From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People
By The Jaundiced Eye
3, Apr 2004 - 12:29

Big Brother watches Castlebar

Castlebar businessman Iarla Duffy has given one in the eye to critics of the spy in the sky system of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in town’s main shopping area. Mr Duffy was one of the organisers of a group of traders and businesspeople in Castlebar responsible for the installations of CCTV cameras. The operation of the system has come in for some criticism by people who are concerned that the cameras represent an invasion of privacy. However, Mr Duffy, speaking in an interview with Mr Fergus Sweeney on RTE’s Marian Finnucane show, has defended the use of cameras and dismissed suggestions that they were in any way a threat to individual liberties. Mr Duffy said the system simply recorded the toing and froing in the main business centre. The system was not manned on a full time basis so there was no question of "spying" on people. "The film will only be viewed by gardai if there is a late night incident or some allegation of misconduct or vandalism. "I have neither the time not the inclination to spend hours viewing the comings and going of people in Castlebar’s main streets. "The system is there mainly as a deterrent to people who might think they can engage in vandalism or malicious damage without being noticed. Once cameras are installed people become aware of them and don’t get involved in mindless vandalism. "The second benefit of a CCTV system is that it can assist the gardai in the detection of crime and the prosecution of those responsible.

A poll taken on this topic after Iarla Duffy’s interview on RTE shows that CCTV is popular with Castlebar people with an 80% vote saying CCTV for Castlebar is a good thing. I heard the interview on RTE and they had obviously gone to some trouble to find someone opposed to CCTV. But the man they chose (can’t remember his name) sounded quite half-hearted about his opposition when the crunch came. While mentioning civil liberties, he appeared to agree with most of what Iarla Duffy was saying in favour of putting up the cameras. They say that CCTV pushes crime off the main streets into other areas rather than reducing the overall crime rate. I’m not so sure, however, that the kind of fighting and vandalism associated with fast food joints after the night clubs close will move elsewhere. In the nature of it, it tends to occur where the crowds congregate. If the images are sharp - and reliable in low light conditions at night especially - they may result in some of the hard-core elements being picked up and thus being 'decommissioned'. I have a suspicion that it’s only a very small minority that causes most of the trouble. After a few weeks they'll forget that the cameras are there and that'll be their downfall. The benefits of CCTV within premises are very clear so hopefully the benefits will spill out onto the streets. A case reported on the Castlebar Bulletin Board some time back about a theft of a camera bag from the back of a chair in Coxs. The stolen items were returned when someone rang the poor eejit that took the bag and told him he was going to star on Crimeline if he didn't give the stuff back quickly!


Family mourns father killed in street fracas

Gardaí in Castlebar were remaining tight-lipped last night (Monday) as the investigation continued into the death of 35-year-old Liam McDonnell in an alleged row outside a housing estate in the town in the early hours of Sunday morning. Mr. McDonnell died after receiving fatal injuries in an altercation at the Rosmor housing estate on the Pontoon Road in Castlebar. A native of Dublin he had been working as a security man in the well-known Cox’s pub and restaurant on Tucker Street in the town. The body of the father-of-two was released by Mayo General Hospital to his family in Ballinrobe, where the deceased lived with his wife, Helen, who is a native of Ballyheane, and two children. Mr McDonnell died at Mayo General Hospital following the incident at Rosmor which took place at 4.00 am. Gardai arrived at the scene following a 999 call to discover Mr McDonnell in a badly injured condition. He was conveyed to the hospital where he died a short time later. Another man found at the scene, also with serious injuries, was removed to Mayo General Hospital and later to Merlin Park Hospital, Galway. Mr McDonnell had come to Castlebar from the Templeogue area of Dublin over three years ago. He worked as a security guard in a number of establishments in the county town.

This dreadful event has really shocked Castlebar to the core. There has not been a death in Castlebar like this for decades and even in Mayo it is the first violent death since that poor man was left to die of hypothermia in Charlestown some years back. This is terrible tragedy and all the more tragic because it seems to have befallen a family which has already been visited by more than their fair share of tragedy in the recent past.


Road conditions and water quality exercise minds of Ballinrobe voters

WITH its beautiful towns and peaceful villages, one could argue that potential councillors from the Ballinrobe Electoral Area will have an easy job and a quiet life. However in the five years since the last election a number of issues have aroused the concern of the local residents. In the shops, bars and workplaces of towns such as Kilmaine and Shrule a number of issues are being discussed by voters, both young and old. Like everywhere else in Ireland the upcoming smoking ban, now only days away, is an obvious topic. Billy Gibbons of the Blackwater Inn in Shrule is another publican who will be reluctantly calling on his patrons to butt out. While the smoking ban is certainly a topical point at the moment there are plenty of other issues concerning residents in these towns. Located as it is so close to the Galway border, Shrule residents have ample opportunity to see how Galway County Council operate, the quality of their roads, their infrastructure and their services. One essential service for Shrule residents is leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Most agreed that the quality and quantity of their water has been poor for the last number of years. Mr Gibbons pointed out that all the water he uses, whether for ice or to accompany a drop of whiskey comes from purchased bottles.

How will smoking in pubs rank against water and roads in June? Water quality an election issue? Roads and infrastructure an election issue? Surely the electorate will still be distracted by the smokescreen that is the smoking ban? I doubt it. By June smoking in pubs will be a distant memory just like smoking in cinemas and on aircraft is. Water quality – especially the stuff we drink is pretty much as basic as you can get. It’s interesting that the Shrule Kilmaine area is an area where septic tank discharges and slurry from cattle easily seeps down into the groundwater. The kind of area where one-off housing should be a complete no-no and where the strictest of controls are needed to prevent cattle shit getting into your tapwater. How will our councillors handle this delicate issue in view of their ever increasing demands for more one-off ribbon housing? As the old saying goes you should not pi$$ into the wind or you might get your own back.

© Copyright 2004 by Castlebar - County Mayo -