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July 31 deadline for distributor road vote

Clare County Councillors decided to defer making a decision on adopting a controversial road into the County Development Plan, following trenchant opposition from a lobby group. Councillors were given a deadline of July 31 at Monday’s council meeting to make a decision on the proposed Northern Distributor Road. No councillor spoke in favour of proceeding with the preferred route option. Senior planner Gordon Daly warned if councillors decided not to adopt the variation, it had the “potential to end the project for now” and noted that it may not go ahead in the future. Councillors voted by 17 votes to nine to defer a decision on this contentious route until Friday, July 24. The deferral was proposed by Councillor Pat Burke and seconded by Councillor Tom McNamara. Councillor Tony O’Brien proposed a sub-committee be set up including councillors, planners and engineers to try to devise an acceptable alternative proposal. Before the vote, chief executive officer, Tom Coughlan, reminded councillors this …

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Airport security ‘an inordinate draw’ on garda resources

AS anti-war groups prepare to stage a protest at Saturday’s Shannon Air Display, the head of Clare’s garda division this week admitted that dealing with ongoing security matters at the airport is “an inordinate draw” on resources. Speaking at this week’s Joint Policing Committee, Chief Superintendent John Kerin said he would like more resources to be put in place for gardaí in Shannon, particularly in light of the ongoing work involved in dealing with protests and ensuring the security of Shannon Airport. “There is an inordinate draw on our resources that could be used more favourably on crime detection and prevention,” he said. However, the Chief Superintendent added utilising garda resources at the airport is “necessary” and that “they have an impact”. He told the meeting that gardaí are “constantly monitoring” the situation at Shannon Airport to assess any threats, adding that they work very closely with stakeholders to ensure security. Up to 40,000 spectators are expected in Shannon for …

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Farmers in a flap over ‘worthless’ land

Hundreds of farmers in North East Clare and South Galway are in a flap over the designation of land for the protection of the hen harrier, which has rendered an estimated 9,844 acres “worthless”. Feelings are running high among landowners in the Sliabh Aughty area, which has the dubious distinction of having the largest designation to safeguard this protected species under an EU directive. As a new farming group, Irish Farmers With Designated Land (IFDL) briefed deputies and members of the Oireachtas Agricultural Committee on the difficulties that landowners are experiencing due to this designation at a meeting in Dublin this week, local farmers said they are mounting an intensive campaign for change. Frustration and anger over the Government’s decision to suspend the previous compensation scheme in 2010 due to budgetary constraints, will be voiced at a public meeting in Ballinakill, County Galway on Tuesday next at 8.30pm. Farmers’ efforts to receive adequate compensation for the devaluation of their land …

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Out and about in God’s wide fields

THE President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, was in “God’s wide fields” in Ballyvaughan for the first of a two-stage visit to Clare this week. Mr Gauck, accompanied by his partner Ms Daniela Schadt, was delighted to be visiting the Droney’s 90 hectare Origin Green farm in Ballycahill, near Ballyvaughan and to be surrounded by 200 beef suckler cows and 200 sheep, a vista, he admitted, that brought him back to his childhood in post-war Germany. “For me, it is so good,” Mr Gauck told The Clare Champion. “In my youth, I saw so many cows outside and now, if I go back to my home area in the north of Germany, no cows are outside, sheep are a little bit but the cows are all inside in a shed. “This is a programme that works with the support of the Government and the influence of the European Union to support this kind of agriculture, not the …

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Entente Florale judges in Kilrush

RESIDENTS and business owners in Kilrush are being urged to play their part in making the town look its best ahead of the adjudication stage of the 2015 International Entente Florale. Judges for the prestigious European-wide horticultural and environmental competition will be in the town this Thursday, casting a critical eye on the town and its appearance. Kilrush will represent Ireland in the village category of the competition for population centres of less than 5,000. Ireland was represented by Tralee (Kerry) and Dromod (Leitrim) in 2014. The local Entente Florale Steering Group is preparing for the visit and is hoping that the public will also do their bit to help make the town look its best. Clare’s last success in the International Entente Florale competition, which officially recognises the improvement of the quality of life for local urban and village communities, was in 2002 when Ennis was named a gold medal winner in the city category. Ennis also won a …

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German President visits Cliffs of Moher

The President of Germany Joachim Gauck concluded a three-day state trip to Ireland this afternoon by visiting the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. Councillor James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, welcomed President Joachim Gauck to the council owned Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and presented him with a photographic print of the Cliffs of Moher framed in local slate, designed by Irish Slate Crafts. Ms. Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, provided the German Head of State and the official delegation with a guided tour of the County Clare attraction. German visitors are the largest visitor group to the Cliffs of Moher after the USA with over 145,000 travelling to Ireland’s second busiest visitor attraction in 2014.

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Protest planned for airport airshow

Saturday’s airshow to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight, a milestone in Irish aviation history, at Shannon Airport is expected to attract some 40,000 spectators. However, it will also provide a platform for several anti-war groups to stage peaceful protests. Groups opposed to the continued use of the airport by the US military have said the airports recent history is “not one to be proud of”. John Lannon of Shannonwatch said, “While it is fitting to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight from Shannon Airport and to acknowledge its important role in aviation in Ireland, we cannot ignore the fact that in the last 15 years it has been used to illegally invade Iraq and Afghanistan and has been part of the CIA’s global campaign of kidnapping and torture”. “Shannon became the original airport gateway between the US and Europe and was the birthplace of Duty Free. It is now a gateway …

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Temporary closure of daycare facilities at Raheen and Regina House

Elderly residents are facing into a period of time without daycare facilities, after the HSE made the decision to close both Raheen Community Hospital in Tuamgraney and Regina House in Kilrush. However,  Mary Cassidy of the Support Group for Raheen Hospital says the HSE’s decision to temporarily close the daycare centres in Tuamgraney and Kilrush will upset many service users and their families. In a statement, the HSE says the decision has come about because of a lack of nurses, and that this is caused by factors including annual leave, sick leave and them unavailability of agency staff. Long-term residents at the two nursing homes are being prioritised, with available nursing staff being used to cater for their needs, the statement read. The HSE insists the closure will only be for “a couple of weeks”.

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