From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Mayo News 4 Aug 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
7, Aug 2004 - 11:05

Castlebar NIB: bogus account capital

THE 1993 tax amnesty saw a flood of so-called "hot money" heading for NIB in Castlebar, figures published in the NIB report have revealed. The High Court Inpectors’ report into tax evasion and overcharging at NIB show that almost half of the accounts held at the National Irish Bank branch in Castlebar following the 1993 tax amnesty were non-resident accounts, the vast majority of which were bogus according to the report which concluded that such bogus non-resident accounts were "widespread" in NIB during the 90’s. A total of 3, 258 non-residents accounts were opened in the Castlebar branch in 1993 following the tax amnesty, a 70-fold increase on the previous year when there had been 44 such accounts at the branch. While the number of non-resident accounts held at NIB’s 52 other branches around the country rose by on average 42% that year, the Castlebar branch showed a staggering 7,000% increase in the number of such accounts - the home town of Deputy Beverly Flynn, former NIB investment manager.

The above item from the Mayo News just takes my breath away. Whew! How much spare cash is there floating around Castlebar? It sounds like quite a stash. Imagine opening 3258 bogus illegal tax evading accounts in one branch in one year. That’s more than 10 each and every working day. Someone was working hard! And by the same token that must be a lot of worried bunnies 11 years later!

Film potential neglected?

MAYO could be marketed a lot better as a film location - that’s the verdict from the promoters of the film industry in Ireland. The statement comes as the Irish Film Board launches a new Regional Support Fund aimed at attracting filmmakers to use locations around the country, other than Dublin and Wicklow. Loans of up to 125,000 euro are being made available to those in the film industry to entice them out of the capital. Speaking to The Mayo News this week, Tracey Geraghty of the Galway Film Centre explained that Mayo had great potential because of the spectacular landscapes available, and not just as a film location, but also as a location to shoot commercials, the recent Guinness advert shot in Westport being evidence of this. The Irish Film Board have said that they received "a lot of enquiries about Mayo as a location" and have almost 100 stills of locations in the county to show to prospective film makers interested in filming in Mayo. The database includes locations at Achill, Killala, Westport House, Ashford Castle and Aasleigh Falls, near Leenane.

We have killed our film industry before it really got going. We killed it by silly shilly-shallying and lack of consistency in the Department of Finance. It takes a long time to make those big budget films. The lead-time is many years and producers need long-term certainty when deciding where to shoot. We chopped and changed our film tax incentives and would not give any long term commitment so they just went elsewhere. Even though many other countries now follow the original Irish model quite successfully - New Zealand being one - here in Ireland we reneged on it sufficiently to put the big producers off and make them go elsewhere. It’s obvious that production companies vote with their wallets and increasingly they are moving to those countries that provide the best incentives. Charlie McCreevy likes the horses but obviously never goes to the cinema nor has any concept of the potential scale of the industry. Ditto for some of his department finance people whom I heard trying to defend their messing with some very pathetic arguments for removing the tax incentives for filmmaking. Ms DeValera likewise in the previous administration appeared to do her best to obstruct and kill off the film industry - and all with remarkable success it seems. So very few films have been made in Ireland recently. King Arthur going on release may be the last big-budget film made here because Disney now says that they are not coming back – compared with Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic things are too expensive. Add the uncertainty regarding the tax incentives to the higher cost base and you can say goodbye to the Irish film industry I’m afraid. A continual stream of films is needed to make the industry viable and it has not been happening. The Mayo News shows a photograph of Aasleigh Falls at Leenane as part of the portfolio being distributed to filmmakers in the hope that the Mayo landscape may succeed in overcoming the financial disincentives. For some reason the photo doesn’t include the most famously misplaced one-off house in Ireland which sits up there right behind the beautiful water fall at the end of the Erriff Valley. It’s one of the most photographed one-off houses in Ireland because of its prominent location in this beauty spot. I can imagine the location crews with their view-finders wondering how much it would cost to digitally remove that house from every frame shot at Aasleagh Falls!

Life’s a beach

It’s high season on Mayo’s coastline for sun, sand and a swim in the sea. Colm Gannon considers the ones that keep watch. The rain soaked beaches of Mayo and those people charged with the responsibility of protecting us from their obvious and sometimes hidden dangers is a world away from the golden tans and bulging biceps of Baywatch. A real world away. The beaches of Mayo are patrolled by a dedicated group in their late teens and early twenties, among them Brian McCaffrey who has been working Mayo’s coastline for four years. This summer he’s back in the familiar surroundings of Old Head and Bertra on the Louisburgh side of Westport, contrasting with the sands of New Jersey where he worked last year with the help of a J1 visa. While most people thankfully never have to deal with a lifeguard, a common misconception exists, suggesting that most lifeguards are just topping up on their tans day after day. McCaffrey is keen to disprove this idea.

We sometimes feel a bit restricted by lifeguards who put up those flags telling us what to do and where we can swim. Are lifeguards just another manifestation of our Nanny State? Do we have the right to go and drown ourselves through stupidity and lack of knowledge of undertows and crosscurrents? I don’t think so. The call out costs for search and rescue when someone gets washed out to sea are enormous - never mind the sheer tragedy of a drowning. And if Gerry Ryan's current radio ads for water safety awareness are correct there are almost as many people drowned in Ireland every year as are killed in road accidents. So more power to the lifeguards who have a thankless job in many respects. Mayo has some of the finest beaches in Ireland. Miles of sand and very few people on them most of the time. So take advantage of them but do obey those flags.

© Copyright 2004 by Castlebar - County Mayo -