Ghost of Galway may be Lord Lucan


The Enniscorthy Echo predicts national and international media will descend on Co Wexford on February 22nd to hear Gerry Adams deliver a wide-ranging speech on the peace process. The Sinn Fein president will choose his appearance at Vinegar Hill for the news-making speech, writes Tom Mooney.

Sinn Fein has decided to commemorate the bicentenary of 1798 with a mass rally of supporters from throughout the country. Mr Adams will also use the opportunity to discuss the peace process with local Sinn Fein members, the Echo said.

The "haunting" of Government buildings in Galway by a supposedly supernatural being in an Aran jumper, who may or may not be Lord Lucan, had them scratching their heads at the Connaught Telegraph. The appearance of the "spirit", who wears a hat with the brim turned down, coincided with major development work on lands once owned by Lord Lucan, which also happen to be adjacent to a fairy fort.

The "sightings" are at Davitt House, which handles millions of pounds annually in headage payments. Mr Sean McDonagh, the porter at Davitt House, said: "Over half-a-dozen people have seen the strange visitor in recent times. But when they followed it into several offices, it just disappeared into thin air. The ghost has also been heard coughing and making other noises in the building." The Telegraph said: "The situation has become so serious that some female staff members are reluctant to walk the corridors alone, particularly after dark."

The Telegraph also said the Western Health Board is investigating the "hijacking" of patients' savings. It has asked for "full particulars of any cases where staff members benefited from the estates of deceased patients."

MR Frank Durcan, Castlebar urban councillor, who has allegedly investigated three such cases, claimed families had been disinherited of cash and property. He called for a full inquiry into the matter, claiming what he had uncovered was just the "tip of the iceberg". The Leitrim Observer said Drumkeeran District Court was delayed for 30 minutes following a break-in in which thieves took the judge's chair. The court sitting was delayed for 30 minutes while a Garda forensics team examined the scene.

The Leitrim Observer's headline stated only 26 IDA jobs have been created in the region in four years. "Compare this with an increase of 8,590 jobs nationwide and we begin to see the dismal situation we are in," stated the Council for the West. It has called for a "radical regional policy" to tackle a jobs crisis.

"IDA under attack over North West's dismal job figures", said the Sligo Champion. It covered the "sustained attack" on the IDA from Sligo Chamber of Commerce, the Council for the West and the Mayor of Sligo, Mr Tony McLoughlin, who wants a new task force to be set up to attract industry to the area. A mere 279 new IDA jobs have been created in North West/Donegal last year, compared to "10,8326" (sic) on the east coast, said the newspaper.

The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr Pat Heelan, said: "The IDA and the Government had committed themselves to giving the regions a larger slice of the employment cake. We want to ensure that they live up to that commitment in 1998."

The days of "whingeing for money" are over, the Minister for Environment, Mr Dempsey, told county officials in Athlone last week, said the Leinster Express. He was announcing his new plan, "A New Deal for Local Government", which will be partially funded by raising road tax by 6 per cent. The Leinster Express cautiously welcomed the plan, while the Tipperary Star said the plan "should go a considerable distance towards revitalising services and procedures that have been stagnating for years for the want of cash".

Rising property prices provoked comment. The Rambling House in Tralee was sold for £700,000, a record price for a pub in Kerry, said the Kerryman. The Mayo News said house prices rose by up to 16 per cent in the county last year and predicted the upward surge will continue in 1998.

First-time buyers are being "priced out" of the market in Mayo's urban centres and smaller towns are starting to reap the benefits.

A typical three-bedroom semidetached house in Westport costs between £65,000 and £85,000; in Castlebar, the same house costs between £50,000 and £65,000, while in Ballina the cost is around £50,000.

For the same money you could buy a four-bedroom detached house in Claremorris, said the newspaper.