By Stephen McKinley
Coincidentally, Irish citizens will be voting on June 7, the same day as the British general election. Three referenda will be held in Ireland. The first, which is expected to be passed overwhelmingly, will delete any reference to the use of the death penalty in Irish law. The capital sentence is still, in theory, an option for punishing the murder of a police officer in the Republic.
The second referendum will recognize the International Criminal Court in the Irish constitution, which will also pass comfortably, it is predicted.
But the third measure, the adoption of the Treaty of Nice, is more controversial. The treaty must be adopted by all 15 member states of the European Union, to take effect. It provides for the admission of new countries into the Union — some people feel that this will further dilute the influence of small countries like Ireland, but the government has said that having benefited so much from membership, Ireland should not withhold that opportunity from other small, impoverished countries
CARRICK RADAR STAYS
Carrickfergus councilors have been pondering the fate of the town’s most unusual piece of architecture: the radar station that sits at the end of the harbor pier.
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After a survey, a report showed that it would be cheaper to make the building safe than to demolish it. The building has been disused for 15 years, ever since the harbor was closed to commercial traffic. Several councilors have been pushing for it to be demolished, according to the Carrickfergus Advertiser.
The Technical Services Department of the Council contacted the demolition company M. Flynn & Sons to price the demolition of the building and received a quote for £5,500. The cost of making the building safe was £1,000.
The decision was taken by the council to make the building safe with a view to attracting new users for the facility in the future.
Also from Carrickfergus comes the story of a local pastor’s unusual discovery while working as a missionary in Madras — the grave of a young Coleraine man who had been a soldier in India during the Raj.
Pastor Sam Grant was walking through the graveyard when he saw a headstone which commemorated 20-year-old James McGrillis, a soldier in the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers, who was killed in a swimming accident on Sunday, Dec. 17, 1939.
The headstone on the grave in Madras reads: "Mother of perpetual succor pray for him."
SAVE OUR BOGS
Waterford City Council is concerned that precious and unique bogland near the town is being eaten up in the rush to find new land on which to develop property — but the alarm was first sounded by the local environmental group, Waterford Earthwatch, whose spokesperson, Andrew Cox, told the Munster Express, "There needs to be a more complete listing of wildlife and protected areas within the city boundaries. Biodiversity needs to be actively promoted in derelict sites and green areas within residential developments."
Wetlands have also been threatened within the city boundaries, he said, include Miller’s Marsh, Johnstown (proposed for a multi-story parking garage) and Coady’s Pond, Gracedieu (disposal of waste construction material).
"We must protect these areas," Cox said. "The local authorities must take a more active role and work together with the local community towards a sustainable future."
Local residents in Gracedieu have called on the Corporation to preserve Coady’s Pond as a wildlife amenity area. Concerns were raised when builders’ rubble was dumped there earlier this year.
COW SCREEN DEBUT
Cattle in Fermanagh that have survived the foot-and-mouth slaughter will soon be preening for the TV cameras, as Enniskillen Cattle Mart manager Stewart Johnston has hit on a new way of doing business when livestock movements are still restricted. because of the disease.
The mart was forced to close at the end of February, but Johnston now wants to video animals that are for sale, to be viewed on a big screen by interested buyers at the otherwise empty mart. Johnston has also managed to retain his staff of 10, who have been cleaning and renovating the mart buildings ever since February.
"We would be keen that the usual haulers who normally draw the cattle into us would get some business out of it and that’s why we’re asking them to register with us," Johnston told the Fermanagh Herald.
The video link, he explained, would mean a cameraman going out to farm and filming those cattle for sale.
"We would intend to erect a big tent in the exhibition hall with a big screen and the owner of the cattle would be there to represent his cattle. The buyers would have a catalogue giving the owner’s name and the age and sex of the cattle and the punch status, all the basic information they would need," he said.