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Ryanair deal to boost Shannon

THERE is strong speculation this week that a new deal between Shannon Airport and Ryanair is about to be announced, which could deliver a number of new routes and an extra 350,000 passengers next year. Ryanair has scaled back business at Shannon dramatically since 2008 and, on several occasions, placed the blame on the controversial air travel tax. In Tuesday’s Budget it was announced that the tax will be scrapped from the start of next April. On Wednesday, the low cost airline said it would increase its Irish business by at least one million passengers next year. After the Budget announcement, Ryanair outlined its plans. “Ryanair highlighted that since the travel tax was introduced in January 2009, traffic at the main Irish airports had declined from 30.5m passengers in 2008 to 23.5m in 2012. Ryanair believes that much of this traffic can now be recovered thanks to the abolition of the travel tax, which makes Ireland a more competitive and …

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Shoulder to shoulder in Sixmilebridge Men’s Shed

A DECOMMISSIONED prefab in St Finnachta’s National School in Sixmilebridge has become a centre of learning once more but for a more mature body of students. The single-room structure is now the base for a Men’s Shed where each Tuesday night a group of men gather to work on projects or simply enjoy the craic and camaraderie. One of the founding members, Tom 0’Dea from Kilmurry explains, “The Men’s Shed, to borrow that overused tagline, ‘does exactly what is says on the tin’. It is a communal shed, a place where men can work together or individually on projects such as mechanics or woodwork, a place where men can enjoy the craic and a joke in a spirit of comradeship. “It’s a shed where you can ask for help if you need to, and it’s a place where you might have sound advice or a skill to teach others.” The Sixmilebridge Shed is a community-based organisation which is open to …

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Pakey seeks access to €100m

SHANNON Airport needs to be able to get access to €100 million in funding to be competitive, its CEO Neil Pakey claimed at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport on Wednesday. He said the target of achieving 2.5 million passengers by 2021 is very possible. Elements of Shannon’s cost base are “very high”, he claimed and he indicated that management will have to work with the trade unions at the airport to align them with competitors. Shannon was discussed by various interests at Wednesday morning’s meeting, with Senators Martin Conway and Tony Mulcahy and Deputies Timmy Dooley and Pat Breen present, as well as representatives of SIPTU, Kevin Thompstone of Shannon Chamber and Clare county manager, Tom Coughlan, among others. In his presentation to the meeting, Mr Pakey said Shannon needs access to €100m. “We recommend that the borrowing facility limit for the group be set at €100m to allow Shannon Group to deliver on the recommendations …

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Relocation of welfare services ‘unacceptable’

GORT and South Galway will be without “an essential service” from next week, according to Councillor Bridie Willers. The Department of Social Protection confirmed that community welfare services are to be relocated from Gort and other locations in south and east Galway to the new Intreo office in Loughrea with effect from next Monday. The new social welfare office in Station Road, Loughrea and the community welfare officer will cover an area from Kilchreest to Kinvara. According to Councillor Willers, “The decision by the Department of Social Protection to axe the community welfare officer (CWO) service in Gort will leave many vulnerable people in distress and is totally unacceptable. “There is no public transport whatsoever between the towns of Gort and Loughrea. People who do not own a car, and there are many, will have to travel by bus to Galway/Oranmore and then catch a bus to Loughrea,” she added. Bus Éireann confirmed there is currently no direct public transport …

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Call for Lahinch beach to be more accessible

MONEY allocated this week for work at the promenade in Lahinch should be used to make the beach accessible for people with disabilities, according to the county’s Centre for Independent Living (CIL). The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced it is providing €333,000 for capital works projects in marine leisure and tourism infrastructure in North Clare. This funding will go to two projects, the upgrade of the promenade in Lahinch and the redevelopment of Liscannor pier, and will be 75% funded by the department, with the remainder coming from the local authority. Responding to the funding announcement, Clare CIL is calling on the local authority and public representatives to ensure the development on the promenade in Lahinch is suitable for people with disabilities and wheelchair users. Clare CIL wants Lahinch beach to be made more accessible with the new funding. The 2000 Equal Status Act and 2005 Disability Act states that public places must be accessible for people …

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Poet shortlisted for American award

A NORTH Clare woman has been nominated for an American literature award. Doireann Ní Ghríofa from Kilnamona is shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, which recognizes the best writing published in small presses. Doireann’s works have appeared in many literary journals in Ireland and internationally, most recently in France, Mexico, USA, Scotland and England. While Fox, the poem shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, is in English, Doireann also writes extensively in Irish. “I was very lucky to have encountered passionate and talented teachers of Irish from my very earliest days at Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosóg in Ennis. Irish is taught there in a very gentle, immersive, conversational way, so that children pick up fluency very quickly. My teachers, Eithne Ní Dhonghaile, Carmel Ní Bheacháin and Domhnall Ó Loinsigh, were also very encouraging of my love of writing. “In addition to fostering a love for language, they also encouraged me as a writer. It was in the Gaelscoil that I had my first …

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motorists paid €104m in tax

MOTOR tax paid by Clare motorists exceeds the Local Government Fund allocation to the county council by €24.7m, new figures have revealed. Clare motorists have contributed €104.8m in motor taxation and driving licences from 2008 to last September, which compares to a total of about €80.1 million from the Local Government Fund and special water services allocation over the same period. It excludes €4.091m paid by Clare householders under the Household Charge in 2012 and 2013 and €4.3 million this year from the Local Property Tax. In 2008, Clare motorists paid €20.9 million on motor tax and driving licences. While this figure has fallen steadily in recent years it still provided €15.98 million for the national exchequer in 2012 and €12.455 million from January to September 2013. The huge disparity between the two figures have prompted Councillor Christy Curtin to request the Government to substantially increase the Local Government Fund allocation to the council, which has fallen by 40% from …

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Shannon’s recovery continued in September

SHANNON Airport’s recovery continued in September, with passenger numbers up for the fourth month in a row, this time by 7% on the same month in 2012. Total passenger numbers at Shannon last month were 224,492, up from 210,389 in September 2012. Transatlantic services showed an increase of 21% in passenger numbers over September last year, while European services were up by 4%. After several very bad years, and some very poor months in the early part of this year, passenger numbers started growing again in June. That month, saw an eight per cent increase in passengers, going from 148,531 in June 2012 to 160,573 in June of this year. In July, there was a 9.4% increase, going from 158,603 to 173,558. August saw a jump of 3%, going to 170,000 from around 165,000.

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