It was Christmas Eve, that widely celebrated annual half holiday and the evening that eventually ushers in Christmas Day.
Paddy and Mary, both aged in their mid sixties, were out and about doing a little Christmas shopping, using up their remaining few quid, having paid their property tax, on a home they truly believed that after paying a mortgage for some thirty five years at a high rate of interest, they now would actually own.
“A downtrodden race of people taxed into oblivion and now entitled to nothing at the end of a full working life,” had been Paddy’s only comment earlier over breakfast that morning.
He had been looking at the new advert for the S-Class Mercedes featured on his morning paper, not that he could afford the required €100,000 for any new car, you will understand. But it was the idea of only paying €200 for road tax, promised by the manufacturers on this new luxury car, which had caught the attention of his failing eyesight.
Five years ago he had purchase a second hand, two-litre family Mercedes himself and having owned same for two years, woke up one morning to the news what in future he would be paying €900 plus in road tax, because the government felt his vehicle was contributing more to climate change than the current newer vehicle models available; or so they claimed. Efforts to try to sell and buy a smaller, newer vehicle had proven fruitless. Despite only 70,000 kms on the vehicles odometer, no one any more wanted his carefully minded, spotless vehicle, due to the high road tax costs about to be implemented. All he needed his car for now at the latter end of his days, was to collect the morning paper, maybe drop into the Cathedral of The Assumption in Thurles to say a quiet prayer on the odd week day, a journey which constituted only a round trip of 1.5 miles. Why should he spend over €17 per week on tax for roads he no longer used, to a government who now despised him because of his age and retired status; all so that he could read about the murders and other grizzly crimes being committed daily in a drug ridden capital city, one hundred miles east of his chosen place of residence.
“But why had the government not increased the taxes on petrol sufficiently to removed road tax altogether, allowing those who used the road most, to pay most?” Paddy mused. This same simple application would have also freed up civil servants working at various Motor Tax Offices around the country, to take on work in other now neglected public service sectors, currently weighed down and over worked, or so same would claim.
He remarked as much to Mary, as they entered Thurles Shopping Centre; “The irony of it all, we are now expected to live, partially ruled by a Labour Government, in a bankrupt Irish State, while persons of wealth who can afford to spend €100,000 on a new car every couple of years will now only have to pay some €200 in road tax, while those who cannot afford even to change their old current vehicle to attend their place of work, must now subsidise these same wealthy road users. Fair play, equality for all and government transparency my arse,” Paddy complained.
His remarks went unheard as Mary’s main thoughts were at that moment, focused on her two younger children who had just graduated top of their class from university. It had been a hard struggle to educate both her sons at the same time. Both remained presently jobless and while she had kept it secret from Paddy, she had overheard both boys as they made secret plans to rid themselves, as they each had stated, “of a God forsaken hell hole ruled by idiots,” namely Ireland, in the vain hope of obtaining employment and a future of some kind abroad. How she now hated those TD’s and Ministerial individuals which she had previously supported believing they had ability to run a country, not to mention the greedy bankers and developers; many shady criminals who remained walking freely about our towns and cities, never once taken to task. If her children emigrated, they would have to be financially supported by Paddy and herself, out of Paddy’s small pension, until such time as they could find work in either Australia or Canada. One thing was obvious to Mary, this Christmas no money could be spent by her family on any form of non-essential goods or services.
Mary silently swore a personal oath that if she lived to see the next European, General or Local Elections, this present government would no longer receive her support. Politicians she now believed should no longer be chosen because of their family connections to a so called patriotic party which had dubious affiliations to their father or IRA pensioned grandfather. TD’s and Government Ministers instead should now be chosen purely on their educational qualifications, their real proven ability and where possible, previously recognised experience in their chosen field of expertise. The voting public should now eschew ‘the patronising historic past glories of pro and anti treaty party politics,‘ when choosing their governments officials at all levels and select instead a strong new progressive business type government, whose membership contained only those with clean, unselfish and wholesome reputations.
Leaving her heart-felt thoughts aside as she entered Thurles Shopping Mall, Mary suddenly became aware that her husband was no longer by her side and glancing carefully around she discovered Paddy was in fact nowhere to be seen in the now crowded shopping interior.
Without a medical card, which had been recently removed pending financial investigation, she worried about Paddy’s health as he had been noticeably losing weight in recent months and knowing also she had a lot to still organise for her family of five, before Christmas day, Mary became upset. Unable to locate Paddy visually she decided to call him on her rarely used, outdated and case cracked mobile phone, to ascertain his present whereabouts.
Paddy’s “Hello,” answered Mary’s mobile phone call almost immediately to her great relief, his voice exercising it’s usual low, crisis calm tone.
“Where are you?” Mary demanded sharply.
“Not far,” Paddy replied, adding, “Do you remember the jewellery shop we went into about 10 years ago, you know the one, where you fell in love with that small diamond necklace that we couldn’t afford back then, and I told you that I would get it for you one day, in the not to distant future?”
Mary hesitated, then slowly choking up and with her eyes slowly welling with tears, she replied slowly and more calmly, “Yes,” she said, “Yes, indeed I remember that jewellery store very well.”
“Well,” said Paddy “I’m having a ‘quick one,’ in the pub that’s next door to it, so I will be with you very shortly.”
Mary hit the ‘End Call’ button on her phone sharply, swearing under her breath that it was not only this current unfair and unjust Fine Gael/Labour government that needed sorting out, Paddy would now also need adding to this, her lengthening list of wasters, after Christmas.
True for the Irish Socialist leader James Connolly; “the female is the slave of the slave.“ For the moment Mary set aside her thoughts and moved on to focus her concentration on the job at hand, just for Christmas and the children’s sake.
“Now the things I’ve come to know seem so confusin’
It’s gettin’ hard to tell what’s wrong from right
I can’t separate the winners from the losers anymore
And I’m thinking of just giving up the fight.“
“Good Christian Soldier,” Lyrics By Kris Kristofferson
An as yet unpublished report that will guide current Government policy on rural Ireland up until 2025, has discovered that the rural areas of Ireland have had twice the business failure rate as their larger urban counterparts, when it comes to a study of our economic downturn.
Despite 3.5 years of continuous cries of ‘Help,’ from rural dwellers, this report leaves sleepy Senior Civil Servants now considering whether perhaps a Government Department and a Minister of State should now be delegated, with responsibility for future Rural Development.
Other initiatives understood to have been identified by this Senior Civil Servants report include the re-energising of rural tourism.
I trust that the recent announcement by Cork County Manager Martin Riordan of three interpretive centres to be opened on Spike Island in lower Cork Harbour by the summer of 2015, at a cost of €40 million, will not be seen as the re-energising of rural tourism. It is also interesting to note that Bord Fáilte have confirmed it is reversing its initial decision not to grant aid for this project and will now release €2.5m for redevelopment of this island. Someone obviously had a word in someone’s “Shell Like,” (Nod, Nod, Wink and Wink.) Do tell us why this decision was reversed Mr Riordan or should we be asking Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, one James “Jimmy” Deenihan, the Irish Fine Gael Teachta Dála for the Kerry North–West Limerick constituency, how this decision came about.
Mr James “Jimmy” Deenihan and Mr Noel Coonan were two of the people who failed to ensure that the Derrynaflan Hoard, latter stolen from Tipperary, was not returned for “The Gathering,” this year thus reducing tourism numbers to Co Tipperary, by some 25%, as my email records and other unanswered communications will attest.
In the past few days the Dáil have passed the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill after 77 TDs voted in favour of these cuts and new changes announced, and with only 46 opposing the most controversial parts of our recent Budget. These changes included the scrapping of the bereavement grant (77 votes to 43), cuts to maternity benefit, and a reduction in dole for new Social Welfare claimants who are aged under 26.
Just as a matter of interest did any of our readers see even one of our North Tipperary Government representatives in the Dáil, contributing to this debate? I ask this question as my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and these people may have taken up a space at the back of the class. Fobs need to be checked on more than Friday’s here Enda.
Scrapping Of The Bereavement Grant
We the elderly do not have to worry really about this, simply just leave our bodies to Medical Science and the State via one of the 5 medical colleges /universities, latter who in gratitude will provide an embellished coffin. They will cover the expense of (1) bringing the remains to Glasnevin Crematorium, (2) your cremation and (3) your ashes will be buried in the medical school’s private plot within two years of your death. So no problem for relatives here, unless of course you object to medical students standing around your stiffened freezing torso with a smile on their faces when they observe your hidden tattoos.
Continue reading Senior Civil Servants Have Discovered Rural Ireland
Templemore Garda Training College
It was Garda Commissioner Mr Martin Callinan who told an Oireachtas Justice Committee in November 2012 last, that he would not like to see his Garda Force sink below 13,000, before new recruitment resumes.
Current natural wastage through Garda retirements runs between 250 and 450 per year, thus signalling that Garda numbers will fall below 13,000 before any new Garda recruits can take up postings late next year or in early 2015, since all new recruits are required to complete a 32 week period of training before being posted to selected stations.
In realistic terms this would indicate that if new recruits are not sought to begin their training immediately or within the first three months of 2014, then it would be early 2015 by the time they could be granted station posts, thus reducing Garda numbers to several hundred personnel below the specified required 13,000.
It was expected that the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter would use the latest ‘Budget 2014,’ to inform this country of his future plans for such recruitment. However while Budget 2014 appears to grant a commitment to resuming Garda recruitment, it failed to indicate a specific date regarding the lifting of any current staff embargo.
As part of the terms of our EU-IMF bailout, the Troika had stipulated that Garda numbers were to be reduced to 13,000 by the end of 2012. They were not, rather instead overtime and wages were cut to meet the cost overspill. It was anticipated that while numbers would be reduced close to 13,000, it was never imagined that Gardaí numbers would be allowed to fall below Commissioner Callinan’s required stated level.
In July of this year Fine Gael Justice Minister Alan Shatter stated that it was very important for an organisation like An Garda Síochána, given the demanding nature of policing, to receive a reasonably regular intake of new recruits. He also stated he would be making arrangements with the Public Appointments Service, so that they could do the necessary preparatory work to deal with new applications later this year.
Earlier in February 2013 Deputy Noel Coonan TD warmly welcomed positive news from his Fine Gael colleague, Justice Minister Alan Shatter, that the Government was now to review its position regarding the future recruitment of new Gardaí.
In his statement of February last Deputy Coonan said; “Garda numbers have been reducing, due to the moratorium on recruitment put in place by the previous Government as part of its plan to reduce the strength of the force to 13,000. Our objective, despite the enormous financial pressures facing the Government is to ensure that Garda numbers will not fall below 13,000. At Wednesday’s Cabinet Meeting, Minister Shatter announced the good news that recruitment may recommence as part of a wider determination to ensure that the Garda Síochána, as a body, has the greatest possible resources made available to it, and that it is supported in making the necessary new reforms to ensure that those resources are used to the greatest effect.”
For A Ha’porth Of Tar The Ship Was Lost
Despite cuts in pay, cuts in staff numbers and cuts in overtime, no commitment to future Garda recruitment has commenced, despite the continued diminishing of services to the taxpaying public.
To my knowledge no Troika members were in attendance at the funeral of a murdered Dundalk detective earlier this year, to apologise, seek forgiveness or offer their sympathy to his family.
However, no doubt the huge financial cost now incurred by the State, following this detectives unnecessary death was discussed, yet the moratorium on Garda recruitment continues to be ignored.
Hayes Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary
Enda Kenny was busy down in Castlebar today, attempting to make 60 Senators redundant.
Meanwhile back here in Thurles, Co Tipperary, those placed with the custodial responsibility for the property of others, were also busy little bees, behaving in a somewhat secretive and similar fashion, attempting to reduce the turnover of one of our town’s historical landmarks and a world renowned place of annual pilgrimage.
Receiverships, even in Ireland, are normally observed as an equitable solution whose purpose is to protect a distressed company’s tangible and intangible assets. The obligations of receivers, both moral and otherwise when appointed, come under two headings;
(1) Secure and realise the entity and assets of the company to which they are assigned and where possible retain employees.
(2) Manage the affairs of the company in order to resolve all / any debts outstanding.
As a former employee of the hotel industry for many years, I find myself, when in need of a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, being drawn more to Hotels rather than the Tea Shop or the local Take-Away. As a lover of local history and folklore, you can therefore usually expect to find me supping my cup of coffee in a quiet corner of our famous landmark hostelry known worldwide as Hayes Hotel, home of the GAA and situated here in the very heart of Thurles.
In April last, Hayes Hotel, Thurles, went into receivership. No great shame on its current owners, who had dared to dream, taken a business gamble which if successful would have offered badly needed and considerable full time and part-time employment to our rural community. Six years ago encouraged by our now retired bankers they borrowed and were encouraged to do so, in the name of further necessary business expansion. This encouraged business accepted finance, gambled and lost heavily, when those who had offered umbrellas on sunny days recalled same at the first sign of cloudy sky. (Our readers will have met some of these same banking fraternity today, who despite being in receipt of vast pensions, were contracted to ‘strut their stuff’ behind polling booth tables, drawing lines through voters names, practically everywhere around this island of ours. This is despite the needs of 410,000 unemployed persons who could have happily undertaken this work and supplemented their meagre incomes.)
Having fallen on hard times, KPMG appointed receivers to Hayes Hotel, who confirmed that business would continue as normal and there would be no noticeable interruptions to current day-to-day trading activity. The hotel would continue to fully honour all customer bookings, all deposits and all current memberships.
The appointment of this new management operation was seen here by Thurles residents and business people as yet another blow to an already ailing uncertain rural town economy forced to resort to the use of savings to retain their essential staff and fund new trading stock.
I had noticed during my past few visits to Hayes that my favourite good humoured receptionist was missing, so on my visit this morning I had reason to query her absence as two friends had asked me to book a double room for next weekend. “She does not work here any more and we do not offer accommodation presently,” came the rather apologetic reply from the polite receptionist. With offers of help to obtain alternative accommodation I retreated to the bar area and having concluded other business, I left to make further discreet local inquiries as to the hotels welfare.
The following information gleaned from others, including previous employees, (Current Management point blankly refused to discuss the situation) revealed that since going into receivership in April there has been a systematic down grading of the profitable aspects of this establishment.
Hard working staff have now been cast out to exist on the generosity of the Irish Free State via Dole and Redundancy payments. In recent weeks essential staff; e.g. two Receptionists, two Night Porters, a Resident Disc Jockey and two House Keepers have had their employment terminated. Bedrooms are now closed, the nightclub is closed. Unconfirmed reports from these staff also state that essential maintenance is being undertaken by non local contract operators.
Is it impossible to make a profit from an already established popular weekend Nightclub and is it impossible not to make a profit from bedroom accommodation, even if staff employed were being paid slightly over and above the minimum hourly wage? Why are profitable aspects of this trading enterprise now being closed up?
Local readers stop and think for a moment and ask the questions; “What would Liberty Square be like if this hotel is to be abandoned?” Is Hayes Hotel being deliberately reduced to a valueless entity in time for the next AllSop Space auction? Is it now to be a case of “Last out, please turn off the lights?”
KPMG and their appointed receivers know the answer, but may need reminding that Hayes Hotel is not simply just another property. For many it is a place of annual pilgrimage and a national monument, whose patrons should not be angered. Politicians would do well to remember that Tipperary fired the first shots of the war of Independence once before and just may decide to do the same again before the next election.
If ten jobs had being made available in Thurles this morning, Enda Kenny, RTE, the head of the IDA (whatever his name is), Richard Bruton, Noel Coonan and their ‘handlers’ would have all been strutting around town displaying puffed up chests, spitting out dodgy CSO statistics on their success in creating employment. Unemployment like emigration on the other hand are dirty words best not discussed in any great detail.
Let us see if our Dublin orientated national news seeking journalistic friends will cover this catastrophe, concerning rural Ireland, in their newspapers this week.
Leinster House Dail Bar
Authorities in Leinster House are being asked to consider shortening our Dáil Bars hours of trading. Ceann Comhairle Mr Sean Barrett has added this ‘after hour’s issue,’ to an agenda for consideration at the next meeting of the Dáil’s main technical committee.
This once unlicensed “speak easy,” which recently has been in the spotlight, since it emerged that several TDs had been drinking heavily during one of the Dáil’s rare late-night recent debates, beats local competition for the price of its tipple. Customers can avail of ‘Guinness,’ costing €4.30 a pint, and ‘Heineken,’ for €4.70 compared to an average €4.80 and €5.20 usually paid outside this club’s precinct.
This subsidised alcohol price, saw turnover increase at this once “No Women Allowed Síbín,” by 5% from €138,600 to €145,623 in the twelve months to the end of December 2012. (Not bad consumption rates for 166 people on a three day week.)
Anyway, could over fraternizing at this favoured watering hole be the reason then why Ministers, TD’s and their staff, fail to answer e-mails; e.g Leo Varadkar, Allen Kelly and Richard Bruton.
Here on Thurles.Info we wrote to Minister Leo Varadkar requesting why a rail ticket from Thurles to Monasterevin had increased by over 100% – no reply. We wrote to Minister Richard Bruton last April hoping to discuss job creation in the town. We received the standard automated customary, “Thank you for your communication …. Will talk soon,” communication, and then no further contact. With Alan Kelly and e-mails, well he and his staff operate a contemptuous “Pretend and deny we ever got it,” system, which if pushed is then excused by an e-mail whitelist/blacklists anti-virus filtering system.
Some weeks ago we received a call to meet Mr Kelly to discuss issues here in Thurles on some Friday he had in mind. Despite an e-mail reminding him and requesting a date suitable for him to meet us, alas no reply. (Curses; foiled yet again by his anti-virus filtering system.)
On the other side of the Coalition North Tipp Fine Gael Deputy Noel Coonan has credited The Gathering with the increase in overseas visitors to Ireland, informing Tipp FM that the increase of 5.4%, announced by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) nationally is proof of what he is being told from business owners in Tipperary, that the Gathering has given tourism here a welcome shot in the arm. Here is a TD who obviously is unaware that at least 8 hotels in the county are in receivership with two now completely closed. He also has not read the Draft North Tipperary Tourism Strategy & Action Plan 2012 – 2014. Please, please, please take the time to skim down through this short draft document.
See page 6 [Table 1.1 Tourism Numbers in Mid West (Preliminary) 2010, Source Fáilte Ireland.]
The number of people visiting Ireland in the first half of this year, according to the Central Statistics Office possibly did increased by 5.4 % with those coming from north America up by over 15%, but how many of these statistics identify labourers and builders coming from Canada (Yes, latter is part of North America) as recent emigrants on a visit to their families back home. Note none of this 5.4 % increase certainly hit North Tipperary and British tourists fell by 1.1% nationally in April and June compared to last year, down from 735,200 to 726,900, despite the massive funding spent marketing by Tourism Ireland on just Dublin city alone.
It is also imperative that our readers see the funding handed out through Leader under the heading; (See pages 6 – 11 Inc.) North Tipperary LEADER Partnership, Summary of Tourism Related Rural Development Programme Investment, 2009.
Thurles Summer Arts Festival 2011 [Total Investment Cost or TIC] €24,009.18 – Thurles Halloween Festival 2012 (TIC) €67,472.50 – The Source Arts Centre, Thurles (TIC) €57,398.00. This financial figure does not include bucket collections on Liberty Square. Were any job’s created, was one tourist attracted I ask?
Yet, a call for the return of the Derrynaflan Chalice, latter stolen from our midst to assist and promote a Dublin economy, was found by North Tipperary Co Council, according to the same Deputy Noel Coonan, to be financially not viable and would cost €100,000 to accommodate here in Thurles.
Deputy Coonan it appears has not yet worked out that “Customers only create Jobs.”
Yes it appears our ‘know all,’ TD’s do not wish to listen or communicate with those who elected them, outside the precincts of the Dail Snug. Our voices are only required on voting day. Their deafness reminds me of the yarn told about an elderly grumpy member of our envied Irish justice system, who had a similar hearing problem.
“Have you anything to say before I pass sentence?” asked the Judge.
“Feck all,” said the defendant.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that,” replied the ageing Judge, & turning to the Clerk of the Court, he enquired as to what the man had said.
“He said ‘Feck all,’ Your Honour,” responded the Courtroom official.
“Really?” puzzled the judge. “I could have sworn I saw his lips move.”
One of the world’s greatest social musical commentators, New Jersey and rock legend Bruce Springsteen is appearing in Kilkenny this evening. I am sure his first number as usual will be “Death To My Hometown.” Do you remember the lyrics ?:
“They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes,
They left our bodies on the plains, The vultures picked our bones,
So listen up, my Sonny boy, Be ready for when they come,
For they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun.“
[From Springsteen's Album "Wrecking Ball." (2012)]