This week has seen two Castlebar town councillors exchanging verbal punches over the issue of bringing jobs to the county town. Fianna Fáil councillor Blackie Gavin threw down the challenge to Labour Party councillor Harry Barrett to “get real on who is responsible for solving the jobs crisis in Castlebar”. Cllr Gavin said Cllr Barrett seemed to forget that his own party was part of the Government and could do a lot to solve the problem if it wanted to.
Cllr Gavin said: " What I would like to know is how often has Cllr Barrett lobbied Mr Gilmore or Minister Rabbitte and demanded that they deliver to Castlebar. How many times has he met the Tánaiste and put to him the crisis which he keeps highlighting here locally. How many times has he looked for access to his own party ministers, the people with the power to get results.”
Cllr Barrett hit back at Cllr Gavin, saying: “The statement by Cllr Gavin is nothing but background noise, as others seek to bring jobs to the town. Indeed, I am aware of not one single motion put down by him to address the crisis in the last five years.” He added that he felt Cllr Gavin was using this issue to “further his own agenda” ahead of the local elections.
Cllr Barrett said he was lobbying the centre of power of the Government, who is located in Mayo at the moment, to deliver jobs for the county. He said: “As Castlebar continues to suffer due to the jobs crisis, we have on our doorstep, An Taoiseach, the leader of the Seanad, a government Minister, two Government TDs, and the leader of the Western Development Commission, all within a 20 mile radius of the town. We will never, ever, have such power again. My solution is to debate with those in power here in the town now to deliver more to Castlebar, because of the massive opportunity that now exists.”
Barrett also hit out at Fianna Fáil ahead of the elections, saying: “I will continue to do this now, as it is the duty of a competent councillor. I will continue with this work unmoved by the pre-election antics of a Fianna Fáil councillor who has only now awoken to the crisis affecting the town as a result of his own party's incompetence.”