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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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Parkinsons health conference in Feakle commended

THE Parkinson’s Health Conference, which took place in Feakle this summer, has received a commendation at the Irish Medical Times Irish Healthcare Awards. The conference was announced as a commended award recipient at a ceremony held in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin on Thursday last. The conference, which preceded the annual Feakle Festival of Traditional Music, was hugely successful this summer and saw a huge influx of people into the East Clare village eager to learn more about Parkinson’s and the beneficial effects that set dancing has on sufferers of the disease. Speaking about the win, Breda Collins, conference manager said, “There were nine shortlisted in our category and we got a commendation for the best patient education project (non-pharmaceutical). The judging panel gave it to us for focusing on improving patient care innovation and collaboration. We got a lovely certificate in a frame. “Crumlin got the award in our category. They did a project for children with cancer and …

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Treatment plant the source of Shannon odours

SHANNON has been plagued by foul odours for months and an audit report carried out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) into the town’s wastewater treatment plant says much of the blame lies with inadequacies at the plant. The audit was carried out in mid-October by John Feehan and Joseph Hunter of the EPA, with consultant John Kilgallon. Their report had seven main findings, one of which was that the plant was “generating significant hydrogen sulphide odours”. Hydrogen sulphide generates a strong smell similar to that of rotten eggs. Other findings were that the plant was designed and built without preliminary treatment facilities and that the plant is “currently achieving very little in terms of wastewater treatment’. The report’s sixth finding is that “The problems identified at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) must be addressed and if any residual odour sources remain, they can then be more easily identified and remedied”. The final one stated, “Urgent priority measures need …

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€36m in farm payments

JUST over €36m has been paid to Clare farmers under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) in recent weeks. The figures, which have been obtained by Clare Senator Tony Mulcahy, show that 5,817 of 6,000 SPS applicants in Clare have received payments totalling €23.765m since October 16, with the remaining 183 applicants due to receive their payments in the coming weeks. The percentage of SPS applicants paid to date is higher in Clare (96.95%) than in any other county. According to Senator Mulcahy, the percentage of payments made to Clare applicants under DAS is also the highest in the country at 85.65%, with 5,349 out of 6,245 farmers having already received combined payments of €12.254m. Senator Mulcahy stated, “The issuing of payments under the Single Payment Scheme has occurred earlier this year as the result of a European Commission’s decision in September to accommodate beleaguered farmers, who are experiencing difficulties due to inclement weather conditions. “The …

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1.9 million target for Shannon in 2014

WHILE there has been some reluctance to publicly state short term targets for a recovering and restructured Shannon Airport, a report by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport states that the aim is to have 1.9 million passengers in 2014. That would mean an increase of just over 500,000 on 2012, meaning around 10,000 extra people per week would have to be using the airport in 2014. It also notes the more long term target of 2.5 million passengers by 2018, a figure that Leo Varadkar said has to be met to give the airport a sustainable future. The report containing the information was compiled by the Oireachtas Joint Committee of the Oireachtas and is on the General Scheme of the Shannon Aviation Services and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2013. The committee that prepared the report is chaired by Mayo TD John O’Mahony. Fourteen other TDs, one of which was Clare’s Timmy Dooley and six senators are also on it. One …

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‘Huge negative impact’ if rates rebate decreased

A REDUCTION in the rates rebate for vacant commercial buildings, proposed in the Local Government Bill 2013, “would have a huge negative impact on Shannon Airport”, it has been claimed by a Fianna Fáil TD. Under the current system, commercial properties are subject to rates payable to the local authority but, in Clare, a 100% rebate is subsequently applied where the property is unoccupied. In the Dublin City, Cork City and Limerick City local authority areas, property owners are entitled to only a 50% refund of their annual commercial rates liability if the property is empty. The new bill, which is being debated in the Dáil on Thursday, will standardise vacancy refunds across the country at 50%. Deputy Timmy Dooley said he plans to raise the issue in the Dáil. “I am deeply concerned about the impact it would have on landlords across the county, recognising that there has been a considerable downturn in commercial activity. Landlords are under enormous …

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