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€5m commercial development planned for Monksland

Developer Donie Kenny is behind venture

A planning application for a huge development in Monksland, which would cost around €5 million to construct, was lodged with Roscommon County Council on Monday.

According to the planning notice, the development would involve the construction of a district centre, measuring over 16,300 square feet. It would contain a discount food store, an off-licence and a café/bar, along with 16 maisonette-type dwellings on the first floor, organised around residential open space in the form of a quadrangle, over-ground level parking. A second building, measuring almost 7,700 square feet, would also be built. This would comprise consulting rooms and offices.

The proposed development also includes the construction of a proposed link road from the existing public road to the proposed site entrance, in order to access what would be called Monksland District Centre.

The businessman behind the plans is Athlone-based Donie Kenny, who has been attempting to build a similar development in the area in recent years. On June 3, An Bord Pleanála rejected his application to build a retail centre at the Tuam Road site.

His new plans, however, contain far less office and retail space and a residential element to the project. Mr Kenny is adamant that there is a need for his proposal development in the highly populated area of Monksland. “There are supermarkets requiring property in the Monksland area and, contrary to what people think, there are none available for them,” he said. “There are 4,500 people in the Monksland area. There are 4,700 people in Roscommon town. The people in Monksland have to travel a minimum of 12 kilometres, round trip, to do any sort of comparison shopping.

“All of that travel is straight through the centre of Athlone.” Mr Kenny said that the project would cost “in the region of €5 million” and that the “anchor tenant would hopefully be a discount supermarket” (like Lidl or Aldi).

Air ambulance service is made permanent

The air ambulance service, based in Custume Barracks, Athlone has been made permanent – but it will continue to operate only during daylight hours.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Defence Minister Simon Coveney and Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced the establishment of the permanent Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS), as it is officially known.

It had been operated on a pilot basis since June 4, 2012, 12 months after the closure of the emergency department at Roscommon Hospital. It operates all over the country, but is especially beneficial to rural locations, such as Roscommon. It is designed to ensure that seriously ill or injured people in remoter areas have timely access to high-quality clinical care.

A cross-sectoral working group had recently been examining ways to provide a permanent service. Ministers Coveney and Varadkar considered the group’s report, and it has been agreed to establish a permanent service, continuing the current model. The current service runs from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days per week.

The ministers said the new service would be subject to an ongoing review. Minister Varadkar said that he was “delighted” that the Government had agreed to put the EAS on a permanent footing. He added: “It’s a great example of co-operation across Government and it shows what can be achieved by using existing resources, even following a deep financial crisis. “The service has been great for patients and ensures that those in remoter areas, particularly in the west, have timely access to specialised treatment available in large hospitals.” The National Ambulance Service (NAS) and Air Corps have operated the service on a pilot basis since mid-2012. Minister Coveney also welcomed the news. He added: “The professionalism and commitment of the Air Corps in providing a dedicated helicopter service to date has been exemplary.”

The air ambulance service performed 69 missions in Co. Roscommon last year, a 33 per cent rise on the 52 carried out the previous year.

Local politicians welcome news on air ambulance

There was a positive reaction in local political circles on Wednesday to the news that the air ambulance service had been made permanent.

Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan warmly welcomed the news, but John McDermott, the chairman of the Hospital Action Committee, expressed disappointed that its hours of operation had not been extended.

Deputy Feighan said that the service had been an “outstanding success” since it was introduced in June 2012. He added: “I am delighted that the Government has agreed to put the service on a permanent footing. “The service has been great for patients and ensures that those in more remote areas, have timely access to specialised treatment available in the larger hospitals.”

Mr McDermott, while also welcoming the news, said the hours of operation for the service – 8 am to 8 pm – should be extended. He also said: “It is not sufficient that there is only one helicopter and that it only flies during the day. “People have these events at any time during the 24 hours. “If a 24-hour service cannot be provided under the current model, other community or charitable organisations should be able to come in and provide a service to supplement it.”

Deputy Denis Naughten welcomed the Government announcement. “The pilot service which was introduced just over three years ago has been a phenomenal success, transporting over 1,000 people to hospital over that period” he said. “I have no doubt that were it not for this service, many of those people would not be around to tell of the excellent treatment which they received from the dedicated aeromedical team. “The fact that this important service has now been put on a permanent basis is not to be underestimated, because back in July 2011 the then Minister for Health was reported to have stated that the importance of an air ambulance service “probably lay in its psychological support rather than the actual use of it itself.

“Not only has the air ambulance service proved the Minister wrong, but I’m glad, that after a lot of work behind the scenes, this will now be a permanent part of our emergency services” “As someone who has campaigned my entire political career for a dedicated air ambulance service, this is a significant step forward. In fact it is now just over 16 years since I first raised such a proposal with the then Health Minister, Brian Cowen.

“Over time I would like to see this service expanded by providing 24 hour a day service and with the provision of an additional helicopter, but having said that, this is a very positive and welcome development” concluded Denis Naughten.

Young woman found dead in Scotland is Strokestown native

The discovery of the body of a young Roscommon student in Scotland on Monday morning has stunned the local community in her native Strokestown.

  The 29-year-old woman’s body was discovered at a seaside location in the Scottish city. She had been studying for a Masters Degree there.

  The young woman was a native of Curraghroe, Strokestown, where her family live.

  A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating following the discovery of a body near Western Harbour.

  “The incident was reported at 9 am on July 6. Fire and rescue personnel were in attendance and assisted with the discovery of the body.”

  They added that enquiries were ongoing to establish the circumstances of the incident.

  The woman is mourned by her parents and three brothers, and by the wider community in the Strokestown area.


‘Malicious’ fire in Frenchpark estate

A big fire at a house in Frenchpark in the early hours of Monday morning was started “maliciously”, Gardaí have said.

  At about 1.30 am, Gardaí and fire personnel were called to the property, at Abbey Court, on the Boyle Road, because it was in flames.

  The fire is believed to have started upstairs, before spreading elsewhere, and almost completely destroyed the house.

  A female in her 50s, was assisted from the house by a neighbour and was taken to Sligo General Hospital, with non life-threatening injuries.

  The fire spread to an unoccupied house next door and, as a result, extensive damage was also caused to it.

  Sgt. Bernard Kilroy, of Castlerea Garda Station, said that Gardaí were treating the blaze as “suspicious” and believe it was set “maliciously”.

  There are serious concerns about anti-social behaviour in Frenchpark, a well-attended meeting in the village was told recently. 

‘Vicious attack on people with low incomes’

Sinn Féin’s Roscommon-Galway general election candidate, Claire Kerrane, has slammed a proposal to take unpaid water bills from wages and social welfare payments.

  She was referring to a section in the new Civil Debt Bill that would allow Irish Water for those who refuse to pay.

  Ms Kerrane, from Tibohine, Castlerea, said this represented a “desperate attempt” by the Government to “bully” people into paying water charges.

  She added: “We do know that this Bill will contain a proposal to dip into people’s wages and social welfare payments.

  “That contrasts starkly with how this Government has dealt with elites who have taken advantage of tax avoidance schemes. It is a vicious attack on people with low incomes.” 

Man in court in connection with aggravated burglary

A 42-year-old man has been remanded in custody to Castlerea Prison after being charged in connection with a burglary at a shop at Cloontuskert last weekend.

Gardaí said that they charged the 42-year-old after they received a report of the incident, at about 8.10 pm last Saturday.

A Garda spokesperson said: “A man entered the shop and threatened two members of staff with a knife and left in a grey-coloured car with a small amount of cash. No injuries were reported.”

A short time later, this car was observed near Longford. Gardaí stopped the car and arrested the male driver, who was the sole occupant. He was brought to Longford Garda Station and detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The man was charged to appear before a special sitting of Roscommon District Court last Sunday at 7 pm. He was remanded in custody to Castlerea Prison to appear again at Harristown Court, also in Castlerea, on Friday (tomorrow).

Denis to Frank: ‘Let’s debate ambulance crisis ‘

Independent TD Denis Naughten and Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan’s long-running ‘difference of opinion’ over local emergency health services reignited this week.

Deputy Naughten has challenged his political opponent – and former colleague – to a public debate about Co. Roscommon’s ambulance crisis.

This follows Deputy Feighan’s outburst in the Dáil last week, in which he criticised ambulance personnel over their refusal to begin operating the new ambulance base in Loughglynn on June 15 last.

Responding this week, Deputy Naughten said that some of Deputy Feighan’s remarks were entirely at odds with previous comments uttered by the Fine Gael TD. Deputy Naughten said comments by Deputy Feighan in recent days “exposes the fact that the people of Loughglynn, west Roscommon and east Mayo, even though they are now in the only ambulance blackspot in the country, are to be left without a full-time ambulance service”.

The Independent TD said that recent position by Deputy Feighan was a complete turnaround from his view just 15 months ago. Deputy Naughten said that the people of west Roscommon were being treated like “third-class citizens”.

He added: “I’m sick of the people of west Roscommon being used as pawns while their lives are being put at risk and I challenge Deputy Feighan to a public debate in Loughglynn on the issue of the ambulance base.

On the proposal for a public debate, Deputy Feighan had no comment to make.

Feighan: ‘I have delivered’

Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan has hit back at Deputy Denis Naughten and insisted that more ambulance resources have been put in place since the accident and emergency unit at Roscommon Hospital was closed in 2011.

Deputy Feighan had a veiled swipe at his Independent counterpart. He said: “While I have helped secure a €20 million investment programme to secure the long-term future of Roscommon Hospital, other politicians have decided not to welcome these capital developments at the hospital because it does not serve their political agendas.”

Deputy Feighan said that, as the only Government TD in the constituency, he had delivered considerable health resources for Co. Roscommon. He said that he had addressed the ambulance blackspot in west Roscommon by ensuring the development of an ambulance base in Loughglynn, even though it is not yet operational.

He added: “In terms of ambulance resources in Roscommon, it is important to point out that we have more resources in place since 2011 and it is vital that these are used in the most effective way possible.

“Prior to 2011, Roscommon town had two emergency ambulances by day and one emergency ambulance at night. “Since 2011, it has an extra ambulance by day and one extra by night. That now means three ambulances by day and two by night in operation.

” He also said there was a 24/7 emergency ambulance in Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon and an advance paramedic response car in Roscommon town.

Solstice Choir Concert in aid of Mote Park Conservation Group

Continuing on with their successful summer 2015 concert series, Roscommon Solstice Choir return to Roscommon town for the aptly-titled ‘Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy’ Concert.

Consisting of over 100 members from all over Co. Roscommon, the popular choir, under the direction and stewardship of Eimear and Andrew Reynolds, have enchanted audiences with their powerful, uplifting and inspirational music and songs.

Taking place on Sunday 19th of July at 8 pm in the beautiful setting of the Abbey Hotel, ‘Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy’ features special guests Emerald Storm, Fr. Kevin Fallon and AFKapella.

Fresh from the launch of his album ‘Twice the Catch’, Fr. Kevin Fallon makes a welcome return to his former parish; young local group AFKapella will lend their splendid voices to the proceedings and with their unique spin on traditional Irish song, Emerald Storm are an act not to be missed.

The ‘Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy’ concert is in support of Mote Park Conservation Group projects, in particular the Mote Park Interactive Heritage Tour which is currently in development phase.

A self-guided tour with a difference using QR Codes and Smart Phones, it will be aimed at tourists visiting the area as well as locals who are curious as to the heritage, nature and history of Mote Park.

The tour has the potential to be a major attraction in the town. Tickets (€10) are already selling well but some are still available to purchase from The Abbey Hotel, Lynch Flooring, Molloy’s Carryout Off-licence and Gleeson’s Townhouse and Restaurant’.

Tickets can also be purchased by contacting committee members directly at 086-8394323, 087-2940544 or 086-8762463.

Join us for a wonderful summer night of song and music while supporting a worthwhile cause.

Kilduff, Connaughton to be summoned by FF HQ

Fianna Fáil councillors Paddy Kilduff and Ivan Connaughton are to be questioned by the party following a complaint made by their south Roscommon colleague Cllr. John Keogh.

Cllr. Keogh made a complaint to Fianna Fáil at HQ level in relation to a dispute that arose between himself and Cllr. Kilduff, the new Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council. The party indicated recently that the matter would be considered by its rules and procedures committee.

Dublin-based party sources said that Cllrs. Kilduff and Connaughton were contacted this week to say the investigation was proceeding, and that both councillors would be called to meetings in due course.

Cllr. Connaughton is indirectly involved in the impasse. Cllr. Keogh lost the Fianna Fáil party whip after voting for Cllr. John Naughten, of Fine Gael, as chairman of Athlone Municipal District, instead of for Cllr. Connaughton.

Cllr. Connaughton told the Roscommon People on Wednesday: “It would be more appropriate for Fianna Fáil headquarters to investigate Cllr. Keogh for voting for a Fine Gael councillor for the position of chairperson of Athlone Municipal District – and, as a consequence, putting the Fianna Fáil-Independent council alliance in jeopardy.

“The issue between Cllrs. Keogh and Kilduff is, in my belief, between themselves. I am mystified that Cllr. Keogh sent a complaint to headquarters about me after voting for a Fine Gael candidate in the Council Chamber.

” Other local party members will also be questioned in connection with the controvery, one of whom will be interviewed by the party in Dublin early next week.

He said: “I intend to co-operate fully with the investigation, internally within the party and deal with any legal issues that arise.”

Athlone priest describes terrorist as ‘crazed, brainwashed fanatic’

Larry and Martina were ‘soulmates’ – Canon Devine

During a powerful Homily at the funeral of terrorist victims Larry and Martina Hayes, Canon Liam Devine said that the man who was responsible for the massacre on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia was “a crazed, brainwashed fanatic”.

Canon Devine said: “It is impossible to get inside the mind of someone who would carry out such an abominable act of violence.

“We cannot judge people like that by our values or standards. Word is that he mingled with his victims, joked with them and took their photos before producing the machine gun.

“How could anyone possibly believe that such an act could achieve any benefit, anytime, anywhere? “There is nothing that could possibly make sense in the mountain of pain and suffering that so many innocent people have been asked to endure so needlessly.

“The massacre of innocents is always an abominable crime. When done in the name of God, it is also blasphemy.” A horrific terrorist attack had now indirectly struck Athlone, Canon Devine told the congregation.

He said: “For some time now, the violence of misguided Isis terrorist fanatics have invaded our living rooms in a sanitised, sterilised way. “We never thought it would trouble us here in Ireland, so far away. Today it invades our town in two coffins. The violence is now at our door.”

He said that the tragedy had “shocked, stunned and devastated” the entire community in Athlone. He also said: “There is nothing – no human experience of grief or loss – that could possibly prepare a family or a community for the devastating news that filtered through to Athlone last Saturday night or Sunday morning.

” Canon Devine said that the massacre of Larry and Martina, nearing the end of their holiday in Tunisia, was “almost impossible to come to terms with”.

Those words will be especially true for daughter, Sinéad, whose 31st birthday took place that day. Canon Devine paid a glowing tribute to her parents, whom he said were “soulmates”.

“They went everywhere together,” he added. “They shared a common interest in gardening. Martina’s home was her castle. She was a brilliant housekeeper.” He said that they always looked forward to their annual holidays. “This was their third trip to Tunisia,” he added.

“Summer time is a care-free time of relaxation. But this tragedy has merged massacre and mystery together, leaving us all in a bewildered state of shock and deep sadness.”

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