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Mixed reaction to growth strategy

THE Government’s Six Year Strategy for Growth was published last week and local TDs divided along predictable lines when reacting to it. One of the striking things in the document are forecasts for unemployment in the coming years. Given two sets of economic assumptions, one said to be base line and the other high growth, unemployment will fall, but recovery will take years. Under the base line figures it will be 2018 before the rate of unemployment goes under 10%. At the end of the plan’s term, in 2020 it would be 8.1%. Under the high growth scenario, unemployment would be 10.2% in 2016, while it would still be at 5.9% in 2020, still slightly shy of full employment. Inevitably, there is an element of aspiration behind these, with some shocks inevitably going to come over the coming years. Labour TD Michael McNamara said the current situation, with a slowly advancing economy, is “like taking the first steps again after …

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O’Donnell on target for GOAL

ALL-Ireland hurling hat-trick hero, Shane 0’Donnell will operate on a more leisurely pace on Christmas Day that he did in late September when he officially launches the annual GOAL Mile. O’Donnell will be up bright and early on Christmas morning and he is hoping that the people of Ennis and surroundings will come out and join him in support of the event. The now traditional seventh GOAL Mile will take place on Christmas morning in the Fair Green, St Joseph’s Hospital side, at 11am. Shane will be blowing the whistle to get this year’s mile underway. Mary Collins, organiser told us that she is delighted that Shane agreed to get on board and support the GOAL Mile. “It’s fantastic that Shane will be there to blow the whistle and get the mile going, he is a real role model to so many people in Clare. The GOAL Mile is always a fantastic event taking place every year in the Fairgreen …

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Fr Ger sleep-out to focus on poor

IN a gesture of solidarity with the poor, Ennis priest, Fr Ger Fitzgerald will be spending the night outside a rundown apartment block, beginning at 12midnight up to 7am on Christmas Day. Fr Ger will rough it at the Fairways Apartments, near Ennis Hospital, as part of what he hopes will be the first of many initiatives in the coming year, which will see a closer union between the Church and the poor. He sees it as part of the Church’s attempts to do what Pope Francis has demanded and go out into the streets and meet the poor and those in need. He has asked the public to remember him in their prayers that night and welcomes anyone interested in joining him for an hour or half an hour in solidarity. “In particular if you can play a musical instrument or tell a good story,” he said. Outlining the reasons behind this initiative, Fr Ger said, “Last March, when …

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Emotional scenes at Shannon as exiles return

FAMILIES were reunited amid emotional scenes at Shannon Airport on Monday afternoon. Heathrow is one of the world’s great hub airports and passengers on the Aer Lingus flight from there had began their journeys in all different corners of the world. Bridget and Eddie Kenihan from Corbally in Limerick were waiting at the arrivals gate well before the flight arrived and it was a huge day for them. “We’re waiting for our son and daughter in law and our little grand daughter who we haven’t even met yet, they’re coming from Australia,” said Bridget.     Muireann Simons from Belharbour waited with her daughter Orla for another daughter Maeve, who has been based in London for the last two years. Orla is home from Leeds and another sibling is due to arrive on St Stephen’s Day from Italy. “It’s the first time all the siblings have been together for about four years,” said Orla. Margaret Drysdale has lived in Doonbeg …

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Precautionary measures in place to address flood risk

ENNIS Town Council is closely monitoring river levels in the town and has implemented a number of flood prevention measures on a precautionary basis. The council is also advising residents and business owners in flood prone areas of the town to familiarise themselves with actions that can be undertaken immediately prior to a flooding event to reduce the risk to life and property. Recent heavy rainfall has resulted in above average water levels along the River Fergus. With further heavy rainfall forecast over the Christmas period, the council says it will continue to monitor water levels on a continuous basis.

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County enjoys ‘The Gathering Effect’

THE tourism industry in Clare has enjoyed a better 2013, after a number of tough years, with much of the turnaround due to The Gathering, an initiative much maligned before the year began. Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan, who is also president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said The Gathering has been a significant factor. While there was some cynicism about the initiative at the start of the year, with actor Gabriel Byrne claiming it was more about money-grabbing than anything else, Mr Vaughan said it had succeeded and that communities had bought into it. “You’d have to say it [The Gathering] was a 100% success. When it started off and the initial hopes were outlined, a lot in the tourism trade believed they were only aspirational. As the year went on, it certainly gathered momentum and it wasn’t because of any one huge event but there were lots of small, cumulative events that have led to an overall increase in …

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Fairytales in every window

THE business community of Ennis has created a series of magical windows into the world of Christmas and make believe. Their imagination was inspired to a great degree by the theme of The Clare Champion’s annual window display competition, A Christmas Fairytale. The wide degree of interpretations of the theme made for fantastic window browsing along the streets. The early evening darkness further enhanced the displays in many instances, as the lighting gave them wonderful affect. The 10th year of the competition, yet again the selection process proved very difficult for the team of ‘Champion staff. There were even some revisits to view business premises such was the high quality of artistic endeavour employed to decorate the windows, with everything from hand paintings on glass to mannequins in Christmas attire. The winners were announced at a well-attended reception hosted by The Clare Champion in the Old Ground Hotel. First prize went to Eye Candy in Abbey Street; second to the …

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Fr John reports from Ecuador

AS former Ennis priest Fr John Molloy prepares for Christmas in his new parish of Monte Sinai in Ecuador, his thoughts turned to his many friends in Ennis. Updating readers of the Clare Champion on his ongoing work in South America, Fr Molloy explained that family is of major importance to those in Ecuador, and not just at Christmas. “A native priest here in the diocese never lives alone. In his parish house he lives with his family, maybe his parents but certainly with cousins, nephews and nieces. Parish homes are alive with human beings.  Everyone has a role and purpose. The parish house life and church are connected like a family. When I reflect I give great thanks to God for that kind of good start in priesthood that I got living with Fr Tom Hogan and all the others I lived with for eleven years in the parish house in Ennis Cathedral.” Work is continuing in the building …

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