‘A blast from the past’ - Dan Griffin, Mary T. Mulvihill and Jimmy Kelly pictured at a function in the Top of the Town in the early ‘90’s

‘A blast from the past’ – Dan Griffin, Mary T. Mulvihill and Jimmy Kelly pictured at a function in the Top of the Town in the early ‘90’s

Community First Responders (CFR) AGM 

The AGM of the Community First Responders (CFRs) was held on January 18th.  All sitting officers were re-elected: Medical Director – Dr Kieran Murphy;  Development Adviser – Rodge Byrne;  Training Instructor – Richael Griffin;  Quarter Master – Pat I Mulvihill;  Chairperson – Paudie Quille;  Secretary – Mary Sheahan.  Sharon Reidy was newly elected as Assistant Secretary.  During the year eleven members completed an Occupational First Aid course which was provided free to the group by Kerry Civil Defence thanks to Rodge Byrne.  This year all CFRs will go through their 2 yearly Phecc re-certification.  On 24th March (18:00 – 22:00) there will be a Heart Saver CPR & Defibrillator course with registration with Phecc on 7th April in the Hall for new volunteers.  The cost of the course is €45 which will be reimbursed after a year if a person becomes a CFR.  Enquires/ names to 087 9650620 between 6-9pm before the end of February.

1916 Commemoration Concert 

A special concert to commemorate the 1916 Rising will be held in the New Hall, Castlemahon on Friday 5th February starting at 8pm. The event will celebrate the role of music, song and poetry in the struggle for Irish Freedom. This is the first of a range of events being run by Limerick City and County Council this year to commemorate the Rising and admission is free. The line-up of performers are all household names from around West Limerick, including Jacky O’Connor from Kilcolman, the Trad Scene presenter with West Limerick 102 Radio.


West Limerick Singing Club  

Will hold their monthly singing session in the Ramble Inn, Abbeyfeale on this Friday, February 5th  at 9pm. All are welcome.

They’re at it again!

Yes, election time is here again and, despite the fact that this country is just about getting off the canvas after an almost fatal blow, the auction has begun. All the political parties are offering carrots to lure potential voters who may be naïve enough to believe them. Despite the fact that we have been down this road in the past and that all political parties have broken promises that they hadn’t a hope in hell of keeping, there are still some people who fall for the spin and patter and will cast their votes for selfish reasons. Candidates know this and will continue to try and “buy” votes wherever they can.

The government, for the moment at least, are talking about giving back money to people who were hit by the austerity measures that were necessary after the banking collapse. They say they can do this because they have a bit more money than was forecast from different types of taxes and there will be a surplus after paying back the European loan. They say they can give back about 12 million over the next five years. This is based on the presumption that there will be growth in the economy of 3.5% per annum over that period. I don’t know where they get their crystal balls because you don’t need to be an economist to know that there is great uncertainty in the world at the moment and nobody knows what the situation will be like next month, never mind in five years time.

We saw what happened when China’s growth rate, though still much greater than our own, was not as good as it had been. Billions were  written off the market. We, as a small island on the coast of Europe are totally dependent on our exports to the rest of the world. If any thing goes wrong we are left with no market for our goods and potential ruin. We are still borrowing more than we are paying back so, is it a good time to be talking of cutting taxes? The universal social charge is a crude instrument which was brought in as an emergency measure to create a solid tax base along with the household charge and the water metering. The government caved in to pressure on the water meters and now have a very small fixed charge which takes no account of the amount of water used. The household charge has had opposition but once people realised that unless you had paid up you weren’t entitled to any grants and that the charge would be there if the house needed to be sold, many came on board and it is working.

The USC has realised a lot of money for the government but they are now talking of getting rid of it. To my mind this would be foolish as it creates a reliable source of income that is constant. By all means tweak it to ensure that it is fair and that those who are on low wages are protected but, until such time as we are solvent and have our debts paid, we do not have the luxury of doing away entirely with it.

There is no real difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Their policies are slightly different but they do exactly the same thing when in power. The Labour Party will pay the price for going into bed with Fine Gael as all smaller parties in coalition have done in the past. They will point to the fact that they have influenced many decisions and that, if they hadn’t done, there would have been many more austerity measures but their support base has disappeared because of the ridiculous promises they made before the last election. Whatever they say now will not be believed and it is a pity because the Labour Party is needed as the voice of the working people in the country. That mantle has now been taken by Sinn Féin who have done remarkably well over the past few years in opposition. There policies are appealing to the lower paid in this country and scary for those who are high earners. The notion that you can get enough money by taxing high earners to fund everything does not hold water. How long will the top earners stay in this country if they are fleeced by extra taxes? We may not like them but we depend on them to create employment  and if they are not doing that in Ireland they will do it in some other country that will only be too willing to give them tax breaks. To be fair to Sinn Fein, they have said they would keep the universal social charge. Make no mistake, the major parties are afraid of them and even though they say they won’t go into government with them, let’s see what happens if the votes don’t stack up.

Then we have a mish-mash of independents from different backgrounds all with their own narrow agenda. Let us hope that we do not go back  to the days of Tony Gregory and Jacky Healy Rae where support for the government was bought at a very high price. To my simple mind, a vote for an independent is a total waste as they have no power in the Dáil to influence any situation. No matter how bad the party system is, it is the best one we have. So, you pays your money and you takes your chances as the fairground operator used to say, just do not, on any account, believe any of the promises now made on the doorstep, radio and TV.

If we forget our own selfish needs and think of the good of the country, we will all be better off down the road. Whatever  you think, make sure to cast your vote. It is a right that was dearly bought for us and we should exercise that right.

Domhnall de Barra