Flynn's future on the line
DEPUTY Beverley Flynn will today commence her Supreme Court bid to salvage her political reputation and avoid financial ruin. Deputy Flynn lost her High Court libel action against RTE, Charlie Bird and Louth-based farmer James Howard in 2001, when the jury found she had encouraged four National Irish Bank customers to conceal money from the Revenue through an offshore investment scheme when she worked with NIB. It could not be proved that she had induced James Howard to evade tax. Costs were awarded against Deputy Flynn in what was the longest running libel trial in Irish legal history (28 days). A stay was put on the order for costs pending the outcome of the Supreme appeal. Although these costs have not yet been determined, it is estimated that Deputy Flynn could face a legal bill of 22.5 million if she loses her appeal.
The one thing I am not clear about is whether the old rule about bankrupt TDs having to leave the Dáil still applies. None of the papers mention this prospect. One of the Sunday papers today mentioned the possibility of her winning the case against Howard but losing the RTE part of the case. This would make for a very complicated outcome. The whole thing will start all over again with a retrial apparently if she wins the case. With Michael Ring losing his case later in the week what are Beverley's chances I wonder?
Deflector plug is pulled
MAYO Community TV took the drastic action last weekend of switching off its service in the Newport area where numerous calls for the payment of overdue subscriptions have fallen on deaf ears. The service providers are now seeking legal advice on the issue of unpaid subscriptions. Chairman of Mayo Community TV, Joe Gibbons, has said that there are about 120 households in the area which have failed to support the service. New equipment which was only recently installed to service the Newport area will now be dismantled and moved to Drummin where the service is better supported. According to Joe Gibbons, a particular problem for the subscription collectors are those individuals who have an aerial on their roof to receive Mayo Community TV, but then claim they don't use the service and watch Sky satellite TV instead, refusing to acknowledge that they can only get Channel 4 and UTV through the Mayo Community Service. "If the aerial is not being used to receive Mayo Community TV, what else is it for?" Joe Gibbons asks,"a bird rest?" 'They pay 55 per month, or 660 annually for Sky, yet won't pay the 65 fee once a year for Mayo Community TV," he added.
The fatal flaw of these off air systems is that it's not possible to encode or encrypt them without incurring huge expense that could not be justified for small operations. The same thing happened in Castlebar a year or two back. It's good value though at just roughly one month's subscription to a satellite system or to cable provider in a city. OK you won't be getting widescreen or any of that fancy stuff and some of the signal quality is still quite poor but it is cheap at the price.
Windfarm refused permission
A decision by Mayo County County Council to refuse permission for a windfarm and meteorlogical tower planned for Ballyhaunis has been upheld by An Bord Pleanala. Provento Ireland PLC wanted to develop the windfarm at Kiltybo, Ballyhaunis but Ms. Helen Coleman, Inspector with An Bord Pléanala, agreed with the council's conclusion that the development would constitute an incongruous feature in the landscape which would be visually obtrusive and out of character with the existing landscape and pattern of development in the area. The council had also maintained that the development would be seriously injurious to the amenties and depreciate the value of property in the vicinity and would visually detract motorists using the N60 thereby creating a traffic hazard. However, Provento lodged their appeal by first stating that the principle of wind farm development underpins both sustainable development requirements and Ireland's commitment to the Kyoto protocol. It was a key priority in the National Development Plan 2000-2006. They also maintained that it would provide additional income to farmers and generate employment during construction and long-term maintenance jobs. Agricultural activity could be continued as it utilised only a small area and the whole development would be a much need farm diversification project.
So now that all 20 or so of the giant new turbines are turning in the wind above Castlebar they tell us lots of bad things about windmills? I still like them anyway producing electricity for 20,000 houses quietly whipping around in the wind. One day they are facing the town and the next they look to the north seeking out the best wind speed. With the February sun shining very brightly over the past two weeks the big white blades really stand out - and they are very white - white - especially against the wintry backdrop of the Burren and Croaghmoyle hillsides. The six original and much smaller turbines have never come back on line though. They are still standing there looking very forlorn and still. I'm not sure but I heard that there's a court case involved following the fire in the gearbox of one of these machines. Will they just be removed quietly?
Mayo Childcare strategy launched
MAYO County Childcare Committee launched the Mayo County Childcare Strategy Document 2000 - 2006 in Hotel Westport on Monday. The launch was performed by local Dáil na nÓg representatives Christina Cannon, St Louis' Secondary School, Kiltimagh and Mandi Munyikwa, St Patrick's Academy, Islandeady, Castlebar. It is expected that 231 extra future full-time childcare places and 1,378 extra part-time places will be created in Mayo under the National Development Plan. Over 300 people attended the launch and the 'Effective Early Years' seminar which was delivered by the University of Worchester and addressed working with young children, and was aimed at the 103 childcare providers in the county of Mayo. Jim Power, Coordinator, Mayo Childcare Committee, explained that the new county strategy has been tailored to meet the specific needs of the county. "Our strategy will look at increasing the capacity of both private and community based providers, in particular the number of places for under 3 year olds and after-school care for 6 to12 year olds. We will also work closely with all providers to address issues such as staffing, training, planning permission and improving quality of the services provided," he explained.
All together now - 'It's about time'. In a society where both partners in any couple have to work simply in order to pay that outlandish hyper-mortgage for even a modest house - childcare is absolutely crucial. It's one thing, however, to launch another document espousing good ideas but it's another to see the childcare places on the ground. What about our large employers in the county - do any of them have creches? Mayo County Council? The Hospital? Western Care? Baxter? We are only trotting after other countries in this respect. Women out working to pay the childminder in many cases with very little left. It's not a big priority with our politicians who tend to be male, of an older post childrearing stage and with a little woman at home in the mansion that they built years ago for a song? Corrupt politicians operating in cahoots with 'developers' rezoned Dublin very selectively in order to line their pockets. But the ultimate side-effect of this was to hike up the price of houses to the unaffordable level for many. And certainly you couldn't contemplate giving up the job for a few years in order to rear your own child. And where Dublin goes the rest of the country follows in terms of house price inflation. The childcare crisis would not be half as critical if mothers had that choice of not going out to work in order to pay our hyper-mortgages. Inflated house-prices are the key - builder's profits have escalated well above the inflation rate for building materials and labour. Site prices have escalated too as every farmer in the country sees an eye for massive windfalls - if only they can just get that planning permission. It sticks in the craw when we hear platitudes about childcare from older, greying, male politicians - especially from those whose party colleagues got caught taking 'corrupt payments' and lining their pockets by abusing the planning process. If we had kept politicians out of planning process you and I and our children would be able to afford a regular house without being forced to through the gruelling mill of rearing a child while working in a child-unfriendly workplaces regardless of whether we want to or not. So don't even think about having number two! Little Johnny or Mary will have to wait for the sister or brother!