From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
The Connaught Telegraph - 17 Dec 2003
20, Dec 2003 - 17:57

Three from the Connaught:

Judge prohibits Brickens farmer in cruelty case from increasing his stock level

A Claremorris farmer who appealed a six months prison sentence for cruelty to animals has been directed by a circuit court judge to have no more than 80 stock on his farm. Defendant Dominick Lowry from Keebagh, Brickens, Claremorris, was told to move with diligence in providing housing for his animals on his farm when he appeared before Judge Kevin Haugh at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court, sitting in Westport. His appeal was then adjourned to the Easter court sessions. Veterinary inspector Peter Byrne outlined that he visited the defendant’s farm at Brickens on April 11th 2002. He found a dead male Simmental which was lying dead for a few days. Hair was gone from the lower limbs. He also saw a very emaciated female Charolais which was barely able to stand. Seven weanlings which were fenced off were in 2ft of manure. Other animals were in a mucky condition.

Town manager responses to Newtown planning allegations

The manager of Castlebar Town Council, Mr. Ray Norton, has issued a detailed report on a number of planning applications in the Newtown area of Castlebar. The report was requested following a heated debated at the November meeting of the authority on the decision of the authority to refuse planning permission to Catherine Ryan to convert a house, formerly owned by Pat Flanagan, to offices. Councillor Frank Durcan, who was the auctioneer involved in the sale of the property, described the ruling as ‘disgraceful’.

Leave planning matters to the planning experts and remove all grounds of suspicion.

So who are the twelve auctioneers on Mayo County Council? They are Frank Chambers, Richard Finn, Al McDonnell, Michael Burke, Seamus Weir, Gerry Coyle, Joe Mellett, Tim Quinn, Pat McHugh, Michael Ring, Cyril Burke and Michael Carty. Is it a problem? Apart from the issues relating to public perception it is not.

The court case of the Brickens farmers reported in the Connaught in the same week that a major report Department of Agriculture report outlined for the first time the true and horrific scale of the animal deaths on Irish farms may be a coincidence but unfortunately such cases are all too common. According to this report some 4000 animals die each week on Irish farms. It is believed that preventable illnesses such as pneumonia and scour plus malnourishment are responsible. The five million pound investigation into cattle deaths in Limerick some years ago pales into insignificance by comparison as only a handful of animals were involved. Effectively those deaths were attributed to poor farm practices by the EPA and other authorities in that case. This new report suggests that bad practices are much more widespread than ever thought possible.

Two planning items in the Connaught are nicely juxtaposed. In the first piece an auctioneer councillor is complaining bitterly about a house that he sold not getting planning permission for change of use. In the second the Connaught’s Tallyman is putting his ‘Head on the Block’ as his column is called, by naming the auctioneers on Mayo County Council. This debate has been almost the subject of fun on the Castlebar Bulletin board for some time since it was pointed out that a majority of the councillors on Mayo County Council have a direct interest in one-off houses and planning issues. When, to the auctioneers who are councillors, you add farmers who are councillors and the developers who are councillors it’s a majority according to some of the contributors. Of course it’s obvious that auctioneers are not going to put restrictions on the siting of one-off houses because they sell quite a lot of one-off houses. It is obvious too that farmers are not going to restrict their own possibility of selling off sites on their land. It is obvious that developers are not going to vote to prevent themselves from building one-off houses outside of towns and villages. The edits made to the county development plan by councillors seem to be extremely pointed in that an awful lot of the changes are aimed at reducing restrictions on one-off houses. One councillor, an auctioneer, actually boasted on Castlebar local radio that they had ‘mutilated’ the draft plan. The Connaught is to be praised for its call for planning to be left to the planning experts in order to remove all grounds for suspicion. A free and unafraid press is an important plank of our democracy.

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