From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
The Mayo News - 2 Oct 2003
By The Jaundiced Eye
4, Oct 2003 - 13:14

2 million collected from Mayo tax evaders as Revenue Commissioners get tough

THE general perception of the country’s wealth being centred in heavily populated and built-up areas is one which was truly exploded by last week’s release in relation to tax defaulters by the Revenue Commissioners. The majority of the 419 names on the list of tax defaulters were from rural Ireland with Cork, Limerick, Kildare and Mayo featuring prominently. Of the 31 names from the list that feature Mayo addresses, 12 are farmers with the other offenders coming from a wide and varied range of employment.

I may have missed them but the Mayo News appears to be the only paper that lists the Mayo tax defaulters, primarily those with the famous bogus non-resident accounts. A significant majority belong to the farming community. Members of the land owning class seem to be particularly reluctant to share their wealth with the community at large supporting hospitals, schools, roads and social welfare payments for the less fortunate. This is particularly ironic considering the billions of direct taxpayer support that farmers receive as cheques in the post. Of course the banks have a lot to answer for too. They got off very lightly indeed with their initial deal with the revenue. It’s unlikely that a lot of the names listed would be there if the banks hadn’t been ‘managing’ their money and actively encouraging customers to hide their money from the taxman. The bank manager, like the parish priest and doctor, once had a certain status in rural Ireland especially. Customers went along with the suggestions from this respected source to break the law – in many cases driven by greed but in many cases also they were not even aware of where their money had been stashed for them by the bank. The lesson is don’t give up responsibility for your financial affairs to anyone no matter how respectable they seem.

An Taisce award for Mayo News columnist

MAYO NEWS columnist Liamy MacNally was the recipient of An Taisce Environmental Award at a ceremony in Dublin recently. The award was for a series of articles in The Mayo News and broadcasts on the Corrib Gas project. The award citation read: "For the consistent and balanced media coverage of the Mayo Corrib Gas issue." Liamy reported on the oral hearing into the planning application by Corrib promoters Shell/Enterprise Energy Ireland which was hosted by An Bord Pleanála in Ballina last year. He also wrote about the decision by An Bord Pleanála in April to refuse planning permission for the terminal. This is the first year of the An Taisce Environmental Awards

The An Taisce award is a nice feather in Liamy’s cap. He and Duncan Stewart were the only two media awards. Liamy McNally has a few ‘I told you so’ claims building up. The Pollatomish disaster for one – An Bord Pleanála refused permission for the Gas Terminal on the basis of problems with storing large volumes of peat and the danger of slippages in wet weather. Now he can say ‘I told you so’. He also argued passionately against the Iraqi war in the Mayo News. So another ‘I told you so’ this week is the report on the $300M US search for WMD after the bombing stopped. Effectively this found that the UN weapons inspectors had done a very effective job in decommissioning Iraq’s WMD prior to the invasion of Iraq by US and British troops.

Fisheries Board to go to the E.U. if action not taken on fish farms

THE fallout from the recent Prime Time programme on the fish farming industry continued this week with the announcement from the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards that if action was not taken on the poor quality of salmon farm management, they were prepared to go to the European Union and request that the EU declare sea trout in the affected areas an endangered species. Meetings were held by a number of bodies last week in response to the Prime Time programme which highlighted the problem of sea lice in fish farms and the impact it was having on wild fish stocks, as well as incidences of illegal dumping of dead fish. At a meeting of the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards last week, it was decided that the Boards would "strongly advise" the Minister for the Marine, Mr. Dermot Ahern, to take immediate positive action to ensure that "poor husbandry practices" in the fish farming industry were stopped. Indeed, criticism has been levelled at the dual role held by the Department of the Marine in promoting the aquaculture industry and simultaneously acting as an environmental watchdog. The Green Party has questioned this clear conflict of interest.

The Prime Time programme dealt with the deaths of thousands of fish in salmon cages in Donegal Bay this summer not too far from Killybegs. Dredging in the harbour was blamed. I didn’t see the Prime Time programme but I understand that it blew the claims of dredging damage out of the water. Apparently dead fish from previous years had been released directly from the nets where they died and allowed to drop to the bottom of the bay instead of being disposed of properly. So the rotting piles of dead fish beneath the nets at Inver were revealed to be the real cause of the deaths of caged salmon? The fisheries boards and tourists interests of course have suffered over the past 20 years due to the explosion of sea lice populations around salmon cages. The wild sea trout fell foul of these parasites on their way back into the rivers to spawn. Most of the famous sea trout rivers in the West are now defunct as fisheries. The huge mortalities now being experienced in the fish cages by fish farmers themselves are a bridge too far for the fisheries authorities especially when the fish farmers start looking around for someone else to blame for their misfortune. The fish farmers were very quick to blame anyone and everyone else for the disastrous decline of sea trout when it was as obvious as the nose on your face that they’re lack of control of sea lice around the sea cages were to blame for this ecological disaster.

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