From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Connaught Telegraph 11 Feb 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
14, Feb 2004 - 21:35

"I have done nothing improper", insists Beverley

Embattled Mayo Fianna Fail Deputy Beverley Flynn has reacted angrily to allegations that she was involved in facilitating tax evasion for her father, retired EU Commissioner and former Minister, Padraig Flynn. In a statement made in Dáil Éireann last night (Tuesday), the Castlebar-based TD condemned claims made about her in the national media as ‘totally unfounded’. The fresh allegations against her began to unfold last Friday when TV3 News reported the Padraig Flynn secretly channelled 50,00 donation to the party into a bogus non-resident account.

The Castlebar TD gave a clear precise account of the £25,000 transaction advising her father to put the money into a number of legal investment accounts denying completely that there was a bogus non-resident account involved. Most of the commentators during the week accepts that she told the truth in her Dáil statement. It's important of course to distinguish the origin of the money, which she claimed to know nothing about, and what was apparently advice on where to get the best return on an investment. An Irish Times headline today, however, suggests that she is landing him in it. The next item is the court appeal on 18th of Feb which may effectively decide whether she will have to be declared bankrupt if she cannot raise enough money to pay the enormous legal bill arising from the previous case against RTE. Then we will have the appearance of Padraig Flynn himself in front of the Mahon Tribunal will be awaited with great interest both in Castlebar and further afield. The leaks of the tribunal submissions, however, will take from the day as we now already have a taster of what is going to be said by the various protagonists. People commented on the fact that there were very few Fianna Fáil TDs in view of the camera when Beverley made her Dáil statement. Similarly, while they cheered and clapped for Ray Burke’s famous ‘line in the sand speech’ there was a deafening silence from the assembled ranks according to Vincent Browne’s panellists that evening.

Why the need for broadband internet access for councillors?


I noted with interest, the calls to Mayo County Manager Des Mahon by Cllr Al McDonnell, backed up by Cllr Michael Burke to "bring local councillors fully into the technology age". What councillor McDonnell was referring to was the demand by Mayo County Councillors to be provided with High Speed Broadband Internet access and mobile phones.

What struck me most notably about this demand was "Whatever for?" For three years or more, I have been attempting to communicate with both officials and council members of Mayo County Council and local town councils and in all that time I have never received an e-mail reply from any member of the council through official e-government channels, and the replies from council officials have been rare and less than prompt in arriving. ……

Your Sincerely

County Mayo E-constituent

by e-mail via a 56k modem because I live outside the current range f Broadband availability in County Mayo

I love this one. Talk about jumping on the bandwagon. Councillors have been told that broadband is a good thing so they want it. But we have had email in Castlebar for almost 10 years now and in Mayo more generally for at least 5 years. So why do they not use e-mail themselves? Unfortunately, the writer of the letter to the Connaught above won’t be the only one not to be able to get broadband because he or she is too far from an exchange – ribbon housing and one-off houses located too far from services and infrastructure. Now I wonder who should we blame for that? It couldn’t possibly be could it that the councillors are going to get it in the neck for allowing houses to be built that haven’t a hope in hell of ever getting broadband?

Closure of Castlebar softwear [sic] plant

Eighteen jobs are being lost to Castlebar. Softwear [sic] firm Lionbridge Limited, is closing its plant at Tucker Street in the town. The company has been operating in Castlebar since January 1998. Now as a result of consolidation proposals, the centre is being shut down with the loss of 18 jobs. The annual wage bull is believed to be in the region of 500,000. Mr. Frank Byrne, general manager, Lionbridge, Galway, said all staff members were being offered positions at their plant in Ballybrit.

I’m just wondering if we are really cut out for the much-touted, upcoming R&D Research and Development economy here in Castlebar? When I saw the front-page article about the closure of the soft ‘wear’ plant I assumed that we had lost another clothing factory to cheap foreign labour markets. Reading on of course I realised it was actually Lionbridge who had a unit working away quietly for the past six years nestled there in the arcade on Tucker Street. The 18 people working there are now faced with a daily commute to Ballybrit or else they'll have to go looking for employment elsewhere in Castlebar. Unfortunately our local political masters have absolutely no concept of what is entailed in setting up the new R&D economy that we really need to be embracing if we are to ride the next economic wave. Their failure to even use email as per the previous item above shows that they don’t even understand the last wave of economic activity that has now apparently both come and gone. Paddy McGuinness campaigned for the RTC way back when; but unfortunately there is no one of his vision nowadays – some would say that a bunch of auctioneers and land owners plus developers have staged a coup d'etat in the Council. So don't hold your breath waiting for political leadership.

The staff of GMIT are attempting to get into the research field and produce graduates that will help to fuel the next wave. But unfortunately the structures of Institutes of Technology make it hard for them to compete with fully-fledged universities and they also have a long way to go to catch up and be taken really seriously in terms of research outputs. There is an incubation unit on campus which is a great straw in the wind showing that there are some good ideas emerging. The Regional Technical Colleges as they were known then did serve us very well in the first wave of technology development – producing excellent technicians. But now they really have to shift gear very quickly in order to keep ahead. They have to provide a new type of employee that will help Ireland – and especially peripheral areas like Mayo – to attract the big investors of the new wave of the R&D economy. It’s a real chicken and egg situation though. The old-style technicians such as those that worked in Volex are now being turned out in Eastern Europe in vast numbers and will work for a fraction of our wages. Don't underestimate the technical skills of the Eastern Europeans either. In India software is produced by small companies that employ thousands of low-cost programmers - the large companies have tens of thousands of employees. The consolidation of the 18 jobs in Castlebar to the Ballybrit Lionbridge plant where they have 5000 to 6000 square feet of excess space may just be a reflection of this trend.  My worry is that the manufacturing and software age has almost gone and the R&D age hasn’t arrived yet - the software production age is over and our local paper still can’t spell the word ‘software’ correctly.  Perhaps not many people noticed it (and for sure it’s only a minor detail) but put this together with the letter above about our auctioneering councillors calling for broadband for themselves when they obviously have never personally sent or replied to an email and I start to get uneasy about our place in the brave new future that is being forecast.

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