From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
Connaught Telegraph - 10 Sep 2003
By The Jaundiced Eye
13, Sep 2003 - 11:39

Connaught Telegraph defends its stance on Councillor Durcan

Fine Gael Councillor Eoin Garavan has submitted a notice of Motion for a meeting of Castlebar Town Council next calling on the Connaught Telegraph to lift a ‘boycott’ which we have placed on coverage of Independent councillor Frank Durcan. Yes, the ban has been in place since Councillor Durcan publicly abused members of our editorial staff while they were attending functions in a private capacity with their families. The first incident happened on St. Patricks’s Day 1999 when one of our senior reporters went to atake a photograph of one of his children who was marching in the Castlebar parade to be greeted with the following remarks from Councillor Durcan – ‘Who are you spying on and KGB’ [sic] This was within the hearing of the top dignitaries in the parade. The second and more serious incident occurred at the opening ceremony of the 1999 Castlebar Walking Festival when Councillor Durcan approached another senior member of staff and called him ‘scum’ in front of his wife and family and other members of the public. Naturally the reporter’s family was very upset by the remarks.

The editor, Tom Gillespie, goes on to say that a simple apology from Councillor Durcan would have sufficed and would still restore harmony. So now we know why the infamous ban has been in place over the past few years. Of course we are not sure what provoked Councillor Durcan to resort to this kind of behaviour in the first place but presumably the CT had offended his sensibilities by something they had reported upon. No doubt this will be trashed out at the next council meeting. Will Councillor Durcan apologise? Will the original adverse report in the CT be reprinted? Watch this space – or maybe you will have to read the Western People if Frank Durcan does not apologise?

No bridge too far as Castlebar Gardai step up their campaign against under-age drinking - Clapped out ambulance is latest den for teenage boozers.

There’s a war on against outdoor underage drinking in Castlebar. It’s a campaign the Gardai claim to be winning. I think it’s a bit to early to decide whether the Gardai are justified in claiming to be on top of what has become a worrying situation. But the Force is turning the screws on offenders and are rigorously applying the bye-laws adopted by the Town Council three years ago which ban the consumption of alcohol in public places in the town under penalty of severe fines. At weekends a special Garda unit consisting of eight persons swoop on known areas for illegal drinking, such as Lough Lannagh and the bridge at Brooklands.

Tom Shiel joined a Garda unit on Friday and Saturday night 5th and 6th Sep on the Buckfast patrol around the graveyard, Lough Lannagh and under the bridge at Brooklands among other popular drinking spots. (Have a look under the famous bridge sometime - interesting for its graffiti and general decreptitude. Sometimes the surface of the river there is virtually wall to wall beer cans.) The account includes plenty of running and chasing - with beer cans being rapidly disposed of by young girls - who get warnings for lack of evidence when caught up with. A photo shows the headline ‘clapped out ambulance’ off Pavilion Road. Patrolling Linenhall Street they came across two youths with a bottle of Buckfast on the windowsill of the Linenhall who now face fines of 600 euros having had their details taken. The Gardai operate in plainclothes and unmarked cars in order to surprise the underage drinkers. It's a simple enough concept - just regularly visit the known haunts and roust them until the message sinks in; but not so easy to catch them in the act so to speak and provide evidence that will stand up in court. We wish them success and three cheers for what is undoubtedly a thankless job - particularly when they transport drunk, underage teenagers home to face their parents.

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