Let’s get ready to party and a hearty Mayo welcome to you too

It would be easy to write an editorial this week about how it is time for Mary Harney to step up to the plate or step down. I’m not usually critical of Minister Harney, I think she’s a brave woman for taking on the health portfolio, but I think new ideas are needed in our health service, with a new leader to boot.

This pharmacy dispute is showing her up in a very bad light. Yet again the most vulnerable in society are being targeted by this Government who, admittedly, have to pull back on public spending, but who seem intent on making the weakest in this country suffer.

Negotiations could end this dispute in a relatively short time. Members of the Irish Pharmaceutical Union will not accept a 34 per cent cut in payments and why should they? Most employees who have accepted pay cuts have seen 10 to 15 per cent of their wages disappear. But a 34 per cent slash in prices is unacceptable as is the resulting loss of jobs, especially when the IPU has money saving proposals of its own.

What’s annoying for the ordinary customers who qualify for medication under the Community Drugs Scheme is that their local pharmacist wants to negotiate but Mary Harney refuses to do so.

In a civilised society people should be able to sit around a table and thrash out their problems and come up with effective solutions which will still save public money.

It’s all very depressing and disappointing. So I won’t dwell on it.

Instead I’ll remind our readers that the World Fleadh is coming to Castlebar this weekend and will continue through next week and the following weekend.

It’s a much more cheerful story in any case, especially with the sun shining outside at the time of writing.

Yet again the presence of the Royal Theatre in Castlebar will see the larger business community in both Castlebar and Mayo benefit. Thousands of music lovers are expected to descend on the town over the coming days and locals should forget the recession and get into the swing of things. It will be an all dancing, all singing, general craic, ceol agus ól-type event where man, woman, child, and even dog can take part.

This will be a true celebration of Irish culture and with many fringe events (including a ‘lovely dog show’ on the Mall ) scheduled around the town, it will be a family festival with attractions to suit everyone.

It’s a great opportunity to showcase Castlebar before the Destination Castlebar marketing drive kicks into place. The branding of Castlebar as a place to enjoy a world-class show, have a nice meal, shop in designer boutiques as well as well-known high street stores, stay in first class accommodation, and have plenty of outlets to entertain the children, is a welcome move for the town.

Towns whose business community are at one when it comes to attracting inward investment, be it in the form of industry or everyday shoppers, are the towns which will continue to thrive and come out tops from this recession.

Westport has done an excellent job with the Destination Westport campaign. Castlebar is almost in a position to launch its campaign. There are other towns in Mayo with their own unique selling points which they could market in a similar fashion. It’s Mayo ultimately who benefits. So for this weekend let’s give all the visitors to the World Fleadh a hearty Mayo welcome.

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