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June 25th 2003

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Bush digs Himself
Deeper into Trouble

So President Bush is ‘troubled’ at the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, there are many who are ‘troubled’ by old Georgie himself. The picture of the world’s greatest terrorist attempting to broker a peace pact between the warring Mid-East neighbours, is laughable. All respect for this present American administration has disappeared internationally. This was demonstrated when the two antagonists went back to business as usual within a day of meeting Dubya and supposedly agreeing to the much vaunted ‘Roadmap’.
This U.S. regime possesses no creditability. Seven weeks ago the president flew on to an aircraft-carrier to declare the Yankee led coalition had prevailed over Iraq and combat operations were over. Since then, more than 50 American troops have died in hostile fire, the US effort to set up an Iraqi political authority has failed and, according to a former US ambassador, Mr. Peter Galbraith, the post-conflict debacle in Iraq is due to grave miscalculations at the Pentagon.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Taliban is re-asserting itself - and, on the Korean Peninsula, the threat of catastrophe has increased. Indeed, no matter in what direction Mr. Bush looks, most of his major military and diplomatic initiatives are running into serious trouble. The “battle for hearts and minds” is very far from won!
So, to where are all these disasters leading the great American nation - to a landslide defeat for Dubya in next year’s presidential elections, hopefully. Unless the Democrats self-destruct, Georgie’s days are numbered. Let this be so - the world’s biggest super-power needs to get back to what it once was before this terrible regime took over and highjacked integrity and decency. We need its return to traditional values of respect for international law and human rights - we want back the United States we once knew and looked up to.

Claffey Should
Consider Position

The continuing reference by station presenters to North West Radio’s supposed 65% listenership in this region cuts no ice. When J.R. and Co. ran Glencoe Radio, they probably had the same, if not greater, percentage. Donegal Times has a 90% readership in its circulation area and Highland has the highest listenership in the country. It’s the nature of the beast in the north-west to support its own. So Ocean FM, in its first year, will probably equal, if not surpass, the NWR figures.
But one of the most surprising aspects of the loss of its licence to Ocean FM, is the absence of questions regarding Paul Claffey’s management of North West Radio. Surely the C.E.O. of any limited company who presided over the loss of half its customers, would be hauled in front of a rapidly called extraordinary meeting to give an account of his stewardship.
Just what his shareholders have lost is apparent from even a casual perusal of the last set of published company accounts which show retained profits at €900,000, cash in hand of €600,000, and point to profits in the year of €250,000. So it is not just the loss of the licence per se, that should annoy shareholders, but also the fact that a massive financial asset has been snatched away - one that could have been worth €10-€15million on a very active market that has media giants like Scottish Holdings and UTV sniffing around trying to buy up local stations as they become legally available (which seems to be two years after being granted).
And it is not just about the loss of NWR that Mr. Claffey should be questioned, but also his singular lack of success in acquiring the other franchises for which he has bid.
But the managing director himself has other strings to his bow, the success of which depends on his reaching the widest possible radio audience. One of these is his holiday company which is constantly advertising trips to exotic destinations, such as Portugal and the Bahamas, hosted by the great man himself. Another is a production company called SoundTrax, headed by Mr. Claffey that supplies services to his radio stations - both nice little earners.
While the reasons advanced by the BCI as to why NWR has had its licence revoked may be true and valid, this is greeted in some quarters with a degree of scepticism - ‘Phoenix’ magazine hinting at what it calls Claffey’s ‘hard-nosed management style’ as having a part to play.
However, whether it is the personality of the CEO or shortcoming in the policies and day-to-day running of the station, the buck stops with one man - Mr. Claffey. And to thinking observers, it would seem that the action of any managing director who presided over such a disaster should be to hold his hands up, say mea culpa, then take time out to review his position in relation to both his radio companies.

RNLI Aranmore Lifeboat carrying Special Olympics ‘Flame of Hope’ from St. Johns Point to Mullaghmore,
escorted by a flotilla of sub-aqua RIB’s and pleasure craft

“I never told any lies”- Kennedy
Councillor disputes local businessman’s
claims re sewerage flow into bay

The "Overflow" pipe at the pier

In Donegal Times issue of April 23rd, under a sub-head stating ‘Locals Fear Raw Sewerage to be Pumped into Bay” we voiced the concerns of boat owners that current sewage works would come to a halt when the contract for stage one finishes in a few weeks time. We reported that it was being said locally that it could be up to five years before substantial more progress was made, during which time raw sewerage would continue to enter directly into the bay at the far pier.
In the following Thursday’s Democrat, Councillor Peter Kennedy criticised this article as ‘scaremongering’ saying he had been assured by council engineers that there would be no extra sewerage entering the bay, “I do not like these false reports and scaremongering, they just cause hassle and worry people. I think people should be guided by the professionals - they know what they are talking about”.
He also criticized sources, quoted in Donegal Times, that the project could take up to five years to move on to the next stage “These are false reports and I know that as soon as the money is available, work will continue”.

But a further twist to the tale occurred on Thursday 12th June when Donegal Times got a call to go to the pier area. There an agitated Maurice Timony pointed to where two workmenfrom Conway Brothers contractors were covering over a pipe which had been just laid. On being asked to comment, one said “as far as we are concerned, it is an overflow pipe”. However a prominent member of the Town Enterprise Group disputed this, saying that he had measured both the pipes coming in and leaving the manhole and they were both the same circumference - both 800mm.
The large size of this overflow pipe is causing fears locally that it will carry raw sewerage directly into the bay, up until the time that the second part of the project, a pumping station and treatment works, is complete. Later I entered the waterbus office where the cognoscenti gather to discuss world affairs and there I found a very despondent group of boys, one saying that with the smell bad enough now what will it be like when the job is complete.
Said businessman, Maurice Timony “This could ruin tourism here - if there is going to be sewage pumped into the bay, you can imagine the smell, especially if it is a hot summer. I want a response from the council now - not in six months time. They are trying to con people into believing that this is a short term solution. The sewerage that will be pumped out through the pipe will put in jeopardy the chances of the waterbus and tourism generally”.
Mr. Timony added “Cllr Peter Kennedy has repeatedly accused local people of scaremongering. To be quite honest, I think Mr. Kennedy is not telling us the truth. This is not an acceptable way of doing things - they are treating the people with disrespect. This is the new main drainage scheme we here in Donegal Town have waited 30 years for and we now discover, at the 11th hour, that the council are breaking their promise by piping the new network straight into Donegal Bay.”

The day after these statements appeared in The Donegal Democrat, Cllr. Peter Kennedy was on the NWR news at 1 p.m. He said that he had been accused by a Donegal Town businessman of telling lies - a fact he resented very much “I never told any lies - I have told the story exactly as the engineer told me” said Mr. Kennedy. “ There will be no extra sewerage pumped into Donegal Bay until the treatment works are ready”.

However in a follow-up statment to Donegal Times, Mr Timoney added to his initial comments by claiming that the new housing estate, soon to be opened behind the Bosco Centre, is connected directly into the new network. The extra sewerage this alone will generate is in itself of major concern to locals.

So two diametrically opposed views as to what is going to happen when stage one of the contract finishes soon - Councillor Kennedy claiming that the scheme will progress to schedule with no untreated sewerage released, while local residents, businessmen and boat owners express concern that an increased amount of noxious effulent will flow into the bay when the new system is switched on in the near future. We will await to see who is right!

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-73-22860 Fax: +353-73-22937