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‘He has far surpassed how bad I thought he could be’

WHEN Donald Trump comes to West Clare, one house he shouldn’t call to is Janet Burke’s, even though she is a fellow American abroad. Trump might not be a popular president anyway, but when Janet talks about him it is very clear her dislike of The Donald is very acute. Even when he was just a celebrity billionaire she didn’t care for him, and her attitude only hardened as the Trump presidential campaign proceeded, and Janet says his two years in office have been much worse than she feared. “Living through that election process, the things he was saying and the way he was behaving, at first it seemed like a joke. From the beginning it was terrifying to think that this man might get that job. He was so erratic, he was so divisive and hateful. “I was worried when he got it, but he has far surpassed how bad I thought he could be. I didn’t think he …

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Google: “We’re working to stop misinformation”

FIONNUALA Meehan, head of Google in Ireland, has defended the company’s record on privacy, its use of people’s information and the company’s impact on politics. Ms Meehan attended a business event in Limerick on Tuesday on the same day that US president Donald Trump tweeted that “Google & others are suppressing voices and Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.” Most people take Trump’s social media utterances with a pinch of salt, but there is no doubt that Google, and a handful of other technology companies, have a previously unseen level of global influence, which is potentially very malevolent if not used responsibly. Ms Meehan claimed the company are taking its obligations in this area very seriously. “We are a platform and the platform can be used in different ways. We have a whole team who look at developing and enforcing policies around how bad actors could potentially use that platform in a way that spreads misinformation. “On …

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Rape Crisis Centre helping recovery from long lasting trauma

A TEENAGER in the 1960s, Seán (not his real name) became the target of a sexual predator but kept the ensuing trauma entirely to himself for well over 30 years. Although he kept it hidden, the pain still bubbled up throughout his life, leading to depression and what he calls “unhealthy relationships in the past” with drink, gambling and drugs. Only recently has he found support through the Rape Crisis Centre in Ennis, which he feels can finally help to free him from the effects of his experience. Coming to The Clare Champion offices last Friday to talk about his devastating teenage experience was very hard for him but he did it to show other people that there is help available to deal with their pain. “I’m sweating now just talking to you about it, even though I’m glad to talk about it. I know, on one level, that I haven’t done anything wrong and I haven’t anything to be …

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No easy ticket to rehab

THERE is no “quick fix” when it comes to treating someone entrenched in addiction, and it requires not only the will and desire to get clean, but a host of supports also need to be in place, according to the Probation Service. Getting into treatment does not necessarily resolve the problem. According to Leah McGuire, assistant principal Probation Officer in the county, many pieces of the puzzle need to come together for it to be a success. “It’s not a quick fix. Addiction builds up over time and people see abstinence as the only answer and the only way they’ll see improvement. Whereas if you are taking someone off heroin, down to nothing, that takes time. I think the criminal justice system has got to see it like that as well. “A case might be adjourned for three months and [the offender] has got to get into treatment and get clean. They do it, and they might avoid prison. Then …

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Comment: In the age of the sugar tax, we are abandoning kids to drug dealers

IF you were an outsider with a reasonable sense of perspective and you heard about the introduction of the sugar tax, you’d think Ireland cared about its young people far more than it actually does. On May 1, cans of fizzy drinks went up by 10 cents and two-litre bottles by 60 cents, with the thinking being that this new charge –debated in the press and at political level for months – was a wonderful move to combat obesity. Yes, this caring, health-conscious society was taking concrete action to make sure its young people were going to grow up as close to the peak of health and fitness as possible. But on May 1, as the new charge came into operation and our policymakers lauded themselves, teenagers all over Clare (and undoubtedly everywhere else), were out buying cannabis, cocaine, benzos and heroin. The ability to ignore this inconvenient truth is absolutely staggering, with no coherent strategy to tackle the parasites …

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Musician Heidi relishing the trip east

Eoghan Moloney HEIDI Talbot has toured the world with ultra-popular musicians, including all-female group Cherish The Ladies – renowned worldwide for their Celtic sound – and she is very excited to perform at Feakle’s 31st International Festival of Traditional Irish Music next week. Heidi will perform alongside her husband, John McCusker, an award-winning multi-instrumentalist; much-acclaimed musician Breanndán Ó Beaglaíoch and renowned guitarist Paul Meehan. Heidi said, “We’re really looking forward to our visit to Feakle. We’re coming to the end of a 50-date run of gigs. Myself and John started in May, touring all around Ireland in a tour organised by Network Ireland, with Breanndán and Paul, and then continuing as a duo all over the UK and finishing in gorgeous Feakle. We saved the best for last.” Even though they have been touring since May, Heidi says that the group are still a bundle of energy, “ I feel very lucky that I get to play music for my …

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Shannon Councillor slams An Bord Pleanála after Aldi refusal

COUNCILLOR Gerry Flynn has criticised An Bord Pleanála after it rejected the advice of its own inspector, to turn down Aldi’s application for a store in Shannon. He said it is not the first time the body has done something like this regarding a Shannon proposal. “That has happened before, if you remember, it was the same with the crematorium. I don’t know why they have inspectors at all, the powers that be seem to see them as surplus to requirements at time. If an inspector comes out that has the knowledge and expertise to make a decision on a proposal, would you not think that this is the expert you have to listen to? “The board can say that even though you went out and did your job and gave us your recommendation, we have the power to overturn it and we can decide yay or nay. It’s a regular occurrence that an inspector’s report can be overturned or …

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No Aldi for Shannon-An Bord Pleanála rejects its own inspector’s view

WHILE a Bord Pleanála inspector actually recommended that Clare County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for an Aldi store in Shannon be overturned, his own board have rejected his conclusion and have denied planning. It seems to be the end of the road for the proposal for the Aldi store, something that many local people would consider to be a step in the right direction for the town and a step towards developing a conventional streetscape. In his report, Inspector Rónán O’Connor wrote, “I do not consider that the provision of the convenience retail store would diminish the range of services within Shannon Town Centre but rather would be complementary to same. This would, in turn, increase the attractiveness of Shannon Town Centre with a potential reduction in vacancy rates in the town.” He found that the development would increase competition within the town, which would also be in keeping with national retail policy. There is not another alternative …

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