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Farmers vow to fight any changes to third-level grant eligibility



Date Published: 21-Mar-2012

GALWAY farm leaders and opposition TDs have vowed to oppose ‘tooth and nail’ proposals being examined by Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn, to take the asset value of farms into account when assessing qualification criteria for third level grants.

Farm representative groups like the IFA and ICMSA fear that they are being lined up for a ‘direct hit’ on the third level grants, following the establishment of a ‘Capital Asset Test Implementation’ group by the Education Minister.

Part of the proposals being considered by this group is the introduction of a mechanism into the assessment procedure that would factor in assets, including farms, in the decision making process for third level grant qualification.

Co. Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn, told the Connacht Tribune that as soon as there was any word on farm incomes improving after having been in the doldrums for many years, plans seemed to be put in train to chip away at things like third level grants.

“We have no problem whatsoever with the means test for the third level grants but it must be based solely on the annual income of the farm family.

“It would be absolutely unjust if some accountant in the Department of Education decided that a farmer on a low income would not be entitled to a grant just because his farm asset had a paper value of a few hundred thousand euro,” said Michael Flynn.

The ‘asset test’ is proposed to play a part in the grant assessment process for the 2013/14 academic year, although Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn, last week said that farm groups were ‘jumping the gun’ on the issue.

The Minister said that no decisions had been taken about what assets would be included in any changes in the means test and added that no proposals were even on the table yet.

However East Galway Fianna Fáil TD Micheál Kitt, told the Connacht Tribune that very definitely there ‘no smoke without fire’ on this proposal which he described as anti-rural and anti-farmer.

“Any proposal that would factor in the asset value of a farm instead of looking at the annual income of the farm family would be very definitely anti-rural and anti-farm.

“The qualification criteria for qualification to third level grants must be based on income – just because a farm has a ‘book value’ of what might seem a high figure, often bears little comparison with what the farm makes on an annual basis,” said Deputy Kitt.

He also pointed out that the full grant for third level students was now only available to those outside a 48km. radius of the college while the notion of ‘free fees’ was also a misnomer given that a registration fee of €2,000 was in place, possibly rising to €3,000 over the coming years.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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