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.
For example, even though some fruit juices are healthier than a can of Coke they can have a similar number of calories,” she says.
GARDAI (police) were forced to use tasers to subdue a troubled young man cutting himself with a knife in a Bray playground.
The youth, who is from Enniskerry, had entered the off-license at Centra on the Boghall Road and stolen a box of Budweiser. When a manager confronted him outside the store he produced a knife and forced him back inside.
A hostage situation ensued for a short time until the staff member managed to press the panic button and Gardai quickly arrived on the scene.
The young man, who had recently been discharged from Newcastle Hospital, made off towards the playground at Schools Road where an hour-long stand-off began.
Detective Inspector Frank Keeneghan explained that negotiators were called in to try to diffuse the situation. However, it became apparent that he was intent on hurting himself and threatening to harm others.
“The decision was made to bring in the regional support unit to employ the use of a taser,” said Keeneghan, adding that only those personnel would be trained in and authorized to use such equipment. He agreed that it would be rare for them to be used in this area.
The young man was arrested and brought in to custody and charged with robbery. The matter will be before the courts in due course. Meanwhile, Gardai are ensuring that the youth is under medical supervision and getting the help he needs.
Down But Stabilizing
A THREE bedroom house in Co. Louth now costs in the region of €180,000, down just over two percent for the last quarter of the year.
The latest Myhome.ie property barometer for 2011 reveals that while house prices continue to drop, the rate of decrease has slowed.
The median is the middle price which can be thought of as the price of the house which is more expensive than exactly half of the other houses. The Myhome.ie survey uses this calculation because it is believed to be a more accurate way of pinpointing a typical house price.
The median price for a four bedroom house in Louth is €220,000, down just under one percent for the fourth quarter and down almost 17 percent on this time last year.
In Meath, the median price is slightly higher at €235,000, down 7.8 percent on the previous year and just over one percent on the previous quarter.
Titanic Jobs Popular
MORE than 4,000 people are vying to land a job in the world's largest Titanic visitor attraction.
The huge response to the recruitment drive to hire 70 front of house staff for the soon-to-open center in Belfast has amazed its operators.
Saturday witnessed a novel selection event in the city to whittle down the contenders, when would-be employees were asked to show their “T factor” during an audition day.
The applicants, some of whom flew in to Belfast specially, were invited to give a three-minute performance on one part of the Titanic story.
The owners hoped the exercise would demonstrate who had the passion and communication skills to become a guide in the new center, which is located in the east Belfast shipyard where the Titanic was built.
One of those attending the event at the Grafton recruitment agency in Belfast turned up in period dress.
Candidates were asked to interpret one of five scripts related to Titanic facts, ranging from the number of pianos onboard to the absence of laundry services for the 73,000 linen cloths, bed sheets and napkins which were carried on the maiden voyage. Successful participants will be asked back for a formal interview.
The £90 million Titanic Belfast signature project will open later this spring ahead of the 100th anniversary of the doomed liner's sinking. One audition day had been scheduled, but such was the phenomenal interest in the advert an extra day will now be put on next Saturday.
Tim Husbands, chief executive of Titanic Belfast, said, "It's difficult to gauge soft skills from a CV, but we need people who are polite, friendly, engaging and well informed. We want visitors to leave Titanic Belfast and return home with tales about how friendly Northern Ireland is."
In addition to the 70 public facing roles, Titanic Belfast is recruiting a further 180 staff ranging from security and catering positions to finance, maintenance and retail staff. Full details of all posts are available at www.graftonrecruitment.com.
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