From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People
By The Jaundiced Eye
5, Jun 2004 - 10:56

Basking shark in the calm waters of Killala Bay

It must have been the good weather that brought a school of basking sharks to bask in the unusually still waters of Killala Bay last week. The big fish — some as long as 20 feet — came in close to the shore at Enniscrone and were also seen quite close to the pier on two mornings last week. And just in case would-be swimmers are getting worried this species of shark has no teeth and are what are known as filter feeders.

Every time you turn on the TV these days there seems to be a programme about sharks – either that or killer whales. Basking sharks are the gentle giants of the shark world filtering zooplankton in much the same way as baleen whales. Big grazers of the sea travelling the oceans. Basking sharks used to be a big industry in the west of Ireland with men in currachs tackling them, killing them and melting them down for oil and blubber in much the same way as the whalers did in other parts of the world. Now they are a thing of wonder and there is an excellent photo in the Western People of a basking shark fin.


End of era as Western’s printing moves to Cork

The parent company of the Western People, Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited (TCH), has announced that it is to outsource its printing functions to a private company. Webprint Concepts Limited intends to establish a new printing premises on a 3.5 acre site in Mahon Point, near Cork City, which was recently purchased by Thomas Crosbie Holdings. The new company will lease, develop and operate an independent printing business at the Mahon site by late 2005. The decision was taken by the board of Cork-based TCH following the company’s decision to sell the premises of the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo where it previously operated its printing press. The decision means that printing will cease at the company’s premises in Ballina and Cork. A total of 14 staff in Ballina will be affected by the transfer of printing operations to Cork. The Western People currently prints a number of publications at its Ballina premises, including The Sligo Weekender, Carlow Nationalist, Down and Newry Democrat and the Mayo News. Staff involved in printing, dispatch and plate-making will be offered the opportunity to transfer to the new plant, redeploy within the company, accept early retirement or take voluntary redundancy.

Local papers are a licence to print money. Every week almost it seems to me a local newspaper is bought up or sold on from one big conglomerate to another. The price tags are amazing for papers that sell 30 to 70,000 copies once a week. O’Reilly has been buying up local papers all over the English speaking world – you would be amazed at how many local papers he owns in Australia for example. So Crosby this week Sir Anthony next week Rupert Murdoch the week after? The closure and consolidation of printing facilities started with the Wapping lock out in Fleet Street back in 1986 after Murdoch took over the Times. It’s still going on today it seems and has come to a town near you! I’m sure the Ballina closure will be a very civilised affair – much quieter than Wapping. But it is sad to see the ownership of local papers going to big conglomerates located far from the readership of the papers. Do any of the Crosby execs come to Ballina or Mayo to do a bit of fishing? Did they even visit the print plant that they just closed?


Disagreeing with Loftus Let Loose

A Chara Christy

What I find infuriating is the lack of response and accountability of some so called public services. I spent the last week complaining to Eircom about the speed of my email server. Usually it operates at 28 KBPS. I understand the average is 52. Sometimes it drops down to 14 and even 12. I complained to Eircom last week. They did send an engineer out and I phoned today to find out what his report was to be told as long as your phone is operating Eircom has no responsibility for email servers. Yet they take my money every 2 months. You might be able to highlight this. There must be more dissatisfied customers out there. Can you help to kick off some kind of campaign to get eircom to take notice of customer complaints?

Joe Mullarkey.

This one is interesting for two reasons – it’s a clip from Christy – I’m running for election – Loftus’ column in the Western People. It does have last week’s date rather than the current nearly-election-week issue so it may be that he didn’t have time to write a column this week or his editor said 'go home boy'. The other interesting thing is the complaint in the letter to Christy - at last someone else seems to have noticed that eircom’s online system has disintegrated. The phone lines work but for a large part of every day now even a dedicated 64kb ISDN line does not provide any bandwidth at all for long periods of minutes at a time. It’s not the telephone line but eircom’s network connections to the wider Internet. How many times in the last week have web page requests simply timed out just because eircom cannot provide bandwidth? Despite the fact that you are paying by the minute for the connection your dedicated line or dail-up line is not much better than a tin can with a bit of string attached to it? And this is separate altogether from the other old complaint of not being able to get a connection when you dial-up - the old we can't afford enough modems in the west syndrome. It really does seem that the O’Reilly asset stripping exercise has run our national network into the ground – the one you and I paid for with our taxes over the years.

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