google-site-verification=wmi_UKG3DcoXNCxPyFjKSwE_7NPyaxA1CJ9pAaFOuqU

Sligo Focus.

‘Round the County.

 Sligo News File Online.

WEEK FROM 15 OCTOBER 2014

 Millions of euros for ‘powerless’ councils.

 It seems the Coalition has rolled out ‘powerless’ bodies which are costing the country millions of euros.

According to reports, the system has been slammed as “a farce” by long-time Independent councillor, Declan Bree in comments on the status of the Sligo Municipal District Council.

The district body, he declared, was nothing more than a sub committee of the county council.

“We have no powers whatsoever”, he insisted. 

All of which raises what should be public concern as to the function bodies without statutory powers serve, and if their abolition would not save millions of euros in councillor allowances and expenses which could be more profitably invested in our overstretched hospital and care services.

Chairman of the Sligo District council is Fianna Fail member, Cllr. Tom MacSharry. The South West Sligo municipal council is chaired by Cllr. Martin Baker, Fianna Fail.

Tubbercurry. The town has lots of space for industry but jobs are ‘walking’. Public servants in the local government offices are being transferred to Ballina, and Aurivo, the co-operative, is switching its headquarters to Sligo. Councillors Gormley and Lundy have been raising concerns but it doesn’t appear to have attracted any great attention. President of the Chamber Romould Mullarkey now wants the government to launch a task force to help stimulate local business and employment opportunities.

Easkey. West Sligo Family Resource Centre are said to be calling for bras to be dropped…in a bin at Enniscrone. The ‘Give your Bra’ campaign is in aid of the Marie Keating Foundation, which will receive a euro for every bra donated. A good cause.

The town is also preparing to bring grace and elegance to Enniscrone with a night of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ at the Hotel Diamond Coast. Support for the twenty-two dancers is being requested for the show, which is on Sunday night, 26 October.

Enniscrone. Rev. Eddie Rogan has been welcomed as new curate
in succession to Rev. Kieran Holmes. With Very Rev. George MacHale, Fr. Rogan is one of two priests in the Kilglass parish.

The ‘Irish Garth Brooks Experience’ is a fundraising night of music and dancing organized by Enniscrone National School for tomorrow night, 18 October. Venue is the Ocean Sands Hotel. Tickets are €15.

Castleconnor. Sligo County Council takeover of the local group water scheme is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman and the EU. Complaints have been submitted by a farming group in the parish. Meanwhile, it looks that, contrary to claims, water costs for farming in particular are set to soar in the future. The free water allowance for domestic usage has also been slashed, down from  from 181,843 litres (50,000 gallons) to 30,000 litres (6,500 gallons) – a loss of 151,000 litres (or 43,500 gallons)
The takeover of the Castleconnor and other schemes was proposed by Cllr. Margaret Gormley, seconded by Cllr. Joe Queenan, and agreed by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members of the council.

Sympathy is extended to the Mahony and Loughney families on the death of Mary Mahony (nee Loughney) Bunree, Ballina. May she rest in peace.

Congratulations to Paul Hughes who was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) degree at UCD. Dr. Hughes is the son of Evelyn and Liam Hughes, Corballa.

Collooney. Village Re-Development is organising a 5 km walk – an annual event. It is being held on Sunday 19 October, with the message ‘all are welcome’.

Beltra. No escaping the demands on water users. Members of the local water scheme are being informed that they need to submit the ‘official’ forms in order to qualify for the household allowance.

Maugherow. The long standing tradition of a Harvest Day is being revived by the owners of Lissadell House. In past years, the occasion was a harvest celebration for workers and tenants on the estate. The event, on next Sunday, 19 October, will showcase food producers and craft makers from the North West of the country, and give visitors an opportunity to sample and purchase from a diverse offering on the day.

Dromore West. A meeting of the Ballygilcash Group Water Supply scheme has elected to retain the supply as a private scheme. Bully for the local community. The scheme is a valuable asset, and unlike Castleconnor and other areas that have surrendered schemes to the county council, the farm families have some leverage in the event Irish Water pricing becomes too top heavy. Water is supplied
from the public Lough Easkey service.

Tireragh. From an informal survey carried out by Sligo News File Online, it appears more people are opting to shop local. Parking charges in Ballina and Sligo are turning shoppers away, as well as which ‘bargains’ as good as, if not better  than on offer in either of the two main towns are to be found locally – everyone also saves on the costs of motoring.    

The late Michael Cawley, Castleconnor.

‘Quiet hero…county has lost one of its finest – a true Gael.’

Sligo News File Online 

Michael Cawley, who died recently. was a highly popular figure in Sligo GAA circles.

The father of three passed away after suffering a heart attack at this home in Attychree, Enniscrone.

A builder by occupation, Michael was active in parish development activities, playing a leading role in progressing projects including the construction of a parish community centre and the area’s group water supply scheme.

His input to the parish Foroige club was immense, encouraging in his easy and persuasive style qualities of leadership and responsibility in the club’s teenage membership which earned him widespread respect and appreciation.

He was also active in the Castleconnor Community Games of which he served as committee chairman.

Michael will be warmly remembered in particular for the major role he played in the successful promotion of Ladies GAA football both at local and county levels where he was heavily involved in coaching and administration. He was part of the County Senior Management in 2002 and 2003.

Paying tribute, former Ladies GAA County Board chairman, Ted Maloney, said Michael was “the quiet hero of the ladies football scene in Castleconnor and throughout the county.

“His contribution to the sport was immeasurable, and more. There was also in and about him a generous friend always ready to give of his very best no matter the call on his time or energies.

“Michael will be solely missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. The county has lost one of its finest – a true Gael”.

Michael is survived by his wife, Joan, son Brian and daughters Pamela and Louise.

The Late Owen Gormley, Bunninadden

The funeral took place yesterday of Owen Gormley, Doobeg, Bunninadden.

He was a brother of Cllr. Margaret Gormley, independent member of Sligo County Council.

The deceased is survived by his wife, sons and daughters.

His funeral took place to Cloonameehan Cemetary following Mass of the Resurrection at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Bunninadden.

NO BIDS AT AUCTION OF FORMER MINISTER’S PROPERTIES.

Lots included commercial premises and lands at Ballymote.

Sligo News File Online.

 Properties owned by former minister of state, John Perry failed to attract bidders at auction.

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

Lots on offer included a commercial property at Teeling Street, Ballymote, and forestry lands at Clooncoose.

No bids were reported to have been made when the properties came up for sale by auction by Dublin-based auctioneers GW2.

Perry (58) of Carrownanty, has been Fine Gael TD for Sligo-Leitrim since 1997. He was previously a member of Sligo County Council from 1994 to 2004.

He was dropped as minister of state for small businesses in the ministerial reshuffle a few months ago, in July 2014.

In 2013, Perry and his wife consented to a judgement of €2.4 million against them at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans to Danske Bank.

A few years ago, he became embroiled in an exchange with Ocean FM when he abruptly hung up the phone while being questioned during an interview about the return of cancer services to Sligo. He told a local newspaper he wasn’t answerable to the media. He promised, during the 2011 election campaign, that all breast cancer services would be restored to Sligo General Hospital within 100 days of Fine Gael getting into office.

Since the removal of the services, patients have to travel to Galway for breast surgery.

Perry served as vice-chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications and Natural Resources from September 2002 to October 2004, and was also chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. He was appointed minister of state for small business in March 2011. The office has been abolished.

BUDGET BOOST FOR BLOODSTOCK AND RACING.

Sector granted €millions as families given €2 weekly water allowance.

Sligo News File Online.

Predictable changes in the farming were recognised in the Budget with a heavy emphasis on measures aimed at incentivising land transfer and leasing post the ending of the milk quota. Provision was also made for expected volatility with the range for income averaging increased from 3 to 5 years. There was the usual old political guff about the annual turnover and spread of the industry into every boreen of the country, but in the heel of the hunt the measures in the main benefit the larger holding. It’s not something which will come as any great surprise to farmers in Sligo and other counties of the west.

 The minister announced he was:

increasing the income tax exempt thresholds by 50% and introducing a new threshold for leases of 15 years and over;

allowing relief where the lessee is a company;

removing the current 40 years of age threshold for leasing relief;

 His other pronouncements included:

targeting Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) relief for agricultural property to ensure it is used by active farmers;

broadening CGT retirement relief so that individuals can now lease out their land for up to 25 years prior to disposal and still be eligible for CGT retirement relief;

extending CGT retirement relief to land let under conacre, which is disposed of, or converted to long term leasing before the end of 2016;

extending stamp duty relief for non-residential land transfers between certain close relatives;

 removing stamp duty on agricultural leases in excess of 5 years;

extending CGT farm restructuring relief to the end of 2016 and broadening it to allow for restructuring through whole farm replacement.

Income averaging has been increased from 3 to 5 years, and extended to farmers who derive income from another trade or profession, if it relates to on-farm diversification.

Bloodstock and greyhound racing are to receive an ADDITIONAL €6 million a year to the existing fund for three years while further capital of €5 million is awarded to Horse Racing Ireland to leverage investment in race courses.

For those into microbreweries the annual excise relief production ceiling or limit is increased from 20,000 to 30,000 hectolitres.

‘BRING ON THE WATER CHARGES’, IFA TOLD GOVERNMENT.

‘Expedite Programme of Installing Meters On All Users’.

Sligo News File Online.

It is reportedly making much of its robust pre Budget meetings with government, but where over years past was the IFA quite as strong on issues of the tax on the family home, the crazy carbon tax or water charges?

Indeed, was the national farm body’s stance not the very opposite of what it was believed to have been on water charges, for which later the size of the bills became a nightmare for families in rural areas of the west?

We publish below content of a letter the organisation addressed to the Minister Noel Dempsey’s Department of the Environment after the then Fianna Fail government had abolished the charges for domestic water supplies. The letter, dated 18 August 1999, and signed by the secretary of the organisation’s National Industrial & Environmental Committee states: 

     

IFA Submission on Water Charges
IFA Submission on Water Charges

1. It is IFAs position that all users of water and waste water services, be they domestic or non-domestic should help meet the cost of the provision of these services. It is clearly inequitable for local authorities, government and non-domestic users to meet the full cost of the provision of these services to domestic users while requiring non-domestic and larger commercial/industrial users to meet the capital and operating costs of the provision of services.
2. Charging for water and waste water services should be based on the use of these services by the individuals/companies/households concerned. Accordingly government must expedite its programme of installing metered services on all users, including domestic users.
3. The levying of charges on non domestic users to help meet the capital costs on the provision of services should also be linked to usage.

More recently, a farm body known as the Sligo Farming Platform met with the current chairman of the Sligo IFA, Eddie Davitt in a bid to persuade Sligo IFA to take a stand against the Sligo County Council imposed water levies on the local farming community. Present at the meeting in Cawley’s Hotel, Tubbercurry, were Eddie Davitt, the Chairman of Sligo Farming Platform, Jackie Marren, the acting secretary of Sligo Platform, John Gallagher and Treasurer, Aileen Henry. The meeting lasted almost three hours. No progress was recorded.

Sligo News File.com

More Towns Opting for Drinks Industry Sponsored Purple Flag

Plans for Town Centre ‘Nightlife’ Gathering Momentum.

Sligo News File Online.

The rush to turn town centres into scenes of increased night-time activity is continuing apace.

Central to the drive seems to be a heightened effort to acquire for the locations a drinks industry sponsored emblem commonly referred to as the Purple Flag.

The flag, we are told, is sponsored by drinks giant, Diageo, one of the largest purveyors of alcohol beverages in the world. Its brands include Guinness, Bushmills and Smithwicks.

Descriptions characterise the emblem as “the gold standard for night-time destinations” and “a programme for excellence in the evening and night-time economy which is finding a strong footing in Ireland”

However, a concern is what it actually stands for, if not the further promotion of alcohol consumption in a state where intake of pure alcohol per person is already the second highest of the more than thirty countries of the OECD.

A report by the HSE has put the cost of illnesses, suicides, road accidents, crime, accidents at work, and premature mortality attributable to alcohol abuse in Ireland at 3.7 billion euros in 2007

Should the horrific revelation not have us at least questioning the wisdom of dashing ahead with plans for the use of our town centres as venues for increasing nighttime “economic” activity into the small hours of the morning?

In an attributed statement, a spokesperson for Diageo has said the company “are proud to support the Purple Flag and all that it stands for in our communities.

“It is fantastic to see that more town and city centres are raising the standards and broadening the appeal of their night-time offering.”

What “offering” Diageo is referring to is not expounded on, but there are few town centres in Ireland where pub and hotel life is supplemented with opportunities for early morning visits to art galleries, library services or museums.

There is clearly in all of this a need for a strong awareness of the effect promotion of alcohol consumption has on young people. In a Submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communication, the College of Psychiatrists highlighted the scientific opinion of the ‘Science Group of European Alcohol and Health Forum’ that found “consistent evidence to demonstrate an impact of alcohol advertising on the uptake of drinking among non-drinking young people and increased consumption among existing drinkers.”

The same oireachtas committee also heard of the effect alcohol consumption is already having on Irish society. Alcohol Action Ireland submitted that Ireland, as a country, “has a major alcohol problem with 1,200 deaths per year attributable to abuse”, and that “ten percent of Irish children say their lives have been adversely affected by their parents drinking”. Parental drinking accounts for “one sixth of all cases of child abuse and neglect.” Alcohol, they stated, is “a contributory factor in half of all suicides, and that “the majority of young men who kill themselves are intoxicated.

“There is no product on the planet that causes more deaths and social problem in young men”, the society stressed.

The Irish Cancer Society identified alcohol as “a major risk factor for certain head and neck cancers, particularly mouth cancer, throat cancer and cancer of the larynx (voicebox).

“Alcohol consumption,” said the Society, “can cause cancers of the liver, colon, and rectum in both men and women, and is a cause of breast cancer in women. Three people in Ireland die from oral and pharyngeal cancer (OPC) every week – which is more than skin melanoma or cervical cancer.”

The report warns that “there is no ‘safe’ level of alcoholic drinking.”

Recipients of the UK initiated Purple Flag to date include Dublin, Bray, Killarney, Ennis, Galway and Ballina, in Mayo.

Sligo is one of five applicants at present seeking to secure the flag. According to minutes of a meeting of the now defunct borough council last March, €205,000 had been ‘secured’ at that point for the town programme. It is understood Sligo County Council is also backing the programme with funds provided by the EU.

Sligo News File.com

Irish Suicide Rates Fourth Highest in Europe

Figure “an indictment of government lack of action”, says Sligo Senator

 

Senator Marc MacSharry
Senator Marc MacSharry

Suicides in Ireland are at a new record level with the country now the fourth highest in Europe for deaths of young men.

According to figures released by the HSE Office for Suicide Prevention, recorded rates for males are highest in the 15 to 19 age group.

It has also been revealed that more than 11,000 people were treated for self-harming last year.

However, despite growing public alarm the government had done little to tackle the crisis, says Sligo-Leitrim senator, Marc Mac Sharry.

Commenting on the latest figures, Senator MacSharry said deaths from suicide every year now equalled the population of an entire village.

The statistics, he said were “an indictment of the government’s lack of action on the issue” and should “act as a wakeup call for Minister Kathleen Lynch and the government as a whole.”

He also accused the government of continually diverting money away from mental health services, and “essentially stalling the ‘Vision for Change’ “

This was not good enough, he said. “Lives are being needlessly lost every day and we continue to pay lip service to something that has reached crisis point in Ireland.”

Fianna Fail had been coming up with what, he said were “tangible policies to address the situation.

“Last year we published the policy document “Actions Speak Louder than Words”, which set out a suggested funding model to resource a robust suicide prevention policy. However, in July this year the Seanad voted down the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Bill 2014, the draft legislation which included provisions to generate sustainable funding for suicide prevention and mental health services.”

Senator MacSharry said there was “an acceptance that more resources are needed to adequately support our mental health services but only the Government has the power to allocate the necessary funds.”

Calling on Ministers Varadkar and Lynch to ensure funding for the services are “ring fenced and protected in the coming budget”, he warned that the crisis “will continue unless sufficient resources are available and maintained.”

Sligo News File Online

‘No Pay for Sex’ – Sinn Fein

Prostitution “a form of men’s violence against women…”

Cllr. Thomas Healy, Sinn Fein.
Cllr. Thomas Healy,
Sinn Fein.

‘No pay for sex’ will be Sinn Fein’s message when party council member, Thomas Healy addresses a meeting of Sligo County Council on Monday.

In a notice of motion, Cllr. Healy will say that the council “recognises that the trafficking, exploitation and abuse of women and girls is taking place in Sligo and throughout the country as a direct result of prostitution.”

He will state that the council understands prostitution to be “a form of men’s violence against women that affects individuals, communities, and society as a whole, and human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a modern form of slavery and an abuse of human rights.”

His overriding concern is for action from the Minister for Justice and Equality who he wants to implement the unanimous recommendation of the Justice Committee for laws “making it an offence to pay for sex…

“This legislation must criminalise the demand for paid sex, decriminalise the seller and provide social supports for those wishing to exit prostitution.

“The council recognises the need for this legislation to be enacted in this jurisdiction, and will convey its views to the Minister for Justice and Equality,” concludes the motion.

A motion tabled by Tubbercurry Fianna Fail member, Cllr. Jerry Lundy will hear him call on the government and “the minister in charge of Community, Rural Affairs and Agriculture” to “help save rural Ireland from devastation.”

He will also be proposing that the minister for Foreign Affairs consider establishing a third passport office to cover the west/north-west and that the office be located in Tubbercurry.

Independent Councillor Margaret Gormley wants to know when promised high speed broadband for 42 rural areas of rural Sligo is going to be rolled out by the government.

Independent member, Cllr. Declan Bree is to ask the CEO “when he intends to provide the council with the report it sought in January…in respect of the legal services provided by the councils’ solicitors and other law agency providers.”

South west Sligo municipal district-based Cllr. Michael Clarke is to ask the executive to seek restoration of the ‘block grant’ to 2009 levels, while council chair, Fianna Fail member Joe Queenan has down for debate the “great hardship” in the farming community arising out of the collapse in cattle prices.