From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
The Western People - 23 April 2003
26, Apr 2003 - 17:14

European Angling Cup cancelled on Lough Mask

All the papers report the cancellation of this year’s angling cup on Lough Mask, which has taken place for the past 30 years, and the Western makes it a front page item. The reason for the cancellation is apparently the new safety measures required by law for boat hire. But closer inspection of the issue and reading between the lines of the Western’s report suggests that it may be a revival of the bitter rod licence dispute that blighted the western lakes for many years a decade ago. The Angling Cup has been cancelled because boatmen who take people out on the lake for profit do not wish to register under the new Safety Regulations imposed by the Department. It appears, however, that any individual can hire a boat independently provided they do not have a boatman with them. So it begs the question why can the anglers in the competition not simply take their own boats out on the lake and allow the competition to proceed? If safety of anglers is the issue surely the boatmen will sign up - instead of cutting off their noses to spite their faces? But then they are good at this and do not like to be told what to do. The Queen (QEI) bestowed these lakes on the ordinary folk of Ireland after all and even hundreds of years later the ordinary folk are very possessive about any interference with their 'royal right' to do as they please on these lakes! So minister take a hike?

SARS puts stop to Mayo Convention in Toronto

The 2003 Mayo Convention due to be held in Toronto in May has been cancelled due to the Toronto SARS outbreak. An ‘overwhelmingly large number of last minute cancellations’ by delegates forced the organisers to cancel the convention. The Canadian organisers declared that it is safe to travel to Toronto – normal life continues there as normal they stated.

This may be a very small sample of what is looming around the corner. In Ireland we have heard fierce debate and controversy all week concerning a Chinese woman in Dublin who at various stages last week was a ‘suspect’ SARS case then ‘free’ of all SARS’ symptoms and finally a ‘probable’ case ready for notification to WHO. The unfortunate taxi-driver who drove the woman to hospital was told to stay indoors at the same time that the woman was declared free of SARS.

It was all most confusing especially when senior medical people did not appear to know what was going on. Denials and non-denials were issued. The public health doctors' strike didn't help matters of course.

Then a Canadian journalist gave a very clear outline of the spread of the virus since first human infection last November. This was heard on RTE on Friday morning – part two on Monday - so pick it up on the RTE online archive if you missed it as it gave a scary idea of how this new virus can spread from human to human. One cough at a hotel elevator....

There’s no cure for the common cold goes the old saying. The RNA sequence of the SARS virus is very close to the common cold but obviously a much more deadly form with approximately 5% of all victims dying so far. The young and healthy will survive but anyone compromised healthwise is in serious trouble once infected. The only hope is that the virus will not mutate as quickly as the normal common cold virus and a vaccine can be made to stop its progress before it becomes endemic across the world changing the way we all go about our business. Who will hand out the face masks at the Church door on Sundays?

Castlebar Parade Winners

The Western lists prize winners in the Castlebar St. Patricks Day Parade. Snugboro Scouts, Mayo Leisure Point, Castlebar Special Olympics, Baxter Special Olympics, Brownies and Ladybirds and Vintage Tractors were among those listed by the Western People. Click link to see photos of the parade entries here on A bigger gallery of Parade photos is also available.

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