From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Connaught Telegraph - 16 Feb 2005
By The Jaundiced Eye
19, Feb 2005 - 12:55

Breast-check ultimatum to Minister

A STATE-of-the-art €135,000 breast ultra sound scanner is due to be delivered to Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar within weeks, following a massive voluntary fund raising drive. But Fine Gael leader, Deputy Enda Kenny is concerned that the necessary funding will not be in place to allow the vital breast-check facility to be commissioned immediately. This follows a statement by Health Minister Mary Harney that the service would not be rolled out in the West of Ireland until 2007. Mr. Kenny said he understood that necessary staff at the hospital’s Oncology department were trained and ready to operate the service.

Discrimination against women in the West of Ireland continues it seems. It appears to be the old story where local fund-raising efforts manage to purchase an expensive piece of equipment but the running costs are not available from the health services. A stroke of the pen can build an equestrian centre. We give generous tax grants to multinational oil companies so that they can make even bigger profits but pay the wages of a team to run a scanner – oh no we have priorities.

New €10m. quarry proposal sanctioned

ROADSTONE Provinces Limited has been given the go-ahead for a new €10m. quarry at Islandeady, fives miles from Castlebar, subject to stringent planning conditions. The firm, leading manufacturers and suppliers of building materials, had been granted permission by Mayo County Council a number of years ago for the development in the townlands of Ballynamarrogue and Cloonkeen for a period of 50 years. But the extensive proposal was halted following appeals lodged to An Bord Pleanala. At that time, the planning appeals board upheld objections by a number of local residents on the grounds that the proposal was premature pending the construction of the new Castlebar to Westport motorway and would, as a result, endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard. Last May, however, Roadstone lodged a new application which was designed to address the concerns raised by An Bord Pleanala.

Quarries cause more annoyance than almost any other type of development. The existing quarry at Moneen is not the worst, however, not by a long shot. While you can set your watch by the regular blasting in the quarry they do actually contain their activities quite well in spite of the fact that they are now within the built up part of town. Occasionally there are spilled stones at the Moneen exit when a lorry takes the turn too fast coming out of the quarry.

In contrast to Moneen though an awful lot of quarries spread themselves out. They have a tendency to take over the local road network completely, mashing it into a pulp so that it is totally unrecognisable as a road - making it look more like the aftermath of a series of bunker buster bombs in search of weapons of Saddam Hussein's non-existent mass destruction. Dust, potholes, noise, grinding, blasting, all make life a misery for anyone living near or who has to travel past the exit or even along the same roads used by the lorries using the quarry.

The laugh of it too is that many are exempt from planning permission or have been for many years expanding from nothing to mighty stone-grinding empires but not requiring any planning permission because they supposedly started before 1963. Let’s hope the new quarry at Islandeady sets an example for some of the cowboy operators around the country showing that they can make a profit, provide useful material and all without wrecking the surrounding countryside and annoying the hell out of their neighbours.

Top basketballers injured in Castlebar fracas

GARDAI ARE investigating a savage attack on a number of top basketballers, which left one of them with a broken jaw and another with a broken hand in a fast-food restaurant in Castlebar in the early hours of Sunday morning. "Americans think they rule the world" was one of the comments allegedly flung at Mike Speranza and Jared Harding at the Abrakebabra café in Castlebar after they had gone for food there in the early hours of Sunday morning. The free-scoring Speranza, who has helped transform the fortunes of the Castlebar Westaro side in Division One of the Northern Conference, since arriving in Ireland from his native U.S.A. last month, sustained a broken jaw in the incident. He has been transferred from Mayo General Hospital to a Dublin hospital for treatment and will be out of the game for a considerable time. Also sidelined for the foreseeable future is Jared Harding, a native of Denver, Colorado, who sustained a broken hand in the early morning disturbances. Also injured, although not seriously, was Nathan Selsby from Queensland, Australia, the top scorer in the Northern Conference at the moment. Selsby said yesterday: "The rumpus began when I went to the restaurant with my girlfriend, Rebecca. A guy leaned over as if to shake my hand and then all hell broke loose with anti-American comments being shouted. The irony of it all is that I am not American".

Oh boy this is a hot one! The spin is that the fight was racist in nature and it was publicised widely aross the print and electronic media following publication of the Connaught's story. Bad publicity for Castlebar. But how many similar fights occur each weekend that are never reported? Quite a few it seems – there were 51 minor assaults in 2004 in Castlebar according to the Gardai. According to another report in this week's papers a reduction in the number of public order offences – assaults, etc have been targeted by Garda Superintendent Pat Leahy as the number one priority for Castlebar Gardai in 2005. This particular incident is obviously extremely regrettable and unfortunate and it gives the town a bad name. The incident is, however, just one of a series of drunken fights that occur on a regular basis when the culprits are pumped up on booze and drugs roaming the streets in the early hours of the morning looking for a fight. Any excuse will do – look at them crosswise and off they go.

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