COUNTY town Castlebar has less gardaí, less teachers, less public servants and more potholes since local TD Enda Kenny took over as Taoiseach. That is the view of Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne who conceded to The Mayo News yesterday that there was ‘one exception’, in a local context, to his overall negative assessment of this government’s first year in office.
While Kilcoyne, who failed in a bid for a Dáil seat at the last general election, said he saw no ‘great change in Castlebar’, except those mentioned above, he conceded that Junior Minister Michael Ring ‘has contributed substantially to the town of Westport’ since his appointment to government.
“In general, I am very disappointed in this government’s performance to date. I do not agree with them paying the bondholders, they should have spread the payments over a longer period, like in Greece,” Cllr Kilcoyne said yesterday.
When questioned, specifically, about the impact of this government’s austerity measures on County Mayo, he said: “Here at home, the abolition of the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) will contribute to the decimation of rural communities. This scheme helped build roads into bogs, into family farms and into isolated communities. Then there is the closure of garda stations; I have heard that Ballyglass and Ballyvarry are the next to be closed. Then there are the post-offices. You cannot even post an A4 envelope in Ballintubber now where a post-box has replaced the office,”
He continued: “Add the proposed changes in pupil-teacher ratios in rural schools, the €100 household charge and the septic tank charges and you wonder how much more rural Ireland can take.”
On the other hand, Fine Gael’s Cllr Christy Hyland had nothing but praise for the Taoiseach and his lieutenant, Michael Ring.
“Enda Kenny is an honest and decent man who can be trusted to take this country out of the economic mess it is in, unlike the previous government. And as usual Minister Michael Ring, as has been his record since he first entered the Dáil, continues to work on a 24-7 basis for his town, his county and his country,” Cllr Hyland told The Mayo News yesterday.
Speaking after a Westport Electoral Area meeting, longtime Fianna Fáil Cllr Margaret Adams, however, offered a different assessment. Cllr Adams said: “I am disappointed that this government has reneged on a lot of its promises. I am really concerned about the proposed cutbacks affecting rural schools and the impact that cutbacks in staffing levels in hospitals will have. Of course, I understand that these are difficult times but I believe they are making wrong decisions. They must look after our children and our older people.”
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