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Ombudsmen to deal with Direct Provision issue

From Monday next, the Ombudsman’s Office will be accepting complaints from people living in Direct Provision, while complaints from children or on behalf of children, can be made to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office. This is a change that has been long called for by both Offices and which will provide equal access to complaints procedures for people in Direct Provision. Until now residents in direct provision centres could complain to the Reception and Integration Agency, a body of the Department of Justice and Equality. Now residents who have raised an issue with the manager of the accommodation centre, and the Reception and Integration Agency, and who are not satisfied with the outcome, will be able to make a complaint to the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children. Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said, “The direct provision system has rightly been criticised both nationally and internationally. While the government will shortly implement a more streamlined system for asylum applications those still living …

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Garda chief ‘hurting’ over breath tests

CLARE Garda Chief Superintendent John Kerin has said if it emerges that gardaí in this county contributed to the false reporting of one million fake alcohol breath tests, “maximum sanctions” will be applied. Politicians have called for the resignation of Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan in recent days following the latest garda scandal involving the recording, nationally, of one million breath tests that never took place. On Wednesday, Chief Superintendent Kerin told The Clare Champion that he did not yet have figures for Clare but accepted that fake breath tests are very likely to have taken place in the county. “We’re hoping to be given a breakdown about where this happened across the country and in what areas. I really don’t know the extent of it in Clare but if it’s a countrywide thing, there is no doubt it would have gone on in Clare. “If it has happened in Clare, I will be seriously hurt and disappointed. If I can …

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Clare bids to attract more French visitors

The Embassy of Ireland in Paris was the venue for a recent B2B tourism event, Irlande à Paris. Organised by Tourism Ireland, the networking event involved some 70 leading French group travel operators meeting, and doing business with, 18 Irish tourism companies, including Shannon Heritage. Monica MacLaverty, Tourism Ireland’s manager of Southern Europe, said, “We are delighted that so many key decision-makers from the group travel sector in France took the time to meet with our tourism partners from Ireland, to hear about our fantastic tourism offering and the many opportunities for group travel to County Clare and the West of Ireland.” France is one of the top four markets for tourism to the island of Ireland and 2016 was the fourth record-breaking year in a row for French visitors to Ireland. Last year was the best year ever for tourism from France to the island of Ireland, when with more than 500,000 French visitors.

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Voting for 16-year-olds delayed

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has expressed disappointment that a Bill to extend the vote to young people aged 16 and 17 was stymied on Wednesday after the Seanad voted 29-21 in favour of an amendment to delay consideration of the Bill until December 2017. The National Youth Council represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide. James Doorley, NYCI deputy director said, “Democracy delayed is democracy denied and with this amendment the Government has kicked the can down the road on this issue yet again. The timing is particularly frustrating, as losing nine months will make it very difficult for any change in legislation to be in effect in time for the 2019 Local and European Elections.” The Electoral (Amendment) Voting at 16 Bill 2016, sponsored by Senators Warfield, Ruane and Mac Lochlainn, would have seen voting rights extended to young people aged 16 and 17 in local and European Elections. According to Mr Doorley this …

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Ibec concern for agri-food sector

Speaking after the UK triggered Article 50, Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec group representing the food and drink sector, today (Wednesday) called for agri-food to be a top priority for the Irish Government in the forthcoming negotiations. Paul Kelly, director of Food Drink Ireland, said, “The agri-food sector exports €4.1bn of food and drink to the UK and accounts for 43,000 Irish jobs, Agri-food is the Irish sector most exposed to trade disruption, and the Irish Government must do all within its control to ensure minimum impact to the free flow of goods. Discussions on the future EU-UK relationship must be commenced early in the negotiating process and must ensure: Free and unfettered access to the UK market for Irish business. An agreement that takes account of the special case of the all-island economy, ensuring that the highly integrated supply chains can continue to operate with free movement of goods and services, Transitional arrangements, of sufficient length, for businesses …

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Dáil protest on disabilities issues

On this Thursday, Senator John Dolan and members of the disability community will hold a protest outside Leinster House to highlight the Government’s failure to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – 10 years after a previous government signed the convention on March 30, 2007. In spite of many commitments from successive governments this groundbreaking convention has not been ratified and Ireland is the only EU country not to have done so. Speaking today (Tuesday), Senator Dolan said, “It is very important that people with disabilities are afforded every opportunity to attend this protest on Thursday. I have contacted management and unions at Irish Rail and Bus Éireann urging them to find a way of ensuring that the current dispute does not deny people with disabilities access to public transport on Thursday. For many people with disabilities public transport is their only means of transport and large numbers will want to attend this …

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Tragedy on our roads

CRUSHEEN teenager Delia Keary has become the fourth Clare person to die as a result of road traffic accidents in recent days. The 18 year old had been a passenger in a car which collided with a truck at Wards Cross near Abbeyfeale on Friday evening. 19 year old Gary Kelly from Ennis died at the scene while Delia was taken to University Hospital, Limerick for treatment. However Gardai have confirmed that she passed away on Saturday night. Newcastle West Gardai are investigating the incident and they have appealed to witnesses to contact them on 069 20650, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station. Also the funeral takes place on Monday of Clare native Paul Hannon, who lost his life after he was involved in a collision with a car while cycling in Dublin on Friday morning. While last Thursday, three year old Estlin Wall was laid to rest after she had died following a …

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‘Severe’ lack of supply in housing

The price of the average three-bed semi in Co Clare has risen 3.1% to €165,500 in the last three months, according to a national survey carried out by Real Estate Alliance. The REA Average House Price Survey concentrates on the actual sale price of Ireland’s typical stock home, the three-bed semi, giving an up-to-date picture of the property market in towns and cities countrywide for the first three months of the year. “The lack of supply is severe,” said Liam Browne from REA Paddy Browne in Ennis. “There is high demand from owner-occupiers and investors in the town centre, which will hopefully lead to new developments both in the short and long term.” Property prices in the county have risen by 13.8% in the past year, the survey has found.The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €209,944, the Q1 REA Average House Price Survey has found – a rise of 3.5% on the Q4 2016 figure of €202,926. Overall, the …

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