From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Mayo News - 2 June 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
5, Jun 2004 - 15:14

For jobs sake

THREE councillors seeking re-election to Castlebar Town Council have defended their decision to support a controversial Section 140 motion that sought to grant permission for an extensive development on the derelict convent site in the county town. Cllrs. Michael Kilcoyne, Blackie Gavin and Brendan Heneghan voted in favour of the motion which directed Castlebar Town Manager Ray Norton to grant permission to Messrs P. Reynolds, M. Hegarty and P. McDermott of Donegal for the development of retail units, hotel, leisure centre and multi storey car park at Castle Street but with a reduced levy of 1 million euro. The development had been granted permission last year but with the imposition of a 2.5 million euro levy.

Presumably the argument is that the developers won’t develop if they have to pay the levy. I’m sure that’s what the developers told the councillors. I’m sure that’s what the developers told the council officials too. They would be daft to say anything else now wouldn’t they? Do Blackie, Michael and Brendan expect that the developers were going to say ‘Oh yes please make the levy bigger – we would love to pay three million’? Lads cop on this is the real world. Developers develop but they develop at the lowest possible cost. We know that this particular crowd are not the most ethical in their approach having demonstrated this clearly by knocking down a listed building in the middle of the night before anyone could stop them. Castlebar’s Town Council response was to fine them 100,000 euro and put this money towards a playground at Lough Lannagh. A reasonable approach perhaps. But now if Castlebar Town not just hands them back their 100,000 euro but tops it up with a further 1.4 million what does that say about the whole affair? Hand them a present of 1.5 million euro? What does that say about the town development plan? We would be the laughing stock of every cowboy developer in the country. If they do pull out simply revoke their planning permission and let them sell the site on to the next ‘developer’ – but I seriously doubt that the levy of 2.5 million is going to cause these guys to pull out of Castlebar.


Welcoming George

A recent opinion poll indicated that over 75% are against the forthcoming visit to Ireland of the President of the USA, Mr George W Bush. Times have changed when so many Irish people are so openly opposed to an American President. When Bill Clinton was in power one could never imagine such opposition. More American citizens are also opposing Mr Bush, or rather, his policies. His foreign policy has led the US into a pit of destruction. Democratic principles have been trampled upon with the ‘might is right’ principle becoming the norm for, what one commentator describes as, ‘America on tour.’ Thankfully, people can distinguish between the foreign policy of a particular administration and the will or attitude of a nation’s citizens. What ever sense of outrage or embarrassment we in the west might experience over the atrocities perpetrated by American Forces in the name of democracy and freedom, spare two thoughts, firstly, for those who are on the receiving end of this so called ‘freedom’ army and its murky ways, and secondly, for the people of America in whose name these atrocities are carried out.

At the height of the war the Castlebar Online Forum reflected the conflict that Liamy McNally refers to. Many Americans found it hard to accept any criticism of US Government policy and took it very personally. Now it looks like that even in the USA the tide has finally swung against George W Bush and his neocon friends in the oil business. Opinion polls in the USA put him on a slippery slope. Presumably the slope becomes even slippier if US voters are being treated to a daily diet of photos like the horrific photos of carnage such as that published in the Irish Times today. Bodies of US soldiers scattered around on the ground are not exactly good election press. His cynical presentation of a 'peace medal' to the Pope yesterday while mouthing platitudes about the Pope standing up to Communism doesn’t fool even some of the people – it was risible in the extreme. The parallel between the treatment of Polish prisoners and Iraq prisoners are so obvious. How many Polish prisoners were tortured and at the hands of an occupying army? The Pope's referred to today's US invading army and its soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners of war some 60 years later – surely the irony can’t be lost on the idiot Bush?

Information not so free

A CASTLEBAR councillor has been refused access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act after the County Secretary took exception to the inclusion of a "gratuitous insult" on the addressed request to Mayo County Council. At last week’s final meeting of Castlebar Town Council, Cllr. Frank Durcan revealed that the stance had been taken by John Condon after he made six requests for information regarding the use of county council credit cards by staff members. The requests were hand delivered to council offices in envelopes addressed "Freedom of Information Officer, Mayo County Council, Cromwell House, Castlebar, Co. Mayo." Cllr. Durcan stated he had included "Cromwell House" in the address as he felt it was an appropriate term in light of what he sees as the draconian planning decisions being adopted by the council’s planners in rural Mayo. However, Mr. Condon was unequivocal in his views and outlined to Cllr. Durcan in a written response why he was refusing his request.

Frank’s last hurrah? It's funny, I didn’t think Frank himself had such of a wonderful sense of humour in view of his own response to the Connaught Telegraph’s famous call for him to resign some years back. I suspect that John Condon in particular won’t find being compared to Cromwell very funny either. I do find it funny though that no one seems to object to a councillor who sells property for a living taking such a big direct interest in the whole area of planning matters. Am I the only one that sees a most hilarious conflict of interest here?

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