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Economy is good, but tax receipts are slowing


The ESRI says the economy is performing well, despite a slow down in tax receipts.

The labour market is also improving and there’s more money being spent by consumers.

But there’s a warning that Brexit may hit public finances.

A hard EU exit for the UK could affect our long-term growth rate and lessen the amount in our Budget.



Information day on one-way Athlone system


People will face some inconvenience during work on the new one-way system in Athlone, but they will be delighted with the improvement in the town centre at the end.

That’s according to Westmeath Council Director of Services Barry Kehoe who has been driving the project over the past couple of years.

The refurbishment of the town’s main street and the change of traffic flow to a one-way system is set to become a reality later this year after the controversial plan was passed by Westmeath County Council in recent weeks.

The council Director says works on junctions around the town will be carried out as Phase 1 of the project, Phase 2 will involve the erection of new traffic signage, and work on Church Street itself will happen in Phase 3.

The council is holding a public information event at the Civic Centre in the town this afternoon to let people know how and when the various works will be taking place.

Barry Kehoe says disruption is inevitable as the project progresses, but he believes people will be very happy with the final result.



Toner to win 50th cap for Ireland against Japan


The Irish team to play Japan in the final Test of their tour in Tokyo has been named for Saturday (Kick off 6:40am)

Meath man Devin Toner wins his 50th cap in the second row. He is the eighth lock to hit the half-century for Ireland, joining a select group which includes Moss Keane, Donal Lenihan, Paddy Johns, Willie John McBride, Malcolm O’Kelly, Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell.

Toner will be joined in the engine room by Ulster youngster Kieran Treadwell who won his first cap off the bench during last week’s 50-22 win over Japan.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made six changes in personnel for the rematch with the Brave Blossoms, along with two positional switches. Treadwell and Leinster hooker James Tracy come in for their first starts up front.

The side is captained again by Rhys Ruddock who is joined in an all-Leinster back row by number 8 Jack Conan, who has scored in both tour games so far, and Josh van der Flier who returns at openside flanker.

Tracy, Cian Healy, who is set for his 70th cap, and John Ryan are the front row men. That means the Munster tighthead will have played in all eight of Ireland’s Tests in 2017, including five appearances as a replacement during the Six Nations.

The selected back-line sees Ulster duo Luke Marshall and Jacob Stockdale slot back in at outside centre and on the left wing respectively. Marshall pairs up with Garry Ringrose, while Stockdale’s inclusion sees record breaker Keith Earls revert to the right wing and Andrew Conway takes over the full-back position vacated by Simon Zebo.

Paddy Jackson wins his 25th cap this weekend when he starts at half-back alongside Connacht’s Kieran Marmion.

Marmion’s fellow scrum half John Cooney could become the eighth and final debutant of the tour. He is listed on a bench which also contains brothers Niall and Rory Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Sean Reidy, who is set to add to his first cap won a year ago in South Africa, and Tiernan O’Halloran.

Ireland Squad to face Japan

15. Andrew Conway 14. Keith Earls 13. Garry Ringrose 12. Luke Marshall 11. Jacob Stockdale 10. Paddy Jackson 9. Kieran Marmion

1. Cian Healy 2. James Tracy 3. John Ryan 4. Kieran Treadwell 5. Devin Toner 6. Rhys Ruddock 7. Josh van der Flier 8. Jack Conan


16. Niall Scannell 17. Dave Kilcoyne 18. Andrew Porter 19. James Ryan 20. Sean Reidy 21. John Cooney 22. Rory Scannell 23. Tiernan O’Halloran

Gallant Westmeath performance just not enough to beat The Cats


Kilkenny are through to the 2017 Leinster U21 hurling championship final after seeing off a Westmeath team who really gave the Cats a test.

The hosts had eliminated their illustrious opponents from the same competition at the quarter-final stage last year and they gave it a good rattle again last night. The men in maroon lead at the break and level with 20 minutes left but in the end the Cats took a hold of the game and pulled away ominously to seal a date with Wexford in the provincial decider on July 5th.

Alan Murphy (1-8) top-scored for Eddie Brennan’s team, who will now prepare for a third Leinster final meeting with the Model County in five years, having lost the previous two in 2013 and 2015.

Killian Doyle’s free in the third minute of injury time ensured the Lake lads of a narrow 1-7 to 0-9 interval lead, with his Raharney clubmate James Goonery delivering the loser’s goal in the 18th minute.

The sides shared eight points during the opening quarter and Murphy edged the visitors ahead before Goonery hit the back of the Kilkenny net to propel the Lake County into a 1-4 to 0-5 lead as the match exploded to life.

The Black & Amber refused to panic, however, and were soon level thanks to scores from Pat Lyng and Sean Morrissey getting his second.

Niall Mitchell had registered first for the hosts inside eight seconds before Kilkenny hit back through Morrissey, Murphy (free) and full forward Liam Blanchfield. But three points from centre forward Killian Doyle drew the underdog’s level by the 14th minute, with Man of the Match John Donnelly on target in between for the Cats.

A Mitchell point from the sideline seen Westmeath take the lead again four minutes from the break and the Clonkill clubman struck again two minutes later to make it 1-6 to 0-7. Lyng replied within 50 seconds and a Murphy free deep into injury time ensured that the sides were level again only for Doyle’s fourth of the night to edge his team in front before the short whistle.

The Cats outscored their opponents by six points to three in the third quarter and were two points ahead by the three-quarters stage, 0-15 to 1-10. Murphy and Doyle traded the first two points of the second half and the winners moved ahead thanks to half time substitute Richie Leahy and Luke Scanlon, only for Doyle to equalise from a free.

But Murphy (free. ‘65’) and sub Eoin Kenny hit three more Kilkenny scores before Doyle clipped over another free. When a Donnelly brace stretched the gap to three, the response was another Doyle free, 0-17 to 1-11 with ten minutes left and everything still to play for.

The Cats were well on top now but had missed some glorious goal-scoring opportunities as Sean Maher made some great saves. However in a tense finale, Glenmore ace Murphy tagged on further frees in the 57th and 59th minutes before helping himself to the match-clinching goal in the final seconds of normal time, 1-19 to 1-11.

Leahy and Morrissey tagged on injury-time points as the favourites won comfortably in the end.

Kilkenny – D Brennan; M Cody, C Delaney, J Burke; C Doheny, J Cleere, T Walsh; L Scanlon (0-1), P Lyng (0-2); A Murphy (1-8, 0-7f, 0-1’65), J Donnelly (0-3), S Morrissey (0-3); S Walsh, L Blanchfield (0-1), B Ryan. Subs: D Mullen for C Doheny, R Leahy (0-2) for S Walsh, E Kenny (0-1) for L Blanchfield, R Bergin for J Burke, C Hennessy for J Donnelly.

Westmeath – S Maher; S Quinn, C Shaw, D Giles; N McKenna, D Egerton, J Rabbitte; M Daly, S Clavin; D Clinton, K Doyle (0-8, 6f), N Mitchell (0-3); J Goonery (1-0), C Doyle, J Galvin. Subs: D Finn for J Rabbitte, J Bermingham for J Goonery, A Loughlin for D Clinton.

Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony to lead Lions in first test


Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony was named Lions captain for Saturday’s first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland (kick off is at 8:35am)

The Munster man follows in the footsteps of former Irish stars like Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll to lead the Lions as tour captain Sam Warburton is limited to a place on the bench.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has gone with Owen Farrell at out-half for the opening clash with the All Blacks, meaning Leinster’s Johnny Sexton is on the bench.

There are a handful of surprise selections too, with Liam Williams starting at fullback ahead of Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones included in the second row ahead of Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly starting on the left wing, with George North left out of the 23 completely.

Ireland internationals Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and Sean O’Brien are part of the XV, while Jack McGrath is on the bench alongside Sexton.

For New Zealand, Captain Kieran Read has recovered from injury in time to lead the All Blacks.

The Crusaders back rower hasn’t played since breaking his thumb in a Super Rugby game against the Cheetahs on 30 April.

Like The Lions selection Steve Hansen has made a few surprising decisions which sees wingers Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo failing to make the match-day 23, with Israel Dagg and Blues youngster Rieko Ioane either side of Ben Smith in the back three.

Ioane, 20, who impressed for the Blues during their victory against the Lions, will earn his first start and just his third cap for New Zealand in what is otherwise a very experienced backline.

Ryan Crotty has also recovered from a rib complaint to take his place in Hansen’s midfield for the first of three Tests, alongside code-hopping superstar Sonny Bill Williams, which means Anton Lienert-Brown has to make do with a spot among the replacements despite impressing against Samoa last weekend.

Reigning World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett once again teams up with Aaron Smith in the halfbacks, despite speculation that the latter would lose his spot to TJ Perenara. Read is partnered in the back row by Sam Cane and Jerome Kaino, with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock selected in the second row.

Owen Franks will earn his 92nd cap at tighthead prop, in a powerful front-row unit that also contains Codie Taylor and Joe Moody.

Regular hooker Dane Coles has failed to recover in time from his concussion issues to make the squad, with Nathan Harris covering the No 2 spot on the bench.

Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Famuina will offer enviable front row support from the sideline, among a group of replacements that also includes Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea and Perenara.

Lions (v All Blacks): 15. Liam Williams 14. Anthony Watson 13. Jonathan Davies 12. Ben Te’o 11. Elliot Daly 10. Owen Farrell 9. Conor Murray

1. Mako Vunipola 2. Jamie George 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Alun Wyn Jones 5. George Kruis 6. Peter O’Mahony (captain) 7. Sean O’Brien 8. Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: 16. Ken Owens 17. Jack McGrath 18. Kyle Sinckler 19. Maro Itoje 20. Sam Warburton 21. Rhys Webb 22. Johnny Sexton 23. Leigh Halfpenny

All Blacks (v British and Irish Lions): 15. Ben Smith 14. Israel Dagg 13. Ryan Crotty 12. Sonny Bill Williams 11. Rieko Ioane 10. Beauden Barrett 9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor 3. Owen Franks 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Jerome Kaino 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read (c)

Replacements: 16. Nathan Harris 17. Wyatt Crockett 18. Charlie Faumuina 19. Scott Barrett 20. Ardie Savea 21. TJ Perenara 22. Lima Sopoaga/Aaron Cruden 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

Concerns over fire-safety at Leitrim traveller site


A number of concerns and hazards have been raised in a review of fire-safety at Traveller accommodation in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Documents released to Shannonside FM reveal that, in some units, sockets were sparking, while other issues include incorrectly wired cookers and paraffin heaters being used inappropriately.

After ten people died in a blaze in Carrickmines, Dublin, last October 2015, the Department of the Environment told all local authorities to examine fire safety at Traveller accommodation.

In 14 audits of the Shannonside View halting site at Rosebank in Carrick-on-Shannon last month, conducted by Leitrim County Council, numerous issues were once again identified.

In one house, a kitchen socket was sparking, a soot-box cover needed repair and a fridge was blocking an escape route.

In a mobile home-type unit, a cooker wasn’t wired correctly, while there was no carbon-monoxide detector.

In a similar demountable dwelling, an old mobile home was being used for storage inappropriately near the sleeping unit.

A paraffin heater was being used for heating, with the council recommending it be removed, while there was no carbon-monoxide detector and the fire-extinguisher required servicing.

Problems were also found with a standard housing unit, occupied by a family of four, while visitors were sleeping in a mobile home, which had no fire blanket or extinguisher.

The council says it will continue the focus on fire-safety improvements and awareness after the issue found in the audits.

This will include working with individual tenants to ensure that fire-safety matters within the scope of tenant responsibility are addressed.

Burke defends gender-balance in Cabinet


Longford-Westmeath deputy Peter Burke is defending the new Taoiseach’s gender balance in the senior and junior ministerial ranks.

The Mullingar-based TD says criticism of the lack of women appointed to key positions by Leo Varadkar is totally unfounded.

Speaking on Let’s Talk today, Deputy Burke says the figures speak for themselves when it comes to the women supporting the present government.



The Mullingar TD also says he was neither surprised nor disappointed not to be included in the new junior ministerial ranks yesterday.

Speculation about his chances came on the basis that he had declared early in the leadership race and Mr Varadkar’s high praise of his performance so far.

Peter Burke says he has gained invaluable experience in his first year in the Dail, but was not expecting to be given an appointment with just one year served so far.



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