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Varadkar’s coming out ‘will help young people’

KILRUSH man, Brian Sheehan, director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has told The Clare Champion that Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s decision to come out as gay indicates how open Ireland has become and will encourage young gay people to pursue whatever career they see fit. “If you’re a young man or woman in school for example, you now know that being lesbian or gay isn’t a barrier to the highest political office. That is a really important point, that no job should be denied you because of who you are,” he said. Mr Sheehan feels that growing up in a small town, like Kilrush, these days is easier for a young gay person. “When I grew up in Kilrush, I didn’t know any gay people. The only gay person I knew in Ireland was David Norris and I didn’t seem to be represented in him. If I was the young me now in Kilrush, there is great …

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The Voice debut for Kate

THERE will be East Clare interest in RTÉ’s The Voice of Ireland, as Tulla singer Kate Purcell puts herself before the judges, Bressie, Kian Egan, Una Foden and Rachel Stevens in an upcoming episode. Speaking about her appearance, she said she felt The Voice was the best of the various talent shows that have proved so popular over the last 10 years. “I’d watched it and I thought it was a far more real show than the likes of the X Factor, which is sort of there to ridicule people. Anyone who goes on this show can sing at least.” She is quite experienced and many people around Clare would have heard her sing. “I’ve been a professional singer for the last 25 years or so, recorded four or five albums and I’ve been the resident singer in Dromoland for years as well. Basically, I’m a folk singer and I sing at all kinds of things, from weddings to funerals, …

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John Kelly, PPAI award winner.

John Kelly – a portrait of a photographer

Clare Champion photographer, John Kelly’s long string of successes in the Press Photographers’ Association of Ireland (PPAI) annual award scheme continued  in Dublin on Friday night. John’s remarkable gift as one of the country’s leading press photographers was underlined by the fact that not only did he win first prize in the 2015 Portrait category, but he also claimed third place in the same section.  Furthermore, John also won third prize in the Sports Features. The winning photograph is Body Builder, a striking image of Jason Morris of Toonagh, County Clare. Jason came second in the Irish Natural Bodybuidling Federation 2014 Under-68kg category. John’s other award-winning portrait is titled, The Old Man and the Sea. It shows Paddy Hanrahan from Cappa, Kilrush collecting seaweed as fertilizer for his nearby garden. The third prize in the Sports Feature is a dramatic image of Davy Fitzgerald in the rain after Clare hurlers loss to Tipperary in last year’s Waterford Crystal Cup. In congratulating John on …

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Protecting freedom of speech

AN Iranian author whose family fled from persecution before settling in Ennis seven years ago, will be giving away ‘Je Suis Charlie’ t-shirts near the O’Connell Monument from 12 to 1pm this Saturday. The move is in response to the heinous murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine and their police protectors in Paris on January 7. Friends Hassan Faramarz and Kevin Quinlan, who are passionate in their desire to protect freedom of speech, which they believe is under threat, had hoped to sell the t-shirts cheaply to recover their costs but, without a licence, they have decided to give them away and to hope for donations. The friends will, “make a little bit of noise, hang around and make fools of ourselves”, while waving a larger than life pen inscribed with the words, ‘Ink not Blood’, said Kevin. For both men though, this is a deadly serious matter. “I come from Iran and I have already lost a …

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Stamp marks historic Stormont meeting

The 50th Anniversary of an historic meeting between then Taoiseach, Sean Lemass and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill is marked today (Thursday) with the release, by An Post, of a commemorative stamp. The groundbreaking meeting took place in utmost secrecy in January 1965 and marked the first invitation to an Irish taoiseach to take part in official talks with the Northern Ireland prime minister. The event was a brave venture in North-South relations and began a thaw in relations between the two states. A return visit took place in Dublin in February of that year. The 68c stamp, designed by Red&Grey Design of Dublin, features an image of O’Neil and Lemass outside Government Buildings at Stormont. The stamp can be purchased, along with a special First Day Cover at leading post offices, at the stamp shop in Dublin’s GPO or online at www.irishstamps.ie. Sean Lemass (1899 – 1971) was taoiseach from 1959 until 1966 and one of …

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Felipe Massa visits Shannon

Formula One driver, Felipe Massa will create lots of excitement when he visits Genworth Financial’s International Business Centre in Shannon on this Thursday afternoon. The Williams Martini team star will take time out of his hectic pre-season schedule to visit over 400 staff at Genworth’s Shannon site. Following a tour of the new state-of-the-art workplace, located in Westpark business campus, members of the media along with Genworth staff will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with Felipe Massa before the driver shows off his skills on a FORMULA 1 simulato

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New Intreo Centre in Ennis

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, with special responsibility for Employment, Community and Social Support, Kevin Humphreys, will officially open the department ‘s newly established Intreo Centre at Government Buildings in Ennis on this Thursday. With the amalgamation of employment services, employment programmes, community welfare services and staff from other agencies and the Department of Social Protection, considerable work has been undertaken to develop an integrated service which reflects and addresses the individual needs of the department’s customers, particularly jobseekers. The enhanced service now available in Ennis for the people of County Clare provides employment and income supports in one place and offers a personalised employment advice, guidance and support service that is targeted to the individual needs of the customer.

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Killaloe students raise €11,000 for Missionvale trip

A GROUP of students from St Anne’s Secondary School have raised almost €11,000 for their charity trip to South Africa later this month. Under the stewardship of teacher Brendan O’Brien, four fourth year students are making final preparations for their trip to the Missionvale Township. The group, which includes Mr O’Brien, Emma Collins, Ballina; Ben King, Ballina; Emer Mooney, Ogonnelloe and Michael O’Shea, Bridgetown, leave for Missionvale Township, Port Elizabeth, on Saturday, January 24. They will return on Wednesday, February 4. The total funds raised, to date, after a concert they held and other donations, is €10,866. The group has also begun an appeal for unused or unwanted Christmas wrapping paper and plastic shopping bags. Each year, on December 15, which is Fr Christmas Day, 8,000 children in the Missionvale Township receive Christmas parcels from Fr Christmas, and, as this is a huge undertaking, it has to be planned in advance. As the group will also be involved in this …

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