Ger Walsh Column 18/09/16 : the chronicle.ie

Ger Walsh Column 18/09/16

| September 18, 2016

enniscorthy-river cmyk

Were roadworks a secret weapon for Gardai?

As I mentioned in this column last time the roadworks on the route to Rosslare Port caused huge delays throughout the summer and led to a lot of anger among the locals.

But were the delays intentional? That’s a question Cllr. Jim Moore was prompted to ask when the Chief Supt,. John Roche, revealed last week that stopping traffic at checkpoints had played a big part in helping Gardaí win the battle against crime since the start of the year.

Were these road contractors working hand in glove with the Gardaí to halt the traffic? wondered Jim. Whether they were or not they certainly slowed the traffic down sufficiently to give the Gardaí plenty of time to check for any criminal activity.

 

A rare piece of good news for Enniscorthy

Great to see that Enniscorthy is one of the litter free towns in the country. It’s a bit of a positive story at last for the Cathedral town which has had little in the way of good news recently.

There is really huge concern now that it is a town being left behind. Once it occupied second town status in Co. Wexford and because of its central location it attracted many businesses who wanted clients from across the county.

But those days are over and the town has seen a slow but steady decline in recent years and there are few indications that things are going to change any time soon.

A number of significant retail closures this year have really put the spotlight on the scale of the difficulties which Enniscorthy faces and as more retail units go the sad reality is that the town just becomes less attractive for shoppers, despite the best efforts of local business associations and the local authority.

It’s a problem which similar towns right across the country have faced in recent years and solutions have been difficult to come by.

Enniscorthy’s real problem is that to the south Wexford as the county town has a much greater range of retail to offer while to the north Gorey is booming.

When the by=pass comes along in a few years’ time Enniscorthy will face a real crossroads. But the development will present opportunities because taking all through traffic away can actually be beneficial and allow plans to be put in place to develop tourism and attract more visitors from outside the county.

It will not be easy but it may be the only way forward for the embattled town.

 

1996 now just a distant memory

I was a little surprised that the 20th anniversary of Wexford’s 1996 Senior Hurling win passed with so few events to mark the occasion. In some respects it is difficult to believe that twenty years have passed since Martin Storey lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup in Coke Park on that glorious day.

In other ways it seems like a lifetime ago. The sheer joy which the victory brought to the county was something to behold and in the frenzied atmosphere of the time there were very few who believed that we would not be back to bask in the glory of more victories in the years that followed.

Sadly there is now a whole generation of Wexford people who have never experienced the joy of victory on All Ireland Day. Indeed, they haven’t even experienced the feelings which a loss of an All-Ireland final bring.

People in their mid-twenties remember nothing of those great days of 1996 and celebrations which stretched all the way from September to Christmas.

Given our recent performances it is difficult to be confident that we will see similar days again any time soon, but we can always hope.

 

There really is no Apple crock of gold

I’m a great believer in the phrase ‘if it seems too good to be true then it probably is’ which is why I am on the side of those who do not believe there will ever be a crock of Apple gold at the end of the rainbow for the Irish taxpayer.

It is difficult for people to understand why the government would turn down such a windfall and instead appeal the European Commission’ decision.

In reality Enda and his team would have to be stark raving mad to miss up such an opportunity. If they could get those type of funds into the exchequer they would be guaranteed to stay in power for a generation so if there was any chance of getting the money they would have both hands out for it.

Notwithstanding the fact that the money really doesn’t exist, at least in the sense that it will ever end up in the Irish economy, I would not like to be defending the decision to appeal the Commission ruling during an early election campaign while at the same time having to defend a lack of funds for health education and welfare.

 

No free lunch for Noirin

When Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan received an invitation to be part of the Kennedy Summer School panel in New Ross last week I am sure she was delighted. These positions at Summer Schools are much sought after.

However, there was no free lunch for the Garda boss because the county’s Joint Policing Committee took the opportunity to set up a meeting and bend her ear in relation to some of the policing problems in the county.

Top of their agenda was her rather ham-fisted decision earlier this year to promote and transfer the Superintendent in Enniscorthy, a move which would have left all of North Wexford from Enniscorthy to the Wicklow border without a Superintendent.

When the inevitable backlash followed that decision it was put on hold until a replacement could be found. The JPC delegation was due to ask her what on earth she was thinking about when she made the decision in the first place and they were also due to bang the table about the absence of a Superintendent in Gorey.

By the time her meeting with the local reps concluded she was probably sorry that she did not join the line up at one of the summer schools in the West of Ireland instead of New Ross.

 

Joe bursts John ‘s good news crime bubble

When Garda Chief Supt. John Roche arrived for a meeting with Joint Policing Group last week armed with crime figures which had dramatically reduced since last year he must have been confident of receiving across the board praise from the committee.

But it didn’t quite work out that way. One of the committee members is Joe Sullivan, the Gorey councillor, who is a former Garda and doesn’t usually see eye-to-eye with the Chief on policing matters.

Actually that probably puts it a bit mildly. The fact is that where John sees white Joe see black. A lot of the difficulties go back to the Chief Supt’s perceived lack of support for policing in Gorey as evidenced by his alleged support for the removal of the Garda Supt. from the area a few years ago.

But surely Joe would have to sing the Garda boss’s praises following a reduction of more than 50% in the rate of burglaries so far this year. Well no, actually he would not.

While other members of the Joint Committee were very happy Joe found it very difficult to believe the figures. Was it possible he wondered that figures had been reclassified within the system, he wondered repeating again and again that the figures were unprecedented even unbelievable. .

He also pointed out that in North Wexford people had taken to providing security for their own homes by hiring in private firms or using family members during periods of absence. This would have made a contribution to the decline in crime, the Fianna Fail councilor insisted.

Shaking his head Joe insisted that even so such a reduction was simply very difficult to believe.

To say that the Chief Supt. was unimpressed would be to put it very mildly. John took grave exception to the remarks of his former member and on the question of reclassifying figures within the system he said that was simply  no longer possible,  adding pointedly that ‘a lot has changed since you left the force Cllr Sullivan’. Ouch!

I suspect the two men will not be swapping Christmas cards this year.

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