INSPECTION findings carried out on two commonages in the Slieve Aughty region of South Galway – vastly reducing the areas that could be claimed on – are to be discarded, following legal exchanges between the Department of Agriculture and the farmers involved.
According to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA), the Department has now made a major U-turn on two of the main Slieve Aughty commonages.
In one of the commonages, the inspections had resulted in a 55% reduction of eligible land for grant aid from 1,090 hectares to 476 hectares while in a smaller commonage there was a 64% reduction from 184 hectares to 67 hectares. Affected farmers stood to lose tens of thousands of euro in EU payments.
Colm O’Donnell of the INHFA said that last week the legal team of the shareholders received letters from the Dept. saying that the inspections findings ‘will not now apply’
However, he said, that the Dept. had not moved on the nearby Keelderry commonage, which was reduced by 87% (from 248ha to 32ha) – or on a number of other commonages around the country – that have had reduction imposed as a result of similar inspections.
“It became apparent that if the Department were to pursue the type of inspection procedure they were attempting on the Slieve Aughties, large swathes of marginal land would quite quickly become ineligible for payments going forward,” said Colm O’Donnell.
He said that the INHFA were pleased with the outcome adding that this was where the political battle on eligibility would kick-off. “We are now calling on Minister Coveney to sort out the outstanding commonage issues on the Slieve Aughties and elsewhere,” said Colm O’Donnell.
Last week, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, must address the issue of eligible land and assist farmers by providing practical guidance before they submit their applications for 2015 BPS and other schemes.
“There is a lot of confusion around the eligible land issue. There is a responsibility on the Department to give practical guidance to farmers that avoids an over-zealous interpretation, which would unfairly penalise farmers,” said Eddie Downey.
Earlier this week, Minister Simon Coveney published a 29 page illustrated guide to ‘land eligibility and direct payment schemes’ aimed at clarifying issues relating to eligible land.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Exploring the merits of moving into the west
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.
“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.
These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.
But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.
Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.
One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.
The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing
A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.
They lifted and footed his turf.
John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.
He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.
“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.
Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!
“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.
Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.
They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.
Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat
It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.
After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.
“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”
But it could have all been so different.
Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.
She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.
Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.
Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.
Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.