Over recent years, there has been concern that Athlone's traditional westside heartland has been allowed to fall behind.
During, the Celtic Tiger years there was no real focus on the west side of Athlone.
Even during the boom years, there were numerous vacant shop buildings in Connaught Street and other such areas, whilst
And the situation was exacerbated by closures. Firstly, the Pearse Street Bank of Ireland closed its doors and then there were plans to relocate the Garda Station from the area, although that now appears to be a non-runner.
Even in little subtle ways there were minor downgradings.
Normally, the St Patrick's Day parade has its main reviewing platform on St Peter's Square. This year, it was quietly relocated to Church Street. Now, it has emerged that the two main cash machines in the area (at the now closed Palace Bar and at Mulligan's on the Roscommon Road) are likely to be taken out of service. This would represent another significant blow to that part of Athlone.
However, Athlone Town Council in recent times has shown a renewed focus on the westside. Many positive developments in this part of Athlone have been based on local authority investment.
Although, the old town library at Fr Mathew Hall was closed and relocated to the new Civic Centre, the building is now being converted into an art gallery, at a cost of Ä3m,
There are also ongoing regeneration works planned for the area, with the revamping of the area at the rear of the Castle and fronting onto Main Street, the most notable example.
A new car park is planned at O'Connell Street and there is the long drawn-out plan to refurbish Athlone Castle.
It would be regrettable if this show of commitment to the westside was to be undermined by the lack of access to cash for the general public.
The Left Bank area is one of Athlone's key night time entertainment spots and a lack of an ATM there could seriously impact on the area's potential.
The retailers, local authority and banks must come together to resolve the issue.
Accident & Emergency uncertainty is not acceptable
There appears to have been little pre-planning on the part of the HSE and the Department of Health to ensure that the possible shortage of junior doctors in mid-July, which coincides with a rotation in training stints, does not come to pass.
Instead, we have dire forebodings about the likely reduction in Accident and Emergency opening hours in numerous hospitals up and down the country.
Even the possibility that some of our major acute hospitals may not be able to provide casualty services round the clock is a damning indictment on our health system - and an embarrassment to any so-called first world country.
The HSE both in the west and the midlands says it has been developing contingency plans in recent weeks - but surely this is too little, too late.
The HSE said it was engaging with all three hospitals with a view to developing a contingency plan for the three "in the likely event" of a shortage of junior doctors.
Recruitment, the HSE said, was ongoing, and it was too early to say which hospitals and what parts of the country may be affected by shortages.
Again, this uncertainty is deeply unsatisfactory.
Is it good enough that we can't say for sure which hospitals will have Accident and Emergency services after 8pm at night in three weeks' time?
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|Date:||Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12:41:28 PM|