• Minister Michael Ring is confident that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the leader of Fianna Fail Micheal Martin will sit down and work out the continuation of the Confidence and supply agreement for the sake of Ireland.

    The Minister for Rural and Community Development believes that no one wants a general election at this very critical time in the Brexit negotiations. He has complimented Fianna Fail for its cooperation with government over the past three years.

    The Confidence and Supply agreement between the present government and Fianna Fail has kept the government in office since 2016.

    Minister Ring also insists thatthe restoration of the 13.5 percent VAT rate on hotels, restaurants and hairdressing was necessary in yesterday’s budget.

    He says the reduction of the VAT rate to 9 percent for this sector was introduced in 2011 as an emergency measure, and he said it was sustained for 7 and a half years, but in light of the booming tourist numbers it has had to be restored. It was costing the exchequer over 2 billion euro and he insists that money is now required in education, social welfare and other areas.

  • We could find out later when the country will go to the polls for a general election.

    The Taoiseach and the Fianna Fail leader are meeting today to discuss when it could take place.

    Leo Varadkar wants it to be fixed for May, but Micheal Martin is pushing for a date in April.

    Mayo Fianna Fail TD Lisa Chambers says the party really want an Easter election.

  • Brexit and the north will be discussed in detail when the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister meet in Dublin tomorrow.

    The Taoiseach will emphasise that Ireland and the EU are still committed to securing a deal.

    However, all necessary arrangements are being made to manage a no deal scenario in the absence of any alternatives.

    He'll also warn of Ireland's deep concerns about any re-emergence of a hard border and the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

  •  There’s no money available to complete the running tracks and football fields that were announced  by government  six years ago, to be located adjacent to the new swimming pool in Castlebar.

    That was confirmed yesterday by the Manager of Castlebar Municipal District John McHale in response to a question from Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne .

     Mr McHale told the councillor it would take 4 million euro to complete the development with the running tracks and football fields, and he said the money simply is not available to the local authority.

    He confirmed that the new multi euro million swimming pool for the county town is expected to be opened to the public sometime between June and August of this year.

    The date for opening was to be June.

    Councillor Kilcoyne told Midwest News editor Teresa O’Malley that it’s not good enough. Announcements, he says, were made with great fanfare by An Taoiseach in Castlebar 6 years ago, and now it appears there was not enough money allocated for the developments.

  • Gardaí are patrolling streets to ensure people are following the latest regulations outlined by the Taoiseach last night.

    2,500 members of the force are on duty, and will be stopping people to make sure their journey is essential.

    Regulations will be published next week which will outline Garda powers in terms of sanctions - whether someone can be fined or not it they are out of their home.

    Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, hopes the majority of people will follow the rules.

  • Saturday 8th February has been confirmed as the date for the general election.

    As anticipated, Taoiseach Leo Varadker named the date at this morning's Cabinet meeting but has taken many by surprise with the selection of a Saturday for polling day.

    The Taoiseach will visit Áras an Uachtaráin this afternoon to ask President Michael D. Higgins to dissolve the 32nd Dáil and to summon the new Dáil on 20th February.

    Mayo-based Minister Michael Ring believes a Saturday poll will provide a greater opportunity for students and people working away from home during the week to cast their votes.


  • There's good news for the Taoiseach in the latest political opinion poll.

    A Behaviour & Attitudes survey for the Sunday Times shows support for the Government is up five points to 46 percent while Leo Varadkar's personal satisfaction rating is up 2 points to 55 percent.

    The recent steady increase in support for Sinn Fein appears to have come to a halt, with the party unchanged on 24 percent and Mary Lou McDonald also static at 52 percent.

  • Michael Ring

    The government has launched the National Planning Framework with 116 billion euro of investment announced.

    There's 22 billion for measures to tackle climate change as well as large investments in health, housing, education and transport.

    Project 2040 was formally approved by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his ministers at a special Cabinet meeting in Sligo.

    This is a plan that aims to prepare the country for a population expansion of around one million people over the next 20 years. The plan also aims to have an extra 660,000 people at work.

    The Government announced four new funds totaling €4bn for "rural and urban growth, climate action and innovation".

    Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring says some of the projects included are major improvements to the N4/N5 including on the Westport to Turlough section, the Ballaghadereen to Scramogue section and the extension of the motorway from Mullingar to Longford.

    A special Rural Regeneration Fund worth €1 billion nationally to be administered and will involve targeted investment in towns, villages and townlands in Mayo.  

    A significant investment package in Ireland West Airport Knock in recognition of its strategic importance as a major regional airport.

    An Urban Regeneration Fund which will see significant investment in rural towns with a population of over 10,000 such as Castlebar and Ballina as well as our major cities.

    €19.4 million to be invested in new sewerage schemes for Foxford, Charlestown and Killala.

    4 new consultants will be recruited at Mayo University Hospital as part of the national trauma care strategy.

    €3.5 million investment in GMIT Castlebar campus.

    New cycling and walking trails in Ballycroy as well as Major improvements to the Ceide Fields Visitor Experience.

  • The Green Party want its leader to share the position of Taoiseach if they form a coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

    The Irish Times reports the party would want Eamon Ryan to lead such a government for one out of a five year term.

    Fine Gael has said it would want the position of Taoiseach to be rotated in any coalition with Fianna Fail.

    Micheál Martin says he would go into government with Leo Varadkar's party, and hasn't ruled out a rotating Taoiseach.

  • A 12 year old girl from county  Mayo has challenged the Taoiseach to make sure everyone in rural Ireland has access to broadband.

    Aoibheann Mangan from Hollymount got a chance to speak to Leo Varadkar at the Inspire Fest in Dublin earlier today.

    The Taoiseach told her he wishes the National Broadband Plan could be delivered sooner.

    Aoibheann said it's not fair that people outside Dublin are still being forced to wait.

  • Ireland needs to become a bridge builder within the UN, according to former President, Ballina native, Mary Robinson.

    Ireland last night launched a bid to be added to the UN Security Council.

    Officials say it would give an opportunity to be involved in the major decisions facing the world over the next few years.

    Mary Robinson says it's a role in which Ireland can excel.

    The former UN Commissioner is one of those strongly supporting Ireland’s bid to secure  a seat in 2021.

    She also criticised some of the permanent members of the council like the US and Russia for using a veto on serious issues.

    Among the issues she wants tackled is sexual exploitation, which was described as an act of war.

    The Taoiseach and Tánaiste, who are in New York, have stressed how our history of peacekeeping could bring a unique voice to the council.

    U2 star Bono also addressed the launch, criticising Donald Trump's government for pulling out of the Paris climate accord.

  • Minister Michael Ring insists that no government can be looking over it’s shoulder wondering if Fianna Fail will or will not support it, as the most critical discussions on Brexit are taking place between now and the end of this year.

    That’s why he says the Taoiseach wrote an open letter to the media yesterday calling on Fianna Fail to extend the Confidence and Supply Agreement out to 2020.

    But, according to Mayo deputy Lisa Chambers, speaking on Midwest Radio’s lunchtime news today, there is nothing in the Confidence and Supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail that suggests that any discussion on extending the three year agreement up to 2020 should occur, until after the upcoming budget. She stated that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar knows that quite well, and that just because he now wants to change the goalposts through a letter to the media yesterday, that does not mean it should happen.

    The Confidence and Supply agreement is keeping the present government in office and deputy Chambers says if the Taoiseach wanted to change it, there is a mechanism in place- he should have contacted Micheal Martin directly and he didn’t do that.

    Speaking to Midwest News today Minister Ring said everyone would agree that we need a strong government in place as we negotiate on the international stage for a Brexit deal that is acceptable to this country and it makes perfect sense to begin discussions now with Fianna Fail about extending the agreement that keeps the government in office, as the budget is in three weeks time.

  • At a packed public meeting last night in Castlerea, Minister Naughten confirmed that the Taoiseach will honour the commitments given in 2015, securing the Rosalie unit as a residential facility,

    Confirmation in writing confirming that commitment is expected later today.

    Liam Walsh, whose mother is a resident in the Rosalie Unit for some years, told Midwest News this morning that the packed hall was delighted with that news last night.

    The Rosalie Unit, a residential facility for people with mental health issues, looked destined to close in the coming weeks, according to the HSE.

    A campaign to keep the facility open has been ongoing for some years now.

    Mr Walsh told Midwest News this morning that people power appears to have won out in this case.

    Minister Naughten had been speaking with the Taoiseach about the Unit’s future earlier yesterday, before attending the public meeting, and he said the Taoiseach assured him that the commitments, given by Leo Varadkar himself, as Health Minister in 2015, to the people of Castlerea concerning the Unit’s future as a residential facility will be upheld.

    Mr Walash says they are now awaiting that verbal commitment in writing later today, but he said he is cautiously optimistic that the Rosalie Unit as a residential facility has been secured.


  • A new opinion poll out today shows Micheál Martin's satisfaction rating is now higher than the Taoiseach's.

    It will make uncomfortable reading for Leo Varadkar, coming on the back of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin.

    The Sunday Times / Behaviour & Attitudes poll puts Leo Varadkar down 4 points to 48 per cent while the Fianna Fáil leader is unchanged on 49.

  • With the Taoiseach talking of a General Election early next year - a new opinion poll shows it's all to play for.

    The latest Sunday Business Post/Red C Poll shows just one point dividing Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, on 28 and 29 percent respectively.

  • A new poll out this weekend shows satisfaction with the Government has dipped, with nearly half the people polled, unhappy with its performance.

    The Sunday Independent Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll shows the Taoiseach's own popularity has also taken a hit and Fine Gael is suffering too.

  • Taoiseach Leo Varadker has announced a number of new restrictions, as the battle against Covid-19 is stepped up.

    In a press conference shortly after 4pm, Mr Varadker asked people to stay at home if at all possible, and said people should only leave their home to go to work - if they can't work from home - to get essential food and medical supplies and to take exercise.

    He announced that all hairdressers, casinos, bingo halls, theatres and gyms are to close, as well as marts, markets and betting shops.

    All non-essential shops are to close, while restaurants and cafes are limited to take-away or delivery only.

    Hotels are to limit their occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist activities, and Mr Varadker said social gatherings are to involve no more than four people, unless they're from the same household.

    He said no unnecessary travel was to be taken, within the country or overseas, while caravan parks and playgrounds are to close.

    All existing coronavirus measures, including the closure of schools and pubs, will be extended until Sunday 19th April.

    Earlier this afternoon, the Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the Leaving and Junior Cert exams are still scheduled to go ahead in June, but that could change, depending on the spread of coronavirus in the community.

    The emergency welfare payment for workers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis will increase to €350 per week.

    And in a significant new move the Government will also pay 70% of employee wages up to €410 per week for businesses who are willing to meet the remainder of their staff’s weekly payment.

    The Taoiseach said this situation could go on for weeks, or even months, but said better times are yet to come.

    In the meantime, he said it's vital that everyone continues to take the necessary precautions in terms of hygiene and social distancing......

  • The Taoiseach says a plan for exiting Covid-19 restrictions will be published before May 5th.

    The current measures to slow the spread of the disease will be in place until then, but the plan will outline a timeline of how society and the economy can get back to normality.

    Leo Varadkar says however, it is too early to say which restrictions will be lifted next month, if any.

    Speaking on RTE's PrimeTime, he says people will know the exit strategy before May 5th:

  • The removal of the offence of Blasphemy from the constitution is another step in making it fit for a 21st century republic.

    That's the view of Taoiseach who has welcomed the result of the referendum on the issue.

    65 per cent of voters backed the moved with 35 per cent against.

    Leo Varadkar says the removal of the reference to Blasphemy is part of an ongoing process.

    In Mayo the result from the Blasphemy referendum was:

    Electorate 91,412
    Total Poll 41,965
    Turnout 45.9%
    Spoiled 1,030
    Valid Poll 40,935

    YES 23305=56.9%

    NO 17630=43.1%


    The failure of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to make any public condemnation of the Sri Lankan Easter Sunday massacres of Christians is incomprehensible, according to Renua candidate in Castlebar Michael Farrington.

    More than 300 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded in the attacks, making it the biggest terrorist incident since 9/11, and it took place on the holiest day of Christendom, he says. Yet when an atrocity was committed on Muslims in New Zealand some weeks ago, the Taoiseach, rightly, came out and condemned that.

    Mr Farrington has been telling Midwest News today why he is calling on Leo Varadkar to react to what has happened in Sri Lanka.