From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
Connaught Telegraph - 3 Dec 2003
7, Dec 2003 - 00:21

Three from the Connaught Telegraph:

Date set for Beverley’s Supreme Court libel appeal

Report by Tom Kelly

A date has been set for Mayo Fianna Fail Deputy Beverley Flynn’s Supreme Court appeal against RTE. It will take place on Wednesday February 18th, and the action is also listed for mention a few days before the scheduled hearing date. The Castlebar-based T.D. is appealing the decision of a High Court jury not to find in her favour following her mammoth libel action against RTE, chief news reporter Charlie Bird and farmer James Howard.

West health shake-up hanging in the balance

Report by Tom Kelly

Two West of Ireland members of the Irish Medical Organisation have taken a controversial public stand on the proposed radical shake up in the region’s health services. Swinford’s Dr. Diramuid McLoughlin and Castlerea-based Dr Greg Flynn called for the rejection of the Hanly recommendations at Monday’s meeting of the Western Health Board. Although their motion to opposed the Hanly strategy was defeated by 13 votes to 10, it has opened up huge divisions on the board in relation to the matter. Members have now agreed to hold a further debate on the issue before making a final decision on their position. Dr. McLoughlin stated that plans to centralise accident and emergency services in the region to a centre of excellence in Galway were ‘nothing sort of madness’

After 64 years it’s ‘goodbye to all hat’ in Castlebar

Report by Tom Shiel

Castlebar is about to doff its cap and wave goodbye to an industry which was once the mainstay of employment in the town with 300 workers. Hat-making in Castlebar is to cease following the decision of Gandon Enterprises to downsize its operations and reduce its workforce by almost fifty per cent. The remaining 14 workers at the Hats f Ireland facility on the Breaffy Road won’t be involved in hat-making the Connaught Telegraph understands.


Ms Flynn of course has had this hanging over her for some time now like a Sword of Damocles weighing in at approximately 2.5M euros worth of costs from the failed libel case. There will be a lot of interest in Castlebar mid February next. If she loses the appeal what then? Bankruptcy? Will she have to resign her seat if declared bankrupt? Time will tell.

The Hanly report has caused huge debate. On the one hand we are in a bit of a mess at present with top-heavy health boards closing beds to save money. God help you if you have a non-emergency ailment that requires surgery on the public health system. You have to wait months or years unless you have VHI in which case you can walk in next week no problem. The debate focuses a lot on A&E. What happens if I have a heart attack or suffer serious head injury. At present if you have a serious brain injury you will end up in Beaumont. If you get a heart attack in Belmullet you have to get to Castlebar at the moment – that’s a daunting prospect as it stands. I would much prefer to have a proper primary care unit right there locally with a defibrillation unit and a well-trained ambulance crew to provide that early stage intervention which more than likely determines the outcome. I think we should give them a chance to put the integrated plan into place. It’s a jigsaw but provided there are no missing links it sounds like a vast improvement on the mess that’s there today.

The demise of the hat factory sure is a sad moment for a business with a long history in Castlebar. Of course few wear hats nowadays compared with the hat-wearing male population in its heyday. Third Class of St. Pats Boys National School have put together a nice history of the hat factory in its original location with its 120 foot chimney.

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