Smuggling activity ‘rampant’ off Sligo coast, TD tells Dail

‘Reports of speed boats operating under cover of darkness.’

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin, TD. Fine Gael.
Tony McLoughlin, TD.
Fine Gael.

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.


Dublin TD arrested.

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.

The four are aged between 30 and 50.



Permanent TSB have acted “disgracefully” on tracker cases: Doherty

‘I am urging all PTSB customers to check their mortgages’

Sligo News File Online.

Pearse Doherty, TD, Sinn Fein.
Pearse Doherty, TD,
Sinn Fein.

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.”

Minister for the OPW, Simon Harris to visit Rosses Point Beach: McLoughlin

‘Plan to obtain departmental funding will be discussed’

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin, TD. Fine Gael.
Tony McLoughlin, TD.
Fine Gael.

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.

Soaring bank charges hitting business and farming – Mayo TD

‘Rates in some cases increased by up to 300%’

Sligo News File Online.

Mayo Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary.
Mayo Fianna Fail TD
Dara Calleary.

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.”

HSE hiring staff for expanded bed facility in Ballina.

Initiative to relieve overcrowding at Mayo General Hospital

Sligo News File Online.

HSE Additional staff are being employed to manage an expansion of facilities at Ballina District Hospital.

The HSE has said that a decision has been taken to open an additional 10 beds in Ballina. These will be used to assist Mayo General Hospital in “discharging appropriate patients.”

Recruitment of personnel to staff the facility is currently underway,
they added.



‘Journey of personal development and generous committment in service of community’

Sligo News File Online.

Students from Sligo and Mayo were among 61 young people 
presented with Gaisce’s highest award, the President’s Gold medal,
by President Michael D. Higgins at a ceremony in Dublin Castle

Addressing a gathering celebrating 30 years of Gaisce – the President’s Award – the President said the award recognised and honoured the awardees journey of personal development and generous committment in the service of their community, “a journey which involved great perseverance and the achievement of the testing targets you had set yourselves.

“You, your families and friends, your teachers and mentors, and all
those who have been part of your path to Gold can and should
feel immensely proud”

The ceremony was attended by special guest and MC, writer,
television personality and former newscaster, Mary Kennedy.

CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna said the Gaisce vision for
Ireland is to have a country where “young people can dream big
and fulfill their potential.”

Pictured below from top:

Maria Cawley, St. Attracta’s Community School, Sligo, receiving the president’s gold award for community involvement and residential project: Cholaiste Cholumba Gaeltacht in An Cheatru, Connemara.

Julie Patterson. Drum Sligo, being presented with president’s gold award for parish work at Drumcliff and a residential project in Romania – the Smiles Foundation.

Kate Geraghty, Sancta Maria College, Westport,  being presented
with the president’s Gold award for community involvement in parish and a residential project: Gaeltacht – Inis Meain.

Stephen Loftus, St. Muredach’s College, Ballina, receiving president’s gold award for community involvement  in the Order of Malta and residential project: Order of Malta International Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Elthan Preston, St. Muredach’s College, Ballina, receiving president’s gold award for community involvement in Order of Malta and residential project: Order of Malta pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Marie Cawley Gaisce Gold

Kate Geraghty Gaisce GoldStephen Loftus Gaisce GoldEthan Preston Gaisce Gold








‘Major concern that the retention of dairy calves in 2015 will lead to the next glut and price collapse in 2016’

Sligo News File Online.

Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.
Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the beef farming sector must face up to the reality that either all dairy bull calves are exported or suckler cow numbers must be reduced. In his address to the ICSA Annual Conference, Mr. Kent said “There is now a major concern that the retention of dairy calves in 2015 will lead to the next glut and price collapse in 2016.”

“Teagasc has published the cost of keeping a suckler cow as €635, but when we factor in the cows that don’t produce a calf every 12 months, the actual cost of the productive cows is €800.”

Alluding to the likely retention of dairy calves as farmers seek to avoid quota fines in spring 2015, Mr. Kent said that farmers would be naïve to think that factories will behave any differently when numbers creep up again.  “We cannot have a suckler herd of one million cows if there are no outlets for bulls over 16 months
and which weigh 450kg.”

Although Mr. Kent welcomed the opening of US and Chinese markets, he said this will be “meaningless unless they bring an improvement in the bottom line for farmers”.


In his address, the ICSA president called for a balance debate on the complex issue of farm safety. He condemned proposals to cut EU supports because “safety shortcomings are due to genuine economic pressures, and cutting payments worsens rather than alleviates the position.”

He added that the focus on accidents cannot detract from the fact that many more farmers are affected by physical and mental health issues. Mr. Kent suggested that “no-notice inspections, delays in EU payments and savage penalties are causing immense stress which
may lead to death and ill-health.” He challenged the Minister to deliver fair protocols under the Farmers’ Charter.