MAYO won several awards in this year’s Tidy Towns Competition, the results of which were announced in Dublin Castle on Monday by Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Mr. Pat The Cope Gallagher. Westport won four awards and was only pipped for the overall national tidy towns title by one mark by Keadue in Co. Roscommon. The awards it won included Ireland’s Tidiest Large Town, 1st place in the Mayo county category, a gold medal in its category, while the Ireland-West Regional Best Shop Front award went to Jack Dylan, Jewellers, Shop Street, Westport. Castlebar’s Mall and Square was the National Winner of the prestigious landscape award, beating off stiff competition from five other regions. The historic village of Aughagower won a very creditable second place in the Mayo county awards, ahead of Belcarra who came in third. Aughagower also won an individual heritage award. Béal an Mhuirthead, Belmullet, won an individual bi-lingual award and a special Supervalu Endeavour Award went to Claremorns.
Congrats to Westport (again) and to Aughagower and lets hope that Castlebar gets its act together. The Market Square is a fine improvement and an asset to the town but why on earth does the Town Council not introduce a number of simple measures starting with a bye-law to outlaw plastic shop signs as was so successful in Kilkenny and elsewhere. Phase it in starting now. Driving up Main Street recently I was appalled to see yet another plastic sign being delivered and screwed in place above a shopfront. This is 2003 folks! In the absence of town centre old historical ruins, round towers, or plantation layout we have to make the best of our streetscapes. And no I am not saying they should push it to the ridiculous extent that county flags for All-Ireland hurling finals should require planning permission (if Mayo ever ends up in that unlikely All-Ireland situation again). Of course controlling litter helps too.
Law and freedom
America has a presence in many countries around the world. It is their way of maintaining a "strategic interest" in how a country develops, politically and economically. While many people think that America is more interested in the political aspect of a country, their real interests lie in the economic development. Iraq is a prime example. While civilians and soldiers still die because of fighting, the real fight centres on the battle for the various contracts to rebuild the country – the economic battle. Who are and who will be the beneficiaries of the contracts to "restore" Iraq? In many cases, they will not be too many steps away from those in the White House. Perhaps in years to come, a bit like our own country, they will hold tribunals and commissions of inquiry to see who gave what to who, when, and how much was handed over. That is, if trawling through the contracts will not be seen as unpatriotic and anti-American. George Bush and his cohorts have been most successful in ensuring that any questioning of his role, authority and his administration’s handling of September 11th could be deemed "unpatriotic." This is backed up with all the legislation that has been introduced since September 11th, like the Patriot Act.
De Facto or Liamy McNally plays a blinder this week. The above snippet concerning September 11th is followed by an item on a Claremorris J1 student who fell foul of the US authorities this summer plus a commentary on Freedom of Information and the dehumanisation of reporting – why no photographs of dead soldiers returning from Iraq? He certainly poses some interesting questions regarding the times we live in and it is good to read this kind of commentary in a local weekly paper.