Local Papers Commentary
The Connaught Telegraph - 2 March 2005
By The Jaundiced Eye
Mar 7, 2005, 19:46

Talking Rugby

A wise man once said, give a fan a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a week (or something like that). What has that to do with rugby? Look at the results! A very good day at the office in the junior league and the AIL sides didn’t do too badly either. But the junior league is starting to run away from everyone bar Monivea, or is it…

John Mulligan is obviously a man passionate about rugby. I have a feeling that over the next few months we will all become a bit more passionate about rugby. Even those of us who haven’t a clue as to what’s actually going on in the middle of that maul on Landsdowne Road knew that O’Driscoll had done something special when he placed the ball on the ground over the English line - with such a flourish it must be added that he was in danger of losing his grip on the ball altogether - at Landsdowne last week. Can we take the triple crown and the grand slam? I certainly hope so.

Injunction call over ‘high risk’ site

PUBLIC representatives in Castlebar want Mayo County Council to obtain a High Court injunction to shut down a temporary travellers halting site near Turlough because of safety concerns. Members of the authority’s Castlebar Area Committee were adamant that the facility represents a danger to public health because of its proximity to pressurised gas tanks at the nearby Abbey Breaffy nursing home site. Councillor Al McDonnell explained that open fires were lit on the encampment less than 40 metres away from the large cylinders. "The potential for a massive explosion is great and, as a result, a serious public risk exists. "I believe an application for a High Court injunction to shut down the site would be successful in this case." Councillor Sean Bourke shared the concerns of his party colleague.

No wonder politics is coming into disrepute when you hear this kind of nonsense. Well, well, councillors worried about public safety. A naked flame only 40 metres away – over 120 feet – it could easily cause a pressurised gas container to explode? Everyone knows that? I worry about this all the time. I worry even more about the sparks from spark plugs in the ignition system of all those cars passing at speed along roads easily within 10 metres of gas tanks used by thousands of houses for home heating. Injunctions are needed all over the place.

The question of whether the council should have given planning permission for a nursing home effectively located on the N5 national route in the first place doesn’t arise. The legal obligation on the councillors to house their constituents evidently was not mentioned either in the debate that was supposedly about the ‘public safety’ of their constituents. The councillors are good at calling for injunctions and promoting scare tactics aimed at pitching one group of their constituents against another – settled people versus the travellers - who just happen to be living in atrocious conditions at the side of the road because the council doesn't live up to its legal obligations.

If the councillors want a real health risk to worry about why not the fact that according to the EPA most group schemes for drinking water are contaminated with faecal matter? What about viruses and pathogenic bacteria leaking into the water that their constituents are drinking? But then they promote the installation of leaky sources of pathogens that are a lot closer than 40 metres to drinking water but we don’t hear any calls for injunctions to stop septic tanks - quite the opposite. They just keep on issuing planning permissions for septic tanks - which are in unsuitable locations if one of council’s own directors of service recent comments about suspect practices aimed at fooling the planning authorities and reported in the local papers are anything to go by. And then they put ‘boil notices’ in the paper - i.e. boil your water to avoid diseases like typhoid and cholera! Ah! sure 'tis no problemo a few pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Why bother about them when we can easily get people riled up about the dangers of 'open fires' within 120 feet of a gas tank? Now that's how you get headlines!

There’s a certain irony here too in that we are talking about a nursing home in the week that the Travers Report, on the illegal charging of pensioners for long term stay in nursing homes, blames both politicians and civil servants for the debacle. Now we have a billion euro plus bill facing the country because of an illegal practice that was deliberately ignored for many years.

The traveller housing situation – which places councils clearly in breach of their legal obligations but yet is blithely ignored by councillors – is scarily similar in legal terms. It’s obvious that councillors are in breach of their legal obligations but this fact is ignored by one council after another. The Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act of 1998 required each housing authority to adopt a five year Traveller Accommodation Programme. It’s as clear as day that the failure to obey this legislation will end up in court too. And just as in the case of the nursing homes they won’t be able to bring in retrospective legislation to say that they were legally entitled to allow a significant proportion of their constituents to exist in squalid conditions on the side of the road. Hopefully, the elected councillors themselves will have to pay the damages and costs of the complainants when they are ruled against in the courts. This is probably the only way that they will wake up and take their responsibilities seriously rather than running around spouting puerile nonsense about naked flames and gas tanks at 120 foot distance - not within the roar of an ass. (Even though we can hear braying from the Aras loud and clear). It's simple; the councillors are legally obliged to house their constituents or to provide suitably equipped halting sites for all travellers. But instead we hear the old refrain - move on, move on – justified in this case by ludicrous claims of the dangers of open fires within 40 metres of a gas tank. Most settled people have a cylinder of butane or propane in or near their house plus an open fire in the fireplace at this time of the year less than 10 metres from each other. Surely a much more serious risk?

Park Inn Mulranny to create 70 new jobs

THE OPENING of Park Inn Mulranny on Friday will bring with it 70 new jobs to Mayo and the surrounding area. Of the 70 new jobs, 80% will come directly from the region. The new hotel is one of the first of two Park Inns to be launched in Ireland as part of Rezidor SAS Hospitality, with a total of 20 scheduled to open across the Republic country by 2012. Originally opened to the public in 1897 as the luxurious Great Southern Hotel, the building is being sensitively renovated and will open as a Park Inn Hotel on the 4th March 2005. Park Inn Mulranny combines the very best from the hotel's past with contemporary comfort and style, boasting 80 well-designed and comfortable guest rooms, a stunning restaurant and inviting lounge, three conference and banqueting suites and a large leisure facility including indoor swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and outdoor hot tub.

A Radisson in Mayo – it’s wonderful that tourism is building its base in Mayo like this. The shell of the old Great Southern was such a sad sight there for so many years. It’s great to see Mulranny being brought back to life in such a fine form. Talking to some people who dined there on the opening night it sounds like it really is something - good food good surroundings. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent a night in the Raddisson in Letterkenny which is also relatively new - and it certainly is a fine hotel and I’m sure the Mulranny Park Inn will be of an equally high standard. Visiting a number of hotels in Westport recently to organise a function there - it certainly was an eye-opener. Who would have guessed that occupancy rates would be so high on a Monday in early March? So much so that in two hotels it was not possible to view a room because ALL the rooms were occupied – on a Monday in March! Tourism is a hugely important industry here in the West. And harping back a bit to the previous piece above, it is vital that our planners and elected politicians do not undermine it by destroying the clean, green, economic advantage that we have here in the West by building houses indiscriminately all over it - as we seem bent on doing at the moment. We certainly do have a disproportionate number of auctioneers, land owners and developers in our local elected representatives involved in planning. But surely to goodness even they can see that killing the goose that laid the golden egg is bad even for those 'developers' who stupidly 'prune' trees that are subject to protection orders on their land - perhaps in the hope of uglifying them so much that people will plead with them to cut them down in the middle of the night - when it's dark and nobody is looking? Just like they knocked the protected convent building.

© Copyright 2003 by and the author