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Westmeath Topic - 15 February 2018

8 NEWS TOPIC •

8 NEWS TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 New Forest’s award winning chef provides perfect launch for 2018 Award-winning chef: Joe Clinton (centre) is pictured with Jim Sullivan and Joe’s assistant Oliver Cassells. BY LARRY COONEY Six months after joining the staff of the prestigious New Forest Golf and Country Club award-winning chef Joe Clinton has quite literally struck gold, silver and bronze once again! At the recent two-day Food and Beverage Live exhibition in CityWest Hotel beginning on 6 February, the Mullingar chef scooped a gold, silver and a bronze in the three categories he entered. But much travelled Joe is also no stranger to winning awards having previously won a ‘Failte Ireland’ new Irish national dish award at the Sligo Food Festival in 2011 and two years later while still based at Rossnowlagh in Co. Donegal, Joe was part of a team, which included his wife Deirdre, who won an award at the Salon Culinaire, Hotelympia in London. THREE AWARDS Speaking about the three award winning entries New Forest general manager Jim Sullivan said: “There were four categories of which Joe presented dishes in three resulting in: (1) Beef - Silver (2) Duck - Gold (3) Lamb - Bronze and there were twelve to fourteen entries for each category.” In category one the beef was sourced from Murray’s in Kilbeggan while the winning presentation also included Kilbeggan dark chocolate, Kilbeggan whiskey, black pudding and herbs from their own herb garden. The gold award-winning duck dish was sourced from Silverhill Foods in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. Joe Clinton’s latest accolades also come at a time when New Forest Golf and Country Club has been enjoying its own renaissance since it was acquired by the Cunningham family in Kinnegad over four years ago. “It’s great news for New Forest as well as Joe himself,” admitted Jim who has also played a major part in the New Forest revival story, and he continued: “It’s a very important year for us here and Joe’s recent success is the perfect launch for 2018 and our aim is to become a leading wedding venue as well as a top golf resort.” Jim also spoke about New Forest’s insistence on using locally sourced produce on all their menus, including their highly recommended Valentine’s Day menu. AT YOUR SERVICE! The impressive and indeed progressive development at New Forest Golf and Country Club was also singled out by the RTE’s ‘At Your Service’ production team recently and included a visit from wellknown TV personality Francis Brennan. Thirty weddings are already booked in New Forest this year which is some indication of its growing reputation as a wedding venue while its well- maintained golf course and facilities are also attracting many golfing societies for competitions throughout the year thanks to the efforts of green-keeper/groundsman Donie Shine and also local PGA professional Stephen Barrett. The course is also currently rated No. 53 in the country. The investment in a top of the range marquee known as the Orchard Pavilion has also enabled New Forest Golf and Country Club to accommodate weddings in excess of three hundred guests and apart from the former stately home built in 1760, which includes four dining halls, there are also eleven self-catering court yard lodges. General Manager Jim Sullivan and his assistant Paul Cunningham joined a number of the other colleagues of Joe Clinton recently to honour their highly acclaimed chef as well as displaying his accolades. Westmeath forging cultural links with Argentina The strong Westmeath connection with Argentina came into focus last weekend when Alexandro Wade and Dickie McAllister accompanied GAA County Board Chairman, Billy Foley to the National Football League game in Wexford. Alexandro and Dickie also caught up with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Westmeath CCÉ, Joe Connaire and Willie Penrose, on Sunday night where further cultural links between the countries were discussed. Alexandro has strong Moyvore connections. His mother’s maiden name was Quinn and she was born in the Westmeath village. Alexandro explained that hurling began in Argentina in 1922, with 10 or 12 teams, who played each weekend. There were limited facilities but it was the meeting point for the Irish community in Buenos Aires, games followed by socialising and craic. His colleague, Dickie was honoured with the International President’s Award last weekend. “My great grandfather, John arrived in Buenos Aires in 1868,” explained Dickie, whose family hail from Donabate, Dublin. “It was a big surprise when I received the phone call,” said Dickie. I thought a bit about it and decided after the weekend that I’d come to Ireland. It’s a great honour for me and for the hurling club in Buenos Aires, to be recognised in this way by the GAA,” he said. His father played hurling in Argentina but the game suffered in the 1940s during the second world war as no hurleys were available. As a result hurling died, but the boys started playing field hockey or rugby. Hockey flourished and one of he main reasons why was the strong historical connection with the game of hurling. Billy Foley remarked that Argentina are the current Olympic Champions in hockey, which illustrates the level at which they are performing. In 1948 a number of the hurling players were on the national Argentinian team playing hockey in London at the Olympic Games: names like Quinn, Scally, Dolan and Wade all featured as part of the side. They were strong Westmeath names and STAR STUDDED LINEUP FOR OSKAR’S JUDGES’ PANEL Alan Devine. Sinead Hussey. Declan Murphy. St Loman’s are delighted to announce their judges for the ‘Night at the Oskars’ taking place at the Mullingar Park Hotel on Saturday, 24 February. RTÉ News presenter Sinead Hussey, Fair City actor Alan Devine, and local businessman and Blizzard’s drummer Declan Murphy will be taking to the judges chair for the what promises to be the showbiz event of the year. Seven films are currently in production for the night and will be screened on a night of glitz and glamour to raise funds for the local GAA club. Limited tickets are available at Kerrigan’s Public House on Harbour St as well as the Sherry Fitzgerald Davitt & Davitt offices on Dominick St, Mullingar. Tickets are €20 each. Pictured in Mullingar on Monday are Billy Foley (Westmeath GAA Chairman), Dickie McAllister and Alexandro Wade. their hurling skills were crucial to the team’s great run. “We didn’t play hurling as young boys, but we remembered listening to stories about those hurling matches. It was not just a hurling match, it was a lot of things around the hurling match,” said Alexandro. Hurling was revived in Argentina in 2008 and the All Stars tours of 2001 and ’09 were massive for them. “That was when we decided to start again because it’s a very important way to keep our Irish tradition,” remarked Dickie. Billy Foley was delighted to meet both Dickie and Alexandro, men he knows well from his visits to Buenos Aires, where he and his wife Vivienne enjoyed their honeymoon in 1987. The new Westmeath Chairman took his Argentinian friends to the Westmeath match in Wexford on Sunday and the plan is to start Gaelic football in Argentina. Alexandro said the game has massive potential in Argentina, who won the International Games in Abu Dhabi in 2015. The following year they were in Ireland for the games, where it was much more competitive and they won only a few games. “Westmeath were much better than Wexford at the start, but they faded out then. However, they finished the game on top. It was very nice to meet George O’Connor and Martin Lynch, who have been over coaching Gaelic games in Buenos Aires during summer months,” said Dickie. Billy Foley is hoping to improve the link between Westmeath GAA and Buenos Aires and last weekend was the start of what could be an exciting project. Clongowney sculpture to get a new home? THE controversial piece of modern sculpture at Clongowney, Mullingar will be moved this year, it was confirmed at the February meeting of Mullingar Municipal District. Pressing for a decision, Cllr. Michael Dollard (Labour) has long been an outspoken critic of the piece. Martin Murray, Director of Services confirmed that the sculpture will be relocated as part of the works undertaken by the Municipal District this year. “I don’t know where you will bring it to, but I and many others will welcome having it moved,” said Cllr. Dollard. DIVIDED OPINION The sculpture, which is visible to anyone using the M4 motorway from Dublin, located originally on the old Dublin Road in Mullingar, has divided opinion as to its merits since it first appeared. There had been little praise for it and mixed views as to the impact it makes on those approaching the town. Mr. Murray said that the Tourist Officer with Westmeath County Council will be liasing with the Municipal District in relocating the sculpture. POSSIBLE SITES LOOKED AT He said that capital funding has been granted to Westmeath for the establishment of defined trailheads at the eastern and western approaches to Mullingar and these are being looked at as possible sites for the sculpture. Cllr. Dollard asked if it is certain that the metal installation will be moved this year and it was confirmed that this will be the case.

TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 Devastating impact of new NEWS 9 rates rules on rural Ireland Warning that valuation decisions don’t reflect reality BY: CLAIRE CORRIGAN The intended outcome of the Valuation Amendment Act 2015 - to link commercial rates to rent being paid - has not happened and it is having a devastating impact on rural Ireland, Castlepollard man and Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) CEO, Pat Davitt, told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation last week. “Rates being applied to a BY: CLAIRE CORRIGAN Topic also spoke to another Westmeath auctioneer who has met with the Valuation Office concerning properties he leases in a rural location, and he revealed that if the rates are not reduced, he will be going to the tribunal. “Some of the units are being rented for €4,000 a year and the rates are probably between €2,000 and €3,000 a year, so they are huge in relation to the rent,” the businessman, who asked to remain anonymous, revealed. He said that the argument many landlords have is that it doesn’t matter how much or little the Net Mullingar EYE - Junk Orchestra will be receiving €5,000 and is one of only thirteen projects around the country to be awarded funds as part of the Artist and Youth Work Residency Scheme. Announced last week, the scheme is managed by the National Youth Council of Ireland and funded by the Arts Council and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The organisation aims to support youth groups to run arts projects with young people in their local communities. The young people Pat Davitt, CEO of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) property should reflect the income being achieved from it, but that is not what’s happening,” Mr. Davitt said when he appeared before the Annual Value (NAV) is for a premises as the County Council has a designated figure that they need to bring in from the rates. “For the whole of the country, the rate value is €1.5 billon and that’s what the Government wants, so all the County Councils want to get that. In Westmeath, we’ll say maybe it’s around €100,000, so regardless of the fact of what they charge to who, they want to get €100,000, so if some rates are reduced, other rates will get higher.” TRIBUNAL He said the rates are worked out using FRI (Full Repairing and Insuring) agreements under the assumption that the tenants pays the insurance, maintenance and any other costs relating to the upkeep of the building. “However, will learn new skills in instrument creation and will work with local artist and musician Frankie Byrne to create new sounds, following best international practice in creating steel band instruments using available materials. Music will be used as a methodology of social inclusion and exposure to different cultures and points of view. Mullingar EYE are joined by the Gateway Youth Project, Foroige, Athlone, as two of the recipients of the funds. The Gateway Youth Project will be awarded €1,500 to develop a piece of art illustrating the experiences of young people in modern Ireland. a lot of the shorter term rents are done on the basis that the landlord pays those costs, so for an average shop, you’d pay €600 a year on these costs. So if you take them off the rent of say €2,500, the Net Annual Value is about €1,800, so the rates are working out quite big. The rates office looked at this and are going to see if they can do something on it. If they can’t, I will be going to the tribunal.” The man said that while the Valuation Office state on their website that they “take the rent of the property into consideration”, this differed greatly from using the actual rent to calculate the cost. “They charge people on the basis of the NAV, which is multiplied by .183 in Westmeath to tot up the rates. The NAV should reflect the rent but Committee late last year. “With such properties, the Valuation Office (VO) either does not accept the reality of the low rents or it analyses the ‘passing’ rents incorrectly and then links the valuation on these properties to the tone of the valuation list that the Valuation Office itself has created, not the actual rents. He said what happened with the passing of the 2015 Act was a “travesty.” The Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015 made two very important changes among others. Firstly, Section 30 of the Valuation Act 2001, which allowed a second appeal to the VO has been abolished, and secondly, Section 19 of the Valuation Act 2001 amended by Section 7 (b) (5) Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015, means the grounds of appeal that ordinary rate payers can make in the Valuation Tribunal are now limited to appealing against the tone of the valuation list. Appealing against the tone means - when the Final Valuation Certificates are issued by the VO, one can only appeal on the basis that a valuation is incorrect relative to other comparable valuations on the list, and not contest the rental values that make up those valuations, regardless of whether those rental values are excessive or not. Mr Davitt said this completely undermined one of the most important intentions of the Valuation (Amendment) Bill 2015 - to treat all ratepayers in a fair way. “In many of the re-valuations, the proposed Valuation Certificates were appealed by property owners or tenants, but many of the appeals were not heard by the Valuation Office during in lots of cases, it does not and that’s where the problem is. At the same time, if you are paying little, you’ll be delighted and if you’re paying a lot, you‘ll be annoyed.” He added that a change in law could see property owners paying rents for premises which are not being leased. “Currently, if you have a property that isn’t being rented, you can go to the County Council who will write off your rates once you can prove you are trying to rent the property and it’s vacant. John Paul Phelan, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, recently spoke about how he’s going to do away with that possibility to encourage people to make use of their property by turning it into a residential property the process,” he said. “The reason for this change in the act, I believe, was the VO viewpoint had been overturned by the Tribunal virtually all the time. Effectively, these changes marked a conspirancy against struggling businesses in rural Ireland.” Mr. Davitt said in the countrywide rates re-valuation, the rate purse of €1.5 billion has remained the same, notwithstanding the fact of a devastating recession in the period 2007 to 2013. “In this period, many IPAV members experienced a fall of 50% in their fee turnover, as the price of property halved and is still 40% behind where it was in 2006, with the exception of some parts of Dublin,” he said. “The re-valuation process merely succeeded in taking from Peter to give to Paul,”he said. “The ideal scenario is that the rates are charged at reasonable rate and people pay them” - Westmeath Auctioneer speaks out MULLINGAR EYE AWARDED FUNDS UNDER ARTS AND YOUTH SCHEME or something like that. However that will mean that property owners will have to go looking for planning permission, and where are they going to get the €40,000 to convert the property? The ideal scenario is that the rates are charged at a reasonable rate and people pay them, especially in a place like Mullingar, where there aren’t tenants for all the properties. I think that’s terrible.” He said that while in some cases, the rates office came back to people who made a submission, others did not hear from them again. “I didn’t hear from them however. You would assume they would come back to you, so if they don’t, you think they didn’t look at it. It’s a fair assumption. That’s where the crux of the problem is.” Mullingar EYE will receive €5,000 as part of the Artist and Youth Work Residency Scheme. Mr. Trevor O’Callaghan, who has been appointed Chief Executive of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. HSE appoint new Chief Executive of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group is pleased to announce that Mr. Trevor O’Callaghan has been appointed as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, replacing Dr. Susan O’Reilly, who formally retired on January 6th, 2018. Mr. O’Callaghan has been a key member of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Executive Management Team since 2015 as the Chief Operations Officer providing operational and strategic support and engagement for the Group and its hospitals. He brings a wealth of experience spanning 26 years in Irish Health Services with accountability and responsibility as General Manager of the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar for more than 12 years. Mr. O’Callaghan has a Masters in Health Service Management from Trinity College, The University of Dublin and a BA in Public Management from the Institute of Public Administration. On publication of the first Group Strategic Plan, Mr O’Callaghan said he looked forward to further strengthening the existing and proactive relationships across all hospitals to deliver high quality services for our patient population of approximately 800,000 through our 11,000 committed workforce. Mr O’Callaghan renewed the Hospital Group’s commitment to improve hospital access and capacity, the strengthening of cooperation and integration with hospital and community partners, a renewed focus on staff development, improved patient experience; and to delivering an ambitious academic and healthcare model with their academic partners, Trinity College, the University of Dublin.

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