From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People 17 Mar 2004
21, Mar 2004 - 10:38

Shouting match brings meeting to abrupt halt

A Castlebar Town Council meeting ended in disarray last Thursday amid shouting, abusive comments and banging on tables. The Mayor, Cllr Aidan Crowley was forced to adjourn after a comment by Town Manager, Mr Ray Norton resulted in Cllr Frank Durcan shouting across the table for an apology. A comment by Mr Norton concerning this being an election year saw Cllr Durcan stand and insist he withdraw his remark. When he refused, Cllr Durcan demanded the Mayor, Cllr Aidan Crowley direct the manager to retract his statement but he also refused. Mayor Crowley tried to proceed with the agenda but was not allowed to do so as Cllr Durcan refused to take his seat, started shouting above other members and in the end the meeting had to be adjourned. The members and officials had been invited to hold a meeting on the GMIT Castlebar campus for the first time ever to allow some of the students see how democracy worked. There were a number of people present in the public gallery when the meeting ended. After two hours, the meeting had only reached the second item, planning, with a full agenda set out. The minutes of the meeting had been suspended earlier to allow the members thank Dr Katie Sweeney, Head of Campus, GMIT for her kind invitation. They were further suspended to allow a deputation from Knockthomas speak on their plans for the closing of a right of way. However, Cllr Durcan refused to allow the meeting proceed as he said queries on the landfill site at McDonald's, the agreement at Dunnes Stores car park and the issue of Christmas lighting had not been properly addressed. He said he would not allow the meeting proceed until he got a response. At this stage Mr Norton commented that he knew it was an election year but Cllr Durcan was overdoing it by bringing up these issues. Cllr Durcan then took the floor demanding Mr Norton withdraw his remarks.



9-11 witness sees carnage in Madrid

As the city of Madrid shuddered under the merciless terrorist attack last Thursday morning, Michael Hastings could hardly believe what was unfolding before his very eyes. On September 11th 2001, the Westport man was working in New York when he saw the first jet plough into the side of the World Trade Centre. Last Thursday the part-time English teacher and musician opened his eyes in his new home on the east side of Madrid to news that terrorists had brought death and destruction to the ancient Spanish city. The infamous attack by Al-Qaeda in the heart of New York left thousands dead and many more injured. It also changed forever the mindset of those who were present on that fateful day. Michael Hastings was one of a number of young Irish emigrants who was working in New York at the time of the horrific tragedy. Anyone who was in New York on that fateful day will never forget the dramatic events that unfolded from the moment the first plane struck the Twin Towers. Michael Hastings, aged 31, is no different and his memories of those moments two and a half years ago are never far from the surface and they were replayed horribly last Thursday morning as Al-Qaeda again brought death to innocent people. "Many memories that I had hidden away in my mind came flooding back as news of the carnage became known. It was hard to deal with the New York situation and this is another unbelievable tragedy," he said.


Oliver pioneers ‘giant’ ashtray

As the smoking ban looms ever closer, smokers throughout the county are contemplating a puff in the cold. Over the coming weeks, smokers who were used to a cigarette with their coffee will find themselves out in the cold in the workplace, and those who enjoy one with alcohol face a similar situation. However, as the days count down, smokers will be glad to hear that due to a new product they may not be fined for littering public areas. This ‘outdoor ashtray’ has been introduced onto the market and will help keep our streets clean of unwanted cigarette butts. Oliver Kelleher, a local businessman and President of the local Chamber of Commerce in Castlebar is one of the first to stock the outdoor stainless steel ashtrays. One model can be mounted to a wall and will hold up to 3,000 cigarette butts and another can be bolted to the ground or footpath so both are completely tamper proof. "There is huge interest in them at the minute. The suppliers have at least 1,200 going around the county already to businesses, pubs, restaurants, factories, etc. "We source-based these products, but when I was out in America the streets were covered in cigarette butts when the ban came in first, and I thought there had to be a better solution than that," said Oliver.

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