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Leicester’s Aer Rianta International link

ON Monday night, Leicester City finally won an unlikely Premier League title and there is a slight Clare link to the story. The club’s chief executive, Susan Whelan, once worked for Shannon-based Aer Rianta International (ARI), going on to work in its stores in Russia and Thailand, before becoming involved with the new Premier League champions. Former director of Shannon Airport, Liam Skelly was also first director general of ARI and the Scariff resident remembers the Dublin woman’s time with the company. “ARI was operated in Shannon so she came there and then went to Moscow and worked there. Eventually, we got a contract to operate Duty Free in Thailand and she went out there. She was a buyer for perfumes and that,” he explained. After ARI finished business in Thailand, Ms Whelan left the company. “Our contract ended and Susan decided to stay on. The King Powers are from Thailand. King Powers got the contract in the airport in …

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Trump would get Doonbeg nod

THE biggest employer in Doonbeg is set to become the Republican Party candidate to contest the US presidential election. On Tuesday, Donald Trump was all but confirmed as the Republican presidential nominee after his win in the Indiana primary, which led directly to main rival Ted Cruz dropping out of the race. Although Doonbeg is a small village in West Clare and will have no direct say in whether Trump or the likely Democratic Party nominee Hilary Clinton becomes the 45th President of the United Status, if a snap primary was held in the Long Village, voters would probably vote local, despite the odd reservation or two. Trump has threatened to build a really long wall between Mexico and the US border to help put people from Mexico off the idea of entering the Land of the Free. He is also insisting that the Mexican state pay for the wall at a cost of between $5 and $10 billion. The …

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UL honours exceptional people

THE University of Limerick has conferred honorary doctorates on six exceptional people from the worlds of humanitarianism, business, the arts and the public sector. Josephine Feehily, chairperson of the Police Authority, first female chairperson of the Revenue Commissioners, chair of the World Customs Organisation and chair of the OECD Forum for Tax Administration was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Economic Science. Michael Flatley, dancer, choreographer, and musician, internationally known for Irish dance shows Riverdance, Warlords, Lord of the Dance, Feet of Flames, and Celtic Tiger was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. Ali Hewson, activist and humanitarian and recipient of the Princess Grace Humanitarian Award, was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. Peter Malone, former chairman of the National Roads Authority, Aviva, CBRE Gunne Property Group and the Business Tourism Forum and former Chancellor of the University of Limerick was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Economic Science. Adi Roche, founder of the Chernobyl …

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Plane sailing up the coast

It was reminiscent of  the flying boats era on the Shannon Estuary early on Thursday morning when a giant plane was loaded on a barge for transport by sea to Enniscrone in County Sligo. The TransAero Boeing 767-200 was bought by business man David McGowan to be installed in his glamping site near the popular resort. It was a major logistical exercise, involving up to 60 people, to get the plane from Shannon Airport compound to the waters’ edge on Wednesday and onto the barge, as tides were a factor.

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Who defines who’s famous

WHAT criteria should be used to determine if a person is famous enough to be immortalised in County Clare? That’s the question for Clare County Council, with plans revealed this week for the regulation of memorials amid fears of a “proliferation of plaques”. A draft Memorial Policy for Clare County Council is currently being prepared by the local authority. Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council James Breen had his say on the plans at this week’s meeting of Ennis Municipal District. “Memorials should be erected only to people with unique achievements, or there will be memorials in every corner of the county,” he stated. According to the draft document in relation to civic memorials, “A memorial is a lasting tribute to a person, persons or event. Therefore the council needs to be confident that the subject of the memorial is of sufficient importance that the reason behind the decision to approve a civic memorial will stand the test of time. It …

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Guantanamo Granny writes her Scéal

DUBBED Ireland’s Guantanamo Granny, peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy was in Scéal Eile in Ennis this week launching her book of the same name. The book chronicles Margaretta’s early life through to her battle against Shannon Airport being used to facilitate war, which ultimately led to her being sent to prison. The first-hand account of D’Arcy’s struggle to open a debate on Shannon Airport is told in a witty way. It follows her journey from her roots in the peace movement to discovering Ireland’s “dirty little secrets” through to direct action, courtroom drama and imprisonment. Speaking to The Clare Champion, she said she could thank the media for giving her the book title. “My story was taken up by the press who christened me Guantanamo Granny. The one thing one loves is having a brand name. I love it,” she said. One of the things she explores is her time in prison. “Limerick jail is absolutely dreadful, it’s kind of like …

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Ennis Taxi Watch saving lives

ENNIS taxi drivers have helped save four people at risk of suicide, since getting involved in a pioneering suicide awareness initiative late last year. As highlighted in The Clare Champion, drivers with AAA Taxis signed up to the Taxi Watch initiative last year, receiving training in how to identify and talk to people at risk. According to Trevor White of AAA this week, the training has saved the lives of four people in the county capital. “At the time we first started looking into getting involved with the Taxi Watch initiative, we thought that if it just saved one life, it would be worth it. But four of our drivers have helped people in four separate incidences,” he revealed. “Thankfully, in each case, the individual spoke to and felt comfortable enough to confide in the taxi driver that they were travelling with, after the driver had asked the correct questions when they felt something wasn’t quite right. Further help and …

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Embracing support after farm tragedy

Diane Banville should be celebrating her third wedding anniversary on Tuesday with her husband, Kevin. But just 11 months after their big day, Kevin was killed in a farm accident. Formerly Kelly, Diane lives with her two young sons in Wexford but is well known in her home county, having played football for Miltown Malbay and Clare. Diane met Kevin Banville in a pub in Wexford on the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2007 when she was visiting a friend who lived there. By October, she had foregone the offer of a job in Barbados and moved to the sunny south-east. On April 19, 2013 she married the love of her life. St Patrick’s Day of 2014 started off like any other and the pair and their two young sons, two-year-old Ryan and five-week-old Cillian, were going to go to the local parade. “I remember walking up the lane about a week or two beforehand and just going, ‘I really …

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From the Burren to Belarus, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Burren Chernobyl Project is holding a fundraising walk in Ennistymon next Sunday (April 24, 2016). Nicola Corless spoke to Brother Liam O’Meara, director of the project, about the organisation’s work and his full-time involvement with it for the past 15 years.   Brother Liam is a Limerick man, reared on the border with Tipperary close to Galbally. He studied primary teaching at Mary Immaculate College and taught for four years in Limerick before becoming a Christian Brother in 1981 and working in schools in Cork. He moved to Ennistymon in 1986, the same year as the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Liam taught happily in the three-teacher CBS primary school in the North Clare town until 1999, when he dedicated himself fully to working with the Burren Chernobyl Project. The organisation was founded in 1993, with projects kicking off the following year. It was then …

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Chasing tourism opportunities in Dublin

Clare tourism businesses were in Dublin this week to attend the high-profile Meitheal, Fáilte Ireland’s largest trade fair. Organised by Fáilte Ireland, in conjunction with its sister agency Tourism Ireland this year’s event brought over 310 overseas buyers into the country to meet with 455 Irish tourism businesses. Last year’s Meitheal event resulted in over 2,650 new business contracts being signed, including almost 900 contracts with international operators who had never programmed Ireland before. At this year’s event, there were up to 40 tour operators in attendance who have not previously had Ireland on their books – predominantly from China, India, the Gulf States and South Africa. Speaking at Meitheal, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO, Shaun Quinn, said, “By bringing both overseas and Irish operators together eyeball to eyeball, we managed to generate deals and contracts which will ensure significant additional tourism activity next year – including in County Clare”. “Whether at the trade fair, or through our tailored trips around the country, for the overseas attendees, Ireland certainly impressed our overseas guests and …

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