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‘Bully boy tactics’ slammed amidst fears over Kepak jobs



Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has slammed what he described as “bully boy tactics” from Meat Industry Ireland following the group’s announcement that up to 3,000 of its members would be temporarily laid off.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice’s comments came following unconfirmed reports that some workers at the Kepak plant in Athleague had been temporarily laid off on Tuesday. According to sources, a number of the plant’s canteen staff were laid off. Kepak announced on Wednesday that 1,125 staff had been temporarily laid off from meat plants around the country. It is feared that further lay-offs are imminent unless the current dispute is resolved.

  It is claimed that SIPTU had written to MII three weeks ago in relation to the dispute but failed to receive a response ahead of recent lay-offs.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “Talks should have begun a week ago. If this dispute is not resolved and farmers continue on the same path, then there will be no factories or workers. This dispute needs to be resolved for the sake of farmers and their families”.

  Meanwhile, there have been positive developments following last night’s (Wednesday) meetings between Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, farm organisations and beef processors, with talks set to resume in the current days. See more on page 3.


Taoiseach asked to intervene as beef crisis escalates



Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene in the ongoing beef crisis, stating that it’s imperative that Meat Industry Ireland (MII) returns to the negotiating table.

  Deputy Murphy welcomed Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed’s calls on MII to return to talks following the group’s announcement that it would walk away on Monday due to ongoing blockades of meat processing plants throughout the country.

  “If Meat Industry Ireland fails to re-engage in these talks then we need the Taoiseach to intervene as the situation is escalating. Progress can only be made by getting all the groups back to the table. It is the only way we will have success and a resolution in the beef crisis,” Deputy Murphy said.

  Meanwhile, Independent TD Denis Naughten has called on IBEC, the umbrella organisation for Meat Industry Ireland, to intervene in the ongoing dispute.

  “Walking away from talks and locking the gates as Meat Industry Ireland has done will not only fail to resolve the current beef price impasse but is likely to lead to farmers leaving the industry altogether, which will have long-term consequences for meat processors,” he said.

  Deputy Naughten added that the Irish beef sector was at a “crossroads” and that immediate steps needed to be taken to resolve the dispute. 

  “I cannot recall a situation where an IBEC member organisation has snubbed the invitation of a Cabinet Minister to sit down to talks. The fact is that this situation can only be resolved around the table and we now need constructive movement from the meat industry and IBEC,” he concluded.

  MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said he believes a “root and branch reform” of the entire sector is needed.

  “The protesting beef farmers have rightly identified the key issues that are undermining their sector, the 30-month rule, the 4-movement rule and the 70-day residency rule. These rules have no scientific justification and are trade distorting and anti-competitive,” he said before urging farmers to “hold steadfast” in demanding movement on these issues and calling on Minister Creed to intervene with a major review of “all aspects of the beef industry”.

  Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carty had previously insisted that Minister Creed not be a “neutral observer” to beef talks and called on him to bring forward “supportive proposals to help secure the future viability of this sector”.

  Meanwhile, following Meat Industry Ireland’s announcement that 3,000 members have been temporarily laid off due to “continuing illegal blockades of factories and intimidation of staff and suppliers by protestors”, SIPTU has called on the Government and Minister Creed to establish a taskforce to tackle the ongoing crisis.

  Meetings to resolve the ongoing row were underway in Dublin last night (Wednesday) between the Minister for Agricultural Michael Creed, farm organisations and meat factories.


Church Street to reopen following waterworks




Irish Water works are ongoing in Roscommon town with the next phase due to begin on Monday, September 16th. Church Street is expected to reopen to through traffic today (Thursday) while the next phase will see closures from the AIB to Ward’s shop on Goff Street and on the Athlone Road.

  The commencement of the next phase was confirmed by a spokesperson on behalf of Irish Water yesterday (Wednesday).

  “Irish Water, working in partnership with Roscommon County Council, is replacing the ageing water mains in Goff Street, Athlone Road, Church Street and Abbey Street to provide a more reliable water supply, reduce high levels of leakage, and improve water quality for businesses and homes in Roscommon town.

  “To date, 540 metres of new water main have been laid on Abbey Street and Church Street.

The next phase of the works will start on Monday, September 16th. These works will include traffic management and road closures.

  “We would like to thank the businesses, and general public for their patience during these essential works”.

  The following closures will come into affect between next Monday (16th) and Sunday, November 3rd: Closure 1: AIB Goff Street to Ward’s Shop; Closure 2: Ward’s Shop to the roundabout; Closure 3: Athlone Road.

  These road closures are set to be in place until the Sunday, November 3rd.



Farmers in stand-off at Strokestown Show




Gardaí were called to the scene of a tense stand-off between farmers and members of the Strokestown Agricultural Show committee at Strokestown Park last Saturday afternoon.

  It is believed a number of farmers attempted to address members of the public using the public address system at the event but were prevented from doing so by committee members. It is understood that the farmers intended to address the ongoing beef prices’ controversy.

  This resulted in a stand-off between committee members and the group of farmers before Gardaí, who had been on site initially but had been called to a road traffic collision, were recalled to the show grounds.

  It’s understood the incident lasted approximately ten minutes before the group left the show grounds. A spokesperson for the Strokestown Agricultural Show declined to comment on the incident but said that the matter would be discussed at the committee’s next meeting, following which the committee may decide to issue a statement.


Roscommon water gets EPA approval – Naughten



Deputy Denis Naughten has welcomed the publication of a report on the quality of drinking water supplies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which for the first time in a decade does not list any boil water notices in County Roscommon.

  “This clean bill of health for public water supplies throughout County Roscommon is a very welcome development following significant investment in water supplies and treatment systems throughout the county over the last number of years,” said Denis Naughten.

  “The saga of boil water notices in County Roscommon, which had been going on for years, has at long last been resolved and this EPA Report is the first since the 2007-08 report which does not mention County Roscommon in the list of boil water notices.

  “This is an issue that I have been pursuing, particularly over the last six years, and I now hope that as a result of the investment we never have a repeat of the scale of boil water notices that we have experienced in County Roscommon.

  “Due to the scale of the investment throughout County Roscommon we now have some of the most modern water treatment facilities in the country and we can now use this to attract new employment into our area,” concluded Denis Naughten.



Cathaoirleach: ‘N60 closure is unnecessary’




Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice, has described the closure of an 800-metre stretch of the N60 Roscommon to Castlerea road from next Monday (16th) as “unnecessary”.

  The road will be closed to traffic travelling in both directions for a six-week period, something Cllr. Fitzmaurice believes will cause huge disruption for motorists.

  “The approved route while these works are taking place is the R367 from Ballintubber to Castleplunkett and Tulsk, which is a very long way around. Unfortunately, there are no decent roads near to this closure.

  “I’m not happy with this because no other national route would be closed for six weeks. It’s a huge inconvenience for people and there will be those who use what are called ‘unapproved routes’. This will put terrible pressure on local roads,” he said.

  The Castlerea-based councillor said he believes the disruption could have been avoided.

  “The opening of this new road and the realignment works will be very welcome by me and everyone else but I’m disappointed that the road couldn’t have been kept open during this six-week period. A stop-go system could have been put in place or half the road could have been built, leaving the other half for traffic.

  “The work could also have been carried out at night or at quieter periods like weekends. I think we’ve been given a poor option here,” he said.

  Kevin Geoghegan, executive engineer with the Roscommon National Roads Regional Office in Roscommon town, has advised motorists using the road prior to the closure point to take the official diversionary route onto the R367.

  This route gives access to Ballintubber, Castleplunkett, Tulsk and the N61 to Roscommon.

  He confirmed that works on the entire new route are expected to be completed by June 22nd 2020.






Cathaoirleach extends sympathy to Council CE on bereavement



The death has occurred of Peggy Cummins, who was the mother of Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council.

  The late Peggy Cummins (nee Kelly) of Pound Road, Ballygar, Co. Galway, passed away at her residence on Tuesday last, September 10th.

  Wife of the late Michael, she was also predeceased by her son Ken, daughter Mary and son-in-law Paddy.

  She is mourned by her daughter Anne, sons Mickey, Eugene and Joe, further relatives and friends.

  Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice, the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, has extended sympathy to Mr. Eugene Cummins and the extended family.

  Cllr. Fitzmaurice said: “On behalf of all members of Roscommon County Council I wish to extend our sympathies to Chief Executive Officer Eugene, his sister Anne and all the Cummins family on the passing of Peggy Cummins. We know that this is a sad time for themselves and the extended family, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers”.

  The late Peggy Cummins will be reposing at Moran’s Funeral Home, Ballygar, on Thursday evening (12th of September) from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Removal afterwards to St. Mary’s Church, Ballygar. Funeral Mass on Friday at 12 noon will be followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.


News…at a glance - September 13th




Come along to NCBI Coffee Morning

The National Council for the Blind Roscommon branch will host a number of fundraising events in coming weeks and welcome all support.

  On Saturday, September 21st NCBI will host a cake sale while on Saturday, 28th volunteers will take part in a fundraising bag pack in Tesco, Roscommon town.

  In between, on Wednesday, September 25th the charity will host a Coffee Morning in NCBI Roscommon on Church Street from 10 am.

  Optician John Weldon will be the guest speaker from 11 am. The organisers invite you to come along and meet John who has kindly given up his valuable time to explain the power of sight; the various causes of sight loss, and the steps you can take to care for your eyes.

  Local community radio station Ros FM will also be broadcasting live from the event.

  Don’t miss this chance to come and support NCBI in their fundraising efforts!

Athleague Active Age meeting on Monday

Athleague Active Age will meet on Monday, September 16th in Athleague Angling Centre due to renovations which will be taking place in Athleague Community Centre over the next few weeks. The group would like to apologise for any inconvenience.

Culture Night exhibition in Ballaghaderreen

As part of Culture Night on Friday, September 20th, an exhibition entitled ‘Finding Common Ground’ will take place in Spells Bar, Ballaghaderreen from 6 pm to 9 pm.

  The exhibition will be organised by Community Art Group, Ballaghaderreen and Ballaghaderreen Writers’ Group and will take place in the Rum and Black Performance Area upstairs.

  Most of the visual art works on display will be available for sale at affordable prices. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to do some art or writing of their own at the Open Table and work can be brought home.

  This is a free event and all are welcome to come along on Culture Night, September 20th from 6 pm to 9 pm.

  For more information, please contact Spells on 094-9860144 or the Art and Writers Group on 087-1202432.

Mass for cancer patients/survivors

The annual Mass for survivors of cancer, those undergoing treatment and those who have gone to their eternal reward will take place on Friday, September 20th in Donamon Castle at 7.30 pm. All are welcome.

Kevin Hoare Memorial Golf Classic

The Kevin Hoare Memorial Golf Classic will take place in Kilkee Golf Club, Co. Clare this Saturday (14th).

  Kevin, who was a son of Michael Hoare, formerly of Roscommon town, sadly passed away following a workplace accident in London in 2017 at the age of 26. Proceeds from the Golf Classic will go towards Clare Crusaders Children’s Clinic.

  Booking available with Mike on 087-4196583 or through Kilkee Golf Club on 065-9056048. Cost is €120 per team of four.

  Organisers are also running an auction on the Kevin Hoare Memorial Fund Facebook page with some terrific items available.


Temporary thaw as Chinese delegation visits Kepak




Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has stepped up the pressure on those involved in the beef dispute this week, calling on meat processors to withdraw legal action and for protests by farmers to be halted.

  The Minister’s call comes following the decision by protesting farmers at the Kepak plant in Athleague to withdraw their picket following a day-long discussion with management at the plant on Tuesday. It is understood that part of the agreement to withdraw the picket was that all meat would be sourced from local farmers.

  The decision to withdraw the picket was taken to allow a delegation from China to conduct an on-site audit at the plant. The audit was part of Ireland’s application for China to accept sheep meat.

  This represented a temporary thaw in the dispute, as farmers returned to the plant on Wednesday afternoon. They have vowed to remain in place until talks are complete.

  Farmers who were present at the picket on Tuesday ahead of the decision to allow the visiting Chinese delegation to enter Kepak, said they were determined to continue with protests until meaningful talks about prices could take place.

  One farmer at Tuesday’s picket said Meat Industry Ireland had said they were “willing to discuss everything except price” at recent talks but farmers present said that there will be no meaningful progress until prices are discussed.


World Cup call for Roscommon’s Jack Carty






Capping a historic week for Roscommon sports stars, Roscommon rugby sensation Jack Carty has been included in the Ireland squad for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.

  Carty’s selection for the eagerly-awaited tournament is a massive personal achievement for the Kiltoom man – and a huge honour for his native county.

  Indeed, it is arguably one of greatest achievements ever by a Roscommon-born sports person. Carty’s selection for the World Cup follows hot on the heels of Castlerea native Aoife O’Rourke’s sensational European Boxing Championship gold medal win at the weekend.

  Carty broke into the senior international set-up earlier this year, making his Six Nations’ debut in February when he came on as a replacement in Ireland’s win against Italy in Rome. He did his selection prospects no harm with a man of the match display against Wales in Cardiff last weekend.

  Carty plays his club rugby with Buccaneers and his club colleague, Athlone native Robbie Henshaw, has also been included in Joe Schmidt’s 31-man squad, announced on Monday.

  In a statement, Buccaneers Rugby Football Club expressed delight at the inclusion of Henshaw and Carty. “It is a fantastic achievement that two players from a relatively modest rural club based in Athlone have been selected. Both are young unassuming guys who have worked hard at their sport and will now be involved at rugby’s pinnacle tournament. They are wonderful role models especially for all the younger players at Buccaneers and beyond”.

  Jack Carty, born in Kiltoom, Co. Roscommon, was a prolific young sportsman who had a brilliant underage GAA career (with St. Brigid’s and Roscommon). He also excelled in soccer before establishing himself as a rugby player of great note, starring with Buccaneers, and now Ireland. Carty features in a major interview (aptly headlined ‘The world in his hands’) in the current edition of Roscommon People PLUS, available in shop and other outlets locally.



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