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PJ Kelly’s 40 year council service coming to an end?

SPECULATION is mounting that Clare’s longest serving county councillor, PJ Kelly, may not be a candidate in the 2014 local elections next May. The Lissycasey Fianna Fáil councillor has sat on the county council since 1974 and has served with 97 councillors over that period. He was first elected as an Independent councillor in the Miltown Malbay electoral district. He stood for Fianna Fáil in the 1979 local elections. Speaking to The Clare Champion on Wednesday, Councillor Kelly described himself as “undeclared.” A source said that Councillor Kelly will not run if what was described as a “winning substitute” can be located. “I’m in consultation with local supporters,” was all Councillor Kelly was prepared to say on the matter. Fianna Fáil are due to meet next Tuesday to decide upon their local election strategy. By then they will know what Councillor Kelly’s intentions are.  Councillor Bill Chambers has confirmed he will be seeking a nomination to run in the new …

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Fire chief issues bonfire warning

MEMBERS of the general public are being urged not to supply any waste material to persons who do not hold a valid waste collection permit for fear the material will be used to fuel bonfires. Last year the Clare Fire Service sustained substantial costs responding to bonfire-related incidents as well as cleaning up after Hallowe’en bonfires. The fire service attended 10 bonfires at a cost of €11,826 in 2012. “Bonfires are an illegal, dangerous and a costly tradition,” explained Adrian Kelly, Clare Chief Fire Officer. “Bonfires are often built close to houses and other property presenting risks to personal safety and property. Hallowe’en is one the busiest times of the year for the fire services and responding to bonfire call outs creates a strain on existing resources. “I would like people to be aware of the fire safety hazards that arise from illegal bonfires, where the burning of highly combustible materials may lead to serious injuries or death,” he added. …

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Councillor predicts rates rise “Armageddon” for Kilrush

KILRUSH town councillor Tom Prendeville has predicted “Armageddon” for business in the town if rates are increased by up to 16.5% from January 1, 2015. Currently Kilrush has the lowest rates in Clare but with the abolishment of town councils likely to go ahead next year, business rates across Clare will almost definitely be harmonised. “What you will find is that more businesses will go to the wall. The result of that will be that rates will probably increase pro rata. Those that survive will have to pay more money to survive. It’s an Armageddon state of affairs for anybody in business in Kilrush if this harmonisation is going to occur, which it will do from January 2015,” he claimed. “The annual rate of valuation in Kilrush at the moment is €61.93 per square foot. That is sometimes refereed to as the general rate. Clare County Council has a rate of €72.99. So if there is harmonisation of the rates …

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Ennis town dwelling a costly option

LIVING in Ennis has its price it seems. The cost of residential development contribution levies for homes built within the boundaries of Ennis Town Council is over €5,000 more the charges of Clare County Council, writes Jessica Quinn. This has led to one local councillor writing to Minister Phil Hogan urging him to request Ennis Town Council to “immediately” amend its newly adopted development contribution scheme. However, the town council has insisted that the levies are vital for the investment in facilities for the town, adding that the scheme was prepared in accordance with regulations and that the levies have been reduced from what was previously in place. According to the Development Contribution Scheme, levies for residential developments are €9,000 per unit within the town boundary, while Clare County Council’s charge is set at €3,876. Councillor Johnny Flynn this week described the scheme as “flawed” and “unfair” as he called on the minister to intervene. The councillor stated in a …

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Champion making headlines on mental health

THE Clare Champion has been selected as the winner of the Headline Regional Newspaper of the Year Award 2013 for journalism relating to mental health or suicide prevention. Headline, the national media monitoring programme for mental health and suicide, created the award in recognition of the vital role regional newspapers play in promoting positive mental health and stigma reduction in their local communities. “From Headline’s media analysis, The Clare Champion’s coverage was notable for its dedicated focus throughout the year on locally available programmes and support services and endeavouring to discuss the important issue of suicide, while consistently providing further sources of help and information to readers,” media project co-ordinator Jane Arigho said. She continued, “With particular reference to the work of Dan Danaher, the newspaper provided an invaluable channel for real life experiences of mental health problems, which will, no doubt, not only contribute to greater public understanding but also encourage those experiencing difficulties to reach out and seek …

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Zurich fixed in Sean’s Sights

AFTER coming a cropper to a cyclist, four miles from home, Clare athlete Sean Hehir was still first to cross the winning line in Monday’s Dublin City Marathon. The first Irish man to win the race since John Treacy 23 years ago, Sean now has his sights firmly fixed on the European Marathon next year. “This is the stuff of dreams,” Sean, a member of Rathfarnham AC told The Clare Champion on Tuesday, as he reflected on the biggest win of his career to date. He paid tribute to Marian Athletic Club in Ennis, where he received his early coaching. “When I started at 12 or 13, Arthur Ford was my coach. Back then, I never dreamt of a day like this. It was three or four years before I got a sniff of winning. I was fortunate to be with a great group in Marian and also to have very supportive parents,” he said. Sean is the son of …

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Plans Lodged for new Tulla school

ST Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla is one step closer to moving to a new site. A planning application for their proposed 650-pupil school was lodged with Clare County Council last week. The secondary school, which has been educating young people from the heart of Tulla village since 1985, is set to move to a new green-field 10 acre site on Chapel Street, 700m south-west of the existing site. The project, which is part of a public-private partnership and is part of the school bundle four programme facilitated by the National Development Finance Agency, is expected to start in the last quarter of 2014. Construction is expected to take up to 18 months, with an outer completion date of March 2016. The capital value of the school bundle four programme, which covers the development of six schools, is €65 million excluding VAT. School principal Margaret O’Brien said the reality of what is to come is starting to sink in among …

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Union condemns decision to close Shannon cabin crew base

IMPACT, which represents cabin crew staff at Aer Lingus, has condemned the decision by management at the airline to close the cabin crew base at Shannon from the end of March 2014, putting 87 jobs under threat. The announcement was made by Aer Lingus on Thursday last, the same day that Ryanair announced eight new routes from the airport. On Thursday, Aer Lingus confirmed it had informed its staff of planned changes to Shannon’s cabin crew base, explaining the operation there is no longer viable following failure to secure co-operation from IMPACT to allow its members to operate the smaller 757 aircraft on new transatlantic services. Responding to the announcement, IMPACT said the measure is “an act of wanton destruction upon the livelihoods of workers who are loyal to the company, and a potentially vicious blow to the economy of the Shannon region”. IMPACT said its members in Aer Lingus across the country will fight the closure. The union said …

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