From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Mayo News 21 July 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
25, Jul 2004 - 10:46

Tourism figures queried

PRELIMINARY tourism figures, recently released by Fáilte Ireland, which suggest that the home holiday performance for the first half of the year has grown by 6% over last year, have come under strong scrutiny in Mayo. Members of the tourism industry throughout the county have, with few exceptions, told the Mayo News that tourism figures are well down on last year and show little sign of a strong recovery between now and the end of August. [….] Cllr. Adams, who was recently appointed to represent Westport Town Council on Mayo County Tourism Committee, said, from information given to her, it would appear that certain sectors of the accommodation industry in Mayo were being decimated. ‘The farmhouse sector is finding the going very tough, as are many members of the Town & Country Homes Association throughout the county. Self-catering enquiries are well down on previous years and I am aware of some hotels that were still offering their special winter rates for accommodation right into early July. If, as we are being told, figures for the industry are up, then the challenge for Fáilte Ireland is to create a better regional spread for the industry, but I am far from convinced that figures are up’ she said.

Perhaps tourists want to see heather on the hillsides and scenic views of the mountains, bogs, lakeshores and seashores of Mayo? Well it’s great to see the same councillors who not too long ago actually suspended standing orders in order to vote for an increase in the number of sheep on the mountainsides now worried about tourism. For more sheep of course read no heather and hence no nice purple autumn hillsides that tourists just might want to see and enjoy. It takes a long time for heather to grow back. Now all we have is just black muck and no vegetation worth a damn to hold back all that sheep shit as it slip-slides away down into the nearest blue flag beach. Of course it's a big mystery to the council and the EPA how Keem Bay lost its blue flag - the magical faecal coliforms appeared out of nowhere. But my enthusiasm for catching fish in clean rivers and lakes is clouding my judgement again. No it’s really great to see Mayo County Councillors worried about tourism. These may not be the same councillors who seem to go out of their way to kill Mayo Tourism by backing so many one-off housing planning permissions? Do they not regularly push for houses in inappropriate locations along lakeshores, seashores and not forgetting the hilltops here there and everywhere and lining national routes so that the poor tourists are so bewildered by our hacienda-style architecture that they think they are in Spain? Well it’s great to see that they are now worried when tourists vote with their chequebooks. Going to Spain to see real haciendas in the first place would have been a lot cheaper on them too!

Planning Refusal Criticised

A CASTLEBAR auctioneer has slammed the refusal of planning permission by the town council for a proposed hotel and multi-storey car park in the heart of the town. This was the second planning application in respect of a proposed hotel on the site, with the developers, Paul Reynolds, Michael Hegarty and Patrick Hegarty c/o McMenamin Leadley Partnership, receiving planning permission for a 92-bedroom hotel with seven retail units, nine office units and a 675 space multi-storey car park in February of this year. That permission had 42 conditions attached, including a €2.2 million levy for the provision of sanitary services, public amenities and the provision of roads. The developers then decided to lodge the second application for the for the same site which included the demolition of an existing habitable dwelling and the construction of an 80-bedroom hotel.

Well he would wouldn’t he?

Gilmartin money used to buy farm

THE £50,000 given by developer Tom Gilmartin to former EU commissioner Mr Pádraig Flynn was lodged in bogus non-resident accounts, largely invested offshore and contributed to the purchase of a Mayo farm qualifying for massive EU grants, the Mahon tribunal has heard. Mrs Dorothy Flynn, wife of the former politician, who bought the farm near Killala in 1997, has qualified for £140,000 in forestry grants even though she has never set foot on the land, it was revealed at the tribunal on Friday. Mrs Flynn said she had no recollection of opening up the bogus non-resident accounts in her and her husband’s names, although she agreed they existed. Mrs Flynn said she "presumed" that she was the person who negotiated the £50,000 cheque developer Mr Tom Gilmartin gave to her husband. This was negotiated at the AIB branch in Castlebar on June 7th, 1989, and debited from Mr Gilmartin’s account in Bank of Ireland, Blanchardstown, on June 12th, 1989.

As is so often the case, there is a 'planning' theme running through this week’s Mayo News – polluted water, tourism drop, ex-councillors complaining about planning permissions. And not forgetting, if that’s the right word, the appearance of the Flynn dynasty before the planning and payments tribunal suffering. It’s just a pity that they had a bout of familial amnesia. Now where did that cheque go to – a cheque almost equal to a year’s salary of one of the most highly paid people in the country at the time. Now what did we do with it? Where did it go? Well there's no use asking me - if the Flynn's don't know how could I? Sure it’s great stuff altogether. Worth every penny in entertainment value.

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