‘Reports of speed boats operating under cover of darkness.’
Sligo News File Online.
Gardai and customs are struggling to cope with an apparent upsurge in smuggling off the Sligo coast.
The scale of the lawlessness has been highlighted by Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael TD, Tony McLoughlin who told the Dail on Thursday that smuggling of tobacco product is rampant as evidenced in his constituency where illegal cigarretes are being offered for sale at as low as €3 for a pack of twenty.”
McLoughlin said there were reports of speedboats sighted off the coast in the middle of the night. He went on to say that obscure beaches and small airfields were open to serious abuse by drug and criminal gangs.
“I dread to think what is occurring in these instances. As I have mentioned on previous occasions, smuggling and related activities are rampant and their effects are apparent in my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim.”
Observing that while retail outlets were governed by laws regulating the sale of tobacco, resulting in them having to charge €10 for a twenty packet of cigarrettes, he said “not one red cent” of the €3 price of the illegal cigarettes “will make its way back to the Exchequer.”
Supporting a second reading of the Custom Bill 2014, he said the measure would strengthen the role of the Customs and Excise service, and give more powers to stop, seize and prosecute offenders.
One of four detained for questioning following protest over water charges at Jobstown.
Sligo News File Online.
Dublin Socialist TD, Paul Murphy is among four persons detained for questioning arising out of an incident where it’s believed Burton, the welfare minister was delayed by protesters during a water charges demonstration at Jobstown three months ago.
‘I am urging all PTSB customers to check their mortgages’
Sligo News File Online.
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said Permanent TSB have acted disgracefully in dragging out the dispute on tracker mortgages for years after the Financial Services Ombudsman found it was in breach of regulations by transferring customers from trackers to variable rate mortgages.
He urged customers of all banks to check their contracts to see if they could be entitled to compensation.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Permanent TSB have acted disgracefully in this whole affair. They were clearly in the wrong and knew this from as far back as 2012 when they lost a High Court case on this issue but yet dragged out the affair until 2015. I am urging all PTSB customers to check their mortgages.
“It is thought thousands more could have been mistreated in being forced to transfer. Indeed this practice may have occurred at other banks too so all bank customers who have been moved off a tracker mortgage should check their contract and if concerned contact the Financial Services Ombudsman.
“I have raised this issue directly with Jeremy Masding, CEO of Permanent TSB and the Financial Services Ombudsman Mr. Prasifka. The Central Bank has only now acted and there are very serious questions as to why it did not act sooner to protect consumers. The least we deserve is clarification from the Central Bank as to why it did not take action on this issue.
“I know from cases brought to my attention that some of these cases were related to homes that fell into arrears and where the bank was taking legal action. It is very doubtful whether this would have been the case if PTSB had honoured their original contracts.
“PTSB’s disgraceful behaviour has caused great distress and their stubbornness in fighting the Ombudsman’s findings until the end has done serious damage to their reputation and caused even great distress to families.”
‘Plan to obtain departmental funding will be discussed’
Sligo News File Online.
Minister of State, at the Department of Finance, with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Simon Harris TD, will visit Rosses Point Beach this Friday, 13th February 2015 to see, first-hand, the effects which both the recent storm damage and coastal erosion is having on the local community in Rosses Point, Co. Sligo.
Constituency TD, Tony McLoughlin said the minister “will meet with a delegation from Sligo County Council, local business people from the area, as organised by Mr. Paul Keyes of Sligo Chamber of Commerce, and members of the local community in order to discuss the effects which erosion is having on Rosses Point Beach and as such the local community, which is a major tourism location in Co. Sligo.”
A plan to obtain departmental funding will be discussed at the meeting and it is hoped that a new application by Sligo County Council will benefit from these discussions with the Minister and his officials, he said.
“Throughout 2014, I made several representations to the OPW about the need for funding for repairs to the beach after the storms of December 2013. I also raised the importance of the need to build new costal defences in Rosses Point to combat this occurring again in the future, and this is what this visit is really about.
“It is great to be able to convince the Minister to come down and visit the area and meet with the local community here” he said.
The minister will later attend a number of other engagements in the county with Deputy Tony McLoughlin.
A Mayo Fianna Fail TD has said some banks are increasing their charges to business by as much as 300%, a move which has been sanctioned by the Central Bank.
Dara Calleary said in a statement that increased charges being heaped on businesses and farmers currently struggling with high rents, rates and other input costs will make what is an already challenging situation all the more difficult for the sectors.
The charges were coming at a time when banks are closing branches and scaling back on services, yet, he said “the business community is now expected to fork out more money to maintain their accounts.
“Business customers will see the charges on their accounts soar by up to 300% in some cases, with certain customers expected to pay €250 a year for services.”
He said the new levies will also see charges for chequebooks increase – “in one case a book of 50 cheques has soared from €4.05 to €15.
“This will have a major impact on self-employed people and farmers, who may be more reluctant to pay the massively inflated charges and will prefer to resort to keeping cash on site or in their homes, which in itself poses security concerns.”
There is a complete lack of competition in the business banking sector, he said. “Banks are consistently increasing charges, and pushing up the financial burden on businesses, which are already struggling to remain viable.
“Banks and government are pushing people to online banking – this is no benefit in many areas of Mayo with poor or no broadband.”
The government, he said, has done nothing to help small and medium businesses, “and the Central Bank has seen fit to approve every rate hike or charge that the banks have proposed.
“The Central Bank has an onus to ensure that customer interests are protected, but unfortunately, small and medium businesses across the county will suffer more hardship as a result of these additional charges.”