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Three sisters give birth to babies on the same day!

In an astonishing coincidence, three sisters from Cloonfad, Co. Roscommon each gave birth to a new baby in Castlebar General Hospital on Tuesday.

  The west Roscommon women, whose maiden names are Keane, were propelled into the national spotlight after the happy event. 

  The remarkable sequence began at 3.25 am on Tuesday when Mairéad Fitzpatrick and her husband, Thomas, welcomed their son Tomás Óg into the world. He weighed a healthy 8lb 8oz.

  Then, at 11 am, Jolene Godfrey and her husband, Patrick, brought their bundle of joy, Sorcha, into the world. She weighed 7lb 2oz.

  The incredible run concluded at 8 pm: a third sister, Bernie Warde and her husband, JP, welcomed their son Phelim into the world. He weighed exactly 8lb.

  All three Keane sisters still live in Cloonfad, where there has been a great buzz since the ‘day of deliveries’.

  Mairéad, who said that she and her sisters were “very close”, added: “It was just the way it happened. We weren’t all due on the one day. “I don’t think it has ever happened in the one day before.”

  Mairead was due to give birth on the 28th of August; Jolene was scheduled for a Caesarian section and Bernie was due on Wednesday, 2nd of September.

  The three sisters are nieces of Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who offered his congratulations on their births on Facebook.

Brothers of Charity workers to start industrial action

Up to 150 social care workers in Co. Roscommon will start industrial action next Tuesday as a major dispute with the Health Service Executive escalates.

  The Brothers of Charity employees met in Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon town, last Friday to finalise their plans for industrial action.

  Padraig Mulligan, the assistant general secretary of Impact trade union, confirmed that the work-to-rule would start on September 8.

  He said: “The social care workers will work solely to contracted hours: all of the extra work they do, will stop. They are also going to stop taking people to hospital appointments outside of their hours.

  “We will be looking, at a later date, to carrying out short work stoppages of one of two hours duration. Short strikes, in other words.”

  The employees are among 400 social care workers across counties Roscommon and Galway who are owed a total of €7.5 million in unpaid wages, the Impact trade union said.

  They said that, since 2004, they had been entitled to ‘twlight premium payments’ – time and a sixth for working between 6 pm and midnight – but had never received them.

  The Labour Relations Commission tried to resolve the row, but failed.

  A spokesperson for the HSE, who employee the social care workers, said: “Following a national engagement with staff representatives agreement was made by the HSE to pay unsocial hours to designated staff. 

  “This payment commenced on 1st January 2015. No agreement was made in relation to arrears.

  Currently the issue of a backdated claim for arrears is being reviewed by the State’s industrial relations processes and the claim is currently before the Labour Relations Commission. 

  “The HSE cannot comment further whilst this process is underway.”

  Meanwhile, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) have made some negative findings about the three Brothers of Charity houses in Co. Roscommon, which cater for a maximum of 13 residents.

  HIQA’s inspection report, published last Friday, said: “Major non-compliances were identified in relation to the governance and management of the centre and staffing allocation.

  “Since the last monitoring inspection, the provider had assigned two managers to the position of joints persons in charge of this centre.

  “On review, it was found that their roles and responsibilities were too broad and inadequate.”



Hearse attacked by gang of ‘thugs’

Over €3,000 worth of damage was caused to a hearse in Ballaghaderreen last week, after it was attacked by a gang of youths.

  They have been described as “thugs” by a local councillor.

  Local Gardaí said that, at 7.20 pm on Tuesday, August 25, the vehicle was parked at a car park on Market Street. Several of its windows and lights were smashed and paintwork was scratched.

  The owners of the hearse, Kilgarriff’s Funeral Directors, have spoken of their outrage over the incident.

  Noel Gibbons, the owner of the 1996 Mercedes hearse, said: “We are horrified by it. It was a shock. You read about this sort of stuff, but you don’t think it will happen on your doorstep.”

  A spokesperson for Castlerea Garda Station said that three juveniles were questioned over the matter, and that a file was being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

  Cllr. Michael Mulligan, of Sinn Féin, has condemned the incident, and called for the parents of those responsible to pay for the damage caused.

  “I thought I’d seen and heard everything but this is a first to me,” he said. “They are known…who committed this crime. Will they pay for the damage? Not at all. They are young thugs.

  “They laugh at us. They laugh at the Gardaí and the law, and they laugh at the owners of the hearse.

  “This section of the law has to be changed so the parents are made pay.”

Reports of pollution in Tulsk, Monksland and Frenchpark

Residents have complained that watercourses are being polluted in Tulsk, Monksland and Frenchpark.

  An analysis of the environment complaints that Roscommon County Council received in July, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the scale of the problem in various areas of the county.

  The council received a complaint in relation to Ogulla Spring, near Tulsk, “being polluted over the weekend”. The complainant alleged that there was a “strong odour change in water quality” as a result.

  A ‘boil water’ notice is currently in place in this area.

  The council also received a report of “litter dumped beside the well at Springwell, Baylough”, near Monksland.

  A similar complaint was received in The Oaks, Frenchpark.

  It reads: “The caller’s neighbour’s house is dumping a large amount of rubbish over the back of the house into a stream.

  “They are dumping a large amount of items such as nappies, bikes, buckets, toys, clothes and much more.”

  Several general dumping complaints were also received in July.

  A Garda reported to the council that over 50 blacks bags had been dumped at the side of a house on the Circular Road, Roscommon town. “She said the area is full of rats,” the council’s compaint notes.

  The council also received a complaint of a “dead animal dumped on roadside in a plastic bag” in Oran, Donamon.

  It was also said that dumping was prevalent at the Civic Amenity Site in Roscommon town.

  A complaint was also received of a “large amount of asbestos sheeting dumped in a bog in Castleplunkett/Kilmurray”.

  It was also alleged that plastic was being burned at the back of a store in Rampark, Castlerea, “on a regular basis”.

  Similarly, it was reported “burning tyres and plastics and wood” was occurring at Cultyglower, Ballyfarnon, near Boyle.


Sacred Heart Hospital ‘keeps over 350 people out of nursing homes’

 The work of staff at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon ensures that in excess of 350 people each year are able to remain in their own homes rather than having to go into long-term care, Independent TD Denis Naughten said.

  “An analysis of the use of the 15 rehabilitation and respite beds in St. Catherine’s Ward at the Sacred Heart Hospital shows that over 350 people a year avail of this intensive support, which allows them to return to their own family homes instead of having to go into a nursing home,” he said.

  “If the Sacred Heart Hospital were to be downsized, then these beds would be unsustainable under the current funding structure.

  “As a result, hundreds of older people would not be able to avail of intensive rehabilitative support, which allows them to return to their own homes, rather than going into long-term care.

  “The respite beds at the hospital also provide valuable support to family carers and gives them a break that allows them to continue to provide 24/7 care to their older relative.

  “The amazing figure about St. Catherine’s Ward is that by helping older people and families, it keeps over 350 people out of long term care and it saves the HSE over €15.5m each year in reduced fees under the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme.”

  Deputy Naughten added: “This €15.5m is less than the total amount of money that is required to refurbish the remaining parts of the Sacred Heart Hospital, which would ensure that it is not downgraded.

  “I know that Health Minister Leo Varadkar is fully aware of the situation with the Sacred Heart Hospital.

  “And I now hope that he overrules the HSE by ensuring that the funding is provided to secure the long-term future of the hospital.”

Fitzmaurice calls for action on rural crime

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to provide Gardaí with more resources to tackle rural crime.

  The Roscommon-South Leitrim Deputy said that crime in rural Ireland had reached “epidemic levels” and said the Government were responsible.

  He said: “It is time that the Government and the Minister for Justice woke to the fact that the Gardaí are woefully under-resourced and that criminals are now roaming around rural Ireland carrying out crimes with very little chance of getting caught.

  “This crime wave is not the fault of the Gardaí; it is the fault of the Government who have totally neglected the force.

  “We need the Taoiseach and Minister Fitzgerald and the Garda Commissioner (Nóirín O’Sullivan) to formulate a realistic plan to tackle the rural crime wave and we need the Gardaí to immediately receive the resources that they require to put these criminals out of business.

  “The culture of fear that exists in rural Ireland with regard to crime has to be tackled head on.”

Fianna Fail’s election turmoil

* Connaughton to leave * Lenihan bid derided

Cllr. Ivan Connaughton is set to quit Fianna Fail and run as an Independent in the forthcoming General Election.

Fianna Fáil are in now turmoil in Co. Roscommon ahead of next month’s General Election Selection Convention for Roscommon-Galway, with increasing anger at grassroots level over HQ’s handling of the process of selecting a candidate or candidates.

Cllr. Ivan Connaughton, the party’s candidate in the 2011 General Election and in last October’s by-election, is on the brink of quitting the party.

In an interview with the Roscommon People, he said that he had become “disillusioned” with a party that was “not fit for purpose”. He will decide in the next six weeks whether or not to become an Independent, he added.

Meanwhile, according to a well-placed Fianna Fail source, former government minister Conor Lenihan has been told that he is not welcome in this constituency by senior members of the party in Roscommon.

His hopes already look doomed after an initial negative response locally. Mr Lenihan said earlier this week that he was considering contesting the convention, which is likely to take place towards the end of September.

While he is high profile and would be considered a particularly able candidate, there is some evidence of grassroots resentment at the notion of him being ‘parachuted’ in. Cllrs. Paschal Fitzmaurice and Eugene Murphy remain declared Convention candidates. Cllr. Rachel Doherty may enter the race.

Connaughton set to leave FF and run as Independent

* Party ‘not fit for purpose’ * Conventions are a sham * ‘I have been held back’

Cllr. Ivan Connaughton is on the brink of quitting Fianna Fáil and running as an Independent in the upcoming General Election.

The 31-year-old, who topped the poll in last October’s Roscommon-South Leitrim by-election, said that he had become “disillusioned” with a party that he said was “not fit for purpose”.

In another dramatic Roscommon People interview, he said that the party was “non-existent” with regard to policies and added: “As Fianna Fáil members, the only contribution we are being asked to make is a financial contribution.”

He said that the party’s hierarchy were not listening to the grassroots of the party and accused them of manipulating selection conventions. As a result of these grievances, he is on the point of severing ties with Fianna Fáil, a party for which he also contested the 2011 General Election.

He said: “In the last number of months, I have had people in and outside Fianna Fáil asking me what my intentions are. “I tell them that I am not contesting the General Election Selection Convention under the Fianna Fáil banner. A lot of people asked me would I consider going as an Independent. I am giving it serious consideration.”

Cllr. Connaughton received 7,334 first preference votes in last year’s by-election, but narrowly lost out on transfers to Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice, a Galway county councillor at the time.

He dropped a bombshell two months later when, in an interview with the Roscommon People, he called for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to resign. Cllr. Connaughton’s disillusionment with the party has heightened since then, it appears.

“I am not happy with the direction of the party,” he said. “There are issues with party leadership, structure and organisation from headquarters. “It’s making fellow members like myself disillusioned in that, as Fianna Fáil members, the only contribution we are being asked to make is a financial contribution. In relation to policies, it (the party) is non-existent.”

He was particularly criticial of the party’s leadership. “Up in Dublin, they can’t give a definite definition as to who the members are, who are not, under the ‘one member, one vote’,” said Cllr. Connaughton.

Selection conventions, he indicated, were a sham. “They have a set agenda in relation to getting candidates on tickets for elections – who they want and pushing their own agenda,” he said. “They are not listening to the grassroots of the party. That’s not just now – that is continuously for the past number of years.”

Cllr. Connaughton said: “There is an area in south Roscommon – from Curraghboy to Brideswell, down into the centre of Moore – where there is no Fianna Fáil organisation, no Fianna Fáil member.

“That is a large chunk of Co. Roscommon. “There are other areas where there was large units of the organisation in the past, and they have all left. There has to be a reason for it.”

Cllr. Connaughton is also annoyed with the party over their handling of the falling out between south Roscommon councillors Paddy Kilduff and John Keogh, in which he is indirectly involved.

Cllr. Keogh has made complaints to Fianna Fáil headquarters against both councillors, but little progress has been made in the investigation.

Cllr. Connaughton said: “The way headquarters are dealing with it, has copperfasted what I always believed – that they are not fit for purpose. “I believe in all honesty that, in its current structure, leading up to an election, Fianna Fáil are not fit for purpose.”

Cllr. Connaughton said that he would make a definitive decision on his intentions in the next four to six weeks but, judging by the level of ill-feeling with the organisation, it seems he has already decided to leave Fianna Fáil.

He said: “If I was an Independent, I would be able to express my views better and give people an opti

on. I think I have been held back as a Fianna Fáil candidate and as a Fianna Fáil councillor. “I have been held back in expressing what my own plan would be in relation to health, jobs, families in financial difficulty, agriculture and mental health.”

Pressure on Varadkar to address Sacred Heart Hospital ‘crisis’

Members of Roscommon County Council are to seek an urgent meeting with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar with a view to securing an estimated €11m in Capital funding to carry out works which may be required to save the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon town.

  At a special meeting of the Council held last Friday to discuss growing concerns about the future of the facility, councillors of all political persuasions were unanimously of the view that the onus lies with Minister Varadkar and the HSE to address concerns raised about the hospital by so-called health watchdog HIQA.

  Following a 90-minute meeting – attended by about forty members of the public, including Sacred Heart Hospital staff and relations of residents there –councillors agreed to a number of actions.

  They will (a) seek an urgent meeting with Minister Varadkar; (b) write to the HSE expressing their concerns and (c) correspond with the leaders of the main political parties seeking clarification of their position on the Sacred Heart Hospital ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

  Friday’s meeting, attended by sixteen councillors (there were apologies from Cllrs. Michael Creaton and Orla Leyden) was called at the behest of HAC Councillor Valerie Byrne. Prior to the afternoon meeting a HAC delegation held separate meetings with councillors from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein to try to establish the policy of the respective parties as it relates to the Sacred Heart Hospital.

  A feature of the contributions during Friday’s meeting was the strong view that while HIQA has raised some concerns about the hospital, its fate will be determined by politicians. There was strong criticism of Fine Gael, with councillors drawing parallels between the current fears about the Sacred Heart Hospital’s future and the closure of Roscommon A&E in 2011.

  Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr. Paddy Kilduff opened the meeting by saying that councillors were all “singing from the same hymnsheet” and that proved to be the case, with the two Fine Gael councillors present – Maura Hopkins and John Naughten – also fully supporting the Sacred Heart Hospital and placing a clear onus on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to take the action required  to secure its future.

  Cllr. Valerie Byrne, at whose instigation the meeting was being held, said that it was “sad” that councillors had to gather again for a special meeting because “HIQA are again doing the dirt in Roscommon.”

  However she acknowledged that HIQA “didn’t make the rules” but that they were “handed to them” by Government.

  Cllr. Byrne said that all HIQA had been able to complain about was the fact that there are “too many beds” in certain sections of the Sacred Heart Hospital, yet, she pointed out, it’s the case that many residents don’t want to be in a private room.

  Demanding that the facility be included in the next five-year Capital Investment Programme – to be announced by Government in the coming weeks – Cllr. Byrne said that Minister Varadkar must not be allowed to push forward with his plans for privatisation.

  Councillors expressed serious concerns that no new patients will be admitted to the Sacred Heart Hospital from September. They stressed that while residents who are currently in the facility should have no worries about having to leave, a ban on new admissions will inevitably represent downgrading and probably lead to eventual closure. 

  After all councillors had their say it was decided that an urgent meeting will be sought with Minister Varadkar. Cllr. Hopkins of Fine Gael said that she will contact Deputy Frank Feighan to ask him to arrange the meeting.

  Councillors also agreed to write to the HSE with their concerns and to contact  the leaders of political parties in the Dail to establish each party’s policy on the Sacred Heart Hospital.

A Lenihan candidacy ‘not credible’

Fianna Fail sources in Roscommon have this week claimed that former government minister Conor Lenihan has been told by senior members of the party in the county that there is “no support whatsoever” for the idea of him contesting the General Election in the Roscommon-Galway constituency.

  It’s understood Mr Lenihan, a Dublin South-West TD from 1997 to 2011, texted all eight Fianna Fáil councillors last week to assess their support for him running in next month’s Selection Convention.

  Mr. Lenihan met with Cllrs. Paddy Kilduff, Ivan Connaughton, Rachel Doherty and John Cummins last weekend, to gauge their reaction to his potential bid.

  However, several Fianna Fáil sources have said that Mr Lenihan’s attempts to “muscle” his way into this constituency had gone down “very badly”.

  “It’s a joke,” said one well-placed source.

  It’s understood that Senator Terry Leyden has actively discouraged him from making a move in the Roscommon-Galway constituency. It is understood that Senator Leyden instead encouraged him to run in a Dublin constituency.

  Mr Lenihan was a minister for state during former Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s reign and departed politics in 2011. He has since lived in Moscow, where he has a successful business role. 

  It is understood that he returned to the Russian Capital earlier this week.

  The only two declared candidates in the Selection Convention, Cllrs. Paschal Fitzmaurice and Eugene Murphy, said that there was very little support within the party locally for Mr Lenihan’s mooted bid.

  “I don’t think it’s credible,” said Cllr. Fitzmaurice. “I don’t know where he got this idea from – that there was room for him to run in Co. Roscommon.”

  Cllr. Murphy also believes Mr Lenihan would not have delegates’ backing.

  He said: “I got quite a number of texts and calls from people who are adamant that I must stay in there and fight the convention, and not back out.

  “I would say, on that basis, support for him is limited – I wouldn’t say there is a lot of support for him.”

  Alan Kelly, from Rathbrennan, Roscommon, is also likely to contest the Selection Convention, but the 26-year-old has yet to confirm as much.

  He would also be against Mr Lenihan being selected to represent the party in the upcoming General Election.

  “From a tactical point of view, I feel it’s imperative that the candidate, whoever he or she might be, would be living and/or working within the constituency, or at least be playing an active role within the community and indeed the political party that they hope to represent,” said Mr Kelly.

  “The days of being able to simply parachute a candidate into an area have long since passed. I really don’t believe that the situation in Roscommon-Galway at present warrants such a strategy.”

  Mr Lenihan has, however, strong connections with south Roscommon. His late father, Brian, represented Roscommon during the 1960s and ‘70’s. Conor

Lenihan is a nephew of former government minister Mary O’Rourke.

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