Claims of flaws in asylum center lease. Owner represents himself in High Court as legal team comes off record, and undertakes not to alter or interfere with lease
The legal battle over the Shannon Key West property in Rooskey was before the High Court again yesterday (Thursday 13th). The dispute is onging in the High Court between Paradub Ltd, a company looking to buy the property which claims it has a contract entitling them to do so, and James Kiernan, the owner of the closed hotel which sits on the banks of the River Shannon, for a number of weeks now.
Last month, it emerged that the Department of Justice intended to utilise the property as a direct provision centre, and Mr Kiernan claimed he had entered into a lease with a company called Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd. It is understood that this company made the application to the Departmenrt of Justice to provide direct provision services in the property. Plans to accommodate circa 80-refugees in the property from early next year have been met with significant opposition locally, with locals expressing grave concerns over the capacity of the village to cater for such an influx of people.
Richard Keane SC, for Paradub Ltd, explained to Ms Justice Reynolds that there were two significant flaws in Mr Kiernan’s lease with Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd, which he said fundamentally called into question the lease’s viability as a commercial contract. Mr Kiernan who appeared in court personally, after his solicitors had come of record due to differences of opinion between them and their client, said that there was no problem with the lease in its current form, and that he had no intention of amending or interfering with it.
Mr Keane responded, explaining that the reason for seeking this interim relief in the first place was to prevent the lease from being amended and to preserve the status quo in that regard. Given Mr Kiernan’s stated intention that he would not alter the lease in any event, Mr Keane suggested that Mr Kiernan provide an undertaking to preserve the status quo in lieu of an order. Mr Kiernan provided this undertaking under-oath, thereby allowing Ms Justice Reynolds to reserve costs and adjourn the matter to Thursday the 20th of December, with the consent of both parties.
Guardian of the peace assaulted in the line of duty forced to discharge firearm in self defence. “Guard dog” dead and man injured. Now the Garda has received “serious” threats online and has had to be placed under 24/7 armed protection.
A Garda Sergeant who was involved in a confrontation in which a man was shot in the leg is under armed protection after receiving online threats. A number of threats have appeared online, apparently giving details of the officer's rural home as well as comments such as "go get him". Armed Gardaí were deployed to the sergeant's home on Monday night, just hours after the incident took place and a video of it went viral on social media, as the threats were deemed to be "very significant". The Chairman of Longford’s Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Gerry Warnock has branded the “death threats” made against the Garda involved as “disgusting”.
Garda discharges weapon: Dog dead, man injured
On Monday, December 3rd, at about 5 pm in the evening, a plain clothes Garda Sergeant, who was following up on an investigation, when he got caught up in a confrontation, was attacked by an Alsatian dog. The Garda, who had his side-arm drawn when attacked, discharged his firearm killing the dog. The bullet travelled through the dog and ricocheted, injuring a nearby man, who the Garda had previously been struggling with. The man was injured in his lower leg, and his injuries are not believed to be life threatening. He was admitted to Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar to be treated for the injuries.
It is understood that the armed Garda Sergeant arrived at the scene after a member of the public called Granard garda station claiming that he was unable to get his van back after it had been repaired by an associate of the man who was injured. The caller had driven to Co Longford from the Newmarket area of Co Cork to retrieve the vehicle, but when he arrived in Longford a confrontation broke out and Gardaí were called. When Gardaí arrived at the scene, it is understood the confrontation became more heated and a woman "pulled a slash hook" on the van's owner.
A video of the alleged incident circulated online showing a struggle between a member of An Garda Siochana and the injured man. It appeared to show the officer's tie being pulled by the dog, although the dog was not visible on the screen, before a gun shot rang out, and the woman recording the incident began screaming hysterically.
Both the Gardai and GSCO are investigating the matter. On Monday, the Gardai released a statement to say they would not be commenting on the incident. The statement said: “As part of an on-going investigation by Gardai from Longford, they attended at an incident in Granard earlier this evening the 3rd of December 2018. During the course of this incident an official Garda firearm was discharged. As this incident has been referred to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, An Garda Siochana are not in a position to comment further."
It is understood that Assistant Garda Commissioner Orla McPartlin travelled to Granard garda station this week to meet with senior officers there and was briefed in relation to the happenings on Monday night. No arrests have been made with respect to the incident.
Last week, almost €4-million of funding was announced for several urban regeneration projects in Roscommon, Longford, and Leitrim. Longford town centre is due to receive €1-million in funding for its ‘Longford connected project’ which will see a link road built between Little Water St and Richmond St. Longford is also due to benefit with public realm improvements on Grafton Court and in the shopping centre area, as well as new footpaths around the Market Square area. €2.89-million was confirmed for Carrick-on-Shannon for public realm enhancements with its funding coming from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. While just €780,000 in urban regeneration funding has been ear-marked for the Market Square and Main Street area in Roscommon Town.
The plans to develop greater pedestrian walkways in Carrick-on-Shannon are set to begin next year. Leitrim County Council has been granted almost €2.9 million to begin the first phase of an €8-million regeneration plan. The regeneration plans include an extension to the boardwalk past the boat companies on St George’s Terrace, moving the town clock tower slightly to be more visible from all streets, and improving the entry to market yard. There are also hopes that the local authority can acquire lands at ‘Flynn’s field’, which they intend to develop into extra car parking spaces and open up access to the town through the arches which lead to and from Main Street.
Hopes are high in Longford that works on the county town’s major regeneration project will begin early next year. The funding of €1-million has been earmarked for Grafton Court and the shopping centre area as well as St Mel’s Road and the Market Square, as part of urban regeneration and development funding. The regeneration project includes plans to develop a link road between Little Water St and Richmond St. It is expected that this link road will open up access to further development lands in the town.
On Tuesday December 4th in King House in Boyle, ‘Through the Eyes of Margaret Cousins – Irish & Indian Suffragette’, written by Dr Keith Munro and published by Hive Studio Books, will be launched at 7 pm. The general public is invited to attend. The audience will be welcomed by the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Cllr Ivan Connaughton. Dr Munro, author and grand-nephew of Margaret Cousins, will then address the meeting. Cllr Orla Leyden BA M.Litt., special guest for the evening, will then launch the book.
Dr Munro previously made a promise, at the Roscommon Commemorative Lecture Programme for Vótáil 100 in April of this year, to publish a book on the life of Margaret Cousins, who was born in a house on the Crescent in Boyle on 7th November 1878. He is now fulfilling that promise.
Published during this historic year of the 100th Anniversary of ‘Votes for Women’, the book concerns the life of Margaret Cousins, known as Gretta and her husband James, an Irish poet of note. He was a contemporary and friend of such Irish poets during the cultural revival as WB Yeats, George Russel (Æ), and Padriac Colum. This book is seeing ‘through her eyes’ from diaries and notes recorded by both of them and published in their seminal work: ‘We Two Together’ Madras (1950).
Gretta and Jim, together with their friends Hanna and Frank Sheehy-Skeffington founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League. In November 1922 Gretta was invited to become the first non-Indian Magistrate in the history of India. She worked tirelessly for the rest of her life for the education of the women of India. She passed away in Adyar in Chennai in 1954 at the age of seventy-five.
This book has been endorsed by past President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, who said:
“…..This is the story of a most remarkable Irish girl from Boyle in Roscommon, who, together her husband James and the Sheehy-Skeffingtons, Frank and Hanna, founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1908. Driven by her passion for women’s equality Margaret Cousins devoted the rest of her life to the education of women in India and the raising of their status. It is significant that this book is being released during this historic year of Vótáil 100”.
Dr Keith Munro MB FMO was a general practitioner (1970-2003), forensic medical officer (1970-2018, retired), and a founder member of the Foyle Hospice in Derry (1983).
If you are looking for a festive night out in the coming weeks, Roscommon Arts Centre has just the ticket. The arts centre will present the ‘Christmas Crooners’ on Friday 7th December at 8 pm. The show is jam-packed with festive favourites including Christmas hits from Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and ol’ blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
This fantastic cast of West-End singers are backed by the superb and talented swing band: The Jazz All Stars, as they perform over thirty well know Christmas songs including: ‘Baby it’s cold outside’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Santa baby’, ‘Rocking around the Christmas tree’, and many more.
There will also be swing arrangements of Christmas hymns and songs such as ‘Silent night’ and ‘Deck the halls’. Staged in the warm and delightful style of the famous Andy Williams Christmas Shows, this brilliant production comes complete with Christmas trees, a rocking chair, and, of course, a lovely warm fireplace; just right for roasting those chestnuts and toasting the season!
The ‘Christmas Crooners’ give the audience a show full of swinging Christmas cheer, and witty banter, a perfect show for the perfect season. Guaranteed to get you in the festive mood, come and sing along to great songs from Christmas past with the ‘Christmas Crooners’.
Tickets are available now from Roscommon Arts Centre on 09066 25824 / www.roscommonartscentre.ie
But a bitter pill to swallow as Roscommon is left without any Cabinet representation
This week, former Communications Minister Denis Naughten was vindicated by the publication of the Smyth report into the National Broadband Plan (NBP) bidding process. Fianna Fail has taken to the airwaves to call the findings of the report into questions, but responsible governance must now happen. It is time that the political point scoring stops and the National Broadband Plan happens. Denis Naughten will find it difficult to find himself at the cabinet table again any time soon, however, as many people in this region knew already, he lost his Ministry for simply trying to get an almost impossible job done in what were impossible circumstances.
The NBP has been on the agenda since 2011, and in the works since 2012. It was described at the time it was announced as being akin to the "rural electrification of the 21st century". The aim of the plan is to bring high-speed broadband to every home and business in the country where such a service is not currently available; a goal which has not been attempted by any other nation in the world.
The NBP is needed because commercial operators say it is not commercially viable to offer high-speed broadband in certain parts of the country. That’s a total of 542,000 premises or 1.1 million people which still have to be connected. The plan as it stands is to have a commercial operator roll out a physical network, with the state paying a subsidy to cover the extra cost beyond what is commercially viable. A large team in the Department of Communications, Climate Action, and Energy has been working on a complicated procurement process to get an operator to bring fibre optic cable to every one of those 542,000 homes and businesses.
The competition for the contract was whittled down to three bidders in 2016. These operators included SIRO (a joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone), Eir, and a consortium involving US technology and telecoms investment firm Granahan McCourt along with Enet and others. However, shortly after they were shortlisted, SIRO dropped out and were closely followed by Eir, leaving just the Granahan McCourt and Enet consortium. Despite the fact there was only one bidder left, the Government decided to go ahead with the procurement process. The Government had been hoping to be in a position to sign a contract by now, if the final tender from the Granahan McCourt consortium (which was submitted in September gone by), now called National Broadband Ireland, was acceptable.
Last month, it emerged that the then Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, had met David McCourt, the founder and chairman of Granahan McCourt, a number of times over the past two years, as the final stages of the procurement process were still underway. That led to further questions from the opposition and political pressure which eventually led to Denis Naughten dramatically resigning on the floor of the Dáil after the Taoiseach asked him to reflect on his position. The Taoiseach made the request of Mr Naughten after Naughten informed him that he had four, previously undisclosed, private dinners with Mr McCourt, including one in Mr McCourt’s home in Co Clare. Mr Naughten has always maintained he did nothing wrong, however, at the same time, the Taoiseach asked the independent process auditor to the National Broadband Plan, Peter Smyth, to carry out a review of the contacts between Mr Naughten and Mr McCourt. This was to allow the Government to assess whether or not the integrity of the procurement process had been undermined by the meetings between Mr McCourt and Mr Naughten.
Earlier this week, Smyth’s report was released to the public. It found that neither former Minister Naughten nor David McCourt influenced the tender process for the plan. It says the fact that the former Minister met Mr McCourt or representatives of the other bidders outside the process is not in and of itself a basis for a finding that the procurement process has been tainted. Smyth said he is satisfied that neither the former Minister nor Mr McCourt had the opportunity to influence the conduct of the tender process in favour of Granahan McCourt or otherwise. He also stated that the decision of Mr Naughten to resign insulated the process from any apparent bias created by his engagements with Mr McCourt. However, Smyth does state that the absence of formal minutes or meeting notes for a number of encounters meant he was reliant on statements from Mr Naughten and Mr McCourt and others for verifying what was said at certain meetings. Resultantly, he said he could not unequivocally state that State-led intervention under the NBP was not discussed at the meetings between the former minister and Mr McCourt outside the procurement process.
New Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton, having considered the report, has said that the government has given the go-ahead for his department to continue the ongoing evaluation of the tender submitted by National Broadband Ireland. The bid consists of circa 20,000 pages of documents including technical and financial solutions. It still is not clear when that process will be concluded. It is understood that the tender evaluation process has been continuing alongside the Smyth review, and the government is anxious to make a decision soon. When the procurement team has finished its evaluation, it will present its findings to the Minister, who will then bring a recommendation to Cabinet to either accept or reject the tender. In all likelihood, whatever the tender ends up being, it will be accepted by Cabinet. The Government cannot afford to not deliver on this plan, and if they do deliver, no matter how late, it will be a huge political goal achieved.
It seems as though the government’s preference is to try to make the current process work. To scrap it and return to the drawing board at this stage would possibly see the project abandoned, and will do them no favours on the doorsteps. With a potential election always looming in the background, the Government knows it must have something definitive to sell when it sends it troops out on the trail. There have been plenty of calls for work to start on a ‘Plan B’, particularly by the opposition parties. Many in the opposition have expressed concerns that the current process is flawed and that the only remaining bidder may not be in a position to deliver what is required, although there is no reason to believe that they do not have the technical or financial capacity to deliver, particularly with the assistance of a state subsidy. It has been suggested that perhaps a semi-state organisation like ESB Networks or Ervia could be directed to take on the delivery of broadband to rural Ireland. However, within the industry, there’s a lot of scepticism around whether that would be realistic, and many have noted it may, in fact, be in breach of state-aid rules.
Another suggestion which has gained traction in recent weeks is that instead of trying to build a physical infrastructure; bringing fibre optic cable to every premises in the country, the government should be reconsidering the use of mobile or wireless technology instead, those advocating this approach note that since 2012 these technologies have improved significantly and may now be an even better option in some circumstances. Advocates state that the mobile or wireless approach might be cheaper and quicker to deploy, particularly if the country were to be divided up into smaller pockets, with different technological solutions for different areas. Naturally, there are differing views on whether mobile technology would be adequate in the future.
All these developments have come to the fore alongside leaked reports that the cost of the National Broadband Plan as currently envisaged may have exploded to as much as €3-billion, from the €500-million which was originally envisaged. Again, there are varying views within the telecoms industry about the possible quantum of the bill, but most seem to think that €3-billion figure is very much on the high side of the scale. This week, the Minister for Finance said that National Development Plan funding could also be used to deliver broadband to rural Ireland. The question on everyone’s lips now is, how much will the final bill be? That is a question which will be answered in the coming weeks when we find out whether the National Broadband Ireland consortium’s tender has been accepted.
Deputy Denis Naughten released the following statement on Tuesday of this week: “I welcome the findings of the independent audit report by Mr Peter Smyth which concludes that I ‘did not influence or seek to influence’ the conduct of the tender process in favour of Granahan McCourt and further concludes that the process has not been ‘tainted’. I welcome the conclusion of Mr Smyth’s report not only for myself but for the 1.2 million people in rural Ireland waiting to be connected to high-speed broadband.”
Naughten explained that he did not breach any protocols by engaging with McCourt, stating: “It should be noted that Mr Smyth also concludes that the ‘communications protocol for the procurement process for the State-led intervention under the NBP does not expressly prohibit engagements between the bidders (or individual members of a bidding consortium) and the Department’. As Minister, my job required me to meet investors from all sectors under the remit of my former Department whether they were investors from telecoms, renewable energy, environment or natural resources. These investors are the men and women who provide jobs in our country.”
In his statement, Naughten detailed that it is important to note that a Competitive Dialogue Procurement Process requires dialogue and Mr Smyth’s report details the significant level of engagement that the Department has been expertly managing since the process began. He stated: “My sole objective throughout this process, during my time as Minister, was to deliver much-promised broadband to rural Ireland... I hope that once this procurement process has been completed that the remaining homes, farms and businesses will get access to this technology.
Naugthen concluded his statement with a firm warning to the government and his fellow opposition TDs: “This should now be the only goal of our government and members of Dáil Éireann at this point and I urge colleagues not to succumb to those who want to make a political issue of the NBP for their own ends and not that of the country as a whole.”
While many will say that Naughten was naïve to be caught out like this, the reality is that he was a Minister trying to flog a dead-horse at a marker with only one bidder in the audience. All the great commentators in the national theatre, some of whom have sat at the Cabinet table and overseen much greater ‘clust-astrophes’ than this, can say what they like. I don’t think there is a single one of them who would have done anything differently, and many of them wouldn’t have had the bottle to stand down and insulate the process, as Naughten has done.
My suspicion is that the leaked cost of €3-billion is nowhere near the amount which will be announced. If the government is smart, they’ll have leaked this unholy number to brace people for a slightly less bad situation, they’ll probably announce a number in the region of €1.5-billion, and pat themselves on the back that it was half what it could have been, despite being three-times more than what they said it would be. Also, we cannot forget the age-old trick. Announce the headline figure, and after 12-months, when you’re too far up the bog road to put it into reverse, announce that more money is needed. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I will be.
Julie Sharkey, who hails from Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon, will showcase a rehearsed reading of her play ‘Chicken Wings in Peace’ on Thursday 29th November at 7 pm in the studio space of Roscommon Arts Centre.
Julie, who is a writer and performer, has been researching small family run businesses in the West of Ireland as the basis for her new work. Throughout the process, Julie has been mentored by writer, actor, and creator of ‘The Man in The Woman’s Shoes’, Mikel Murfi.
‘Chicken Wings in Peace’ tells the story of Bridie, who has married into a small family run business, but the love and enthusiasm she once felt for her life here, becomes overshadowed by a shocking family tragedy, lost love, and economic downturn. The play examines how historical and romantic attachments to a family business can make any step away from it, almost impossible.
On the night, actors Grace Kiely, Aidan Crowe, and Brendan Conroy will bring Julie’s text to life on stage. All are welcome to attend the performance. Admission is free but as capacity is limited pre-booking is advised through the arts centre box office on 09066 25824.
The National Patient Experience Survey (NPES) 2018 results, details patients’ experience in our nation’s hospitals. This year, Roscommon University Hospital has received top marks in the survey, with 91% of participants saying that they had good or very good overall experience at the hospital. This is well above the national average of which came in at 84%. However, the report also noted that there were a number of areas, in the hospital, which need improvements. The two issues which were raised most regularly with respect to Roscommon University Hospital related to the choice of food offered and a lack of clear answers from medical staff about operations and treatments.
Complaints over food and not being treated with respect were some of the issues which patients raised at some of our other local hospitals. In contrast to the A grade received by Roscommon University hospital, patients at Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar and Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe rated their satisfaction a number of points lower than the 2017 survey.
Portiuncula Hospital received a drop in satisfaction of 53% compared to the 2017 survey, receiving a rating of just 44% from patients. The survey also noted that patients who rated their stay at the hospital as fair to poor increased from 18% to 23%. The survey noted one patient also claimed that they felt the nurses had a large workload and noted that it was hard to find a nurse, especially in the evening time.
At the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore several areas of good experience were identified, while at Sligo University Hospital patients rated their experience significantly higher than the national average across every stage of care, with a number of exceptions.
Galway University Hospital saw a number of patients report that they were not treated with respect and dignity. The complaints related to both the emergency department and in other areas of the hospital. In contrast, also at GUH, patients said that they had confidence and trust in the staff that treated them, while most patients said that staff did everything they could, to manage their pain.
A Radiographer at Roscommon University Hospital is celebrating after scooping a national award for her work.
Ann Marie Healy from Roscommon town, said: “She’s very proud and delighted” after being named ‘Radiographer of the Year.’
The mother of two, who was recently appointed Radiography Services Manager, has been described as “a driving force in the development of radiography services” at the hospital.
Ann Marie, who has worked at the hospital for 12 years, says the recognition was especially appreciated because it was her patients who initially made the nomination.
The public will get a chance to look at transformative plans for the lower half of Longford town centre next month, as part of a public consultation event. Longford County Council is seeking submissions and feedback on its plan for the ‘Camlin Quarter’ before work is due to begin in 2019.
The team behind the multi-million-euro project is seeking people’s comments and views on how the area, which encompasses the Riverside Shopping Centre, Connolly Barracks, and adjoining streets will meet the public from 5.30 pm until 8 pm on December 5th at the council offices.
Cathaoirleach of Longford M.D Seamus Butler says its important people take time to have a look at the plans;
It won’t “generate big profits”, but the Shed Distillery is cracking on with a visitor centre
It is expected that the attraction will be up and running in early 2020, and is expected to come in at nearly double the cost that was first expected.
The Shed Distillery is moving forward with plans to build a new ‘visitor experience’, despite its owner anticipating that it will cost almost twice as much as was first expected and won’t “generate big profits” for the company.
Pat Rigney (aka PJ Rigney) opened his small distillery with big dreams, four years ago. The facility now produces Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, and Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka. Last year, plans were unveiled to add a new visitor centre to the distillery, but Mr Rigney has said that work has yet to begin, and it is expected that the visitor centre won’t be open to the public until the early months of 2020.
Mr Rigney explained: “It’s going out to tender shortly and we would hope to start work early in the new year,” continuing to say: “At the moment we’re aiming for a soft launch at Christmas 2019 and then it’ll be the start of 2020 when we’re up and running. There’s a bit of a way to go but we’re taking our time and we’re trying to do it right.”
Initially, the company estimated that the extension project would set them back around one-million euro, but they have now said that figure is more likely to be between one-and-a-half-million and two-million euro.
“Visitor experiences typically don’t generate big profits – they’re expensive to run, they’re expensive to build and maintain – but it’s important to share your story with your customers,” explained Mr Rigney.
Leitrim County Council granted planning permission in February of this year for a single-story extension to the distillery which is located in Drumshanbo. The planning permission which has been granted includes a visitor exhibition, café, herb garden, and a space for tasting and selling products. It was originally envisaged that the centre would be fully open by next year, but Rigney said that the project hasn’t gotten off the ground yet as they have been preoccupied with other aspects of the business. Mr Rigney elaborated: “We’ve been very busy with our day-to-day business, growing new markets, hiring more people. We’ve been doing our day job,” going on to say: “At the end of the day your distillery needs to be a success before you can think about your visitor experience.”
A further reason for the delay has been Rigney’s concerns about the Public Health Alcohol Bill, which was passed by the Dáil in September, after taking nearly three years to make its way through the Oireachtas. In a letter to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, earlier this year, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act, Rigney said that he was putting the construction of the visitor centre “on hold” pending the outcome of the debate surrounding the Bill. Nationwide, concerns had been raised with various cabinet Ministers by the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions that the restrictions on advertising in the bill could “seriously damage” the drinks tourism sector.
Despite his concerns about the potential effects of the new legislation he decided to proceed with his visitor centre in any event.
“We made the decision to go ahead with the plan. I think at the end of the day it would have been a disservice to Drumshanbo and to our staff to cancel the project on the basis of some elements of the Alcohol Bill.” (FANCY QUOTATION)
Rigney detailed why he decided to go ahead with the plan to develop the visitor centre anyway: “It’s still a concern but we’re going ahead anyway. With the growth in tourism and international visitors we hope this particular visitor experience will be of benefit to Leitrim. We’re close to Carrick-on-Shannon so there’ll be great things to do in the area.”
There is no doubt that drinks tourism is a growing trade in Ireland. The Guinness Storehouse was the country’s top paid-tourist-attraction last year, with shy of two-million visitors. The craft alcohol sector is also booming, and a number of distillery and brewery attractions have opened their doors across the country in the last couple of years also.
The Shed Distillery is aiming to get 10,000 visitors in its first year “as a starting point” and is hoping that it will grow from there. Rigney explained: “Our key point of difference is that everything we sell is distilled at the distillery and it’s very important that we can show that to people. We’re the real thing and we hope people will get a kick out of it.”
While they’re waiting for the project to be completed, Rigney has said that his main focus will be on expanding operations and working on the distillery’s whiskey product. There are twenty-eight staff working at the facility and the brand is exported to twenty-eight markets. The company had retained profits of just over one-million-euro in 2017, and is one of the fastest growing brands in the world, having won numerous global awards in recent years.
“Obviously the visitor experience is important for sharing our story with consumers, but we’ve got to keep growing the business at the same time,” Rigney said, before concluding: “We’re looking after our home base but we’re also driving internationally, opening up new markets. Our new whiskey is maturing and will be launched in 2020 so that’s the next big thing.”
On Monday, the 19th of November, a group concerned about the expansion of forestry in Co Leitrim visited Portlaoise to make their case about the impact of the over-forestation on their lives. The Save Leitrim group brought a number of appeals before the Forestry Appeals Committee, an independent body set up to hear appeals against decisions on license applications for afforestation and related activities. It is understood the Save Leitrim group brought appeals against two proposed forestry developments at this week’s meeting. John Brennan, member of the group says they also have serious concerns about the monoculture model for forestry being used in Ireland.
A radiographer who works at Roscommon University Hospital is celebrating after being nominated for and winning a national award for her work. This week Ann Marie Healy, from Roscommon town, said: “She’s very proud and delighted” for having been named ‘Radiographer of the Year.’ The mother of two, who recently became radiography services manager, has been described as “a driving force in the development of radiography services” at the hospital. Ann Marie has worked at the hospital for twelve years and says she especially appreciates the recognition because it was her patients who initially nominated her for the award.
SCDA lotto draw
The numbers drawn this week were 1, 6, 23, and 24. There was no jackpot winner. There was one "Match Three" winner, Damian Parker, Curraghroe. The next draw on will take place on Tuesday, 27th November, 2018, at the SCDA Office on Bawn Street, Strokestown. The next jackpot is worth €670.
A Leitrim company, Cora Systems, which was recently named as Technology Exporter of the Year, is hoping to expand its workforce in the coming months. The company is based in Carrick-on-Shannon and provides software solutions and packages for some of the biggest companies and organisations in the world including Price, Waterhouse, Cooper and the UK’s NHS. The company was founded by Roscommon man, Philip Martin, in 1999 and also has offices in London and in Boston, Massachusetts. Susanne Kerins, head of marketing with Cora Systems says they are hoping to expand even further in 2019. The firm currently employs fifty people at its Carrick-on-Shannon office and fifteen people across its other offices, and says that because it is experiencing a growth period, it currently has fifteen vacancies open, many of which are based in its Carrick-on-Shannon office. The roles include a variety of technical jobs including project managers, business analysists, and software developers.
According to figures released by the Central Bank there are currently 976 households across the three counties with mortgage arrears of two-years or more. The figures show that 438 households in Co Roscommon, 250 in Longford, and 62 in Leitrim are in long-term mortgage arrears. A new Government approved ‘mortgage to rent’ provider aims to keep people who find themselves in difficulty, in their own homes. Under the initiative Home for Life can buy the distressed property and then lease it back to the home owner through the Local Authority. Home for Life CEO, Paul Cunningham says that helping families stay in their homes makes economic sense to avoid having people become homeless, as regardless of the location of the property, making a family homeless will create a housing need, and this should be avoided.
On Tuesday night, Sinn Fein TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny, moved a bill to second stage in the Dail which is aimed at removing obstacles for people who can’t get planning to build one-off houses in rural areas. The amendment to the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 empower local authorities to grant a waste water discharge license to people who want to build in circumstance where a percolation test has been failed. Deputy Kenny says this would move away from the zero-discharge rule which has prevented many people buildings houses in every part of rural Ireland in recent years. The Sinn Fein TD says it’s a small measure which could have a hugely positive effect in tackling rural de-population. He cited that in Leitrim, the changes to the rules would enable in the region of twenty-five to thirty-five houses a year be built, noting it would not be a free-for-all.
A woman, whose body was found in a house in Castlerea, has been named locally as Susan Seymore. The 66-year-old’s remains were found at her home at Carrowbehy on Thursday of last week, but it is understood she may have been dead for up to a month. Her body was removed to Roscommon University Hospital mortuary, and a post-mortem examination was conducted. A private cremation took place on Monday. In other news, the 57-year-old man, whose body was found in a lake near Loughglynn last week has been named as Micheál Waldron. The funeral mass of the man from Cloonfower, Castlerea was held in St Brigid’s Church, Cloonbonniffe, on Tuesday, and was followed by his burial afterwards in St Joseph’s Cemetery, Castlerea. It is understood that neither of the two incidents are being treated as suspicious.
McSharry on GLAS
Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Marc Mac Sharry, has called on the Agriculture Minister to ensure that all GLAS payments are made to farmers before Christmas. New information released this week reveals that almost 13% of farmers across the North West of the country are still waiting for their balancing payment to be made. The figure is highest in Donegal, where almost 20% of farmers have not received their final payment. Deputy MacSharry commented: “A total of 10,807 farmers across Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon were eligible for payment under the 2017 GLAS scheme. However, 1,391 farmers are still waiting for the final 15% payment. This is disappointing as it is now mid-November, and Christmas is less than seven weeks away,” continuing to say: “GLAS payments form an integral part of farm incomes across the North West, and delays in payment can have an impact on cash flow for the business and for the family. Deputy McSharry called on the Minister to act: “I am calling on the Department of Agriculture to work through any of the administrative delays and ensure that farmers get the money they are owed as quickly as possible,” before concluding by saying: “We are now moving to a point where 2018 payments will soon start to be issued, and I think it would better for all concerned if the 2017 payments were closed off quickly.”
This week, Roscommon Civil Defence’s Water Unit was involved in the rescue of two vessels on the River Shannon. The first boat, which had two people onboard, lost power while approaching the lock gates at Rooskey. The vessel was drifting towards a collision with another boat which was marooned, with the crew having lost control of the vessel. The marooned vessel was on the buoy-line safety-barrier at the weir in Rooskey until the Civil Defence intervened. The boat was towed to safety and passengers were transported to Dromod. The second boat, which was marooned, was towed upstream to safe waters and the crew regained control of their vessel. Thankfully, there have been no reports of injuries from the incidents.
On Monday (26th November), works will begin to be carried out by Farrans Construction Ltd to upgrade the public water infrastructure between the R371/L-1415 junction and River Shannon Bridge in Rooskey. Irish Water will have commissioned the works and the company has advised it will take up to ten weeks to complete. In partnership with Roscommon County Council, Irish Water will replace 860 meters of aged cast iron pipes with plastic ones. The state agency says it’s expecting the replacements will be finalised by the end of January 2019 and works will be limited to short sections off pipe in order to minimise impact on customers and local residents.
The annual erecting of the Christmas lights is already underway in Strokestown, and the committee are making great progress this year, and are very thankful to several new volunteers who have lent a hand so far this year. The old adage that many hands make little work could not be relative than with Christmas lights in Strokestown. The group will be out again over the next couple of weekends putting up Christmas lights around Strokestown and are always happy for more volunteers to help out. If you are interested in helping, you can contact Mike Snype on (087) 913 2936 for details of where and when the group meet.
This week Gerard Mooney (38), who has an address at Castlerea, was before the Central Criminal Court and was arraigned by the registrar. The West-Roscommon man pleaded guilty to attempting to murder a woman last year. He had previously pleaded guilty to threatening to kill her and to harassing her over the previous days. Mooney pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Stephanie Clifton on 12th February 2017 at Cartron, Carrick on Shannon. He had previously been arraigned before the court on a number of related counts and had pleaded guilty.
Mooney previously admitted to committing burglary, on the 12th of February 2017, at the home of Stephen O’Donoghue in Cartron, Carrick-on-Shannon. This involved him entering as a trespasser and committing assault causing harm to Stephanie Clifton. He also admitted to the possession of a shotgun, making a threat to kill or cause serious harm to Ms Clifton, and the criminal damage of Mr O’Donoghue’s door. Further, Mooney pleaded guilty to harassing Ms Clifton by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting, or communicating with her between the 7th and 12th of February 2017.
Mooney was due to go on trial for the attempted murder of Ms Clifton next May, but that date was vacated yesterday following his plea. Michael Bowman SC, who appeared for the defendant, requested a urinalysis report and a Governor’s report for his client from Castlerea Prison. Mr Justice Michael White directed the preparation of the requested reports along with the preparation of a victim impact statement by Ms Clifton. The accused was remanded in custody for sentencing on Tuesday 18th December.
This week, Roscommon Drama Group will take to the stage at Roscommon Arts Centre, with their production of John B Keane's classic, Moll. Moll, the new housekeeper brings great promise for the Parish Priest, Canon Pratt, and his two curates. However, with the passage of time, Moll turns out to be a tryrant, who bestows all of her culinary favours on the Canon and makes life a misery for his two 'half-starved henchmen'. Under the direction of Margaret Madden, and starring a host of familiar Roscommon faces, you are invited to join Roscommon Drama Group for three fantastic nights of theatre on; Thursday 22nd, Friday 23rd, and Saturday 24th of November from 8 pm each evening. Tickets are selling fast, so book yours now at box office on 09066 25824 or from roscommonartscentre.ie.
€4k for Charity
June Belton launched herself into the public eye in September, when she held an art exhibition in the Backstage Theatre. Her artwork was on display in the Atrium Gallery during September, when it was auctioned off in aid of St Luke's Hospital. June found out this week that the auction she held to sell her artwork for charity raised a staggering €4,286. This up and coming local artist was inspired to take up painting by her late son, Derek, who passed away after a battle with cancer.
Angie Myles, of The Golden Health Store in Longford, has won this year’s Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Ms Myles was presented with the award, a €500 cash prize as well as a charitable donation of €500, by PPC Ltd and Eskimo-3. Ms Myles decided to present the charitable donation to CASA (Caring and Sharing Association) in Longford. The customers and the readers of Rude Health Magazine, the official magazine of the Irish association of Health Stores, nominated individuals for the Pat Curran Award. Angie, who is native of County Leitrim, has been a nutritional therapist for nearly 20 years.
New Roscommon Hospice
The new hospice building planned for Roscommon town is set to include separate accommodation for families who wish to stay on-site with patients. €6 million euro has been allocated for the building project. The site on the Athlone road is being developed by the Roscommon-Mayo Hospice. The hospice campus will include eight-bedroom suites, along with private outdoor spaces. People of all ages will receive full medical care and therapeutic support, and services will be available to patients receiving long term illness care or end of life care. It is understood that plans will be submitted to Roscommon County Council in the coming week, and it is anticipated that the building works will take a year and it is estimated that the project will be completed by January 2021, at which time funding from the HSE will be made available to support the operation of the services.
Éabha Kenny, from Cloontuskert, Co Roscommon, is a second-year student at the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon town. She will represent Ireland in May 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona at the Broadcom Masters, as part of the International Science and Engineering Fair. The Roscommon student has been named as the overall winner of the Broadcom Masters Award at the SciFest National Final, which was held in Dublin last Friday. The Broadcom Masters International programme will consist of twenty-eight delegates representing twenty-five countries. While attending the Intel ISEF, delegates will participate in the Broadcom Masters International programme which includes, selected Intel ISEF events, an outreach day, and additional specialized events. The very best of good luck to Ms Kenny in her ventures.
Robbery and assault
Longford Gardaí have thanked the public for their help in relation to an incident in which a woman was robbed and a man injured. Last Wednesday night, a woman was followed from Longford train station to a car park where she was robbed, and a young man who intervened to help her was assaulted and received injuries as a result. Gardai issued an appeal for information about the event on Friday, and say there was a great response from members of the public. A canvas for witnesses took place on Wednesday evening last, on the Dublin to Sligo train, the same service which the lady had used the previous week. It is understood that three people have appeared in court in relation to the incident to date.
Council rent hikes
Roscommon County Council has said that its recent rent review process is based on a formula that is handed down by the Department of Local Government. The local authority has confirmed that it is currently carrying out a process to update tenant information which they hold on file and utilise to calculate social housing tenant rents, in order to ensure that correct rent is calculated and charged to tenants of social housing. The method by which rent is calculated has not changed and is based on the income of the entire household. Despite it being a clear condition of receiving social housing support that tenants are obliged to report any changes in their household income when they arise, the changes in income are rarely notified to the council. As a result of this review, some tenants are reporting increases of up to 30 per cent or more. However, the local authority says the increases in rent are proportional to the unreported increase in household income.
Grant Thornton has confirmed that is intends to hire 400 new staff over the coming two-years to fill vacancies in their financial services, advisory, tax, and audit departments as well as further specialist consulting positions. Many of the new additions will be based at the accountancy company’s head offices in Dublin. The remaining posts are coming on stream at other branches in Longford, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Kildare, and Limerick. Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, has said that the investment by Grant Thornton is a "vote of confidence" in the Irish economy. “The financial services sector is a cornerstone of our economy,” he said, before concluding that the Government remained committed to supporting the creation of “high calibre jobs” in the financial services sector.
Drugs worth €570,000 seized
On 12th of November, as part of an ongoing investigation by the Dublin North Central Divisional Drugs Unit into the sale and supply of controlled substances in Dublin’s north inner city, a 34-year-old woman was stopped in the Dublin 7 area. In the course of a search, it is alleged that cannabis herb with an estimated street value of up to €20,000 and methamphetamine with an estimated street value of up to €22,000 (pending analysis) were seized. A follow-up search was conducted at a residence on the North Circular Road. This search is alleged to have yielded a seizure of cannabis, methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine with a combined estimated street value of up to €528,000 (pending analysis). Two men in their 30s were arrested at the scene.
Scientist with Longford roots discovers new way to tackle cancer
A scientist, with Longford roots, has devised a new method to help fight cancer. Dr Shane Cronin's research has shown that by activating the immune system with the hormone Serotonin, the body can fight the deadly disease more effectively. The Longford man, who made the discovery while working at Harvard, published his ground-breaking paper on this new method of activating the immune system in the medical journal ‘Nature’. Dr Cronin is the son of well-known Ballyjamesduff newsagent, Fintan Cronin, who is originally from St Patrick's Terrace, Longford, and the late Phyllis Cronin.
An ambulance crew which had been moved from Carrick-on-Shannon was returned to be based there on Thursday morning. The news came at a meeting which took place at the unit on Wednesday morning between a senior HSE official, union representatives, and local politicians. Cllr Caillian Ellis who arranged the meeting has been told that the unit will serve as a temporary base for up to six-months and planning permission will be lodged shortly for a new permanent base on the same site in Carrick.
On Saturday November 24th in the Percy French Hotel at 8 pm Strokestown Community Development Association are hosting a night not to be missed. The novel fundraising event ‘The Late Late Toy and Variety Show’ will be compered by comedian and actor, Katherine Lynch and will feature talent from comedian Frank Forde, as well as Miriam Gunn and other local talent. A spectacular night of chat, comedy, music, dance, and toys is promised. All proceeds are for the benefit of the SCDA community playground fund.
There is fantastic concert coming up in Rooskey Church on November 24th featuring the renowned Andy Cooney and Rooskey’s Emer Reynolds. The Conquerors and the Roscommon Solstice Choir will also feature in what will inevitably be an excellent night of entertainment. Proceeds from the night are in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Project.
Foreign-direct investment in the Democrat region has come in for further scrutiny after the publication of the number of site visits made by the IDA to the region were revealed. Figures released this week show that in the third quarter of this year, only one IDA site visit took place in Roscommon, while Longford only saw two and there were none in Leitrim. So far this year, just nine site visits have been made by the IDA to this area, with Leitrim accounting for five of the nine visits, all in the first half of the year. The IDA claims that the number of site visits does not always reflect investment potential in a county.
The former Whitehouse Hotel in Ballinlough, West Roscommon has closed. Padraic Whelan has run the hotel at Ballinlough since May of last year. Mr Whelan has been renting the 18-room premises from owner Peter Kennedy and it is understood that it was doing a good weekend trade and was popular for functions. Unfortunately, this week Mr Whelan confirmed that the property has ceased trading, with the loss of five part-time jobs. He has thanked his customers for their loyal support during his tenure at the hotel.
Digging up some fun at Roscommon Arts Centre
After a busy few weeks of children’s events, Roscommon Arts Centre have one final family theatre show taking place before the end of the year. ‘The Dig’ takes to the stage on Saturday 17th November at 12 pm and again at 2 pm and it’s the perfect family show.
All his life, Mac has wanted to be an Archaeologist, to be an expert in finding things and working out what they mean. If only he could stick to the facts and not get carried away with his Granny’s highfalutin stories, but in a world where facts and figures mean so much more than fairy tales and fantasies, Mac has to dig deeper to prove that what he finds is what he thinks it is. Will people believe him, or is this just another one of his tall tales?
From the team that brought you ‘Bake!’ and ‘Roadworks’, writer and performer, Paul Curley, with designer. Ger Clancy, in collaboration with award-winning theatre artist, Robert Evans, bring this brand-new adventure to life. ‘The Dig’ spins a classic yarn in a brand-new light which will delight and charm audiences both young and old. Suitable for ages six and over, tickets are available now from Roscommon Arts Centre on 09066 25824 and from www.roscommonartscentre.ie. This show is supported by The Arts Council Theatre Project Award and the Irish Theatre Institute.
Roscommon Solstice Choir will be performing four concerts this Christmas for charities in Roscommon, Galway, and Cavan. One of our concerts will be in Croghan, just outside Boyle. The Roscommon Solstice Choir is happy to announce that they will be performing a concert in St Michael's Church, Croghan on Sunday 16th December at 8 pm. The concert is being held in aid of Cavetown Residents Development Company Ltd and the Croghan National School choir will be special guests on the night. Tickets are currently on sale locally and will also be available on the door. The event promises to be a great night of Christmas cheer for a very worthy cause. More information can be found at facebook.com/roscommon.solstice.choir.
(Picture in drive Roscommon Solstice Choir executive committee members James Hoban, Eimear Reynolds, Catherine Murray, Siobhán Menton and Andrew Reynolds)
Roscommon Arts Centre present a series of
Professional Development Workshops
Over the coming weeks, Roscommon Arts Centre are presenting a series of professional development workshops. The workshops are aimed at artists, writers, and all creative types who are interested in developing skills to showcase their works.
The first workshop is a digital images workshops, entitled ‘Getting the basics right’ with Tim Durham. It takes place in Roscommon Library on the Tuesday 27th of November from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission to the workshop is €10 and this admission charge includes lunch. The day-long workshop is about the processes of preparing, cataloguing, and storing digital image files. This workshop will cover the when, why, and how of preparing digital image files. Participants wishing to attend should have some basic familiarity with creating, saving, and finding files on their PC or Mac.
The second event is a book binding workshop entitled ‘Read that image’, takes place on Tuesday the 4th of December from 1 pm to 4 pm in Roscommon Library. Admission to this event is €20 and lunch is also included. Led by members of Photobook Design Collective, participants will be introduced to the craft of bookbinding and learn about the different papers, materials, and tools needed to create their own hand-bound books. Members of the ‘Read that image’ team will guide participants, step-by-step, through various bookbinding techniques. Workshop participants will leave with their own unique handmade notebooks and the knowledge and understanding of how to apply these binding techniques to their projects. The techniques taught can be used to create all sorts of books from journals and notebooks to artist books and zines. The workshop is suitable for beginners and all materials are included in the admission fee. These RVAF Professional Development workshops are funded through Creative Ireland. Places for both workshops are limited, so book your space now at the Roscommon Arts Centre box office by calling 090 6625824.
Noel Hanlon, the man behind Hanlon's ambulance factory in Longford town and Manford Clothing Company in Ballymahon, died in South Africa on Saturday. Mr Hanlon who was seventy-eight, has been ill for some time. Hanlon has resided in Capetown for a number of years, and he returned to Longford to visit during the summer. The well-known and liked entrepreneur is being remembered as 'one of the great men of Longford' and 'a larger than life personality'.
The late Mr Hanlon’s former ambulance factory on the Dublin Road, Longford where his son Paddy now runs a successful 24-hour filling station, employed 300 people during the 1980s. Mr Hanlon established the ambulance manufacturing business in the 1960s and at its height, the factory supplied 60% of the British ambulance market and also exported to the Middle East and Far East. Mr Hanlon also operated the Manford Clothing Company in Ballymahon, where high end coats and commercial uniforms were manufactured for many years under his stewardship.
Mr Hanlon was a close friend of former and late Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, and he held a number of chairmanships of state companies, and declined to accept payment for the appointments. He was made chairman of Aer Lingus in 1980. In 1992 Mr. Hanlon became chairman of the state operated private health insurance company, VHI, and in 1995 became the chairman of Aer Rianta. He also served as chairman of Foir Teoranta, the state established ‘lender-of-last-resort', which was established during bleak economic times to rescue businesses which found themselves in financial trouble.
Sincere sympathies have been extended from all sides of the political spectrum to the Hanlon family on the loss of their beloved Noel.
This week, Carrick-on-Shannon's Tesco supermarket closed temporarily due to a pest issue. A notice was placed on the supermarket door on Tuesday night which detailed that it had closed early due to ‘unforeseen circumstances.’ A spokesperson for the company has said that after reports from a customer in store yesterday, a pest issue was identified. Tesco are saying that it takes matters such as this seriously and, as is standard practice, they closed the store in question yesterday evening. It is understood that the supermarket giant immediately arranged for a pest-control company to carry out a full inspection of the property and the store reopened at 3.30 this afternoon. Tesco thanked its customers for their patience and apologized for any inconvenience caused.
Tully’s Hotel reopens
Castlerea’s landmark, Tully’s Hotel, reopened fully on Wednesday this week. The Hotel had closed in 2014 after being run by the Tully family since 1968. In July of this year, the bar of the hotel reopened and locals are delighted that the well-known premise’s is now fully operational. The town centre premises is now operating a newly refurbished restaurant and twenty newly decorated bedrooms. Locals have sent their best wishes to the Tully family on their reopening of the hotel.
Nationwide, nine local authorities, one of which is County Longford, have spent none of funds which have been allocated for traveller accommodation in the last year. The Oireachtas Housing Committee was informed this week, that Longford, Laois, Mayo, Monaghan, Westmeath, Wexford, Kildare, Galway, and South Dublin did not spend any money on traveller accommodation. Under new proposals by a Government appointed expert group, it is proposed that local authorities which fail to spend their budgets could face financial sanctions.
On Tuesday, 13th November, 2018, at 8.30 pm Mike McCarthy, tour guide and research assistant at the Cruachan Ai Centre, Tulsk will present his talk on ‘Cattle Raiding on a Grand Scale - Na Tana and Cruachan Ai’, at the Percy French Hotel, Strokestown. Admission for non-members of the County Roscommon Historical and Archaeological Society is €5.
On Monday night, a three-car collision at Kilteevan cross outside Roscommon Town, resulted in the death of Kathleen Morris, from Knockcroghery. The 68-year-old lady lost her life when the car she was driving collided with two other vehicles at the junction outside the county town, on the national primary route between Roscommon town and Ballyleague. Mrs. Morris is survived by her husband Michael and their son John. Roscommon Gardai are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the crash which occurred at around 9.45pm on Monday night on the N63 at Kilteevan.
Irish Water has confirmed that work should begin early next year to start connecting the Grangemore water scheme in Roscommon to the Boyle-Ardcarne scheme. The semi-state body with responsibility for the management of the nation's water infrastructure, announced this week that the boil water notice which had been in place on the Grangemore scheme since the end of July has been lifted. The notice has been in place since coliforms and low chlorine levels were detected in the supply, factors which meant it had become vulnerable to infection. Irish Water say they will be monitoring the scheme closely to ensure it is fit for purpose going forward. The long-term solution for the customers affected by these issues will be the joining of the Grangemore and Ardcarne schemes. Irish Water have said that planning for a project of this size takes some time but they are nearing the end of the planning process and are hopeful of having a contractor on the site in early 2019.
Four businesses from Roscommon, Longford, and Leitrim were winners at the 2019 Irish Auto Trade Awards this week. Strokestown based Kelly Trucks (Strokestown) Ltd won the regional award for Connaught/Ulster in the HCV Aftersales Main Dealer of the year category. PJ Fallon & Son Ltd in Roscommon town won the best Workshop Tools & Equipment Supplier of the Year award. Also, from Roscommon town, Blueprint Autos Ltd earned the regional winner award in the Independent Workshop of the Year category. Brendan Lowe and Sons Accident Repair Specialists in Carrick-on-Shannon were announced the regional winners for Connacht/Ulster in the Bodyshop of the Year category. 2019 is the 5th year of the awards, and they are a celebration of excellence in the Irish auto trade in Ireland, a sector which accounts for over 35,000 jobs across the country.
South Leitrim flood measures
A €9-million flood-relief scheme in Carrick-on-Shannon is set to go to tender early next year. At a meeting of Leitrim County Council on Monday last, Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran announced the multi-million-euro funding for measures to be developed in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim village, Mohill, and Dromod. Carrick-on-Shannon is set to be the first flood risk zone addressed in the South of the county. The measures to be undertaken are likely to involve embankments and walls. The council’s Chief Executive, Lar Power, says the plans are at an advanced stage and he is hopeful that the tender process can begin in the opening months of 2019. Consultants are also being appointed to address issues at the Shannon Callows, Lough Allen, and the Parteen Weir as part of the governments overall strategy to deal with flooding in the region.
Paternity Leave uptake
Leitrim has recorded the lowest number of paternity benefit payments so far this year, according to new figures released from the Department of Social Protection. The two-week payment which is intended for new fathers who take time off after the birth of a child. The payment was introduced in September of 2016 and has seen a relatively low up-take nationwide with the figures showing that a total of 51,409 fathers have taken the €240 euro a week payment since it was introduced just over two years ago. Leitrim had the lowest number of fathers taking up the payment with just 142 availing of the benefit in the last year. Longford also had a low uptake with only 144 having taken the leave so far this year. The highest uptake in this region was in Roscommon, where 213 fathers availed of the welfare payment this year.
SCDA lotto draw
The numbers drawn this week were 5, 7, 17, and 22. There was no jackpot winner. There was one "Match Three" winner, Leo Shiel, Church Street, Strokestown. The next draw on will take place on Tuesday, 13th November, 2018, at the SCDA Office on Bawn Street, Strokestown. The next jackpot is worth €650.
Former District hospital
One of Carrick-on-Shannon’s most historic buildings is to be auctioned. It will be one of several Shannonside properties that will be auctioned by BidX1 on November 15th. The former district hospital (aka infirmary) in Summerhill, Carrick-on-Shannon, is a detached five-bay, two-story property. The protected structure extends to 10,000 square feet and it is one of the town’s landmark buildings. In recent years, it has been converted into offices and, according to Land Registry documents, is owned by George Beggan, of Herbertstown, Crossakeil, Kells, Co Meath. On November, it will be auctioned and has a guide price of €150,000.
5th collection for Pope
The Bishop of Elphin is defending the holding of a fifth national collection, due to happen later this month, to help pay the costs of the summer visit by Pope Francis. The church has said that the World Meeting of Families deficit is in the region of €4 million and so far, a total of €15.4 million has been raised through previous national collections and donations. Bishop Doran says the money would be gathered successfully if every adult catholic was willing to donate the cost of a coffee or pizza. He says if enough money is not raised through the special collections on the 11th and 12th of November, the funds will have to be taken from the dioceses.
In 2017, there were forty-seven complaints logged with Comreg in relation to mobile phone companies. Staggeringly, Roscommon and Leitrim accounted for the vast majority of these complaints with twenty-three originating in Roscommon and fifteen in Leitrim. Of the complaints lodged, only three related to mobile phone coverage. A further twenty-three complaints were made about broadband operators in that year. Telecoms company, Three Ireland, was the company most complained about service provider in Longford, Leitrim, and Roscommon with nine complaints made by mobile phone customers in those counties in the first nine months of this year. Vodafone accounted for five complaints in the same period. With respect to broadband complaints in the area, twenty-three complaints have been lodged by customers since January of this year. Leitrim and Roscommon, with 11 and 9 complaints respectively, are the counties in which customers seem to be having the most difficulties. Six complaints have been made about Eir in Roscommon alone.
Leitrim and Roscommon have recorded some of the largest decreases in new car sales. Figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry have revealed that the total number of new car registrations for the month of October were down 11.2%, in comparison to the same month last year. New car registrations in Leitrim and Roscommon are both down by 12%, with registrations in Longford down by 6% with 596 new car registrations this year so far, compared with 637 to October 2017. 481 new cars have been registered in Leitrim so far this year, compared to 547 at the same time last year, while 1047 have been registered in Roscommon against almost 1200 in the same period of time last year.
Fine Gael convention
Former Fine Gael councillor Tom Mulligan, from Mohill, may be set for a return to politics as the race heats up for next year’s local elections. Fine Gael’s selection convention for the Carrick-on-Shannon Municipal District (South Leitrim) will take place in the Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, on December 12th. Mr. Mulligan lost his seat in the 2014 local elections, but he has now stated that he is considering trying to regain it. Currently, Finola Armstrong-McGuire is Fine Gael’s only councillor in the area. There is yet to be a strategy decided upon by the party, but it understood that the party is likely to run a two or three candidate strategy. It is expected that Fine Gael can win a second seat in the municipal district this time out if they can perfect their vote management strategy.
The recently appointed Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris was the special guest at this week’s meeting of the Longford Joint Policing Committee. He moved to down-play hopes that he would oversee the re-opening of rural garda stations. He admitted that providing additional resources would prove difficult and that rural crime is a major challenge for the Gardai. Mr. Harris, who is a former senior PSNI official, confirmed that he has been made aware of calls to re-open stations in the region, such as Tarmonbarry on the Longford-Roscommon border, but explained that there were a number of factors to take into consideration in any discussions of this nature. He also explained to the public meeting, that a lack of funding coupled with the impact re-opening stations would have on the Garda district overall and its staffing levels, are important issues that would have to be examined before any station could possibly be considered for re-opening.
In issue seven of The Democrat, we carried a story in relation to evening hackney and mini-bus services. Concerns were raised with us about the lack of late evening hackney and bus services in the Strokestown area. The article elicited a very strong response from hackney and mini-bus operators in the area. Many of the operators felt our article was unfair, however, we are nothing if not fair and have spoken to a number of the operators who took issue with the article and have agreed to carry their side of the story.
In our article, we noted that it was not possible for all the hackney and mini-bus operators to operate a late-night service seven days a week. The Democrat speculated on a number of possible solutions to the problem, and gave examples as to the solutions which had been implemented in other areas. However, a number of operators have placed the blame firmly at the feet of the publicans. One operator detailed a scheme they tried to operate a number of years ago, whereby publicans could book their services at eleven o’clock for closing time, the operator put up posters, talked to the publicans, and after a number of weeks had received no calls for the evening service on offer.
A number of operators claim that the publicans don’t do enough to clear-out their premises at a reasonable time during the week. One operator noted that they already work fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, and couldn’t possibly be waiting up until pub closing times, every day, in order collect customers, so they make a point of not bringing people into town during the week at all. Another noted that after our article run, they trialed waiting up until late to see if they got any calls, in the course of a week they only received one call after 11 pm to run someone home from a local public house.
All the hackney and mini-bus operators we spoke with, before and after our last article, have assured us that they always bring home customers who book return journeys, but some did note that they receive calls to bring home customers who they did not drop into town, and often they have already finished up for the night. When possible, they will oblige but they cannot always do so for various reasons. They did admit that it would stand to reason that they are receiving these calls because another operator is not answering publicans, having already dropped customers into town, but they would not be drawn further on matter.
The issue of a late-evening hackney service appears to be a contentious one. Publicans claim there is ample demand, yet hackney and mini bus operators say that they aren’t being asked to provide one. It would appear, as is often the case, that there is a breakdown in communication between the various stakeholders: publicans; public service vehicle operators; and their shared customers. Perhaps those with an economic interest in this matter will endeavour to resolve what, to all intense and purpose, appears to be a resolvable problem.
While Longford Riverside Shopping Centre’s planning permission has been approved, subject to nine conditions, Omniplex’s Senior management are waiting until the deadline for applications to An Bord Pleanala has passed before commencing any work.
President of the Longford Chamber of Commerce, Niamh Donlon said: “I think it’s very fitting that it’s beside the river, which is our greatest resource here in town and if we look at other towns that have focused on the greatest resource like Carrick-on-Shannon, you can see how they have prospered”, she continued to say, “This’ll be huge for Longford”. This project will see a six-screen cinema being developed, the demolition of the current cinema, as well as space for restaurants and “high-end retailers setting up” according to Niamh Donlon.
The Chamber of Commerce is saying that the opening of the River Camlin through the Riverside Shopping Centre will allow the town to progress and develop using one of Longford’s most important assets.
Longford County Council approved of the project, subject to nine conditions. These conditions include the references to road safety, development, signage and advertising, as well as sustainable energy.
Councillor Seamus Butler says that the Riverside centre will be “a great retail and entertainment centre for Longford,” and that he thinks this, “is the second most positive news we’ve had since Centre Parcs.”
A decision was set to be made on 8th October 2018, however, more information was requested from Omniplex by the council and the decision was delayed. Issues that were raised when planning permission was sought, included the HSE seeking information on cleaning, drainage, and food. A letter of consent was also required from the council, as part of the building was owned by the local authority, and it would appear that same was given; as planning has been granted.
The premises have been vacant for some time now, and development of the structure is greatly welcomed by the local community.
There has been a 22% increase in job vacancies in Leitrim in the third quarter of this year according to IrishJobs.ie. Whereas there is a much lower increase in Roscommon, which has only seen a 6% rise, with Longford doing marginally better at 7%. In previous years Roscommon had seen the highest increase, with improvements of 20% not being uncommon.
Planning permission granted
News broke this week at no appeal has been lodged with an Bord Pleanála against the waste-to-energy plant planned for Ballaghaderreen. The deadline for appeals closed on October 10th, and despite local action group; Tibohine Action Group having opposed the project to date, no appeal has been filed. In September of this year, Roscommon County Council granted permission to Biocore Environmental to retain and complete the €8-million facility. The Tibohine Action Group, which has publicly opposed the project, indicated it would appeal the council’s decision to the board, however, an Bord Pleanála has confirmed that no appeal has been lodged with them. Biocore Environmental has confirmed that it has now received the final grant of planning from the council.
In the lead up to Christmas this year, Longford shoppers will be able to of avail of free off-street parking in the county town. The news comes amid renewed calls for the charges to be waived for the entire festive season. However, Longford County Council has only agreed to afford motorists free parking in off-street car parks over the course of four Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas. The dates which the waiver applies to are December 1, 8, 15, and 22. It was also agreed by the Council that the same rule would be applied on Friday, November 30th, when a group of visitors from Longford's twinning-town in France, Noyal-Chatillon-Sur Seiche, are due to attend the annual turning-on of the Christmas lights in the town.
Cycle for Hospice
This Sunday the 4th of November, at 9.30 am, a cycle in aid of the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice will take place. The event was rescheduled to next Sunday after weather warnings were issued for its original date. Registration will open at 8 am at the old school community centre in Rooskey. The cost of single entry is €20 while family entry is €30.
Strokestown Park House
A short film about the local heritage attraction that is Strokestown Park House has been created by Red Marble Productions. It is hoped that the film will be released to the public soon, so keep an eye out on their social media pages; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more news. In other Strokestown Park House related news, from Thursday 1st November, the House will be switching to the winter opening hours of 10.30 am - 4.00 pm and the daily tours will be at 2.00 pm.
Longford ‘Dead of Night’
On Halloween evening just gone, the dark streets of Longford came alive with a wonderfully frightful display of colour, music, and noise as the 13th annual ‘Dead of Night’ festival swung into action. The free annual Halloween festival saw over 5,000 people gather to witness a giant inflatable Spiderman lead the carnival parade through the winding streets of the town. There were magical street performers and lots of energetic music to entertain the massive crowds.
Roscommon Women's Network and GRETB
course for a healthier, greener you will take place at Strokestown Park House on Wednesday 7th November from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm and also at St Joseph's Resource Centre in Boyle on Thursday 8th November, from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm. The courses will be held one morning a week for six weeks and are free of charge. The course contains a bit of horticulture, some cookery, shopping tips, waste reduction tips, and some nature walks as well as many more fun activities. To book your place call 094 962 1690, text Nora on 086 809 9154, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthy Roscommon evening
Roscommon County Council and Roscommon LCDC are hosting a ‘healthy evening’ on 7th November at 7.30 pm in Áras an Chontae, Roscommon Town. An evening of inspiration, motivation, and simple steps to beat those winter blues.
Rooskey action plan
Rooskey Town and Country Development, together with Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils, and JH Public Affairs; are delighted to announce the launch of their integrated action plan for Rooskey and the surrounding areas. On 22nd November at 8 pm in the Community Centre in Rooskey, the action plan will be unveiled to representatives of all our local businesses and voluntary groups, as well as any interested members of the public are all welcome to attend.
A nutrition information and sampling evening will take place on Wednesday 7th November in the Hyde Centre. There will be explanations of the benefits of nutrition and testimonials from multiple people. All are welcome.
Strokestown Community Development Association are holding a table quiz in aid of the Strokestown Easter Parade. The quiz on November 9th in Hanly’s Bar Strokestown @ 9.30pm. Table of 4 €40 Refreshments & Raffle on the night. Please support.
SCDA Lotto draw
The numbers drawn were 2, 5, 8, and 11. There was no Jackpot Winner. The three "lucky dip" winners are; John Flanagan, Nadnaveigh, Ellie Parker, Curraghroe, and Paul Rogers, Scramogue. The next draw will take place on Tuesday, 30th October 2018, at the SCDA Office on Bawn Street, Strokestown. The jackpot for the next draw is €630.
The closing date for the receipt of entries for the 21st Strokestown International Poetry Prize is Friday, 7th December 2018. Full details are available at www.strokestownpoetry.org.
Tidy Towns AGM
Strokestown Tidy Towns are holding their Annual General Meeting on November 5th, in SCDA Office on Bawn Street, at 8 pm. It is hoped that this year a new committee will be elected with a view to taking Strokestown to the next level, within the scope of the objectives set out for Tidy Towns committees. All interested parties are welcome to attend.
Forest Park church reopens to the public
After a substantial amount of remedial work, the derelict church in Lough Key Forest Park has reopened to the public. The old Rockingham church on the grounds of the park, located outside Boyle, Co. Roscommon, received funding from Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2017 in the form of two separate grants. The grants which amounted to €17,000 had to be match funded by the park management company Moylurg Rockingham DAC.
War dead memorial
It is understood that work is progressing on a memorial to the 127 men from Boyle who lost their lives in the First World War. Boyle lost more men in the last year of WWI than in any other year of the war. The memorial is due to be unveiled on Sunday, November 11th at 11 am at King House, Boyle.
I am launching my latest book 'We are the Survivors' about the Workhouse in Boyle in famine times, on the 16 Nov. at 8pm in King House, Boyle.
Among other items, it tells the story of 52 orphan girls from the local area leaving via a Bianconi coach for onward travel to Australia. We have the 'good news' stories of descendants. The book also gives details of the Rockingham and Woodbrook Estates evictions with several emotive drawings by local Roscommon artist Michelle Simon. It also narrates the trojan assistance given by the Quakers and first hand accounts from people who were living during this momentous occasion.