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Ennis omitted from primary care developments

ENNIS has been excluded in the latest list of 16 primary health care centres, which are being progressed nationwide by the HSE, Health Minister James Reilly has confirmed. Ennis was included as one of the 35 potential locations for primary care centres to be developed by means of a public-private partnership when the Government announced details of its multi-million euro stimulus package in July 2012. However, Minster Reilly has admitted that the public private partnership approach to developing a primary health care centre in Ennis will now not proceed, as local GPs are not in favour of the process. While Ennis remains on the HSE’s schedule of primary care centres to be developed, it looks as if a successful completion of this project is years away. Minister Reilly stated that an operational lease is being considered as the best option and the preferred choice of local GPs. “The HSE continues to engage with potential developers who have expressed an interest …

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Future of water supply under the spotlight

NUMEROUS questions and concerns about the future of water supply in the country were raised at last week’s meeting of Clare County Council, which was addressed by Ray O’Dwyer of Irish Water. Councillors expressed concerns that the new authority will eventually be privatised, while there were also claims that taking it out of the hands of local authorities will lead to an increasingly centralised approach, with rural areas being neglected. A number of other concerns were raised, with the members clearly concerned about the future regime. While Mr O’Dwyer did his best to deal with what was coming at him, he wasn’t in a position to answer everything to the satisfaction of the councillors. Lissycasey-based Fianna Fáil Councillor PJ Kelly asked about the future of Irish Water. “Will Irish Water, because of its relationship with Bord Gais, possibly be sold on in the future and if so, what protection is there for water users?” He said privatisation had produced “disasters” …

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L-R Piper Liam O'Flynn with Judith and Barry Merrill at the unveiling of a statue of Willie Clancy in Miltown Malbay on Saturday.Pic Arthur Ellis.

Miltown Malbay bursting with pride

MILTOWN Malbay Tidy Towns Committee took top prize in the annual IPB All-Island Pride of Place Awards announced at a ceremony in The Venue, Derry on Saturday night. They received their award in Category 3, which is for population size of between 500 and 1,000 people. County Clare also received a Livcom nomination. Speaking about the committee, the judges said, “Social supports and linkages, formal and informal, are important for coping with stressors and improving the quality of life. This community has this down to a fine art and has developed strong linkages and co-operation between diverse agencies. The town has maximised the full potential of an annual festival, which has gone from strength to strength. “A disused school premises has been transformed into a vibrant community resource. The private sector has shown courage and vision in developing a sizable supermarket together with other community facilities. This is a town very much on the move.” Minister for the Environment, Community …

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Seed Savers hit by funding cuts

IRISH Seed Savers Association has had to implement three redundancies and cut staff hours by almost half, as a result of funding cuts it has sustained this year from a number of sources that used to fund the national charity. The organisation’s project manager Lisa Duncan confirmed to The Clare Champion that in recent weeks the charity had to cut staff and staff hours due to financial constraints. She explained the charity relies on grant aid to survive and as it had sustained cuts to grant aid this year from a number of different organisations, it had to implement the cuts. On the back of this, it has launched an appeal to ensure the survival of the organisation and to enable it to continue its conservation work. According to the organisation, it received grant aid from the Department of Agriculture for the past number of years to help support it in saving Ireland’s agricultural heritage. Projects such as the creation …

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December date for Cooley Collins festival

THE rescheduled Cooley Collins Traditional Music Festival will take place on December 7 and 8, it was decided this week. The festival is normally held on the October bank holiday weekend but was postponed this year. “This year’s festival was postponed out of respect to the Donoghue and Woods families following a bereavement,” explained Lisa Nolan of the Cooley Collins festival. “We are holding the festival now on December 7 and 8. As it is normally on a bank holiday weekend, this year’s festival will be a smaller version, with the Saturday being the main day of the festival,” she added. Workshops, which have been a staple of the festival, will not be held this year with the focus shifting to performance. “We had four or five workshops organised for young people but they all had to be cancelled. We are not having them this time. We are just having the music and sessions,” Lisa outlined. The festival is held …

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2014 start for €550m Gort to Tuam motorway

WORK is expected to begin on the new Gort to Tuam €550 million motorway early in the new year. Clare county manager, Tom Coughlan told councillors at a local authority meeting on Monday that a contractor for the project has been selected, with construction to begin early in the new year. The motorway will be funded by an annuity from the State to the private contractors over a period of 25 years. According to the National Roads Authority (NRA), hundreds of jobs will be created during the construction process, with the opening of the road to have a major impact on traffic flow in blackspots such as Claregalway. The Department of Public Expenditure has approved the allocation of money to cover the Exchequer element of the scheme. The NRA says it will now re-engage with the preferred private contractor to complete the new N17/ N18 route. The construction of a 57km motorway, part of the Atlantic Corridor on the west …

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Calls for Christmas parking present

SENATOR Lorraine Higgins has called for the provision of free car parking in Gort and other South and East Galway towns in the lead-up to Christmas to help boost town centre trade. The Labour senator has also urged Galway County Council to provide a public car park in Kinvara to tackle its ongoing problem with a lack of parking. “People are moving past towns like Athenry, Loughrea, Gort and Portumna to shop. Why not have free parking in the towns from now until Christmas, in order to give a much-needed shot in the arm for those businesses. I am proposing this as a potential way to give them a boost before Christmas,” she said. “If we are to make a difference to town centres, particularly if we are to protect our small shops, then free parking is exactly the kind of measure that needs to be introduced in the run-up to Christmas,” Senator Higgins added. According to the Athenry woman, …

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Call for cannabis possession to be included in adult caution scheme

DEPUTY Michael McNamara has called for possession of cannabis to be included on the adult caution scheme. The Clare deputy raised the matter when speaking on a private members motion tabled by Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and the technical group calling for cannabis regulation and legalisation last week. Deputy McNamara highlighted that in 2006, the adult caution scheme was introduced, whereby gardaí could grant an adult caution for a list of offences if they believed it to be beneficial. “It was proposed that the possession of cannabis – not possession with intent to supply – would be included on the list but it fell off the bottom. Additional offences have been added since in which an adult caution can be issued but possession of cannabis remains excluded. I asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in how many cases the Probation Act was applied to cases of cannabis possession in Ireland, and there appears to be approximately 1,500 cases on …

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