26 TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS
TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 YourLetters Send your letters to The Editor, Topic Newspapers Ltd, 6 Dominic Street, Mullingar, Co Westmeath “Amazing” councillors under fire... Dear Editor, I was “amazed” recently to read an article in the local papers that our Councillors expressed themselves “amazed” at the lack of social housing in Westmeath - absolutely amazing. My first thought is some of these councillors have been in place for years. So what exactly were you doing that distracted you for years from the lack of social housing in our towns and county? You are supposed to oversee every aspect of the Westmeath Development Plan - or did that go to Athlone as well? And then to make sure we truly kill Mullingar, they are planning to put up rates by 500 per cent on shops and business - devastating to local business affected directly, but also to others indirectly, as the knock-on effect strangles growth - truly “amazing”. And, of course, there was the refusal of Westmeath County Council to grant permission for the €138 million whiskey maturation storage facility, another major loss for local people and business. One wonders where it will end? Dare I say it - “amazing”. In the past, Tesco applied for permission to put a supermarket at Lakepoint Business Park, which was refused because it wasn’t in the centre of town. KFC applied for a drivethrough, also at Lakepoint, and was refused for similar reasons. How “amazing”! Just what exactly are local councillors doing, looking for lights to be fixed and roads repairs? That is the job of the service managers employed by Westmeath County Council. Let them do their job, you do yours! Councillors, act in the best interests of our town and our people, those who elected you to represent them, as distinct from sitting there, nodding your collective heads as such issues are passed - measures that are anti local community and economy, anti future of our town, and anti future of our children and grandchildren. Councillors and other politicians - stop sitting there wringing your hands as you tell everyone "what needs to be done is...”. We know what needs to You put yourselves forward for for election to do it, so get out and do it - whatever "it" is. Our people need deeds, not words. But like the closure of Columb Barracks, the councillors and other politicians will do nothing, and like the soldiers of the barracks, they will watch as business after business (and local incomes) head down the road to Athlone, while our children head out the Dublin Road to find work or, worse, to emigrate - AGAIN. What would be “amazing” is if those elected onto Westmeath County Council did what they were elected to do, and stop the exodus of business and people from the local areas. Now that would be amazing - truly “amazing”. Yours sincerely, Noel O’Callaghan, 27 Willowbrook, Mullingar. Dear Editor, If the people of Mullingar have any ‘get-up-and-go’ about them, then they should seize a unique opportunity that two lead stories from last week’s Westmeath papers presented. With the commercial rates hike set to destroy local business in the town, and with no St Patrick’s Day Parade, maybe the traders and their employees, families and customers could organise a protest march through the town on St Patrick’s Day? People could march to the County Buildings and let rip at the suited, deskbound officialdom within that is running their lives. It would be a great ‘coming e-mail: email@example.com Rates Hike + No Parade = Opportunity together’ of townsfolk, and certainly would attract the RTÉ cameras and Ciaran Mullooly. I am old enough to remember the Mullingar anti-paid parking march in the 1980s, with hundreds of townsfolk, led by the late Joe Dolan, if I’m not mistaken, marching through the town. Yes, it achieved nothing, but it showed tremendous community spirit, something which is non-existent in today’s Mullingar. In recent weeks, we’ve read of committees dissolving through lack of interest, just one person turning up to help a Tidy Town’s hit squad (which, ironically, was also just one person) and other equally miserable stories. All point to a lack of togetherness. To me, nothing says ‘togetherness’ better than an angry crowd! So, can the combined “powers” of both the Town Team AND the Chamber of Commerce (is there politics afoot that there is not one cohesive voice?) convince us to march, or do we need a new type of politician in Mullingar? One who refuses to sing from the same hymn sheet of authority and instead, wants to shake things up for the good of the town. If there is one, he or she will get my vote! Yours etc, Pat Brautigan, (in exile in Castletown- Geoghegan). Jack Heslin and Richard Shiel with the Liam McCarthy Cup in Coláiste Mhuire last week. Offaly for Choice disputes Topic editorial In response to the Editorial in your paper, Wednesday 1 February. The editor mentions the [sic] nightmarish Orwellian concept, that all citizens are equal; but some are more equal than others. He is correct in this; insofar as men will never face a situation where their wishes can be overruled in relation to healthcare. Decisions can be made about their bodies against their will; as can be the case, when a woman becomes pregnant in Ireland. A woman’s right to a dignified death was taken from her, for example, when a father had to go to the High Court to turn off his daughter’s life support machine, because she was pregnant. A horrendous side effect of this amendment’s insertion into our Constitution. The editor states that the child is totally relying on its mother and her medical “support” team, as well as on society for its life. All things being equal, the only scenario that could be equated to something similar happening, would be if the editor was forced to have a blood transfusion, that he didn’t agree to; or made donate an organ against his will; to keep someone else alive. To suggest a woman be forced to continue with a pregnancy when she cannot, for whatever her reasons - is both callous and unrealistic. Some 3,600 women travelled the year this Amendment was put into our Constitution, and nearly 170,000 more since. Thousands more women take an abortion pill, illegally in Ireland, putting themselves at risk of prosecution, when abortion pills are listed as essential medicines by the WHO. He says that the amendment has saved thousands of lives; this statement has been repeatedly discounted as scientifically dubious. It is impossible to say how many ‘lives have been saved by the 8th Amendment and any data, suggesting a figure, doesn’t hold up to statistical scrutiny. What we can show however, is the number of women who have died and suffered as a direct result of the 8th Amendment being in place. They are the Ann Lovetts, the Savitas, the Miss Xs, the Miss Ys, Ds, As, Bs and Cs. The editor chooses to ignore these facts. The 8th amendment merely creates an unworkable ambiguity for medical professionals, who have to decide when the mother’s life is in enough risk to justify terminating the pregnancy. The editor states “the vast majority of abortion of Irish “girls” in Britain over the past three decades or more have been for “unwanted reasons” of inconvenience. The majority of Irish “women” availing of an abortion are in fact “women”, mostly married; please refer to Guttmacher institute. This research found that 61 percent of women who terminate a pregnancy in this country have children already. How many Topic readers have had to make the difficult decision to travel to the UK, or take an abortion pill at home, risking the possibility a 14-year prison sentence if ever found out? That is not a decision of inconvenience. It is a decision of desperation. They will not continue with these pregnancies, regardless of anyone’s view. These facts are indisputable. Indeed, there is “no room for fancy talk” as he suggests, but there is room for fact, evidence and compassion, of which he is gravely lacking. It is 2018 and time to repeal the 8th amendment and face the fact that, our Irish women need support, compassion and understanding when they find themselves in this situation, to suggest otherwise is more Hand Maidens tale, than George Orwell. Yours etc., Mrs G Fallon. Offaly for Choice. EDITORIAL/LETTERS 27 Editorial National Planning for what? The new National Planning Framework (NPF) we’re told, will bring about a “rebalancing” of the present pattern of economic growth and development over the period 2020 to 2040. The experts tell us the population of the country will grow by 1 million people. And to make it all happen, the government’s plan assures us, a total of €115 billion will be invested in a 10 year period. It sounds good at first hearing, but when the NPF plan and strategy are looked at more closely, the planners and strategists seem to be thinking in terms of a country where rural areas - what we term rural Ireland - doesn’t come much into their plans or thinking. The eyes are all focused on existing urban areas, provided they are sizeable enough, and the talk is in terms of “growing cities”, whether these are “first tier” or “second tier” - in order that everyone, no matter where they live, will be within commuting range of some such place, where all the jobs are. That’s how we read it, and it looks as if the planners at local level are being led to take a similar approach, and told to stop people from living in rural area which don’t have the services which can be provided in bigger cities. Effectively, they are saying to people like the proprietor of the Mr. Crumb enterprise in Finea, the people who run Mergon in Castlepollard or C&F in Collinstown, to take just three very valuable local examples in north Westmeath - and there are others in Edenderry, in Moate, and right across the midlands - that they should be located elsewhere. And most of all, the plan seems to envisage more and more people living in or beside the big urban centres the planners are talking about. In Athlone over recent times, there’s a push towards city status, and plans for a major increase in the population and for having Athlone become the “capital of the Midlands” as some have styled it. No one can fault Athlone for such ambitions, but in the present scheme of things, the experts seem to be aiming towards just a few places to “counterbalance” the Dublin phenomenon. This at present sees thousands of people from Westmeath and nearby parts of the surrounding counties, spending two hours or more commuting to work in the city each morning, and back home again each evening. For those people, living in rural Ireland, in smaller rural villages like Multyfarnham, Crookedwood, Raharney, Killucan, Collinstown, Rochfortbridge, Milltownpass, Longwood, or in Kinnegad, Enfield, or Edenderry, is still preferable to living in Dublin. But the planners don’t want them in any such rural centres, around which hundreds of families now have their homes. In one part of the plan. it suggests that no one be allowed to build a house in a rural area, unless they show “a demonstrable economic need” to live there. Effectively, this means stopping even those whose parents are providing a housing site, or anyone who wants to live in a rural parish, and have their children at a local school, on local teams and so on. In essence, it seems that the slow death of rural Ireland is what is planned - death by deprivation - and yet, how many of our local national politicians are screaming opposition to what is envisaged. Where are the local county councillors shouting “stop!”? A deathly silence is the only response we’ve seen, generally speaking, with a few notable exceptions, but the national political plan seems to be to allow the deliberate killing off of post offices, schools, pubs, Garda stations, and other public services, to bring about the desired ’result’ - with no one to blame. It’s as if this type of planning envisages Mullingar as being a town pretty well devoid of decent industries, but catering for “leisure activities”, with millions spent on extravagant ‘boulevards’, along which newcomers and people without any jobs can stroll to their hearts’ content, rest or read their paper or the latest from their smartphones. Local shops and businesses are not part of the plan, and can ‘paddle their own canoes’ as far as the “future Ireland” plans are concerned. Unless rural Ireland wakes up, its coffin lid will soon be nailed down.