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Vague ‘local rural person’ status

CLARE county councillors have agreed to remove a controversial seven-year residency clause to qualify as a “local rural person” for planning permission in the new 2017-2023 Clare County Development Plan. However, councillors may have inadvertently created another problem for planners after the insertion of a new clause in the classification of the local rural person category. Previously, a person who was not born in an area could not get planning permission for a one-off dwelling unless they had lived permanently in the local rural area for a minimum of seven years. This category has now been redefined as follows: “A local rural person is a person who was born within the local rural area, or who is living in the local rural area for substantial periods of their lives at any stage(s) prior to making the planning application”. Under the new plan, planners will have to decide what is “substantial periods of their lives” for any planning applicant. This category …

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Optimistic outlook for Clare tourism

THE latest Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) quarterly barometer showed that hotel and guesthouse owners in Clare and across the country are very optimistic about 2017, after significant growth this year. Nine in 10 IHF members say they saw increased business in 2016, while 57% grew their workforce and some 89% have plans to reinvest in their properties in 2017. Also, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the number of overseas visitors grew by 10% to 8.8 million – the highest number on record. There was an increase of 10% in holiday visitors, while business visitors and those coming to visit friends and relatives were up 12%. Elaine Fitzgerald Kane, chair of the Shannon branch of the IHF, said there has been a lot to be positive about. “Irish tourism has seen a record-breaking year in 2016 and there is a lot to celebrate. This is an outstanding achievement and a result of the hard work being carried out by …

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Garda warning on telephone scam

GARDAÍ have issued a warning of a recent telephone scam where a male or female caller states they are from Revenue and seeks immediate payment of a tax bill over the phone. The public are advised that the scammers may also give a telephone number to call back, in order for you to give your credit card details. Gardaí have warned that callers making these demands are not calling from Revenue. “An Garda Síochána would like to remind the public to be wary of any contact from an unsolicited source, whether it is by telephone or email. Do not give out your credit/debit card, bank account or PPS number to anyone who makes contact with you over the phone. An Garda Síochána, Revenue, nor any financial institution will ever call you and ask for your PPS number or bank account details,” a garda spokesperson said. If a member of the public receives a call from anyone requesting any personal or …

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Preparing for Christmas tree throwing

Members of the public are being invited to attempt to break a Guinness World Record as well as drop off their Christmas tree for recycling on Sunday, January 8 from 1pm, when the 6th annual Irish Christmas Tree Throwing Championship takes place at Active Ennis Tim Smyth Park. Organised by Clare County Council, in conjunction with Active Ennis Sports and Leisure Facilities, the event is a novel way to turn Christmas tree recycling into a sport, while at the same time raise funds for a needy cause with this year’s proceeds going to Rape Crisis Midwest. The championship, which is based on age-old lumberjack traditions, sees competitors tryinig to achieve the longest distance for throwing a standard 1.5 metre tree. There will be trophies for the longest throw in various age categories with a trophy for the overall champion. Every participant will also be entered into a draw to win one year family membership at Active Ennis Leisure Complex. Limerick …

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Renewed warning on drink driving

As we head into the New Year, An Garda Síochána and the RSA are renewing their appeal to drivers to be responsible in relation to drinking and driving. Provisional figures indicate that since December 1, when the Christmas and New Year anti drink driving campaign was launched, there has been an increase of 34% in the number of arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence, a total of 738 compared to 549 for the same period in 2015. An Garda Síochána are warning drivesr that intoxicated driving will continue to be targeted by on a 24/7 basis, including the morning after, and appeal to every driver to be responsible and never, ever drink and drive. Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said, “Tragically, there have been two fatalities over the past seven days, a motorcyclist on Christmas Day and a driver on St Stephen’s Day. On Christmas day alone 14 drivers were arrested by gardaí on suspicion of intoxicated driving. It …

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A happy Christmas for traders

TRADERS in Clare say that Christmas 2016 was quite good for them, providing some evidence that long-sought economic recovery has reached the county. Paul Queally of SuperValu in Kilrush and Killaloe felt that December 25 falling on a Sunday was helpful, as it changed how people spent. “In comparison to other years it was favourable, slightly up on previous years. It often is like that when you have a full week running into it. When it is like that, it tends to be busier. It’s a bit more relaxed, people can remember everything they are looking for and there isn’t as much of a rush.” While he believes this side of the country is still lagging behind the east, he feels that things improved in Clare a little this year. “I would say it has been quite good this year, probably the best for a few years.” Audrey Flynn of Ennis Electrical also felt it had been a fairly good …

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Six drink-driving detections over Christmas

SIX people have been detected drink driving in Clare over the Christmas period, with two of these being during the day time. Of the six drink drivers, one was detected at 9.20am on Monday, December 19 and another at lunchtime on December 21. Two were detected in the early hours of December 28. Although the drink-driving figures for the month of December to date show a “significant increase” in those driving while under the influence of alcohol, locally the statistics are down one on last year for the Christmas period. On December 1, An Garda Síochána and the RSA launched the Christmas and new year anti-drink driving campaign. This was heavily publicised across all broadcast mediums, particularly social media, and was fronted by the Treacy family, who tragically lost their four-year-old son Ciarán in a road traffic collision involving a drunk driver. Despite this stark ad, people continue to drive under the influence. Nationally, from December 1 to December 20, …

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Post-Christmas alert for motorists

Motorists across the country are being warned to avoid a nightmare, post-Christmas return to work on “flat battery Tuesday” which falls on January 3. Research from leading roadside assistance provider, Allianz Global Assistance Ireland, shows demand for jump-starts dramatically increases on the first day back to work after Christmas due to cars not being driven over the extended holiday period. The company received a 30% increase in flat battery call-outs on the first day back to work in January 2016. Figures also show an increase in calls for flat tyres and clutch faults on that day. Roland Hesse, managing director, Allianz Global Assistance Ireland, said, “We strongly advise motorists to avoid a ‘flat battery Tuesday’ commuter meltdown this January. Every year we see an increase in calls on the first day back to work after Christmas because cars have not been used over the holiday period. We advise motorists to drive their cars at regular intervals over the break in order …

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