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On the move for ninth time in seven months

A MOTHER of four, three of whom are aged 13 or younger, has told The Clare Champion that the family has lived at eight different addresses around Clare since moving out of long-term rented accommodation in Connolly last September. In recent weeks, Deirdre McGrath and her children have lived in Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)-funded rented accommodation in Kilfenora but must move out this week. Up to securing that accommodation, the mother and her three younger children lived in friends’ houses across the county. “We took on a lease in Kilfenora but within a month, we got a notice of termination. The landlord’s circumstances have changed and he wishes to move back in,” Deirdre McGrath explained. She said it is very difficult to find accommodation where the landlord will accept HAP. “The consequences of HAP is landlords have to invest money into the dwelling to bring it up to standard. The guidelines can be quite tight,” she said. HAP is a …

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Community groups ready to bloom again

Tidy Towns groups, development associations, community groups and residents associations accross the county have been invited to compete in the Clare in Bloom Competition 2017. The annual competition is a motivational mechanism for local groups to enhance the visual impact of their settlements by means of flower, tree and shrub planting. Cash prizes for the purpose of furthering projects in the local community will be awarded to category winners at Clare County Council’s awards ceremony in October. Sponsorship is this year being provided by ESB Moneypoint and Roche Ireland, with matching funding from the council. The award criteria for the competition include visual impact, range of planting, litter control and waste management, community involvement, energy initiatives and overall impression. The competition is based on three population categories. Category 1 caters for towns and villages with a population in excess of 700, Category 2 is for population centres of between 300 and 700 people and Category 3 features villages with a …

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Cruinniú na Cásca launched

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys has joined with Pat Dowling, CEO, of Clare County Council to encourage everyone in Clare to take part in the first Cruinniú na Cásca, a new national day of culture and creativity. It will take place on Easter Monday as part of the Creative Ireland programme. Cruinniú na Cásca is a day-long national celebration of culture and creativity, which will take place in Dublin city centre and around the country. From live music and dance, to coding, theatre, art and music workshops, talks and tastings, readings and screenings, for the first time this year, special Cruinniú na Cásca events will take place in each of the 31 local authorities across the country. Admission is free (although tickets are required for some events with limited capacity) and there is a special focus on events for families and children.

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SUSI applications now open

SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), has announced that its online application system, for new and renewal student grants, for the 2017/18 academic year is now open. SUSI is entering its sixth year of operations. Last year the national awarding body processed more than 105,000 applications with 83,000 students (new and renewal) receiving funding for the 2016/17 academic year. Graham Doyle, head of communications and customer service with SUSI,said,” would encourage students to visit our website, www.susi.ie, and review the eligibility criteria for student grant funding prior to making their applications. We have an online grant eligibility reckoner that enables students to answer a short set of questions following which they will be given an indication as to their eligibility for student grant funding. We also have a number of self-help tools available on our website, including videos and detailed guidance notes for making an application. Following the advanced processing of grant applications achieved by SUSI last year, we had awarded …

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Online passports to save time

THE new online passport service launched this week should help in further reducing turn-around times and potential delays, according to Minister of State Sean Canney. Irish Citizens who are over 18, and have held an Irish passport can now apply for their passport book and/or passportcard online through https://www.dfa.ie/passportonline/, the Gaway TD expained. “Renewing your Irish passport will now become a lot easier,” said Minister Canney. “Demand for Irish passports is increasing all the time and last year, some 733,000 passports were issued with a further 7% increase expected in 2017.” “A growing population and increased travelling by Irish citizens means that demand remains high. Additional staff have been recruited to deal with the increased demand, with the Passport Office employing over 230 temporary clerical offices during peak season,” said Minister Canney. Minister Canney has also contacted Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan in relation to the location of a dedicated passport office in Tuam to serve the Western region. He …

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Decision soon on Killaloe school revamp

A decision is expected to be made soon that would speed up the much needed redevelopment of St Anne’s Community College in Killaloe, according to Clare TD Timmy Dooley. Deputy Dooley made the comments after receiving a parliamentary reply from the Minister for Education which outlined the current state of play with regard to the construction project at the school. “I am led to believe that the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, which has been tasked with delivering this project, have now completed their report, and it has been sent to the Department of Education for a final decision. At present, this report is being reviewed by officials in the Minister’s office and in the forward planning unit of the Department. “The next step is the awarding of the tender to the successful bidder, and then construction can commence. “This will be the fourth extension of the college since its establishment in 1987, and one that is urgently …

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Students want second level hurling

THE newly-appointed principal of St John Bosco Community College in Kildysart has revealed that students and parents have cited the provision of a hurling team at second level as a critical factor when deciding what school to attend. There are currently 210 students attending the Shannonside school. Denis O’Rourke, formerly an assistant principal at Ennis Community College, made his comments during an interview with The Clare Champion. “I went through our first year intake for next year. I rang the parents that have not come back with fees, which more or less means they are not coming. Out of the eight that I rang, seven of them mentioned sport as a factor. It’s all down to the Harty Cup. “Academically, you need your education but I do believe that sport should be a strong part of school,” Mr O’Rourke said. He also found that sixth class pupils in the Kildysart Community College catchment area had similar concerns. “One thing we …

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Local News Matters Now More Than Ever

INVESTMENT in quality journalism is essential to combat the rise of so-called fake news, a conference in Limerick has been told. The use of click-bait and fake news to drive traffic to online news and social media sites, allied to a lack of media literacy amongst many members of the public, were some of the factors cited as influencing the rise of this phenomenon at the event in King John’s Castle. Organised by the Irish South-West Branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII), the conference entitled Local News Matters featured a panel of speakers offering different perspectives on the theme of ‘The Truth in the News? The role of quality journalism in an era of fake news’. The panelists were Emma O’Kelly, RTE’s Education Correspondent, Cian Connaughton, President of the PRII and Fiona McGarry, Producer of Clare FM’s flagship current affairs programme, Morning Focus. The debate was chaired by Nandi O’Sullivan, …

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