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Westmeath Topic - 12 April 2018

2 TOPIC •

2 TOPIC • 12 April, 2018 NEWS THIS WEEK CASTLEPOLLARD North Westmeath Hospice Tractor run FEATURE Lough Lene Anglers Association 60 years old MULLINGAR ANALOGUE CABLE TV SWITCH OFF For over 30 years, the analogue cable television network has served many customers throughout the Mullingar area. The service runs right through the heart of Mullingar serving apartment blocks and housing estates such as Lakepoint Park, D’Alton Park, Ashfield, and many more. SWITCH OFF On Monday, 23 April, the services will be terminated and customers will have to make the move to the digital service. Benefits of the digital service include perfect picture quality and a larger range of channels on offer. WHAT TO DO? Customers will have two options: sign up to a monthly subscription digital television package with Virgin Media, or go for a no more bills option with Saorview and satellite television. This is the more popular option as customers don’t have to contend with a monthly bill to pay. For any help or advice you can contact local installer Terry Parker on 087-6080260, or Mick at Fairgreen TV on 044-9340471. What is happening at Shrubbywood Bog? Residents in the North Westmeath area, who have been dismayed over the recent decision to allow work to continue on the destruction of ancient bogland at Mayne Coole, have this week contacted Topic to point out that quantities of peat are at present being removed from the bogland known as Shrubbywood bog, Coolnagun over the past six months or so. Topic has been asked to investigate the matter, but so far, all we can ascertain is that local residents have contacted Westmeath County Council and have pointed out what is taking place, and the Council has been asked whether or not planning permission has been granted for the removal of the peat, and if so, when this was granted and to whom, and if this information was made public. Topic has ascertained that a considerable quantity of peat has been removed from the area of bogland pointed out, and that a company which comes from the north of Ireland is involved, and that peat is being removed in tractor trailers or lorries but it isn’t yet clear on what basis this operation is taking place. We are making further enquiries at present and hope to have more information in next week’s issue, and hope to have clearer details of what is taking place and obtain information from the County Council, etc. Council approve Gaelscoil an Choillín and Saplings School Contd. from page 1 former Department of Education site at Lynn Road, Mullingar. The Lynn Road site, which will be entered from Lynn Industrial Park, and with the exit on to Lynn Road, at the roundabout between Daly’s shop and O’Brien’s supermarket, will have the new school for Gaelscoil an Choillín and also the new six-classroom Saplings School. The staff and pupils at Gaelscoil an Choillín were celebrating this week after Westmeath County Council granted permission for the construction of their new school on the Lynn Road on Monday evening. Speaking to Topic, the delighted principal of the school, Lorraine Scally said everyone was thrilled with the news. “We have waited a long time for it (12 years) and during that time we have looked at a number of sites. We looked at private land that was zoned educational but we knew we’d be going down a CPO route and it just wasn’t an option. We looked at some land that was owned by the council already but there wasn’t a development plan for that area. We originally didn’t think we would get this site because the department paid so much for it for decentralisation, so when they offered it to us, we were just thrilled.” Back in January, Topic revealed that plans for the new state of the art threestorey school as well plans for the new Saplings (Special Schools for Children with Autism and Complex Needs) were to go before figures are very high, Mr. John Moore, Edenderry, informed us and said the very difficult cold snap a month ago, at the start of March, had been a big contributor, along with low temperatures and lack of growth. “It has been a serious time for farmers, and things haven’t yet improved. “We have been working flat out over the past number of weeks,” he explained The impact such a situation can have on farmers is clear with recent research by Teagasc showing the main cause of depression among farmers in Ireland is the unexpected death of their livestock. Speaking to Topic wellknown Westmeath farmer and IFA member Paddy Donnelly, who spoke on RTÉ about the shortage, said that many farmers had been left short due to the long winter. “Quite a number of dairy farmers that would have increased their herd number and didn’t have adequate silage for the extra numbers that they were keeping because they would have thought that the council. The application for the school was lodged on 13 February by Smith & Kennedy Architects on behalf The Minister of Education and Skill. The buildings are to have a total combined floor area of 3150m2 with a shared vehicular access and set down area off a new road from the existing roundabout off Lynn Road, Gaelscoil an Choillín is to go into a three-storey 1,768m2 eight classroom with general purpose hall while the Saplings building is to be a 2-storey 1,934m2 6- classroom building with general purpose hall. Ms. Scally said that it has been a long road for everyone involved “In 2011, was when I put my site committee together and really got the ball rolling on this for us. We were initially put onto the capital building programme for 2019-2021 after a very long campaign.” Ms Scally revealed that the single stream school they would have got out in early March. The fact that they had an increased number and the long winter is causing the shortages. It’ll be well into April before some of the them get out. Some cows have been out and first grazings are done but second grazings is very slow coming after the first.” Agriculture Minister Michael Creed announced the allocation of €1.5 million to support the importation of fodder last week. The announcement came after the minister faced mounting pressure from will accept pupils from junior infants all the way up and will have a 240 pupil capacity, “Currently we are at 85 students. We went above 85 before and the site can’t take it.” STATE OF THE ART She said the will be very much a feature building and will enhance the area. “I think it’s going to be fabulous for that side of town and we are delighted to go in near Áras an Mhuilinn and think we will really be able to work together and have more activities in town for the language and culture. Even simple things like the children being able to walk to swimming so the reduction in expenses will be great. The children from town are excited about being able to walk and cycle to school and be near everything. It will also be great for parents that are working in town because we need childcare facilities. There are so many positives.” Deputy Robert Troy also welcomed the decision by farming organisations and political parties to take steps to solve the fodder crisis. “In light of poor weather conditions and an evolving fodder supply challenge across the country, I am immediately introducing a support measure contributing to the cost of importing Westmeath County Council. “This means that it can move to the next stage and hopefully go out to tender with a contractor being appointed with a view to construction commencing. “The pupils who have been in a temporary facility for the last number of years can look forward to having a new purpose built, state of the art school. The same can be said for the children of Saplings. While it wasn’t a temporary facility, it was a temporary home and was not a purpose-built school so they can now look forward to a new purpose built school that will have all the necessary modifications that are needed for children with complex educational needs. It is very much a good news story and I am delighted that the council have approved it. “Now we have to redouble our efforts and make sure the Department of Education proceed to the next stage without delay,” he said. The new school is due to be built for 2019. Weather has caused fodder shortage for local farmers Contd. from page 1 An artists depiction of the new school. Paddy Donnelly. fodder from abroad,” he said. I welcome the moves to import fodder by the cooperatives and this measures supports this initiative. The co-operative ethos remains very strong and vibrant in Irish Agriculture, he added. “It’s good even at this late stage that there is feed coming in from abroad,” continued Mr. Donnelly, “But how much longer is this weather going to last? By the looks of it, it’ll be May before there is any kind of real growth. The next seven or eight days doesn’t look great even though the temperatures are rising, the ground is still very wet and cold. If the weather does change it’ll definitely be the end of April or early May before there is grass. It has been a very long winter, you are talking about six or seven months of stock being inside. When we haven’t seen that in a number of years, it’s very hard to gauge what will happen. it’s good to see the feed coming in from abroad. There would be a lot of farmers who are using up the last of their silage or round bales,” he concluded. All farmers who receive forage under this measure will be subject to the EU rules on de minimis aid as laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1408/2013 regarding de minimis aid in the agricultural production sector. Kilbeggan Fire Station hosts Road Safety Awareness Plan this Thursday morning A Road Safety Awareness Plan for 2018 Kilbeggan 5th and 6th year students, including a forum-style discussion, will be held in Kilbeggan Fire Station this Thursday morning, 12 April, commencing at 11am. Teachers and students from the local Mercy Secondary School and their teachers will be the guests of the local Fire Service who will outline the crucial role they play in a typical road traffic crash (RTC). The aim of the event is to teach students to understand that they are entering into an age category now where a large percentage of road accidents and deaths occur. This is the second event of its kind to be held in Kilbeggan and hopes to develop a local awareness and understanding that with care and respect for road users and each other, we can all reduce the number of deaths on the road. The morning long session will conclude with forum-style discussion in relation to road safety awareness and minimising the risk of being involved in a serious RTC. DISCOVER 7000 YEARS OF MULLINGAR HISTORY Local historian Ruth Illingworth will be conducting a walking tour on the history of Mullingar over the coming weekends on Sundays 15, 22, and 29 April from 3pm at the Market House. Mullingar has a rich history and heritage stretching back millennia. The town itself was founded by the Normans more than 800 years ago but people have been living in what is now the Mullingar are for around 7000 years. These tours will explore the story of Westmeath’s county town from the earliest times to the present century. Places visited will include the County Buildings where the Norman Castle once stood, the Cathedral of Christ the King, All Saints’ Church, the sites of the two medieval monasteries, the 1916 Memorial Garden, and the Greville Arms hotel, where a piece of Mars is on display. For further information call 087-9472583 or email ruthillingworthmullingar@gmail. com.

TOPIC • 12 April, 2018 2017 Parish Financial report shows continuing strong support Central heating system in Cathedral to be repaired during the summer The report on the Mullingar Parish Income and Expenditure Account, made available at all Masses last Sunday, indicates continuing strong support for the parish, and the priests expressed thanks and acknowledged the financial support parishioners are giving. The total income for 2017 came to €845,412, compared with €875,181 in 2016 and the actual weekly plate connections in the Cathedral and St. Paul’s As we reported in February, in a serious emergency in Mullingar on Saturday, 17 February last, when a man collapsed at his home in the Lakepoint area of the town, urgent emergency calls were made to try to obtain an ambulance to have the person brought to Mullingar Regional Hospital as quickly as possible. We learned that the spouse of the collapsed man made every possible effort to carry out resuscitation procedures and the Gardai, arriving within ten minutes in response to the emergency, also sought to help. However, in the region of an hour elapsed before an ambulance arrived, and it transpired that the vehicle involved had actually come from Longford. Sadly, the person was then beyond help from emergency medical services or hospital staff. When Topic received complaints from local people about the delay and also about other similar delays, we made enquiries from the HSE in Tullamore on Tuesday afternoon, 27 February, as to the situation in regard to such ambulance delays. We asked if there had been a scarcity of ambulances in Mullingar in recent weeks, with ambulances having to travel from Longford to attend in Mullingar. We pointed out that the 17 February incident was not the only instance drawn to this newspaper’s attention of no ambulance being available in Mullingar emergencies. The HSE Communications section promised to reply at the time, but we did not receive the reply (with apologies for the delay) until Wednesday last, 4 April. WHAT HSE STATED The full text of the reply is as follows: “HSE Response - The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has reviewed the emergency ambulance cover available for the Mullingar area from the 1st February to the 17th February, 2018. NAS can confirm that for this period there was a full complement of resources available both day and night. “In relation to ambulances working away from churches increased by about €6,000 from €229,549 in 2016 to €235,627 in 2017. IS THIS THE BEST MULLINGAR CAN NOW HOPE FOR? HSE response to Topic query about ambulance delays Noel O’Callaghan, Darkness Into Light, Chairperson, Áine O’Neill, Youth committee, and Rebecca O’Callaghan, PRO, pictured recently at the launch for Darkness Into Light, which will take place on the morning of Saturday, 12 May, from Gaelscoil an Mhuilinn. their vehicle base, the National Ambulance Service is not a static service and as such, deploys its resources in a dynamic manner and works on an area and national basis as opposed to a local basis. The dynamic deployment of ambulance resources ensures that the nearest appropriate resource is mobilised to the location of any incident. All NAS resources are dispatched to calls across the country from the NEOC on a nearest available (to the incident) basis and not on a county boundary basis. “Pre-hospital Emergency Care begins the moment the 112/999 is received in the NAS National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), NEOC call takers provide emergency instructions to all callers before the NAS resources arrive. The NEOC also utilises an Advanced Medical Priority System which utilises international standards and protocols to triage 112/999 calls in order to prioritise life threatening situations, which ensures the nearest available NAS resource is dispatched to the incident.” “Care begins immediately the emergency call is received, where lifesaving pre-arrival assistance is given by the call takers directly to the patient or any third party that is available to assist,” the HSE reply concluded. Editor’s note: While the HSE reply indicates that all the NAS rules were followed, utilising “international standards and protocols” and all ambulances were operating, the reality is that in the life or death situation mentioned, an ambulance was unable to reach a home about 7 minutes from Mullingar Regional Hospital for an hour (60 minutes), because the vehicle had to be brought from Co. Longford. So the reply suggests that the nearest ambulance to Mullingar Regional Hospital on 17 February afternoon last, was in Longford, which for many people in Mullingar, is considered unacceptable. THE weather is the number one topic for people in communities right around Ireland this spring and at the April meeting of Mullingar Municipal District, the after effects of the severe conditions were still very much up for discussion. The destruction caused to the county’s roads has been by far the worst seen in many years, possibly ever according to many of the elected members who highlighted the matter at the meeting. HIGH VELOCITY POT- HOLE REPAIR The good news is that modern technology is to be rolled out in Westmeath as part of the repair programme this year. A high velocity patcher is being sought by Westmeath County Council, a modern response to the kind of It is noticeable that the income source which showed the biggest fall-off in percentage terms, were in donations for church weddings, which amounted to €10,318 in 2016, but fell back dramatically to €4,325 in 2017 - an indication of how many people are now opting for civil wedding ceremonies in hotels, etc. Car park income amounted to €54,292 in 2017, compared with €62,034 in 2016. The total, expenditure for €2017 amounted to €880,110 compared to €864,875 in 2016, with a jump of €15,500 in building repairs, renewals and upkeep of grounds (from €182,178 to €197,688). Overall, the increases in expenditure left a deficit for the year of €39,518, compared to a surplus in 2016 of €15,153. damage we are seeing on the county’s roads caused by the irregular weather. The new machinery is under process at the moment according to Director of Services Martin Murray. There were unanimous expressions of thanks and appreciation from all elected members for the hard work and dedication of Westmeath County Council staff during the snow and bad conditions,. However, Mr. Murray said that the schedule of annual works had been affected by the weather. “The schedule is slightly behind this quarter due to the weather,” he said in the update provided to members at last Monday’s meeting. ROADS SEVERELY DAM- AGED The damage to roads was NEWS 3 The conservation work on the Cathedral gates and railings will be completed in the coming months. The report shows that while the Trócaire Collection increased slightly to €65,888 (€65,061 in 2016), the Mission Sunday collection fell by nearly €3,000, with lesser decreases in the Peter’s Pence and Vocations collections, which amounted to €21,190 overall, just a quarter of the total donated to Trócaire. Westmeath roads affected by severe weather conditions Modern machinery being sought to repair deep potholes the major consequence of concern and members highlighted the unprecedented levels of scarring and potholes that are being seeing on the county’s roads in recent weeks. Cllr. Johnny Penrose (Labour) said that he has never seen roads as badly damaged as they are this year. FUNDNG TO BE MADE AVAILABLE It was a view shared by several other members and both Cllr. Michael Dollard (Labour) and Cllr. Paddy Hill (FF) asked if the local authority in Westmeath has applied for extra funding from central government to repair the roads. Elected members pointed out that in the main, the roads in Westmeath are maintained well and are usually to be found in good and safe condition. However, the severity of the weather this year has led to serious damage on a scale far beyond the norm. The potholes on many roads are very deep and are presenting dangers to roads users. Mr. Murray said that funding is to be made available from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport but that the local authority has not yet received the application notice. “I do recognise the issue of the potholes. There is deterioration of the metal edge of roads due to several reasons. A high velocity patcher is a modern way of dealing with potholes,” he assured members.

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