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Family Fun Festival in Tulsk on Sunday

A massive Family Fun Festival will take place in Tulsk on Sunday 2nd of August, where those who attend can expect lots of activities and a fun-filled day!

  Taking place in O’Connor Park in Tulsk, the actions kicks off at 1 pm. There is free entertainment all day including a bouncy castle, face-painting, a magic show, live music, balloon modelling, Irish dancing, a musical wizard and a fire dancer!

  Special guests from the world of Disneyland will also be making an appearance!

  There will be food and refreshments available, with a hot dog stand, ice cream station, a BBQ and market stalls.

  There will be music throughout the day with ‘The Cover Ups’ performing at 5 pm. There will be a Monster BBQ between 5 pm and 8 pm. Later on the night in O’Connor’s Bar music will be provided by Padraic Cryan.

  One event which is sure to attract a lot of attention is the Fun Dog Show at 4 pm. There are eight categories involved including cutest puppie under one year, best handled dog by child, dog judge would most like to take home, best dressed, most obedient, best groomed, most friendly and dog with waggiest tail!

  There is also going to be an extensive market and organisers are urging anyone who would like to book a stall to contact Joely on 086-8763708.

  Entry fee on the day is €5 with free admission for under-5s. Organisers are also running a free competition on Facebook on ‘The Friary’ page granting free entrance to a family for the lucky winner.

Paschal Fitzmaurice confirms General Election ambitions

Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice has confirmed that he will contest Fianna Fáil’s Selection Convention for the next General Election, prompting an expected contest with Dr Keith Swanick, his fellow Castlerea native.

Cllr. Eugene Murphy is also a declared candidate for the Fianna Fail nomination to run in the upcoming General Election.

Just a week after Dr Swanick, a long-time party activist, revealed that he was strongly considering contesting the Fianna Fail Convention, Cllr. Fitzmaurice has officially thrown his hat into the ring.

“I am going forward for the convention,” he exclusively told the Roscommon People this week. Cllr. Fitzmaurice said that he had been approached by several people over the past six months, urging him to run.

Deputy Frank Feighan’s announcement that he would not be contesting the election has contribution to his decision.

“Originally, I held back because I wanted some clarity as to how many seats there would be in Co. Roscommon,” Cllr. Fitzmaurice said. “It is pretty clear now that there will be three seats. There wouldn’t be a situation where Frank Feighan would have got Ceann Comhairle, and there would only be only two seats.”

A Ceann Comhairle is automatically re-elected as to the Dail.

Cllr. Fitzmaurice topped the poll in the Roscommon Municipal District in last year’s local elections, with 1,576 first-preference votes, to retain the seat he first won in 2009.

“I got the highest Fianna Fail vote in Co. Roscommon at the last local election,” he said. “That was very heartening to get that kind of vote. “I had great support from all of the delegates in west Roscommon, as I have going forward for the convention.”

Cllr. Fitzmaurice is the third person to confirm their intention to contest the Fianna Fáil Selection Convention: Cllr. Eugene Murphy, and Alan Kelly, a newcomer from Rathbrennan, Roscommon, are the others.

Cllr. Fitzmaurice has urged the party to adopt a one-candidate strategy. “I think Fianna Fáil should pick one candidate and every member should back that candidate fully,” he said. “We shouldn’t dilute our vote too much because number 2s mightn’t come back to Fianna Fáil.”

There is a strong rumour, however, that Dr Swanick is so highly regarded by the party on a national level that, even if he failed to come through the convention, he would still be added to the ticket.

However, Cllr. Fitzmaurice said that he would not approve of such an approach. “I have heard this rumour that, come hell or high water, Dublin was going to try to put Keith Swanick on the ticket,” he said. “There is a bit of resentment within grassroots members of the party about that. “There is talk of deals being done and I would be disappointed if this is what is going on. All I want to see is whoever wants to go forward, that it is a fair playing field for everybody.

“At the end of the day, grassroots members pay their membership and they are being told, when they do this, that they would have a decision on who would go forward. That is the way it should be. “I think it would be totally unfair if this is what is going on – that people who pay their membership would be disregarded.” A Castlerea native, Dr Swanick is a GP in Belmullet, Co. Mayo.

Fianna Fáil locally were plunged into disarray recently when a dispute arose between Cllrs. John Keogh and Paddy Kilduff. The party headquarters are currently adjudicating over a complaint made by Cllr. Keogh against his south Roscommon colleague, while Cllr. Ivan Connaughton has been indirectly implicated in the row. There are genuine fears that the impasse between the three councillors could result in at least one of them severing ties with the party.

However, Cllr. Fitzmaurice said: “Fianna Fáil is not in crisis in Co. Roscommon. We are very, very healthy. “There is obviously an issue between two councillors in south Roscommon. I think a lot of that is a personal issue between them. It shouldn’t encroach on the Fianna Fáil grouping in Co. Roscommon.”

Fitzmaurice vows to fight to have A&E re-opened

Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice has pledged to fight to have the emergency department at Roscommon Hospital re-opened if he succeeds in his ambition to become a Fianna Fáil TD.

Though stopping short of promising that the party would deliver such a measure, he said: “If I get elected, it will be top of my agenda. “I will be fighting tooth and nail to see that we have a proper A&E and a proper emergency service in Co. Roscommon. “That would be one of my top priorities.”

Cllr. Fitzmaurice says he has succeeded in receiving a commitment from Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher that, if elected to government, the party would vastly improve the county’s ambulance service.

Deputy Kelleher told Cllr. Fitzmaurice: “Fianna Fáil commits to provide additional support in the form of ambulances and personnel.” Cllr. Fitzmaurice described the county’s ambulance service as “absolutely pathetic” at present. “We need more ambulances,” he said.

Roscommon mental health facility closed for over seven months

A mental health facility in Roscommon town, run by the Health Service Executive, has been closed for over seven months – and no reopening date has been confirmed.

  Concern has been growing in the county town recently that Cloonbrackna Hostel may be set to close permanently. The HSE’s Vision for Change document recommends the number of hostels in counties Roscommon and Galway be reduced from 58 to nine.

  However, the HSE has insisted to the Roscommon People that the medium-support facility, which has a capacity of five beds, is closed for “refurbishment works”, but that the period of closure had been extended due to new problems encountered.

  A HSE spokesperson said: “The hostel closed in December 2014 due to necessary refurbishment works. There were two residents in the unit at the time and both have relocated to another similar residence.

  “It was anticipated that this would be a short-term, temporary arrangement. 

  “However, when they commenced the refurbishing of the house, they found a structural crack at the porch entrance and that heightened the repair specification.

  “The repair specification is being upgraded with a view to the works being carried out in the very near 

Coalition guilty of ‘inaction’ on rural Ireland – Bishop Jones

Former Bishop criticised for ‘negative’ views on county

The former Bishop of Elphin, Dr. Christopher Jones, has warned that he sees very little hope in Co. Roscommon.

He said that towns in the west were more alive socially and economically in the 1940s and 1950s, “a time of mass emigration”, than today.

Bishop Jones said: “When I look at my own county of Roscommon, I see very little hope, genuinely, and I am not being pessimistic. “The closure of cost-inefficient Garda stations and post offices and of pubs has created a loss that may be irreversible.”

Independent councillor Kathleen Shanagher criticised Bishop Jones’ comments about Co. Roscommon. Cllr. Shanagher said “I was disappointed to hear what the Bishop say that he has ‘no hope for Roscommon county’.

“I spoke to the Bishop afterwards and expressed my disappointment and how I was really upset to think that that is the way he is thinking.”

Speaking at the Western Regional Development Conference in Ballaghaderreen last Friday, Bishop Jones said that there was little evidence of a recovery in rural Ireland, and criticised the Government ‘inaction’.

He added: “There seems to be very little enthusiasm for the topic of rural/urban regeneration. The focus seems to be once again on the big cities and foreign investment. “Rural and urban communities are not feeling any benefit from the economic recovery. Rural towns and communities are in decline and who cares?”

Bishop Jones, a founder member of Council for the West in 1994, expressed frustration at the lack of development of Ireland West Airport in Knock, and asked why the Government was “so, so slow” to support it.

He said: “The council continues to campaign for a major development of Ireland West Airport, Knock. “We believe that if any industry in the west showed the potential for growth that Knock airport has shown over the years that the Government would support it in every way possible.

“We also believe that future development of rural towns and communities in the west will depend ultimately on Knock airport. Why is our Government so reluctant to give it the support it desperately needs and so richly deserves?”

Councillor ‘disappointed’ with comments of Bishop Jones

Cllr. Kathleen Shanagher has strongly hit back at retired Bishop Christy Jones’ comments about Co. Roscommon.

She challenged him after the conclusion of his speech at the Western Regional Development Conference in Ballaghaderreen last Friday.

The Roscommon town-based politician said that she was extremely angered and offended at components of his speech.

She said that, as a community activist for the past 16 years, she had worked with various organisations to improve the county.

Cllr. Shanagher, an Independent, said: “I was disappointed to hear what the Bishop say that he has ‘no hope for Roscommon county’. “I spoke to the Bishop afterwards and expressed my disappointment and how I was really upset to think that that is the way he is thinking. “Making a comment like that and for it to be expressed in such a public venue, where the media picked up on it and it went into the national papers, that is not good. I told him that we have to be positive.”

Cllr. Shanagher said that much positive work was being done in the county. “To come to Ballaghaderreen and listen to the Bishop say that he sees no hope for Co. Roscommon. What we were attending (Western Regional Development Conference) made it worse.”

The Bishop also said that one “beautifully situated” Roscommon town now did not even have one hotel, “so when tourists come, there is no place for them to gather”.

This comment also angered Cllr. Shanagher. “It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a hotel in the town he mentioned, but who is going to come and open it if he is going to be so negative?” she said.

However, Cllr. Shanagher agreed with the Bishop on certain points. She said: “I want to acknowledge the fact that rural Ireland is being ignored and more needs to be done to by the Government for the survival and future viability of small towns and villages.

“More funding needs to be made available by the Government to help create jobs in rural areas, which, in turn, would lead to a spin-off for the entire area.

“I do, however, feel that if we were to give out a very negative vibe by saying that there is ‘little hope’ for the county, it would not encourage business people or entrepreneurs to set up in Roscommon county.”

Water problems return due to ‘excessive lime’

There have been reports of problems caused by excessive lime in the water in the various areas of County Roscommon.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said that he had received “a number of complaints” in this regard in the Roscommon town and surrounding areas.

He added: “I understand this is because of a temporary change in the supply at the Ballinagard Springs. I've been on to Irish Water to find out when this problem will be addressed.”

Similar problems exist in Castlerea, former councillor John Murphy said. He said that this issue had arisen since the local water supply was upgraded, leading to the long-standing ‘boil water’ being lifted recently.

He added: “We have solved one problem: the water won’t poison us to death now. But it has created another: there is lime in the water, where there never was before, in my house and others. “It has clogged up dishwashers, washing machines and electric showers. I had to change my dishwasher because of it.”

There is no EU limit to how much lime can be present in supplies; the question of imposing a ‘boil water’ notice does not arise.

Irish Water said it would not be possible to provide general softening of drinking water as this would be cost-prohibitive for the customer. However, in a submission to the water regulator, Deputy Naughten said: “In light of the fact that a large number of supplies have significant hard water problems the regulator should incentivise Irish Water to explore alternative, cost-effective treatment processes to address this problem.”

…meanwhile in South Roscommon

Just three weeks after the ‘boil water’ notice in south Roscommon was lifted, the quality of the new water supply has been described as “unacceptable”.

There was joy in the south Roscommon and Castlerea areas on Tuesday, June 30, when Irish Water declared that, following improvement works, 11,300 customers could drink their water directly from their taps.

However, one resident from Clonown, near Athlone, took to Facebook last week to denounce the quality of the water. Susan Parkes posted a photo of cloudy-coloured water, along with the message: “Lift the boil water notice they said, be grand they said #IrishWaterFail.”

Local councillor John Keogh also criticised the new scheme and said that he would be raising the matter with Irish Water. He said: “The quality of water that is displayed there by a resident in the area that is supplied by the Killeglan Springs, is not acceptable for a new multi-million, state-of-the-art water treatment.”

He added: “There are ongoing works at the moment with regard to replacing water pipes in south Roscommon by Irish Water. “That may be a contributing factor in relation to the discolouration or cloudiness with the water.”

Ambulance took hour and seventeen minutes to respond to emergency

On three occasions between January and May of this year, it took an ambulance over one hour to arrive at the scene of a life-threatening emergency in Co. Roscommon.

  The longest waiting time recorded was 1 hour, 17.34 minutes.

  These response times are a disimprovement on last year. In all of 2014, there were three instances of ambulances taking over an hour to respond to such calls in the county; the longest recorded waiting time was 1 hour, 14.50 minutes.

  These figures were released by the National Ambulance Service under the Freedom of Information Act.

  They relate to both Echo (cardiac-related life-threatening emergencies) and Delta (non-cardiac life-threatening emergencies) calls.

  According to guidelines set the Health Information and Quality Authority, ambulances should arrive at the scene within 19 minutes for such incidents.

  

Enda misses Mayo’s five-in-a-row

‘He still can’t face people of Roscommon’ – HAC

The Sligo footballers weren’t the only ones who failed to turn up for last Sunday’s Connacht Final – Taoiseach Enda Kenny also failed to appear.

  Four years after the closure of the accident and emergency unit in Roscommon Hospital, Mr Kenny chose not to attend the match, which saw his native Mayo hammer Sligo by the biggest ever margin in a Connacht Final.

  The Hospital Action Committee (HAC) erected three huge posters in the vicinity of the ground, anticipating his arrival. Along with a picture of the Taoiseach, they read: ‘No A&E – not forgotten, not forgiven.’

  “It says something that, even four years, he wouldn’t go to the match,” said John McDermott, the chairperson of the HAC, of the Taoiseach’s non-appearance.

  “Before the last election, he had no problem coming to town and making commitments.

  “Now, we have a situation where he won’t come into the town at all. If he can’t face the people of Roscommon at this stage, it will be interesting to see how he is going to face them for an election.”

  At least two Government TDs were however present: Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring, a Mayo man; and Labour TD Joe Costello, who represents Dublin Central but is a native of Geevagh, Co. Sligo.

  Understandably, Minister Ring was the happier of the two afterwards. Mayo’s 6-25 to 2-11 win was a record victory for such an encounter, eclipsing that set in the 1967 decider, when Mayo beat Leitrim by 4-15 to 0-7.

  Roscommon town businesses were also big winners on Sunday. A crowd of 23,196 people attended the match, meaning thousands of supporters splashed their cash in the town before and afterwards.

  “Business-wise, it was a huge boost,” said Declan Molloy, the President of the Roscommon Chamber of Commerce. “We were very happy overall.

  “People appeared to get in very early, which was great for the town. All of the eateries and the pubs had good crowds in before the match.”

  The town was emblazoned in colour last Sunday: Sligo and Mayo flags were draped over numerous lamp-posts, courtesy of the chamber.

  It was the first time a Connacht Final was held in the Hyde since 2012. 

Local mental health service at all-time low – Kelly

Senator John Kelly has said that County Roscommon’s mental health service was at an “all-time low” – and that closing the Rosalie Unit at Áras Naomh Chaolain, Castlerea, would have amounted to “political suicide”.

  The Ballaghaderreen politician wrote a strongly worded email to Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch on March 25, at the height of concerns that the unit, for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, was on the brink of closure.

  He said that it had been brought to his attention that patients were being vetted with a view to discharge to private or public nursing homes.

  He was highly critical of the move – which has since been reversed – especially with the General Election looming. 

  “These people have been here for 20 years plus and consider it their home,” said Senator Kelly, in an email released under the Freedom of Informaton Act.

  “There are articles in the paper from relatives of these stating that they would be better off dead.

  “It’s very emotive and it’s political suicide at this time, 11 months out from election…I need reassurances on the future of this facility or else I can forget about going before the electorate next year.”

  Senator Kelly had broader criticisms of the mental health service and was particularly scathing about management of the Health Service Executive.

  “Morale within the psychiatric service has deteriorated since your meeting with them last year,” he wrote in his email to Minister Lynch. 

  “No new nursing posts and no engagement from management with the staff.

  “Des Kavanagh (Psychiatric Nurses’ Association general secretary) said that none of this crack is happening in any other county except Roscommon.

  “What I understand is that management are the problem and they are the ones advising you that everything is hunky dory in the garden. They are not.”

  It emerged earlier this year that, in 2014, the Health Service Executive sent back €6 million of their mental health budget unspent for counties Roscommon and Galway. 

Bog ‘a dumping ground for builders and farmers’

Illegal dumping is rampant on bogs in Co. Roscommon, it is claimed.

  Roscommon County Council received numerous such complaints last month, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

  On June 16, the council received a report that Clooncoran Bog, near Athlone, was used for a “dumping ground for local builders and farmers”.

  The complaint says: “Concrete blocks being dumped on the bog road, farm manure blocking drains, causing pollution to the local river and streams.”

  On June 11, it was also claimed that dumping was widespread on an unnamed Castlerea bog, where a “trailer full of waste” was discarded.

  A similar complaint was received the following day, when it was said that five bags had been dumped at the side of the road at Ballinapark Bog, Castlerea.

  Separately, on June 23, a disturbing complaint was received from a resident in a housing estate in North Roscommon. 

  The email to the council reads: “I would like to report that my next-door neighbour burns her waste every other day in the back garden and the fumes are very dangerous for the young child.”

   Separately, on June 16, it was claimed that nine people were living in a house in Roscommon town, but had no waste collection system in place. The complaint was that they were storing waste in their “shed and back garden”.

  On June 26, a report was also received of a septic tank near the golf course in Strokestown discharging onto a neighbour’s property.

  There were also complaints made of the unauthorised erection of advertising signage in Roscommon town, particularly on the Racecourse Road. 

Morning of inspiration to celebrate Traveller Pride 2015

There was a great turnout for a ‘Morning of Inspirational Speakers’ event for Traveller Pride Week 2015.

  Newly-appointed Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Paddy Kilduff opened the event. Cllr. Kilduff spoke about Traveller Pride and said that Traveller Pride Week is a week in which all Irish people should celebrate and value the contributions that travellers have made to Irish life.  

  Hannah McGinley, Lecturer and PHD student in Department of Education, National University of Ireland, spoke about her experiences as a traveller woman in education, as a Community   Development worker and a Rights activist.

  Tracie Joyce, journalist with Traveller Voice Magazine, outlined her journey into the world of media and her experiences being mentored by one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs. 

  The event was part of a week-long celebration of the contribution travellers make both within their own communities and to Irish society as a whole, through their culture, enterprise, sporting excellence, professional expertise across every area and unique history and tradition.

  The event was organised by the County Roscommon Traveller Health Programme, Roscommon LEADER Partnership and kindly funded by the Department of Justice & Equality through Roscommon County Council under the Traveller Interagency Group.

  For more information on the programme contact Úna Daly, Traveller Health Coordinator on 090-6630252 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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