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`News…at a glance - February 1st

 

 

‘Breakout for Hospice’ cycle in April

Mayo/Roscommon Hospice seeks cyclists to participate in the fundraising ‘Breakout for Hospice’ cycle which takes place on Saturday, April 20th, which commences in Castlerea and includes a 120km/70km and a 15km family cycle.

  The event, organised by Castlerea Prison Service and An Garda Síochána, will be followed by a novel Gaelic football match at 6 pm between the two parties where one of them will become the Breakout for Hospice 2019 champions. Refreshments will be served after event.

  For more information contact 094-9388666.

Scout Troop meeting in Castlerea

The 3rd Roscommon-Castlerea Scout Troop will hold a meeting on Tuesday, February 5th for parents who want to get their children involved in the Scouts.

  This is for parents who already have their children’s names down and anyone else who is interested in getting involved.

  The meeting will take place at 7.30 pm in the O’Rourke Centre in Castlerea St. Kevin’s GAA Club. This will also be where weekly meetings will be held. For more information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Fun Run for Paul’s Chernobyl visit

Rose Escort of the Year, Paul Clabby, is holding a 5K Fun Run in order to fundraise for his upcoming volunteering visit to Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International orphanage.

  The Fun Run will take place on Saturday, February 9th from Kilbride Community Centre with registration from 11 am and the run starting at 12 noon. Entry is €10 per person or €20 per family.

  There will also be an after-party in Foxe’s Bar, Roscommon town, with a rugby-themed fancy dress for the Ireland v Scotland Six Nations game. All support appreciated.

Roscommon Macra tractor run this Sunday

Roscommon Macra will hold a tractor run this Sunday (3rd). Registration will take place from 12 noon with the run starting a 1 pm.

  The route will take in Brideswell, Dysart and Taughmaconnell, and finish in Brideswell.

  All proceeds raised will be divided equally between Roscommon Macra and the IWA Cuisle Holiday Centre in Donamon.

Dates set for O’Carolan Festival

The O’Carolan Festival will take place from Friday, August 2nd to Monday, August 5th. The harp competition takes place on Saturday, August 3rd.

  The festival is preceded by the Summer School which runs from Monday, July 29th to Friday, August 2nd.

Support group at Boyle Family Centre

A six-week closed support group for anyone whose life has been affected by a cancer diagnosis (past or present), covering topics such as mindfulness, managing stress and loss will take place in Boyle Family Resource Centre beginning Monday, February 4th at 10 am. Please contact 090-6625898 for more information. 

Underwater Search & Rescue Church gate collection

The Roscommon Underwater Search & Rescue Unit will hold Church gate collections on Saturday and Sunday, February 9th and 10th in the following areas: Kilteevan, Curraghroe, Ballagh, Fourmilehouse, Derrane, Cloonycolgan, Cloverhill, Athleague, Fuerty, Kilbegnet/Creggs, Knockcroghery, St. John’s/Lecarrow, Rahara, Four Roads, Ballyforan, Dysart, Kiltoom, Curraghboy, Moore, Cloonfad, Drum, Clonown, Taughmaconnell, Strokestown, Corniska, Kiltrustan, Slatta, Kilglass, Whitehall, Scramogue and Tarmonbarry. 

  All monies collected will go towards the maintenance of the unit. The club would like to thank everyone for their generous support in the past and will welcome support for this collection.

 

Roscommon Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service

 

The Roscommon Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service is a free and confidential service that provides assistance and support to families and individuals grieving the death of a loved one by suicide. 

  Contact Tiffany Jennings-Walsh, Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer, on 085-7407856 or Boyle Family Resource Centre on 071-9663000. This service is funded by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention.   

 

Naughten’s warning on Brexit No Deal

 

 

Independent TD Denis Naughten has said that any hard border would have a “very serious impact” on the economy in this region.

  ‘The reality is, from an economic point of view, a hard border will have a very serious impact. Secondly, we have seen in Derry last weekend why it’s important from a political point of view that we don’t have a border on this island as well,” he said.

  The former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment said that while he is not privy to current discussions, he believes those involved are steadfast in their opposition to a hard border.

  “Knowing the personalities that are involved and knowing the engagement that I was directly involved with at European level, I think the Government are determined to make sure that there will not be a hard border on this island.

  “Remember that the backstop was one of the last things to be agreed, a lot of time and effort went into the drafting of the backstop part of that agreement. I don’t see the agreement being obtained from the 27 member states to alter that”.

  Deputy Naughten said the SME sector is   most at risk in the event of a hard border.

  “Also the food sector, farmers and agriculture, 50% of our beef goes into the British market”.

  The Independent TD added: “If there is no agreement and there is a hard Brexit, I presume the European Union will put some sort of transition agreement in place to allow the Irish Government to ensure that there is a frictionless situation on the island of Ireland. But there is a lot of negotiation still to go between now and the end of March and it is everyone’s interest on these two islands as well as mainland Europe that there is an agreement put in place and I expect that will happen.

  “This is a British problem. The British Government and the British public have created this problem. This is not one that should be solved on the backs of the economy of rural Ireland,” he concluded.

 

 

N5 development work gets the green light

 

 

An Bord Pleanála has given the go-ahead for development work on the N5 between Ballaghaderreen and Scramogue. The works will see the proposed development link with the Ballaghaderreen bypass before joining up with the existing N5 at Scramogue, near Strokestown.

  In welcoming the approval, the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Cllr. Ivan Connaughton said that the announcement was a major milestone.  

  He thanked Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Roscommon NRRO, Roughan & O’Donovan – Aecom Consulting Engineers and their sub-consultants and expressed a special word of thanks to the National Road Design Office staff of Roscommon County Council who brought this project to this stage. 

  The Cathaoirleach also thanked the landowners and local communities affected for their co-operation and he looks forward to the next phase of the project commencing.

  The Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council Eugene Cummins also welcomed the announcement.

  Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy said the announcement was “great news”.  I have long campaigned and highlighted the need for this upgrading of the N5 and have raised it on numerous occasions in the Dáil chamber and directly with Minister Shane Ross as I am acutely aware of ongoing health and safety concerns along this dangerous stretch of roadway so it is a significant development”.  

  Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice described the project as “crucial for the development of the region”, adding that further work was needed on infrastructure in the west.

  “The west of Ireland consistently has to fight for improvements to critical infrastructure – whether it be road improvements, broadband services or access to other primary services.

  “While this development must be welcomed, a lot more work needs to be carried out to ensure that people are afforded the opportunity to live and work in the west of Ireland – rather than be driven to cities due to a lack of key infrastructure”.

  Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins said the proposed works were extremely positive but raised concerns over the volume of traffic on the N5 as well as excessive speeds.

  She added that it was critical that the project proceeds as quickly as possible.

  

Murphy tackles Taoiseach on lack of jobs

 

Deputy Eugene Murphy raised the issue of job creation with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar under questions on promised legislation in the Dáil on Tuesday.

  Speaking to the Roscommon People, Deputy Murphy said that the Taoiseach admitted during his response that some areas of rural Ireland – especially in the Roscommon/Galway area – are suffering with slower recovery rates when it comes to job creation.

  “Leo Varadkar was responding to a question I posed about the need to develop more jobs for this region after thousands of new jobs were announced in the past few weeks,” said Deputy Murphy. Addressing the Taoiseach, Deputy Murphy said: “While the thousands of new jobs are welcome for Dublin, I want to know what you are going to do about bringing jobs to my county of Roscommon and the Roscommon/Galway constituency.

  “I know you will quote figures to me to say the unemployment rate is down, but no new jobs are being created in towns like Roscommon, Strokestown, Boyle or Ballaghaderreen, and of course broadband is also a major issue. This is clear, unambiguous evidence that the two-tier recovery is still being experienced by regional and rural Ireland” Deputy Murphy said.

  The Taoiseach pointed out that while employment is up in all counties, more needs to be done to ensure that all parts of the country “share in our prosperity”.

 

Over 4,000 crimes locally in 2018 – Kerrane

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Roscommon/Galway Claire Kerrane has said that figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that in the first three-quarters of last year, 4,088 crimes were recorded in the Roscommon/Galway Garda Division.

  Speaking on the figures, Ms. Kerrane said: “These figures represent the number of crimes recorded by Gardaí in our region in the first three-quarters of last year.”

 

Ballaghaderreen to host this year’s County Fleadh!

 

 

Ballaghaderreen will host the Roscommon County Fleadh Cheoil for the first time in ten years over Easter weekend in mid-April.  The town is seen as a richly deserving host with a strong traditional music connection that is boosted by four weekly sessions, which take place all year round in Ballaghaderreen.

  The Roscommon Fleadh, which is traditionally held at Easter, has the reputation of being one of the best County Fleadhs in the country with large numbers of musicians and music fans traveling from all over Ireland and overseas on the holiday weekend.

  Now with the change to the Good Friday licensing laws, the three-day event will become a four-day event. It is believed that the return of ‘the fleadh’ will be warmly welcomed in the area and will also bring a very positive injection to the local economy.

 

Funding boost for local sports groups

 

 

 

€258,000 has been allocated to nine local sporting organisations in Roscommon & East Galway. The grants were announced by Brendan Griffin, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

  The grants represent the first set of allocations under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Grant. The following Roscommon applications in this round have been successful: Cam Community & Sports Centre Ltd. has been approved €34,900 for refurbishment of playing facility; Castlerea St Kevin’s GAA Club has been approved €53,800 for dressing rooms, showers and toilets; Eire Og GAA Club were granted €13,800 for flood lights and ball stop nets on the training pitch; Kilbride GAA Club has been approved €40,100 for a gym;
Lough Harps FC has been approved €9,400 for drainage and resurfacing of playing pitch; St. Coman’s Handball Club were granted €5,800 for refurbishment of handball alley; St. Michael’s GAA Club were approved €27,500 for the development of the training pitch.

  Deputy Denis Naughten said: “With sports clubs making a massive commitment from their own resources, this investment by Government will assist the clubs in completing projects, as well as having a direct and indirect employment spin-off effect within the communities which these clubs serve”.

  Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice welcomed the announcement and said he wishes to assure others that further allocations would be distributed to 2018 applicants in the future.

  Senator Maura Hopkins said: “Our sports clubs and organisations do great work in promoting physical activity and encouraging healthy lifestyles”.

  Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan said: “The Sports Capital Programme represents an excellent value for money investment. It is crucial we invest in sport and the health of our population, particularly with obesity on the rise”.

 

 

 

News…at a glance - January 25th

 

 

 

Yoga & Mindfulness in Roscommon Library

Yoga & Mindfulness with Avril Mullally of Roscommon Yoga & Therapies will take place in Roscommon Library on Tuesday, January 29th from 6.30 pm to 8 pm.

  This event was originally advertised as ‘Beginners’ Yoga’, however due to demand we have decided to have participants seated rather than on mats. There will be a discussion on Yoga & Mindfulness Meditation where Avril will explain the positive benefits it will bring to your life.

  This is a free event and places can be booked by phoning 090-6637277/6637282 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Busy Needles raises €1,400 for two charities

Busy Needles Knitting Group would like to thank all those who supported its recent pre-Christmas charity knit and bake sale and raffle which raised €1,400.

  Of this total, €700 was recently donated to Cancer Care West and €700 was donated to the Jacinta’s Smile charity. The group appreciates your support.

Glenamaddy Credit Union AGM

The AGM of Glenamaddy Credit Union will be held on Thursday, January 31st in Williamstown Parochial Hall at 7.30 pm. 

  Chairman John Murphy said: “We are pleased to report that the performance of the Credit Union in 2018 has been strong. The key highlights are: loan book growth of €1.3m; a surplus of €96,895 and a productive year for ongoing lending, with annual advances exceeding €4.1m.

  “This represents excellent progress in furthering the Credit Union’s strategic aims of growing the loan book and maintaining a healthy level of capital reserves. The surplus delivered in 2018 added to the Credit Union’s capital strength and provides a robust position. A free raffle will be held for all members in attendance at the AGM”.

IWA annual dinner this Sunday

The Roscommon branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association’s annual dinner takes place this Sunday (27th) in Cuisle, Donamon, commencing at 1 pm with Mass and dinner and entertainment to follow.

Lecarrow Benevolent Fund AGM

The Lecarrow Benevolent Fund AGM will take place on Wednesday, January 30th at 9 pm in Coffey’s Lounge in Lecarrow. New members are very welcome.

Support group at Boyle Family Resource Centre

A six-week closed support group for anyone whose life has been affected by a cancer diagnosis (past or present), covering topics such as mindfulness, managing stress and loss will take place in Boyle Family Resource Centre beginning Monday, February 4th at 10 am. Please contact 090-6625898 for more information. 

Roscommon Macra tractor run on February 3rd

Roscommon Macra will hold a tractor run on Sunday, February 3rd. Registration will take place from 12 noon, with the run starting at 1 pm.The route will take in Brideswell, Dysart, Taughmaconnell and then back to Brideswell. All proceeds raised will be divided equally between Roscommon Macra and the IWA Cuisle Holiday Centre in Donamon.

January winners in Lisnamult

The following people were winners in January’s Lisnamult Draw: Aoife Donoghue (€100), Breda Quigley (€100), Bob McCormack (€50), Peggy Neilan (€25), Pat Clogher (€25) and Kathleen Shannon (€25).

 

Time for public toilets in popular public park?

 

 

Independent TD Denis Naughten says that such is the popularity of Loughnaneane Park in Roscommon Town that the time has come for public toilets to be installed there.

  He’s now calling on Roscommon County Council to examine the possibility of locating public toilets at the well-known amenity.

  “This is an issue which will be familiar, in particular, to parents of young children who regularly use the park to visit the castle, duck pond and the playground as well as the park’s other amenities,” explained Denis Naughten. “At present there are no toilets in the park, or in the immediate vicinity of the park, which creates a difficulty for those using the facilities”.

  Deputy Naughten noted that prior to Christmas there had been confirmation that one of the towers in Roscommon Castle will be opened up to the public along with upgraded footpaths, floodlighting and bus parking and turning facilities.

  “The park is set to attract increasing numbers of visitors and the addition of public toilets will become even more important,” he concluded.

 

Headache Hotel: Rally follows suspected arson attack

 

 

 

Roscommon People Editor PAUL HEALY, who grew up in Rooskey, reflects on a tense saga…and argues that converting the local hotel into an asylum centre would be a retrograde development for the village…

The mythical bus service

The speakers at Sunday’s anti-racism rally spoke while standing under a useless symbol of bygone days…a Bus Éireann sign which gives the false impression that useful public services are alive and well in Rooskey.

  One might ask many questions when reflecting on Rooskey’s big issue, one of which might be: If 80 asylum seekers come to be based in Rooskey, just how will they manage to travel without public transport?

  For starters, they can forget about getting a bus…

‘Nobody knows what’s happening’

This is not a straightforward saga. Just now, the Rooskey issue is all over the place, ‘up in the air’. Many questions, so few answers. Who set fire to the hotel? Will ‘Paradub’ still buy the hotel? Will the refugee project proceed? Or will a hotel re-emerge? What’s really going on? What next?

  Of course the ‘R’ word (no, not ‘Rooskey’) is being bandied about. In this emotive debate, there is little heed on nuance. If you aren’t in favour of 80 asylum seekers being effectively abandoned in a hotel in a small village, you’re at risk of being branded with the ‘R’ word. No wonder most people are keeping their heads down and saying little or nothing. Those who are engaging in ‘the debate’ include both moderates and extremists. There are agendas, visible and hidden. There is confusion and suspicion. Modern-day battle/‘debate’ is often waged on social media platforms; in that arena, some of the exchanges are vicious. There are ‘elements’ within society which are using the ‘Rooskey issue’ in order to pursue their ‘bigger picture’ agendas. It ought to be said too that nobody has a monopoly on what’s right or wrong here.

Two interlinked issues

A famous local building’s future is at stake. There is much more at stake too. Maybe the village’s economic future is linked to the fate of this building.

  It used to be called ‘The Beeches’. That’s when there was a huge old pub/B&B on the site, more than forty years ago. That name? There were beech trees nearby. Eventually the business there closed and the building fell into ruins. Many years later, a hotel was built there. Boom-time Rooskey (already thriving) just got boomier. That was then. 

  There were great times there, in the ‘80s, ‘90s and into the 21st century. A bustling hotel…food, drink, music, dancing, a community interacting, good times. Then the recession rattled the hotel…and it was probably the bypass that finished it off. But it was purchased by a Mr. James Kiernan, and suddenly there was hope. And month on month, year on year, we fed off rumours that the hotel’s comeback was imminent. And Rooskey waited, hopes high. But the years went by, and the blinds on those windows never rose. 

  It is fair to say, I think, that two issues are inextricably interlinked: the merits of housing 80 asylum seekers in a rural village, and the separate yet related question of whether or not a once-functioning hotel can be re-opened as part of efforts to revitalise a struggling tourism area.

Not what Rooskey needs?

A couple of years ago, the rumours (about asylum seekers being based there) began. Then the rumours seemed to go away. About a year ago, a company called Paradub raised hopes of restoring the dormant premises as a hotel. Then, the news that rocked Rooskey: the Department of Justice was doing a deal, and the Shannon Key West Hotel was earmarked as an asylum centre. The locals had not been consulted with.

  I’ve observed the ‘debate’. I’ve come to a view. Yes, I am firmly in support of the hotel re-opening as a hotel. No, I am not anti-asylum seeker. I think we should help asylum seekers, many of whom have suffered horrendously in their native countries. But, on balance, I am opposed to the Shannon Key West Hotel being used as an asylum centre.

  Why? Because it’s a bad proposal, one that reflects the arrogance of our ‘political masters’. It’s a plan that’s not thought through. The ‘esablishment’ hadn’t the courtesy to consult with locals. And besides, I fear that if the hotel is chosen for this purpose, it may never again function as a tourism amenity. And it’s the latter that Rooskey needs.

  So I think that locating 80 asylum seekers in the Shannon Key West Hotel would be a retrograde step for Rooskey, in fact a potentially disastrous error. Disastrous, that is, for Rooskey’s already perilous economic outlook.

  The divisions and tensions this proposal is creating could have been minimised. Much of the blame for this mess lies squarely at the feet of recent governments, which in my view have done little more than pay lip service to the refugees’ issue, while being utterly apathetic about the decline of once-great villages like Rooskey. Successive governments are hiding behind a failed direct provision policy. Worse, when they are tackled about the choice of venues and the lack of communication, they seek to wriggle free of culpability by saying that property owners are responding to calls for ‘expressions of interest’. Poor Department of Justice! Some cute buck down the country just thrust details of another vacant premises on their desk, and what else could the officials do but sign up?

  As if, were the political will there, a fairer and more sensible system could not operate. Give us a break!

Flawed policy

The one thing direct provision isn’t, is ‘direct’. Our arrogant politicians have unforgivably allowed a direct provision farce to continue, while showing no willingness to fast-track the process. Asylum seekers are left languishing in direct provision centres for months on end – in some cases years – with no proper access to education and health services, and no opportunity at all to enter the workforce.

  Such centres have not unreasonably been compared to prisons. That scores of people are housed for unacceptably long periods in such close quarters – with hope and opportunity denied – is a damning indictment of our approach.

  What’s really hard to justify if this pattern of choosing small towns/villages as locations for large groups of asylum seekers, often when there are inadequate facilities, and usually with no proper consultation. It’s no wonder some people believe the Government is dumping the ‘asylum seekers problem’ on rural Ireland.

  Towns and villages that self-evidently are not equipped to cope with an influx of 80 or so asylum seekers ‘in one go’ are still selected to do so. Invariably, there is little or no communication with the community. There is no regard for the blindingly obvious fact that endeavouring to subsume a large number of people into a small area in one fell swoop is daft, unfair and pretty much unworkable.

  Unfair on whom? On the host town/village, and on the asylum seekers.

  In the case of Rooskey, the 80 new villagers will be joining a community which is already shorn of vital services. That bus sign is now bogus; there is no bus service. The school and medical services cannot suddenly expand to meet the new needs. Sporting/leisure facilities cannot miraculously increase. Rooskey is not equipped for this. It can perhaps be ‘made’ work, but it’s been a shoddy process.  It’s a Government, a system, being unfair to rural Ireland, creating challenges in a village that has been crying out for some positive economic support. 

Cultural differences

Personally, I think we should 100% embrace new cultures. I totally, 100%, agree that new cultures can enhance our society. But is it fair on a small Irish village, or on the arriving asylum seekers, to merge different cultures so swiftly, and on such a scale?

  Rooskey has always welcomed foreign nationalities. These are not idle words. It’s fact. People from numerous countries have made Rooskey their home, and they are as local now as any home-grown locals. But is it not asking a lot of a small community to absorb 80 people with a different cultural background, many of whom presumably won’t be fluent in English, into its community in one step – without any proper consultation or preparation?

Calling all cities…

So yes, I think locating 80 asylum seekers in a small rural village is unfair and wrong. I say that with the interests of both small villages and asylum seekers at heart. The real story here is the brazenness of the political elite. Why is this happening in the way that it is?

  The alternative (and logical) approach would be for the Government to concentrate accommodation of asylum seekers in urban areas, where facilities are greater and where integration would be easier.

  And to process the direct provision system faster.

  Rural Ireland, Rooskey included, could still play its part. Why not locate a small number of asylum seekers in villages like, and including, Rooskey? Try that, Charlie Flanagan, and then sit back and observe the absence of opposition and the warmth and sincerity of the welcome. But no, Charlie & Co. prefer their sweeping, all-embracing lip service-inspired policy of dumping this ‘problem’ en masse on tiny rural areas.

Meanwhile, back to tourism…

It was The Beeches, it was a hotel, it became vacant, then this. Can the past be revisited? I believe that choosing the building for asylum seekers at the expense of the prospect of it returning as a hotel risks setting the development of the village back many years.

  ‘Paradub’ has said its intention is to proceed with purchasing the hotel and that the company wants to open it as a hotel. Rooskey is a tourism village, always has been. It’s a haven on the Shannon! Tourist-related facilities are what’s needed. Shannon-based development is what’s needed. An ambitious project, such as restoration of the hotel, is urgently needed in a village that has been depressed by several setbacks over the past couple of decades. If the hotel becomes an asylum accommodation centre there may be no turning back. This may be a turning point in the history of this great village.

What happens next?

If the asylum seekers’ project proceeds, I confidently predict that the refugees will get a very friendly welcome, as in Ballaghaderreen. Generosity of spirit will kick in, the hand of friendship will be extended. I don’t for a moment agree with people who in some way fear immigration. That is not what this is about. This is about a flawed direct provision policy, and about the linked apathy of the political establishment in regard to rural villages like Rooskey. Direct provision? Direct derision. And this is about Rooskey’s potential shining asset –the hotel – being used for a purpose that is not compatible with what a struggling area needs.

  Rooskey needs to be developed, not treated with disdain. Rooskey has been fighting back…since the factory fire, the bypass, the decline of the fishing, and the recession. It’s a fantastic village, a brilliant community. I don’t believe that this project, on this scale and in this ill-prepared way, is the right fit for the village now.

 

 

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