due prominence to a decision in favour of Mr Adams by the Press Ombudsman.

The latest development follows several decisions by the Press Council to uphold complaints by Mr Adams about articles in the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent.

 On 17th October 2014, the Irish Independent published a decision of the Press Ombudsman, affirmed by the Press Council on appeal, upholding a complaint by Gerry Adams that a statement in an article published on 17th May was an unfounded accusation, in breach of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines.

The decision was published on Page 22 of the Irish Independent. Today, the Independent said that as the article of 17th May was published on page six, the decision should have been published on one of the first six pages of the newspaper,  and apologised to Mr. Adams.


Minister to address ICSA National Conference.

Venue is Alexander Hotel, Dublin, on 5th February 2015

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA President, Patrick Kent
ICSA President, Patrick Kent

The ICSA has announced that Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney will address the association’s annual conference at Dublin’s Alexander Hotel, next month, 5 February 2015.

Other speakers include Kevin Hanrahan, Teagasc Rural Economy and Austin Finn, Macra Land Mobility Service.

The opening address will be delivered by the national president of the organisation, Patrick Kent.

The conference kicks off at 1.30pm.


Calleary: Central Bank mortgage rules will stop Mayo families trading up.

‘€60,000 deposit to secure a mortgage of €300,000’.

Sligo News File Online.

Dara CallearyHundreds of families across Mayo will be trapped in their homes, unable to trade up, because of new Central Bank rules on mortgage lending, according to Mayo Fianna Fail TD, Dara Calleary. 

Under the new regulations, he said, non-first time buyers will have to save a 20% deposit in order to secure a home loan.

He said: “While the easing of the rules for first time buyers is welcome, the situation for people wishing to trade up from their starter home has been made much more difficult, and could result in families across the county finding themselves trapped in houses or
apartments that are no longer suitable for their needs.

“The deposit needed to secure a mortgage of €300,000 is €60,000; a vast sum for any family to save, especially if they are already repaying a mortgage on their first home.  In many cases this could simply prove impossible. These Central Bank rules are extremely
onerous and do not take ability to pay into consideration.  Families who have never missed a mortgage repayment will be penalised because they are unable to come up with a 20% deposit.

“Many people in Mayo bought at the height of the boom and now find themselves in negative equity and may not be able to save the required deposit levels.  This will effectively rule them
out of ever finding the funds to ever buy a new home, and is extremely unfair.  In its submission to the Central Bank, Fianna Fáil expressed concern about how these rules would impact first
time buyers, however while rules for first time buyers appear sensible, the situation for people looking to trade up has been made infinitely more difficult”.