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Lauren case puts spotlight on courthouse

THE jury is still out on whether the old Killaloe Courthouse will be handed over by the Courts Service for community use. There have been renewed calls for the Courts Service to transfer the courthouse to Clare County Council in the wake of the huge publicity generated by the hearing of the Jennifer Lauren air-rage case at the Brian Boru on the Hill bar and restaurant in Ballina. Over and past two years, barrister and Labour Deputy, Michael McNamara has been told on numerous occasions by the Courts Service that a decision on the future of Killaloe Courthouse is imminent. “It is now time for the Courts Service to make a decision once and for all on what to do with this protected structure in the centre of historic Killaloe. This was an issue which I addressed in my submission to the Killaloe Strategic Improvement Plan and one which now needs to be dealt with by the Courts Service, which …

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Samaritans recruitment drive in Shannon and Ennis

THE Clare branch of the Samaritans are about to begin their 2014 recruitment drive, with three information selection events taking place next week. The first will be held next Tuesday night, at 7.30pm, in the Shannon College of Hotel Management. The second is on Thursday, January 23 at 7.30pm in the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis, while the third is at the same venue on Saturday, January 25 at 11am. Samaritans volunteers come from a wide variety of age groups and backgrounds and more information on what is involved in volunteering will be made available. The Samaritans provide confidential, emotional support to people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including feelings that may lead to suicide. They are available 24/7, 365 days a year. In Clare they are based on the Kilrush Road, Ennis and have had a presence in the Banner County since the early 1980s. All who do go on to become Samaritans volunteers will take part in …

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‘Hijack’ claim against task force

THE West Clare Economic Task Force has been accused by one of its own members of claiming credit for achievements that it had nothing to do with. Councillor PJ Kelly has claimed the task force “hijacked” initiatives, which had been led by private individuals, community groups, LEADER or individual county councillors. He made his claim at Monday’s meeting of West Clare Electoral Area councillors, all six of whom are members of the task force. It came during a debate on a motion put forward by Councillor Christy Curtin, who asked that an invitation be issued to Fáilte Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc and the Local Enterprise Office to re-engage with the task force. In a written reply, Clare County Council listed five specific task force achievements, including the establishment of Loop Head Lighthouse as a visitor attraction, preliminary work on proposals to develop tourism infrastructure on the Fergus Islands and the adoption of the Shannon Estuary Integrated Framework Plan. “There are …

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The private trail of storm destruction

RESIDENTS and business people along the Clare coast have spent the past week cleaning up after the recent storms. Clare County Council is looking for more than €23 million in funding from central government for work on public infrastructure but extensive damage was also caused to private property, including homes, by Storm Christine. Now, people with houses and businesses along the coast are wondering and worrying how they will pay for the damage done to their property. Noel Sexton owns White Strand Caravan Park outside Miltown Malbay. “I will have to pay for the damage myself,” he told The Clare Champion. “There are a lot of stones washed up onto the caravan park and sections of it were washed away with sea. The stones will have to be brought back down. I will have to get a machine in to do that. I will have to pay the man with the machine. The part that washed away was about a …

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Six-week timeframe for Doonbeg Golf Club sale

DOONBEG Golf Club general manager, Joe Russell, has been told by receivers that they hope to have a sale completed within a six week timeframe. On Monday, Luke Charleton and David Hughes of Ernest and Young were appointed joint receivers to The Lodge at Doonbeg and Doonbeg Golf Club. “Ernest and Young have said to us that they hope this process will take four to six weeks which, quite frankly, given other receiverships, is quite quick. There does appear to be an appetite from people involved to get this process done quickly,” Joe Russell confirmed. “Approximately six enquiries have come through me for information on the purchase. I referred it on to Ernest and Young who, in turn, have a company that they’re working with in the USA to find the right buyer for here,” he added. The general manager said he could not take a guess as to how much potential new owners might have to pay for the …

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Sand disappearing off Kilkee beach

THE  sand has never been so scarce on Kilkee’s famous strand, according to Mayor Paddy Collins, who has also warned that the town’s luck will run out unless the seawall is maintained. “Sand levels at the moment in Kilkee have never been as low. Whether that sand is all pooled out in the middle of the bay and is going to come in on the next big tide, we don’t know,” Councillor Collins said at Monday’s meeting of Kilkee Town Council. “At a meeting we had here with Paul Moroney [environment section Clare County Council], we were talking about the sand shifting,” he added. Kilkee beach is hemmed in at either side by spectacular cliffs. The town mayor said Kilkee escaped the worst of the recent flooding in West Clare but said consistent high tides are a persistent threat. “We were very lucky in the storm. We were only an hour either side when the wind turned. Every tide this …

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Long wait for grants to adapt homes

VULNERABLE  elderly Clare people are still likely to be waiting up to two years for housing adaptation grants, despite a small increase in Clare County Council’s annual allocation from central government. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government adaptation grant allocation of €3.375m in 2011 was slashed by 56% to €1.454m in 2012 before a marginal increase to €1.545m last year. According to the department, an increase in the region of €54,00 is earmarked for 2014 but this is far from satisfactory for many interested parties, who say this will leave elderly people in difficulty navigating their own homes. The average waiting time, which was as high as three years in 2012, has been condemned as “inordinate” by ALONE chief executive officer, Sean Moynihan and “unacceptable “by local county councillors. Mr Moynihan, on behalf of the group that provides support for elderly people, called for the introduction of national assessment criteria to identify those most in need of …

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Shannon Airport ends five year slump

  By Owen Ryan SHANNON Airport ended a five year long decline in 2013, as its passenger numbers increased for the first time since 2007, official figures released this week have shown. In all 1,400,032 passengers flew through Shannon last year, slightly more than the 1,394,781 in 2012. While 1.4 million is still well below half the number that used Shannon during the late Celtic Tiger days of 2006 and 2007, an improvement is hugely welcome after such a long running and steep decline. It also shows that Shannon enjoyed a largely positive first year after its separation from the Dublin Airport Authority. The increase in passengers came despite a very rocky start to last year, as the airport’s decline continued in each month up to and including May. However, things turned around after that and the increase in passengers was most pronounced on transatlantic routes where 22% growth was achieved, largely due to new services to Chicago and Philadelphia. …

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