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Taoiseach launches €320m investment programme

A €320 million package of funds to stimulate business, promote job creation and help the roll-out of rural broadband was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Ballaghaderreen last Thursday.

  He said that the Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme, overseen by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, would provide an ambitious package of measures over the next six years.

  A total of 16,000 small and medium enterprises in counties Roscommon, Leitrim and Galway will benefit from financial or other business supports, it was claimed.

  The funding will also provide co-funding for the Government’s extension of high-speed rural broadband, which will benefit 144,000 households. More than 100,000 households will benefit from the retrofitting of energy efficient insulation and other energy-saving improvement.

  The money will also help to create 3,600 jobs in directly-supported enterprises, the Taoiseach said.

  Local Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan welcomed the package. “The €320 million available will make a significant contribution to this region,” he said.

Roscommon Chamber launches new text alert initiative

Roscommon Chamber of Commerce have just launched a local Business Community Text Alert service. Business Watch Works is a Crime Prevention Programme founded on the same principles as Neighbourhood Watch, that is the practice of both the Gardai and the community coming together to prevent and reduce crime.

  This should increase the level of detection and conviction of criminals and the recovery of stolen property. All Chamber members will receive texts alerting them to any events deemed suspicious by the local Garda control room.

  This will alert businesses, for example, if counterfeit notes are being passed in the town. All members of the local community are reminded to report any crime to the Garda Siochana as normal and not just to leave it to someone else.

  The Chamber has issued a big thank you to the Community Guards and the sub committee for setting up the text alert group. The texts are free to all members of the Chamber and any business is welcome to join. Anyone interested in joining should call Liam on 086-8613848 or John on 086-2586159.

A hostile hello for Enda!

A group of protestors gave Taoiseach Enda Kenny a very hostile reception in Ballaghaderreen last week when he arrived to launch the Border, Midlands, West’s (BMW) regional investment fund.

  Up to 50 protesters gathered outside the building for his arrival. They berated the Taoiseach on a number of issues, including Roscommon Hospital, turf-cutting, the repossession of homes and mental health care.

  Cllr. Michael Mulligan, of Sinn Fein, and Gerry O’Boyle, who is a land league campaigner, were among those who organised the demonstration.

Larry finally gets an electoral break

Roscommon town publican Larry Brennan, who lost out narrowly in his bid to win a Council seat last summer, was elected to the National Executive of Fianna Fail last week.

  Mr. Brennan, from Kilteevan, Roscommon, succeeds Mary Devine O’Callaghan as the Delegate to the Fianna Fail National Executive for Roscommon/Galway constituency. Ms. Devine O’Callaghan recently took up the position of joint national treasurer of Fianna Fail.

  Mr. Brennan defeated well-known party activist P. Burke by 185 votes to 85 votes in an election held at a meeting of the Fianna Fail Comhairle Dail Ceanntair in the Abbey Hotel.

  Chairperson of the Roscommon LEA (Local Electoral Area), Larry Brennan came close to winning a seat on Roscommon County Council last year. He also lost out quite narrowly in 2009.

  Speaking to the Roscommon People on Tuesday, Mr. Brennan said he is honoured and delighted to have been elected to the party’s National Executive. “I look forward to building on the hard work done by Mary Devine O’Callaghan over the years. I will be working with the organisation at grassroots level and raising members’ concerns at national level.”

I spent three hours trying to get suicidal man into hospital

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has disclosed a disturbing story of how a suicidal man was allegedly denied admission to the psychiatric unit at Roscommon Hospital and instead had to go to a private hospital in Dublin.

  He relayed details of the incident to Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch in the Dáil.

  “I spent three hours one night trying to get a person who was going to commit suicide into the hospital,” Deputy Fitzmaurice said. “The guy was giving up. “They rang Roscommon Hospital and they had no room. And it ended up the man had to be brought to St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin. It was disgraceful.”

  The patient’s family footed the bill for his two-week stay in the hospital. Deputy Fitzmaurice believes this incident is an example of the crisis that exists in the mental service locally.

  “What is going on it intolerable,” he said. “Senior people in authority in the areas of Roscommon and east Galway are basically giving the two fingers to the ordinary people.”

Castlerea Musical Director Shane in running for award

Castlerea Musical Society is thrilled to announce a further AIMS (Association of Irish Musical Societies) award nomination for this year’s show, ‘Sister Act.’

  On this occasion the honour goes to immensely talented Musical Director, Shane Farrell. Shane has been with the society for recent shows including ‘Ragtime’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ both of which also received nominations and awards.

  The AIMS awards ceremony will take place in Killarney on Saturday, June 13th. Shane is nominated with Wayne Brown from Waterford Musical Society and Marie Keary-Scanlon from Limerick Musical Society. Castlerea Musical Society recently announced ‘The Addams Family’ as their 2016 show.

Vandalism at historic Roscommon Abbey condemned

An historic plaque at the old Roscommon Abbey was the subject of extensive vandalism over the Bank Holiday weekend, it was revealed this week by a member of the local Roscommon Heritage Group.

  Extensive damage was caused to parts of the old Roscommon Abbey, which is a listed national monument, with one plaque being completely destroyed. It was also reported that empty cans and bottles of alcohol were located at the scene when the discovery was made on Wednesday (yesterday).

  This vandalism has angered members of the local Roscommon Heritage Group, with PRO Frank Scott condemning those who carried out the thoughtless and reckless criminal behaviour.

  “This is a regular occurrence but we just want it to stop. It seems that people are using the Roscommon Abbey to conduct anti-social behaviour which has lent itself to ongoing vandalism for the last while,” he said.

  The incident was reported to the local Heritage Officer Nollaig Feeney, the Office of Public Works and also the Gardai, who are now conducting an investigation.

Progress made in NoWDOC dispute

Significant progress has been made in the dispute that threatened the future of the NoWDOC out-of-hours GP service. An impasse emerged in February between Caredoc, which helps to run the service, and Health Service Executive management. The former threatened to pull out of the service from March 1, over a number of issues. In an effort to resolve the matter, mediation talks were arranged between both sides. These are being chaired by Michael McLoone, the former County Manager of Donegal County Council. The process is still ongoing, but progress has been made. Dr Jonathan Egan, a spokesperson for the doctors who run the service, said: “Both sides have found some common ground. “The GPs are happy that the future of the NoWDOC centre looks much more secure than it did a few months ago.” The NoWDOC service, based in Carrick-on-Shannon, covers a large area of north Roscommon, including Boyle, Strokestown, Elphin and Ballyfarnon.

Anger at changes to ambulance service

'Service being slashed' – Naughten

Local politicians have reacted angrily to the news that the ambulance service based in Roscommon town will be reduced from June 15th next. The National Ambulance Service has informed staff that, from Monday week, it will be removing one of the three ambulances based in the county town during the day and one of those based there at night. The redeployment is to run the new ambulance base in Loughglynn.

  The news was disclosed by Independent TD Denis Naughten and by John McDermott, chairman of the Hospital Action Committee. They are strongly against the move, with Deputy Naughten saying that the Roscommon Town ambulance service is to be slashed.

  However his former colleague Deputy Frank Feighan of Fine Gael has defended the changes, saying “the days of turf wars must be challenged.”

Election: Ready, steady – but who will go?

Politicians in the new Roscommon/Galway constituency are on an election footing amidst what are slightly alarming (for some of them) reports that a General Election could be held within four of five months.

  There is unease on the ground within Fianna Fail at the apparent lack of an obvious Roscommon-based candidate so close to a General Election. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are expected to hold Selection Conventions in the coming weeks.

  The big question in Fine Gael is whether or not embattled TD Frank Feighan will in fact be the party’s candidate.

  In Fianna Fail, there is an atmosphere of some tension following Cllr. Ivan Connaughton’s dramatic interview in the Roscommon People at Christmas. Connaughton sensationally called for Micheal Martin to step down as party leader and even more dramatically declared that he (Cllr. Connaughton) would not run for Fianna Fail again as long as Mr. Martin is in charge.

  It looks like Mr. Martin will indeed be in charge, and that suggests that Cllr. Ivan Connaughton will be sitting out the next General Election.

  With Dr. Martin Daly ruling himself out recently – also in the Roscommon People – there is no obvious candidate for Fianna Fail in Roscommon. Cllr. Orla Leyden ruled herself out running some months ago. With Fianna Fail HQ anxious to unveil more female candidates, pressure may come to bear on Cllr. Leyden to reconsider. Cllr. Rachel Doherty, although not well placed geographically, may also consider going to Convention.

  Cllr. Eugene Murphy is a declared candidate and there will be speculation about Cllr. John Keogh and Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice. Cllr. Fitzmaurice is keeping his cards fairly close to his chest; he is certainly been spoken of quite a bit as a possible candidate. There may be a Galway-based challenger too, of course.

  Deputies Denis Naughten and Michael Fitzmaurice, both Independents, are seen as likely front-runners while Sinn Fein have already selected Claire Kerrane and the HAC may or may not decide to contest the election. There are likely to be other independent candidates in the field too.

  John Kelly has indicated that he is likely to run for Labour again, although he also threatened to withdraw from the race unless the future of Rosalie Unit in Castlerea is secured. We will have to watch that space.

  There will be much interest too in what Fine Gael does. Frank Feighan is nothing if not very resilient and, his unpopularity arising from the closure of Roscommon A&E notwithstanding, it will stick in his craw if can’t regain at least some ground due to the improving economic landscape.

  But politics is an unforgiving business and Deputy Feighan, if he seeks a nomination, could find himself in a very unusual position for a sitting TD; that is of having to face a vote. Cllr. Maura Hopkins has her sights on the Fine Gael nomination and there are indications that FG HQ has their sights set on her.

  Fine Gael could solve their problem with Frank and Maura by appointing Feighan as Ceann Comhairle; it may seem a bit of a long shot, but, to borrow a phrase, the speculation hasn’t gone away, you know.

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