State largesse welcome in Mayo but private sector growth still essential

When Enda Kenny became Taoiseach last March of a country facing economic ruin, talk was that the little largesse available to him would barely register on the home front. In contrast to the Fianna Fail-led governments that allowed party members such as Padraig Flynn gain the 'Pee Flynn Ring Road' moniker, those whose political persuasion matched that of our current homegrown Taoiseach were not expected to garner much in the way of spoils, given that so few were actually available for divvying out.

However, despite the fact that the country is broke, with unemployment levels hitting crisis levels and the euro under threat, little by little, good news stories, of a personal nature at least, are filtering down from the Taoiseach's den in Dail Eireann. First off we had sitting Senator Paddy Burke elevated to the position of Chairman of the Seanad, followed by the appointment of two local party workers to well-paid government administration roles. This week it is the turn of Westport to celebrate as the town will shortly lay claim to not just one, but two District Court judges, in the form of soon-to-be appointed Judge Patrick Durcan (pending ratification by President Mary McAleese ) who will soon be able to align himself alongside the already elevated status of Judge Seamus Hughes.

It is good to see local people doing well and best of luck to them all. Of course it would not be fair to suggest that the only good news stories happening on the news front in Mayo are politically flavoured as nobody could accuse those in charge of Mayo's county town of simply sticking to their knitting. Even during these most recent years of gloom, one new development after another has come to the fore for the benefit of the good burghers of Castlebar and its visiting clientele. Now we're not talking massive commercial or residential complexes in any way reminiscent of the Celtic Tiger era but simple embellishment works that have added to the town and its potential future performance. Among these are the Castlebar Town Improvement works that have so far seen major pedestrian thoroughfare enhancements in and around the Main Street area, while along the town river promenade-type walkways are also being extended.

The newest aesthetic and recreational milestone near completion is the Lough Lannagh bridge, which will finally, after decades of lobbying, actually come to fruition in a mere week or two. Anyone familiar with that other unkind moniker attached to the ‘Pee Flynn Ring Road’ which might, at its most politically-correct be termed ‘Large bottom boulevard’, will surely welcome this latest development that will mean that keep-fit lovers can now stretch their limbs away from the gaze of passing motorists, for miles on end. Indeed, thanks to the latest handout from the Fine Gael government coffers, Castlebar is set to link up with the massively successful Greenway between Westport and Achill, meaning that tourism in County Mayo is set to become one major industry that so many can capitalise on.

Sadly, handouts, public developments and state appointments can not on their own get this country of ours back in the black. While new government debt repatriation bodies such as NAMA are now, ironically, employing hundreds of staff on generous pay packages, State workers in local council offices, hospitals, schools and education centres are leaving in their droves, disillusioned with the terrible state of services or rushing to get out before pension entitlements are withdrawn. For some time public servants have been regarded as the lucky ones, enjoying permanent pensionable jobs. As many now know to their cost, such security of employment is gone.

The mindset of expecting the public sector, the State and social welfare to come to the rescue is one that must disappear. It is the private sector that needs our full attention. In order to keep Mayo growing and our people secure, we must work together, shop together, create employment together, develop businesses together while all the time supporting each other along the way. It's the only way forward.


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