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Weather alert for sleet and snow

With sleet and snow being forecast by Met Éireann for later this week, Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has advised people to be winter ready and take all necessary precautions. Minister Ross said, “I would urge all people to heed the advice of the agencies and take all necessary precautions if out during the severe weather. If travelling I would advise that you plan your route and check local information , allow extra time, drive slowly and carefully and stay safe. “Useful information on how to prepare for severe weather can be found on the Be Winter Ready website, www.winterready.ie. The department also publish a “Transport Information for Severe Weather” page on our website: http://www.dttas.ie/corporate/english/emergency-planning. As of January 2, salt usage to-date this winter amounted to 38,400 tonnes, with stocks of 203,500 tonnes of salt remaining. By comparison, 96,000 tonnes of salt was used over the winter of 2015/16 and some 130,000 tonnes was used during the …

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Teens reaching out for help

TeenLine Ireland, the free, national listening service for teenagers has received approximately 25,000 calls and almost 26,000 texts since January last year, it has emerged. The service receives between 140 – 170 calls and texts a night, while an extra 1,100 calls and texts were received over Christmas. This is a significant increase on the numbers of teenagers contacting the service since 2015. “The number of calls and texts are continuously increasing which highlights the demand for the unique service TeenLine provides to teenagers and young adults across Ireland. It is hugely positive to see so many young people taking the first step with TeenLine to reach out and talk about their problems,” said Declan Brennan, Chairperson of TeenLine. “We’ve visited over 100 schools this year [2016] across Ireland to talk with students about the service TeenLine provides and their mental health. We have also enjoyed collaborations with other fantastic organisations such as Cycle Against Suicide, the Office of Children’s …

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Franciscans honour Fr Tom Ryan

BEFORE Christmas, parish priest Fr Tom Ryan was affiliated as an honorary member of the Franciscan Order, in the Poor Clare’s Chapel in Ennis. He was given the affiliation award in recognition of his service and generosity towards the Franciscan Order. The ceremony was presided over by Fr Hugh McKenna, the minister provincial of the Irish Franciscans, and Bishop Fintan Monahan. Writing about Fr Tom, a spokesman for the Franciscans stated, “Fr Tom Ryan, a St Michael’s Villas native and parish priest of Shannon, has always been a good friend of the Franciscans. He has conducted the annual novena in honour of St Anthony in all our friary churches in Ireland. Any time we were away at meetings, Tom was always ready and willing to come to our assistance. In fact, people often joked saying Fr Tom was half a friar. “We certainly appreciated his generous help and decided to do something about it. We contacted our provincial Fr Hugh …

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Lahinch man teaching English around the world

TWENTY-five-year-old Lahinch man Michael Healy is this week starting his journey towards a post-graduate teaching qualification in London. There is nothing too extraordinary about that but Michael’s four and a half year teaching career to date has encompassed three continents and exceptionally varied living conditions. The UL graduate has been teaching English in Spain, Portugal, Ghana and Brazil in recent years, along with introducing basketball to a remote village, straddling a rainforest, in West Africa. Late last year, he spent three months in Rio, just after the Olympics. “It was a good next step for me. I had learned Spanish in Spain and my girlfriend had lived for three years in South America in Spanish-speaking countries. She wanted to go back to South America and I had been in Portugal before. We moved over there at the end of August. We had an apartment in Copacabana, which was nice. I’d get up in the morning, throw on my togs and …

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Stay clear of Ennis hospital

Visiting restrictions are in place at Ennis Hospital following an outbreak of seasonal influenza. As of 4pm on this Friday there were two confirmed cases of seasonal influenza in the hospital, with six further patients who are symptomatic and pending confirmation. The Health Protection and Surveillance Centre has urged people in high-risk groups (see below) to get vaccinated against flu as the number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland continues to increase. UL Hospitals Group has asked that members of the public respect the current restrictions on visiting at Ennis Hospital. Visiting is restricted to one person per patient during visiting hours only (2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm). People with flu symptoms, those feeling generally unwell and the under-16s are urged to stay away from the hospital at this time. “We regret any inconvenience caused by the restrictions, which are being implemented in the interests of patient care,” spokesperson for the hospital group said. High-risk groups are: All those aged …

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Farmers cautioned on loan scheme

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has called on local farmers to be cautious if availing of the new 2.95% loan scheme. The scheme, which will be operated by the banks, utilises a combination of funding from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and an interest subsidy funded jointly by the EU and the exchequer. “While ICSA welcomes low interest rates in general, it is vital that farmers carefully assess their borrowing capacity. The new scheme is being promoted partly on the basis that the loans are unsecured. While this may lead to a faster and more efficient approval process, farmers should not assume that they will be immune from making full repayments. Even in the case of an unsecured loan, banks are fully entitled to seek a court judgement, which could be registered against the farmer’s assets. The message is that these loans should only be used by farmers who have carefully weighed up their repayment capacity and have …

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New car registrations up for 2016

THE number of new cars registered in Clare for 2016 has increased ahead of the national average, with 17.98% more cars sold than in 2015. Statistics released this week by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show that new car registrations for 2016 finished ahead of the previous year. There were 3,150 new car registrations in County Clare, up from 2,670 in 2015. Alan Nolan, director general of SIMI, said new car registrations finished at 146,600 for the full year, making it the highest year for new car registrations since 2008. “Despite some slowing in the second half of the year, the numbers are in line with expectations at the start of 2016 and underline the continued growth and buoyancy in the economy. Used car imports have also seen growth, partly due to the strong economic recovery, but also driven by short supply of 2009-2013 Irish used cars and the strengthening of the Euro against sterling following the …

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700 beds available in private nursing homes

Nursing Homes Ireland has released details of a survey showing over 700 beds are available within almost 200 member nursing homes across the country. The information was derived from a snapshot survey undertaken by the organisation on Wednesday. The number of beds available may be much higher as there are more than 370 NHI Member nursing homes and under 180 responded within the short timeframe. In Clare, there are 11 NHI facilities. The two that responded to the survey had a total of 17 beds available, giving an average availability of 8.5. Concern has also been expressed by the organisation regarding comments by the Heralth Minister earlier this week advising older people from nursing homes with flu symptoms to refrain from attending A & E. Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO said,”While recognising the complexity of the situation, the nursing home sector has a key role to play in alleviating the current overcrowding and crisis within our acute hospitals. The snapshot survey …

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