Sligo Today Editorial

In a sea of gloom and despondency a buoy of hope has rung its bell and given us some hope for our and our children's future.

The State visit of President Higgins to Britain has rightly shown Ireland to be a vibrant educated society capable of putting the past to bed and to boldly embrace a future without bitterness towards our nearest neighbour, now truly 'the old enemy'.

Listening to his various speeches delivered with aplomb and style I was extremely proud of our president and noted with admiration his laying of a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier followed by the poignant moment when he stood and bowed at the commemoration plaque of Lord Mountbatten, so cruelly murdered here in County Sligo in 1979 along with one of his twin grandsons, Nicholas (14), and Paul Maxwell (15), a local employed as a boat boy.

Sligo was well represented on the visit with excellent television commentary from Tommie Gorman. This coupled with the sight of an Irish army uniform mingling with the British army on parade and laying a tricoloured wreath on behalf of the president was a sign of true peace and pride especially when that uniform was worn by a Sligo man, from Ballymote, the aide de camp to the President, Col.Brendan McAndrew.

The Royal palaces must feel like second homes to another Sligo man, Andy Rogers, the CEO of the London based Sligo Business Network. In 2011 the Ballymote native, whose family now live in Dromore West, was appointed a Knight of Honour of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George (KMCO). Sir Andrew attended the 'Irish Night' hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace and was also an invited guest to the Windsor Palace banquet, the Guild Hall and Albert Hall festivities.

However away from all the pomp and pageantry that marked the visit we must unfortunately step back to reality, where despite assurances from the politicos that the economy is on the up, we in Sligo are informed that on top of the establishment last year of a modern day 'soup kitchen' in the town we are now to be one of five locations in Ireland where a food bank is to be set up to facilitate the new 'food poverty' sector.

This surely is an indictment on our society where families are being taxed out of existence and we are now reliably informed that as part of the water charges coming in October will see every household in the country will pay 100 euro before they use a litre of water.

With this unwarranted charge, increased property tax this year, the looming introduction of mandatory health insurance for all, the principal question has to be, "When will it stop?"

While Elverys and it's 21 associated jobs in Sligo appears to have been given a lifeline other shops have, in the past week, seen the shutters come down on their operation forcing workers onto social benefits. Friday saw the iconic drapery shop and uniform specialists Blackrock on Harmony Hill also cease to provide a service and with some of the High St names ready to walk, the future of strong retailing in Sligo would seem to be faltering somewhat.

Nationally the mood is sombre with whistleblowing by members of the Gardaí highlighting the underhand and criminal antics by some members of the force, as in the case of the Du Plantier murder investigation. Whilst the people of Ireland believe the 'rank and file' members to be upstanding and honest, the attitude from the top is surely destroying that cherished belief and eating into the national wellbeing.

Some high-profile 'dismissals' or 'resignations' have further damaged the force's profile. The Commissioner falling on his sword coupled with the loss of the Garda confidential recipient was the greatest example of political savagery in recent times. While all about him are losing their heads the Justice Minister smiles through all. Only in Ireland!

It would appear that the Traveller debate and their effect on Irish society has at last been opened without the fear of being........lets leave that for another day!

Ciarán McCarthy

Posted on 14/04/14 : 16:57:35