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From the Western People - 16 Feb 2005
By The Jaundiced Eye
Feb 19, 2005, 17:27

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Gardaí’s no-nonsense approach pays dividends in Castlebar
If you want to ‘act the maggot’ in Castlebar you are going to end up in court. This is what Supt Pat Leahy said during a meeting of the Policing Forum in Castlebar which monitors crime trends in the town. He continued Gardai were taking the main players out and if they were not in jail in Mountjoy, then they were on the run. He added you will not end up on a charge sheet but a summons and this means you will definately end up in court. He explained Gardai over the past couple of months took a hard stand on people withdrawing statements against others and this has helped them in their fight against crime. The forum is the first of its kind in the country and according to the Superintendant has been very successful since its inception less than six months ago. He said that different Gardai were given different priorities for areas of crimes which are committed. Because of this, crime as a whole has decreased in the town by 30% in the past few months. This was done by targeting people who were known by the Gardai to be committing these offences and taking them off the streets. It also showed ‘would-be criminals’ what happens when you do this sort of thing in Castlebar. The CCTV cameras which have been installed on the streets of Castlebar have been a major help in detecting criminal activity and the final phase of this has now been put in place. At the meeting, Supt Leahy explained he received a call that day from Iarla Duffy, a member of the committee who installed the cameras, to say they had now received funding to get a link installed to Castlebar Garda Station where the cameras could be monitored 24 hours a day. He said Gardai would now be able to manipulate the system and follow criminals and direct Gardai where to find perpetrators.

The report given to Castlebar Town Council strongly suggests that the Gardai have reduced the number of robberies, criminal damage, public order offences, etc. They mention patrols targeting drinking spots – under the bridge, Lough Lannagh, etc. and taking drink from minors and effecting a big reduction in the incidence of public drunkenness as a result. Hopefully, they will manage to keep up the pressure and with monitoring of the CCTV cameras coming on stream this will help to improve the situation even further. Now if they can prevent people stealing all those letters from Castlebar shop fronts w  w ll all b  h ppy!


Flooded bogs are a death trap

Kiltane locals are prepared to stand in front of bulldozers to stop work on the rehabilitation of bogs in Erris. The company claims that the work is necessary to revegetate the bogs but angered locals say that the flooded bogs are a death trap and loss of life is inevitable is something is not done. "We’re worried about the safety aspect. We can see loss of life, people could easily go off the main Ballina Belmullet road and find themselves in the water," noted one local, who is ready to stand in front of the bulldozers and halt the work. Locals say that they feel they have been "walked upon" with little consultation from Bord Na Mona but the company argues otherwise and noted that locals are exaggerating the situation.

Bogs are wet places. They are supposed to be wet just as much as deserts are supposed to be dry. There are thousands of acres of bog in North Mayo. So is North Mayo a death trap? I don’t think so. The existing tailings ponds for trapping peat silt with their "deep water" warning signs have been there for years. Nobody complained about them. Bord na Mona have willy nilly destroyed the natural bogs of North Mayo over the past number of decades. They did give jobs but even then, how many local people actually worked in the Bellacorick power station for example? Workers at Bellacorick commute from Achill, from Sligo from all over. Where would you spend your money if you worked in Bellacorick and lived in Achill? Bangor?

The power station reputedly has to import huge amounts of peat from other bogs in drier parts of the country, simply because the number of days required to dry milled peat are rarely achieved in North Mayo. It rains pretty much two out of every three days and there are many years when the bog doesn’t dry at all.

Rather than getting vexed about the end of an inefficient fossil fuel-based industry, the locals should see the revegetation of the bogs as a huge opportunity to support a sustainable tourism industry in the region. The salmon that run up the Owenmore River have had to contend with an unnaturally silted environment for years - silt from peat milling. Peat silt affects fish just as the locals have to deal with windblown peat silt piling up on their windowsills and getting into their lungs – only during the dry spells when wind can lift it up, of course. The runs of fish are pretty good as it stands but the number of salmon will increase once the silt stops and conditions in the rivers and lakes improve. Proper intact flooded bogs will also help to maintain the environment for salmon and trout and a range of other wildlife and protecting them against the ravages of climate change.

People will want to come and fish in North Mayo. During the week I heard the kidney dialysis cancer patient from Scotland whose dying wish effectively was to fish brown trout in Ireland. He was devastated when he found that he could not get local dialysis in Cavan but luckily Joe Duffy fixed it for him and organised transport and kidney dialysis. To fish in Ireland, to fish real wild fish in a great wilderness environment – if you are not into fishing you may not understand why this should be the object of a dying man’s desire. But believe me the attraction of a tight line on a river or lake surrounded by North Mayo’s bogs is something potent. North Mayo is sitting on a goldmine but they don’t know it up there. They just see a former carbon cash crop lying idle and now being flooded. Wake up North Mayo and look at what you have around you in a new light!

Section of West rail link to get green light

THE report of the working group into the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor, due to be given to government in the next few weeks, will recommend the reopening of the section of the line between Charlestown and Athenry, the Western People has learned. The reopening of the section will be the first step in a process to connect Sligo to Ennis. Already the Ennis-Limerick section has been reopened and has been an outstanding success with over 125,000 passengers in its first year.

I would love to see the Western Rail Corridor open – even a little bit of it. But it’s one thing for a working group to make a recommendation and it’s another for the government to actually stump up the necessary cash. Cars are in. Railways are going out of style. Roads are in. Anything that might reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion on our roads is quite distinctly out at the moment. George W Bush the other week proposed to withdraw every last penny of funding for Amtrak, the US train service. But GW don’t travel by train - he have Airforce One. Likewise it’s a long time since any of our own politicians travelled by train or bus or public transport of any sort – although I think Enda Kenny does use the train on occasion. The passing of the Kyoto agreement this week – finally – seems to have heralded a lot of new reports on the reality of climate change. The predictions that would have been laughed at just a few years back and poo-pooed by the fossil-fuel carbon addicts are now appearing in the most reputable scientific journals. They are quite frightening and perhaps even more so in the wake of the Asian Tsunami in that it has engendered a new appreciation of the forces of nature. But travel by train? You must be joking! Unfortunately it will only be when the taxpayer is forking out the daily fines for failure to achieve the targets set by Kyoto that the reality of the mess our politicians have landed us in will be truly appreciated. And of course the Kyoto targets do not come anywhere near enough to stop runaway greenhouse gas global warming. We’re fooling ourselves folks on a whole series of different levels.


Scientists in West may solve future energy crisis

Scientists in the West may be on the verge of making a break-through discovery, which could ultimately solve the problem of Ireland’s diminishing gas reserves. If successful, the future energy crisis may well be resolved for many years to come. On Tuesday February 1, Scientists at the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOS) in the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG), began exciting new research into the nature of methane hydrate reserves off the West Coast of Ireland. Methane hydrate consists of methane gas trapped within a crystalline solid cage of frozen water molecules, many experts in the field believe methane hydrate is now emerging as a viable commercial resource. If this project proves successful, it could help to solve Ireland’s growing difficulty in meeting local natural gas demand at competitive rates into the next decade. This would serve to eliminate the expensive alternative of importing gas through the European pipeline, whilst also improving security of supply.

For sure finding a new source of fossil fuel off the West Coast will be welcomed by all of us carbon addicts. It may reduce our carbon dioxide output slightly vis a vis oil or coal and methane (natural gas) certainly burns cleaner than many other fuels. It won’t solve our greenhouse gas problem though. It will merely prolong the agony adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

© Copyright 2006 by the author(s)/photographer(s) and

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