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Biofuel the route to more jobs

CONVERTING by-products to biofuel, particularly residues from agriculture, forestry and food processing, can deliver a significant jobs boost, but only if the right policies are put in place now, according to An Taisce. James Nix, policy director of An Taisce notes that “the better use of by-products could create up to 300,000 jobs across the EU and supply some 16% of road transport demand – but only if this sector is maximised,” he said in commenting on a new report,  Wasted: Europe’s untapped resource. The report, backed by a range of industries and environment organisations, found that provided the right safeguards are put in place significant volumes of wastes and residues could be converted to biofuels without creating sustainability problems. Key by-products highlighted by the study include residues from timber-processing as well as residues from harvesting certain food crops. The report draws particular attention to the recovery of increased volumes of used cooking oil, something it pinpoints as having the potential …

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New Shannon flights need support

GETTING new routes into Shannon is a welcome development but is but one part of the equation, according to Shannon Chamber’s chief executive. Helen Downes. Ms Downes was addressing a Chamber-hosted business breakfast at Dromoland Castle Hotel this Wednesday,  at which Ryanair’s chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, Michael Cawley, was the keynote speaker. “In operating nine  new routes at Shannon from April, Ryanair is providing a pipeline of seats which need to be filled; it’s now up to the tourism and business sectors, and the general public, to take responsibility for filling those seats, and showing their commitment to Shannon,” Ms Downes said. The breakfast briefing, hosted by Shannon Chamber and sponsored by Shannon Airport and Shannon Heritage was attended by Chamber members and their business associates.  

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Clare ideal for EU entrepreneurial award

CLARE  is ideally placed to succeed in an entry for the European Entrepreneurial Region Award according to MEP Sean Kelly, who has raised the matter in the European Parliament.  High profile tourism attractions such as the Burren and Cliffs of Moher could gain benefit from such an award, he noted. Speaking in the Parliament, the Fine Gael MEP said Clare would be a worthy recipient of the award which is designed to recognise regions that facilitate entrepreneurialism through forward thinking and sustainable governance. “Kerry is the county I come from and it received the European Entrepreneurial Region Award in 2011. Clare is another county, which could benefit hugely from such an award. Clare is home to some of the finest tourist attractions in the world – the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren. And, of course, there is Shannon Airport and the aerospace sector, which have the potential to generate jobs,” he said. Mr Kelly said the new EU COSME programme could …

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Government approves plan for homelessness

THE Government has this Tuesday approved significant measures proposed by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, to implement a housing-led approach to homelessness. The measures approved by Government follow on from the recommendations of the Homelessness Oversight Group which presented its first report to the minister in December. Minister O’Sullivan said, “There was full support among Cabinet colleagues today for the proposals I brought to Cabinet. There has been considerable pressure on homelessness services in recent months and it is vital that we bring a very focused approach to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. “I believe that long-term homelessness can be eliminated by 2016. To achieve that goal it is vital to source a steady supply of suitable permanent accommodation. That is an essential part of a housing-led approach to homelessness. We will now put in place a practical plan to access this accommodation and support people in new tenancies. This will result in the closure of expensive …

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Clare sixth highest personal injuries awards

THE Injuries Board made 10,656 personal injury awards in 2013, an increase of 5.1% compared to 2012.  According to the Board’s Annual Review, published this Tuesday, the total value of these awards was €243.5m, an increase of 11.7% on the €218m awarded in 2012. As the number of accidents remains unchanged, this increase is attributed to a higher proportion of claims being processed through the board’s lower cost, non-adversarial process and also the delivery of a number of exceptionally high value awards by the Board. With 275 awards, Clare accounted for the sixth highest number of personal injury awards on a per head of population basis in 2013. The average award in Clare was €28,747 and total compensation for the county amounted to €7.9m. The Board assesses personal injury claims and makes awards relating to motor, employer and public liability accidents, without the need for litigation.  The review shows that the board’s non-adversarial model has delivered direct savings of over …

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Hotels president wants costs lowered

THE high cost of doing business in Ireland is the single most pressing issue for Irish hotels and guesthouses according to an industry survey carried out by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF). Federation president, Michael Vaughan has called for immediate and radical Government action to tackle public sector costs, including local authority rates, water charges and energy-related levies. He called for a clearly defined national competitiveness strategy for all business costs under the control of the Government. Speaking on the eve of the IHF’s 76th annual conference, he pointed out that the survey, which was carried out earlier this month, cites excessive local authority rates as the most critical issue facing hoteliers in terms cost competitiveness. The IHF stresses that this is stifling Irish tourism’s ability to compete more effectively for domestic and overseas tourists. “The hotels sector stabilised in 2013 largely as a result of the relentless work of hotels and guesthouses to slash costs where there was any level of …

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Green plan award for Shannon

CLARE  County Council’s Shannon Town Green Infrastructure Plan has won the Environmental and Sustainable Planning award in the Irish Planning Institute’s National Planning Awards at Dublin Castle. The biennial Awards aim to highlight the best examples of planning practice and honour recent projects, plans and programmes, which have made an outstanding contribution to the quality of life in urban and rural Ireland and internationally. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets won the overall National Planning Award. The Shannon Town Green Infrastructure Plan 2012 developed and illustrated concepts put forward as objectives in the Shannon Local Area Plan 2012-2018 to use enhanced wildlife corridors to form a network of walking and cycling routes throughout the town and linking the town centre to the estuary via a walking and cycling routes and a newly developed town park.

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Online maths initiative launched by Taoiseach

A FREE, interactive online maths resource for students and teachers in Ireland, which includes an option for live one-to-one tutorials, has been launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The online maths lessons have been developed by Galway company, ALISON, a global leader in free online learning, in partnership with the award-winning tutoring company Maths Doctor from Macmillan Science & Education. The lessons, which are delivered by experienced maths tutors, are aligned with the Irish Leaving Certificate Project Maths Syllabus, for both Higher and Ordinary levels. To access the video lectures, students simply register and log on to the ALISON site. They then choose a maths topic of interest to them from the course and can also link in with a maths tutor who is available to take them through syllabus lessons. “Ireland is very much to the fore of online learning and resources such as those developed by ALISON and Macmillan have a significant role to play in maintaining our position …

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