• 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.

  •  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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sligo Fianna Fáil deputy Marc Mac Sharry, who has been to the fore in criticizing the establishment and work of  the government’s Strategic Communications Unit says he welcomes its imminent abolition. 

    He had been critical of the unit for some time, claiming it was using tax payers money for government propaganda.

    A review of the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit  has concluded that continuous controversy surrounding it, in addition to a Dáil resolution for its disbandment, warranted its winding down.

    The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Cabinet yesterday that the unit will be wound down by July. All 15 staff will be redeployed to other areas of the Civil Service.

    The review, which was conducted by the State’s top civil servant, exonerates the unit from claims of politicisation.

  • The Galway-based IFA President Joe Healy will officially open the 64th IFA annual general meeting tomorrow at the Irish Farm Centre at Bluebell in Dublin.

    Mr Healy will give the opening address at 12 noon tomorrow.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadker, Agriculture Minster Michael Creed, the Minister for Communications and Climate Action Richard Bruton and representatives from the EPA and Teagasc are among the speakers taking part in the two-day conference.



  • The Taoiseach, and UK Prime Minister discussed Brexit and the ongoing political impasse in the North at a private dinner in Farmleigh in Dublin.

    Leo Varadkar and Theresa May met last night, as Britain looks for an alternative to the current plans for the border in the Withdrawal Agreement.

    The meeting was described as taking place in a 'warm' atmosphere.

    The Taoiseach  though insisted the working dinner was not a formal negotiation. 

  • The Taoiseach says he's disgusted that some details of a report into the cervical cancer controversy have leaked.

    It's reported Dr Gabriel Scally doesn't believe a full commission of inquiry into the scandal is needed.

    A meeting with some of those affected has now been brought forward to this evening as a result of the leaks.

    Vicky Phelan has taken to Twitter to call it a 'whitewash'.

    Leo Varadkar says he's appalled some reporters saw the details before those affected.

  • The Taoiseach has defended his view that doctors and nurses shouldn't be allowed to take leave over Christmas.

    Leo Varadkar says it's the busiest time of the year for the health service and staff should be working 'full whack'.

    It's led to criticism from doctors who say the problem is a lack of staff not that current staff are not working hard enough.

    Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach yesterday where the Winter Plan for the HSE was, and that sparked off the controversy.

  • The Taoiseach says a positive vote in the House of Commons tonight will remove the dark cloud of Brexit from over Ireland.

    British MPs will vote on the withdrawal agreement once again this evening after Theresa May secured legally binding assurances to the backstop.

    It provides confirmation to the UK that the EU cannot try to trap it in the backstop indefinitely.

    The assurances will need to be enough to persuade pro-Brexit Conservatives and the DUP in order to get the deal over the line.

    Leo Varadkar says he hopes and trusts it will be passed by MPs this evening.

  • The Taoiseach says he's committed to delivering on rural broadband early in the New Year.

    The tender for the project is currently still being evaluated by Government Officials.

    However, speaking to journalists in a pre-Christmas briefing, Leo Varadkar says he's expecting developments within the next two months.

  • The Taoiseach says he's not ruling out the possibility of an election in 2019.

    That's despite Fine Gael and Fianna Fail agreeing to extend the confidence and supply arrangement for another budget.

    The leaders of both parties have said an extension was agreed due to the uncertainty posed by Brexit.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says it's one of the biggest challenges facing the confidence and supply agreement.