From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People 28 April 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
1, May 2004 - 11:41

Sun shines on magical parade

Up to fifteen hundred people took part in the Castlebar Europeaade parade which was the highlight of the cultural festival and conference held in various venues throughout Mayo at the weekend. The event was a huge success according to Mayo Director of Services Mr John Coll, and it was warmly praised by foreign delegates. The festival and conference attracted delegations from nine countries and practically all the communities in Mayo got involved in the project. "The parade itself proved a most colourful and spectacular event," said Mr Coll, "but probably the most beneficial experience from the weekend were the school shows on Friday in the TF Theatre where over two thousand children from primary schools throughout Mayo got a first hand taste of the magic of the different cultures of Europe." On Friday night the setting was again the TF Royal Theatre for the first of the public concerts which featured stars such as John Hoban and the Knock/Aghamore group "Cáirde" and a group from Lithuania who were performing in a EU setting for the first time just a week in advance of that country’s accession to the union. On Sunday night the TF Royal theatre was filled to capacity for a spectacular performance by the Spanish "Solera" group who brought a new meaning to flamenco dancing for a Mayo audience. And not to be outdone Mayo produced such excellent acts as Céide, Breda Smyth and friends from Straide, sean-nós dancer Roisín Ní Mhainnín and the Redmond Academy of Irish dance who will travel to Riga (Latvia) later this year to take part in festivities there.

This was a spectacular event in Castlebar last Sunday. A parade equal to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in terms of colour, scale and variety. Some comments on the bulletin board here suggested that it was a lot better because there were no trucks bringing up the rear. The only slight criticism was that the gaps between the individual participants were too big.


Gardaí go on Dublin ‘riot’ duty

MORE that a third of Mayo Gardai are being sent to Dublin to police the capital for this weekend’s May Day celebrations. However, senior Gardaí have denied that the mass exodus will leave Mayo with insufficient Garda cover for the Bank Holiday weekend. Garda Chief Superintendent John Carey confirmed to the ‘Western People’ that Mayo will make a substantial contribution of manpower, drawn from all ranks and stations, for the May Day events in Dublin. On Saturday, Ireland hosts a ceremony to welcome the 10 new member states to the European Union and Gardai feel it may be at risk from international protesters arriving in Dublin to cause trouble "Between 30% and 40% of our overall manpower will be in Dublin this weekend. Those officers are drawn from all ranks and an even spread from all areas of the county. The Mayo Gardai will spend two days in Dublin, leaving on Friday and returning on Sunday. Hopefully the events on Saturday will pass off peacefully," he said. Despite the departure of an estimated 80 Gardaí from the county’s towns and villages Chief Superintendent Carey said that remaining resources will be sufficient to keep law and order in Mayo this weekend.

Oooh! the Wombles are coming! And a lot of Mayo’s Gardai are wombling up to Dublin to help preserve the state against the great influx of the unwashed. We will know later on today (Sat 1st May) whether these reinforcements were needed or not. There is a sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy here – water cannons on display - 5000 Gardai - blocked off routes, etc - a red rag to a bull? Will Dublin be a deserted capital today? Phoenix Park locked up for special VIP guests only. Having said that the fireworks display last night was really spectacular – on TV at least it looked as good as the 4th of July fireworks in New York - but there seemed to be a bit of disappointment with the smaller than expected turnout. Sounds like they went a bit heavy with the access restrictions so Sandymount. Hopefully it will all go smoothly as we welcome the 10 new countries to the EU.


Cool reception in Ballina for ‘hot air’ motion

Councillors with reservations about the use of electronic voting in the forthcoming elections have been accused of generating a load of "hot air". The members of Ballina Town Council voted against a proposal from Fianna Gael representative, Cllr Mark Winters, seeking their support for another Town Council's motion of no confidence in the proposed electronic voting system. Cllr Winters drew his colleagues' attention to a letter received from the members of Clonakilty Town Council, requesting that they support their concerns in respect of the use of electronic voting. He said there had been "huge public disquiet" over the issue. He could not trust a system which did not accommodate a verifiable back up. But Cllr Willie Nolan rejected the motion immediately. He said the objective behind introducing electronic voting had been to streamline election procedures and make the voting process more user-friendly while improving the efficiency, accuracy and speed of the count. "There were in region of 20,000 spoilt votes in the last election," he said. Cllr Nolan noted how John Bruton, the former leader of Cllr Winter's party, Fine Gael, had been in favour of electronic voting when it was first proposed. "Mechanisms have been set in place to ensure a smooth transition to the electronic system," the Councillor said.

A certain touch of irony with this one in view of the electronic voting debacle on Friday. So the hot air was more than hot air according to the electronic voting commission. Apparently the commission was set up as a result of a Fine Gael motion according to Nora Owen who lost her seat electronically in the last election. Certainly last week was a very bad week for the government – the 40 million electronic voting fiasco arriving hot on the heels of Beverely Flynn’s failed appeal – Noel Dempsey found to have misused civil service staff and funding to produce election material specifically aimed at FF candidates – The Judge Curtin mess – and put all that together with Bertie’s support for the US in Iraq must also accept some association with the horrific photos of US troops actually torturing Iraqi prisoners (for that is what it was by any human rights definition) no matter how Gerry Ryan seemed to want to gloss over it on Friday morning on 2FM. The only thing that could really make the week any worse for Bertie is out of control Wombles wrecking the great celebration. But so far so good.

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