AN estimated 1,500 signatures have been collected in recent days on a petition in support of jobs growth in Ballina following the local authority’s decision to refuse planning permission for a proposed McDonald’s drive-thru in the town.
The planning refusal sparked major debate in Ballina, where many felt angered at the council’s refusal of a project that proposed to create up to 140 jobs through construction and operation.
At least two new Facebook pages have been established as a result. The McDonalds 4 Ballina page has attracted 385 likes and generated huge debate from those pro and against the establishment of the proposed drive-thru restaurant on the site of the former Deanwood Hotel at Bury Street.
Since then, a formal Jobs for Ballina community campaign has been initiated in support of all new businesses in the town. It also has a Facebook page (with 175 likes) and has been undertaking the petition in support of job creation both online and on the streets of Ballina in recent days.
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Many of those posting on the new Facebook pages have directed their anger at elected members and the planners of Ballina Town Council.
Ballina-based Facebook users are not the only ones angered at the decision to refuse planning for the major project.
Matt Farrell, chairman of Ballina Trades Council, said his organization is contemplating organizing a public protest.
A statement issued by the Trades Council said,
"At a time when Ballina has over 3,300 people unemployed, it is of worry that a development that would provide employment to approximately 70 people during the building phase and a further 70 people when the business opens has been rejected.
"We accept that there are some legitimate concerns that need to be addressed, but we fear not enough emphasis has been placed on the potential positive impact this development could have for our town,” said the statement.
No comment was available from Ballina Town Council on the matter as the McDonald’s project remains in the planning process until such time as the deadline for appeals of the decision passes on January 19.
A STAGGERING 60% of Irish people are now overweight or obese and are gaining an average of one to four pounds per year, which never naturally comes off.
According to leading weight loss and nutrition expert Dr. Eva Orsmond, parents must change their habits in order to educate their children about healthy lifestyle and diet.
Orsmond has carved out a high profile media profile over the past decade, helping the Irish population to learn exactly how to make a positive change, one which must begin in early childhood.
“We cannot change childhood obesity without the adults changing first. In 50% of all cases at least one parent is also overweight, so it is a very rare combination to have two parents that are not overweight and a child that is.
“Often parents are in denial about their child's weight and believe that it is puppy fat that will disappear on its own. Seventy percent of obese teenagers will stay obese as adults if they do not change their habits,” explains Orsmond.
According to the Kilquade, Co. Wicklow, resident, home cooking is a great way to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
“A rough estimate is that a meal you make at home contains half the calories of one you would eat in a restaurant. Of course we want to make food tasty but we need to think of how much oils and the ingredients we are using,” she says.
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Knowing what to feed children can be a stumbling block for parents, especially if they are fussy eaters, but Orsmond says that introducing new tastes gradually can help.
“Most schools stick to a healthy eating policy, but parents perhaps worry that unless they put the treat in the lunchbox their child won't eat and I understand that.
“We don't have the public health structure to offer the information that parents need from the beginning.