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McLoughlin Welcomes Minister Humphries to Sligo

‘Praise for members and organisers of Fleadh Ceoil Sligo’

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

Fine Gael TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Tony McLoughlin, arranged for the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries, to visit a number of local cultural settings in the town during her visit to Co. Sligo last week.

The Minister initially met with members of Comhaltas and local organisers of Fleadh Ceoil Sligo 2015 in the Sligo Park Hotel, where after a musical welcome by young local musicians, discussions on the up and coming Fleadh Ceoil in Sligo took place. Bartley Gavin, Chairperson of the Fleadh Ceoil Committee informed the Minister
that Sligo would be seeking to bid for the festival for a third consecutive year in 2016.

The Minister praised the work of the Fleadh Committee and wished them luck with their new application.

 Minister Humphries was then whisked away to the Sligo Youth Theatre in order to view a special performance by local children who attend the centre, and she also made a quick visit to the Blue Rain Coat Theatre to meet its staff. 

Deputy Tony McLoughlin, who organised the Ministers visits, stated that “I primarily requested that the Minister, with responsibility for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltact, visited these three locations in order to get a small sample of the cultural and artistic scene available here in Sligo.

After leaving the two town theatres, Minister Humphries then visited a number of local businesses in the town and attended a Fine Gael Meeting that evening.

 

 

ICSA WELCOMES DOG MICROCHIPPING LEGISLATION

‘Will go long way towards solving current problems relating to Ireland’s dog population.’

Sligo News File Online.

John Brooks, National Chairman, ICSA Sheep Committee
John Brooks,
National Chairman, ICSA Sheep Committee

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has welcomed Minister Coveney’s announcement of arrangements for compulsory dog microchipping, which will be rolled out on a phased basis beginning with pups in September 2015 

“ICSA has been calling for such compulsory microchipping for years and this will go a long way towards solving many of the current problems relating to Ireland’s dog population such as straying, abandonment, theft, livestock worrying, animal cruelty and dangerous dogs,” said Mr. Brooks.

“It should also encourage more responsible dog ownership. Just this week we saw a situation where eight dogs were shot in Clare, having attacked a flock of sheep. No farmer wants to come out to see several ewes ripped apart by marauding dogs. Apart from the sheep that die, there are knock on effects on other ewes in the flock. This is especially so when ewes are heavily in-lamb.  An attack by dogs will typically lead to all kinds of knock on complications for the surviving ewes.”    

“Apart from the pain and stress inflicted on the animals, such attacks represent serious distress and financial loss to the farmers involved, and compulsory microchipping should help to prevent many of these attacks.”

Mr. Brooks also warned that microchipping alone won’t solve the problems. “Follow-up is vital, and I’m glad to see the mention of a database, but we’d like more detail on how the regulations are going to be applied and also what the sanctions will be for those who don’t comply.”

 

 

Queenan’s statement on multimillion euro indebted Sligo County Council.

‘We are committed to finding a resolution’

Sligo News File Online.

The statement, headed Cathaoirleach confident of ‘Progress with Department’, states:

Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Councillor Joe Queenan, believes progress is being made in ongoing discussions with the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government concerning the Council’s Financial Plan.

‘We met with Assistant Secretary Paul Lemass today, Wednesday, and discussed a wide range of issues following on from our recent meeting with Minister Kelly. We are committed to finding a resolution and I believe today’s meeting was a significant step in
this process.’

The Cathaoirleach  also believes the Council’s Library services can be secured ‘and options are presently being explored to see how the necessary resources can be re-allocated within the Council to ensure the continuation of this vital community service.’

The Cathaoirleach acknowledged the contribution of both Councillors and Executive in addressing the Council’s financial situation.

‘There has been a strong sense of unity and purpose shown by everyone involved in this difficult process..the Councillors who established a delegation at our February meeting, the members of the delegation who have represented the Council  – Councillor Hubert Keaney, Councillors Martin Baker, Declan Bree and Thomas Healy. I must also pay tribute to Ciaran Hayes and his management team who have been working tirelessly in preparing the Financial Plan.’

Councillor Joe Queenan

‘Tough times’ ahead for debt ridden Sligo County Council

Forty-five more posts to go under apparent agreement with Department of the Environment

Businesses and households to bear brunt of getting
council finances back on even keel

Officials going door-to-door in bid to collect outstanding bills

Council must find millions of euro to secure future of
authority

Sligo News File Online.

Joe Queenan
Joe Queenan,
Chairman, Sligo County Council

Chair of Sligo County Council, Joe Queenan has painted a gloomy picture of the authority’s future, stating in a interview with local radio that the next five years are going to be  “very tough for everyone”

His comments have come in the wake of a meeting with senior environment department official, Paul Lemass in
Sligo yesterday.

Queenan conveyed in his interview details of what seems to have been agreement to shed some 46 of the council’s existing staff complement in return for the authority being able to retain library services in Ballymote, Tubbercurry,
Sligo and Enniscrone.

It also appears that the 46 posts the council has offered to terminate are to be wound down within five years – a greatly shorter time span than was previously planned for.

No details are yet available as to whether the threatened posts are those of senior officials or persons of more junior rank, or if there is already union agreement to the move.

Queenan seemed reluctant to reveal other apparently agreed measures, but there is now speculation that they may well include eventual hikes in the commercial property rate, the property tax on family homes and other charges, levies and council service fees.

There is the possibility a community tax, provided for under
the county council reforms, could also be rolled out at some point.

According to a source, it can be expected households and businesses will find themselves bearing the brunt of the costs of getting finances of the council back on an even keel. However, it seems likely much of it, including major cutbacks in services, will only be fully unveiled or known of down the road – probably after the general election.

 

Farmers advised to spurn price cuts

‘Those who sell softly likely to regret it’ warns ICSA beef chairman.

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan
ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has advised farmers to resist possible cuts in base prices for cattle.

“While cattle supplies have been very strong for the first two months of this year, it is inevitable that supplies will tighten in the very near future and farmers who sell softly are certainly likely to regret it,” said Mr. Phelan.

“We have reports of farmers being offered a base price of €4.10/kg for steers for next week, a cut of 5c on what they got this week. This is completely unacceptable at a time of year when prices need to be improving to keep beef finishers in business.”

“These cuts are also a further example of meat industry contempt for the beef roundtable agreement. Factories are clearly continuing to take every opportunity to cut prices without any justification other than to boost their own coffers.”

“With the recent opening of the American market, and contracts having been signed for the supply of Irish beef to the US, farmers are rightly expecting to see price increases, not cuts,” continued Mr. Phelan. “In addition, the current seven-year low of the euro against sterling (€1 = 0.7385 GBP) should further bolster the existing export market.”

Two thousand new social housing units on way

Development backed by major €300 million government announced fund

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin TD, Fine Gael Sligo-Leitrim.
Tony McLoughlin TD, Fine Gael Sligo-Leitrim.

A €300 million investment fund from the Housing Finance Agency and the European Investment Bank will be used to provide 2,000 social housing units over the next three years, says Fine Gael Sligo – Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin.

Commenting on the development, Deputy McLoughlin said “housing of this kind is badly needed in Sligo town, Ballymote, Tubbercurry, Ballyshannon, Carrick-on-Shannon, Manorhamilton and many other rural areas in my Constiuency.

“The new programme announced yesterday will,” he said, “be the first ever supported by the European Investment Bank and the money will be made available to approved housing bodies for the upgrade and delivery of social housing.

“This programme will give housing bodies access to finance at very competitive rates and it facilitates the faster delivery of approximately 2,000 additional social housing units. Local
construction companies and workers are also set to benefit from today’s announcement.

“I would encourage the Boards and Management of certified Approved Housing Bodies to take this opportunity to apply for access to this finance,” he said

“The Government’s Social Housing Strategy 2020 aims to provide every household with access to secure good quality housing suited to their needs at an affordable price and in a sustainable community. This new agreement between the EIB and the HFA represents
very good progress in that direction.

“Involving the EIB, alongside the Housing Finance Agency is a new and innovative approach to tackling social housing issues. I very much welcome this new thinking.

“We need to increase the number of housing units completed in the State in order to meet demand and social housing plays a key role in the overall strategy.  By providing adequate social housing, we will in turn relieve demands on private housing. 

“The Social Housing Strategy 2020 targets the provision of 35,000 new social housing units over a six year period, the support of up to 75,000 households through an enhanced private rental sector and the reform of social housing supports to create a more flexible and responsive system.

“The announced €300 million is not enough to provide housing to everyone who needs it but it is a step in the right direction and marks the start of a new approach which will provide affordable and sustainable housing into the future,” he concluded.

MacSharry demands urgent government investment in Early Childhood Services

‘Restore €2 taken from ECCE capitation.’

Sligo News File Online.

Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry joined the Early Childhood Educators from Sligo attending the Association of Childhood Professional Rally outside Dáil Eireann yesterday. The senator, who is supporting the Early Years Professionals fight for greater investment in the sector, is also calling for the immediate return of the €2 taken from the ECCE capitation.

Highlighting the need for direct investment, he said the funding was crucial to maintaining staff wages and running costs of the service. Investment should as well provide for additional capitation to support the inclusion of children with additional needs, he said.

In their campaign, the Association of Childhood Professionals is seeking to highlight the importance of early childhood education and care and the vital role played by childhood professionals in supporting the children and families in the foundation stage of development. To date, the Association said, the “foundation stage has mainly been seen within the domain of the family rather than the societal domain and this thinking needs to change.

“The foundation stage must be recognised within the life long continuum of care and education framework.”

 Senator MacSharry, with party colleague Robert Troy, TD, is a strong supporter of the “early years” and the employers and employees who, he said, because of the prevailing low wages, are subsidising the early childhood education and care system in Ireland. There is also voluntary time given to meetings with parents, the admnistration and maintenance of the facility and other duties. He said it is clear they can no longer afford to do this, and is now calling on the government to “take action immediately before it is too late.”

Senator MacSharry & Louise Kilbane, Chairperson. Assn. of Childhood Professionals, Sligo.
Senator MacSharry & Louise Kilbane, Chairperson. Assn. of Childhood Professionals, Sligo.

 

 

Aggressive new rural commercial property rates could savage local Sligo businesses and jobs

County Council up to neck in multimillion euro debt.

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo County CouncilThe prospect of Sligo rural-based businesses being hammered
out of existence grows ever closer with plans to power up the  commercial property rates on the sector. Under the regime, rural enterprises will be subject to rates much higher than those of premises in urban areas, where business activity is much greater.

Management of the county council are searching desperately for avenues to lift the authority out of its sweeping debts, it needs millions of euro if its finances are to be restored to a satisfactory condition.

Much as they may have hoped the government would have thrown them a bailout, it’s now evident there’s sweet damn all sympathy for the financial condition in which the council finds itself.

A meeting with Alan Kelly, the Environment Minister left a delegation in no doubt as to what is expected of the authority, and, apparently that’s not going to change any time soon, if at all.

The outcome of the council’s meeting in Sligo today with a top Department of the Environment official, Paul Lemass, is not yet known. In a three hour engagement, he met with CEO, Ciaran Hayes and other officials of the authority. Councillors were not present.

Suggestions as have recently been made that the resources  of other councils should be dipped into to aid Sligo have gone down like a lead balloon, which is hardly surprising considering it would amount to asking the rate and taxpaying communities of the areas concerned to surrender assets they need for essential developments or works in their own areas.

The latest moves on proposed closure of library services has understandably raised the hackles of people in Ballymote and
elsewhere. They, including local businesses, are, like everyone else, being slammed up to the tonsils with an abominable level of taxes, charges as well as levies on everything from water meters, to
electricity, to motor and house insurance and much, much,
more. The council has a bloody neck if it expects them to now
stand by while library services are closed in order to facilitate resolution of a county council debt in the running up of which they had no hand, act or part whatsoever.

Why should they suffer? Why should any rural or urban community be obliged to sacrifice services crucial to their respective areas? No, no, they should not be, and it’s time management of the council recognized and accepted this.

John Perry TD has blasted the council’s proposed action on the libraries in particular. TD, Tony McLoughlin has spelt out in meticulous detail the extent of the usage in Sligo, and the scale of the public dependence on the service in the town. There has also been strong denunciation from Sligo Senator, Marc MacSharry. They are right, and their public comments, and statements of councilors and others, on the issue will have been welcomed by a public sick to the pit of the stomach at the way services can be chopped.

Perhaps, now, there is also a case for demanding a public inquiry as to how the county council has come to be so mightily indebted. It’s beyond comprehension that such a situation has been allowed to happen. An inquiry is an imperative, the people have a right to know, if for no other reason than to ensure this kind of thing can ever happen again.

Openness, transparency and accountability, further concerns, must be more than principles aspired to in public authorities, they must be the regular, everyday standard within which councils are operated. The public are paying – now through the nose – for their public bodies, they, therefore, must have the fullest entitlement to know and question how their councils are being managed, what’s happening within the structures and when it’s happening.

The media must be kept informed of events. It’s also not for any council to demand that media representatives are members of the NUJ or any other body, that’s no business of officials – public servants. Coverage of events has moved a long way from just the pages of the print media, new technological advances called news websites are now in place. And thank God for that.

Councils must move with the times, modern technological means
of news coverage isn’t going to disappear in the time ahead. More
and more it will become the watchdog of the public interest and the
public are accepting it because they know that, by and large,
those behind it will not take shit from any bureaucratic or political
quarter.