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.




‘It has become quite clear recently that factories can ignore so-called market requirements when it suits them’

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that today’s beef roundtable
meeting must focus on bull beef specifications and unresolved quality assurance issues.

“ICSA wants to see agreement today on realistic age and weight specifications for bull beef,” said Mr. Kent. “It has become quite clear recently that factories can ignore so-called market requirements when it suits them, proving that the restrictions that have been imposed on farmers over the past fourteen months are completely arbitrary, as ICSA has long argued.”

“We also want to see a resolution of outstanding quality assurance issues, including the abandonment of the 30-month limit, the relaxation of the requirements on residencies and movements which have severely hampered the mart trade and the
introduction of an 18-month lead-in period before any changes in age limits or weights are imposed in the future.”

“ICSA would also like to see flat-rate payments explored as an option for farmers,” concluded Mr. Kent.




Alcohol Action welcomes government move on alcohol abuse.

‘Remains to be seen if alcohol industry will take legal challenge with regard to legislation.’

Sligo News File Online.

Alcohol Action Ireland has welcomed the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as a “landmark announcement” which “signals the government’s intent to regulate alcohol as a public health matter for the first time.”

The legislation, said the organisation, “will address the serious issue of alcohol harm which has blighted the lives of so many people,” and “enable the State to protect the young and the vulnerable.”

Alcohol Action CEO, Suzanne Costello said: “Measures to implement minimum unit pricing, new enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers, and health labelling of alcohol products are all welcome and will have a significant impact.”

However, she was critical of the decision to place the “existing ineffective voluntary code of practice for sponsorships for drinks companies” on a legislative footing, describing it as “a significant weakness in the proposal” which Alcohol Action was now calling on Health Minister, Leo Varadkar to re-examine before the bill is published in full.

She said it now remained to be seen if the alcohol industry will take a legal challenge with regard to the legislation, “specifically minimum unit pricing, as they have done in other jurisdictions.”



Govt. cuts to guidance counselling threaten student outcomes – Mac Sharry.

‘Guidance counselling provides students with the ability to make informed decisions about life choices.’

Sligo News File Online.

Senator Marc MacSharry.
Senator Marc MacSharry.

Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry says student outcomes are being jeopardised by the Education Minister’s refusal to increase the number of guidance counsellors in our schools.  Changes brought in by this Government have seen guidance counsellor numbers in the North West reduced, with counsellors spending almost 60% less time with students than they did two years ago.

Senator Mac Sharry commented, “The Government’s decision to manage guidance provision within the standard teaching allocation has not only placed a cap on guidance counselling, it is seriously undermining the work of counselling and counsellors.  Schools across the North West have seen student supports drastically cut, with one-on-one counselling times halved in some secondary schools, with an even greater reduction in disadvantaged areas.

“These regressive measures are already having a negative impact on the student experience, and have the potential to seriously threaten student outcomes.  Several studies have illustrated the benefits of career guidance in helping reduce early school leaving, improving
transitions from education to the workplace, and an overall better use of educational resources.

“Fianna Fáil believes guidance counsellors are the only teachers in a school setting professionally qualified to provide guidance counselling to students.  Micheál Martin, as Education Minister,
brought in the 1998 Education Act, which provided a legal obligation on schools to provide appropriate guidance. My own policy document, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”,
advocated and costed full guidance counsellor support on including inclusion to sixth class in primary school.

“In our budget submission for 2015 we committed to make provision for vital service to be restored.  Guidance counselling provides students with the ability to make informed decisions about life choices.  It is an essential component of the secondary school experience and should not be treated as an optional extra”.