IF Castlebar Town Councillor Brendan Henaghan is late leaving for work on any given morning, his two mile journey from Snugboro into Castlebar town centre can assume mammoth proportions. "If I have not gone by half eight I’m going to be stuck in traffic for 20 minutes at least," explains the Fine Gael councillor who is bidding to retain his council seat in June’s elections. En route to Castlebar, anyone travelling from Snugboro or along that route must negotiate the school traffic which converges on St Gerald’s College at Newport Road or St Patrick’s National School off Chapel Street and Gallows Hill. On the campaign trail in recent weeks this issue, indeed the broader issue of traffic congestion in Castlebar, has been aired constantly by voters in waiting. After sizing up the options, Brendan Henaghan has proposed the development of a roundabout at the bottom of Gallows Hill, at the junction of Chapel Street, Tucker Street and Newline. Henaghan is calling on the council to investigate the availability of a vacant site on the junction of Gallows Hill and Chapel Street which would be "of huge benefit in relieving congestion" with the construction of a roundabout there.
A smart comment in the (most recent) discussion about traffic on the Castlebar online forum highlights the dilemma – "What's stopping them widening the road at Newline?" – the reply: "It’s the houses on either side!" Nice one. I know the route well having done school runs, etc. to St. Gerald’s. Coming in from the Newport Road to Castlebar in the morning is no joke. Nowadays though at least I have the luxury of avoiding it in the mornings. The roundabout idea at the bottom of Gallows Hill might just work. They could put a compulsory purchase on Town Councillor Frank Durcan’s place near the corner and that would allow them to widen it out substantially!! I also think I know who owns the land opposite on the other corner down from the Map Store and he just might be willing to dispose of the land at a good price for the greater good. The real answer of course is to actually build the outer relief road as proposed in the town development plan for some years now.
"GENTLEMAN JIM," was how Cllr. Jim Mannion (77) was described by his fellow councillors on Monday night as he retired from Mayo County Council after 19 years of service. The Hollymount-based FG councillor was first elected to Mayo County Council in 1985 in the Claremorris electoral area, but with boundary changes prior to the ’99 elections, the Roscommon native was moved into the Ballinrobe electoral area and despite the extra challenge this presented, still managed to win back his seat. Warm tributes were also paid to Cllr. Ernie Caffrey who is stepping down from the council after 13 years of representing the Ballina Electoral Area. Fine Gael’s Ernie Caffrey was first elected in 1991, serving two distinguished terms. Cllr. Stephen Molloy (FF) remarked that Ernie Caffrey wasn’t one of those councillors who got a sore throat from long speeches or a bad back from being too long on his feet in the council chamber, but when he did rise to speak, his natural common sence approach could be guaranteed an attentive audience. Neither Michael Ring nor Beverley Flynn was happy about it, but there was nothing they could do about their respective departures.
It looks like it’s the end of an era with dual-mandate TDs and Councillors out of the Aras at last – even the reluctant ones who held on with their fingers and toes while they were peeled away one by one as legal cases failed. Interesting that in the case of the two most reluctant they both have strong interests with matters relating to property and hence indirectly to planning. For sure, Ring issued a statement stating that he is not an auctioneer following the Connaught Telegraph’s listing off of the gang of 12 auctioneers on Mayo County Council. But even after that statement I passed by a certain auctioneer premises with the name Ring above the door in Westport so the separation is not very transparent – if I entered that premises to buy or sell a house I would assume a certain linkage with the great man himself. Caffrey’s departure is also welcome – for one the man did not represent his occupations accurately on the Mayo County Council website and the only way you were aware of his strong property development ties were from his old Seanad declaration of interest on the Seanad website. Very annoying when you hear him on Morning Ireland complaining about objections to developing of land (a golf course) not a million miles from his own stated landbank on the Ballina to Killala road. More recently his occupation of Senator was replaced by a blank on the council website’s list of councillors. The council officials responsible for their website content have also added a general disclaimer stating that they only put up the information that the councillors supply to them – i.e. they do not check it out for validity. So how many of the 12 auctioneers will be replaced again by more auctioneers on June 11th? Well that’s entirely up to you folks.
Flynn flung out
‘SHE’S not gone away, you know’, was a comment made by one of her supporters after Deputy Beverley Flynn was drummed out of the Fianna Fáil party on Friday night, having earlier in the week been expelled from the organisation’s parliamentary party without a single dissenting voice. This time there were five dissenting voices, one Oireachtas member, Senator Mary White and four other women, Sadie Jordan (Dublin), Kathryn Byrne (Dublin), Bridget Guinevan (Dublin) and Bernie Lalor (Cork). There was huge anger among Deputy’s Flynn’s supporters, who travelled to Dublin on Friday to lobby on her behalf, that not a single Mayo vote was cast in her favour, either at the parliamentary party meeting or the national executive meeting. They openly criticised Deputy John Carty for not supporting her at the parliamentary party meeting. The three Mayo members on the national executive are John O’Dwyer, Ballyhaunis, Iarla Duffy, Castlebar and Dara Calleary, Ballina. On Friday night Deputy Flynn needed one third of the votes cast to favour her and prior to the meeting had expressed cautious optimism that she would get the required number, 32, if all 96 members of the executive attended and voted. Despite putting a brave face on the outcome and promising to continue to represent the Mayo electorate in the Dáil, she must have been hugely disappointed at the derisory five votes received against the 81 for the motion to expel her from party membership. One of her supporters, Cllr Jimmy Moloney of Foxford, expressed huge disappointment that not a single member of the executive from west of the Shannon came out in support of her.
If you felt sorry for James Kilbane losing out to young Doran down there in Waterford, the fact that Doran only got seven votes in the Eurovision final may give you some wry satisfaction. The low population in the West means that even with the best phone in campaign in the world we can only add so much to eircom’s coffers no matter how many times people voted for him. But seven votes is two more than Bev got in her expulsion vote! In her case too her own ‘phone campaign’ appears to have failed because none of five votes came from the West – not even from Castlebar. Perhaps they are trying to tell her something? In Doran’s case the song was probably the same old song from way back when – but now we have moved on now and Europe’s centre of gravity has moved even further towards the Urals. We don’t do quarter tones this far west and the Eastern European ear likes that quarter-tone edge that is totally alien to us mid-atlantic types. In Bev’s case perhaps there’s an element of moving on too. The same old song is no longer good enough. Politicians have to be squeaky clean – tax evasion has gone out of style – large political donations have gone out of style too. There was a TV satellite van parked on the Mall back there two Saturdays ago. They had a camera mounted on a tripod on the grass opposite the Garda Station. Despite the bright sunshine there was only one other person on the Mall – I veered away myself too in case they might stick a mic in my face and ask for my opinion. So I walked two sides of the triangle rather than my normal diagonal across the Mall. People were keeping a low profile.