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McNamara wants Shannon-Heathrow slots safeguarded

CLARE TD Michael McNamara has written to Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe regarding possible threats to Shannon’s Heathrow slots. In the letter, sent on December 19, he stated, “I note reports in today’s media quoting you as having said the Government remains “open to the sale” of its stake in Aer Lingus in the context of the takeover approach from British Airways’ owner, IAG. “I would appreciate assurance that any sale by the Government would be contingent on maintaining Heathrow slots for Shannon flights and that this would be legally binding in the event of a sale. Maintaining connectivity from Shannon to London and beyond via Heathrow is key to the economic future of the Mid West an area that has not yet benefited as much as others from the recovery underway across our country.” While Shannon has had a sometimes difficult relationship with Aer Lingus, there is no doubt that the airline’s Shannon-Heathrow route is very important to business in …

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Belharbour residents protest in song

Residents of a North Clare housing development, who last week were told they had three days to move out of the homes they have rented for years, have recorded a protest song. Jim McKee wrote and sings the song, while two of his neighbours in Abbey West, Belharbour, Brian Fleming and Keith Horan, also perform on the track. “This is our way of raising awareness and protesting in a peaceful way. Art and music is a great way of getting the message across,” Mr McKee said. Residents of the thatched cottages received hand-delivered letters last week, telling them to move out of their homes by Friday because of health and safety concerns. “We have recorded a song and it is coming out on Wednesday. The song is called Shame on You. I wrote it. We recorded it in Garry O’Briain’s studio and we have Dermot Byrne from the band Altan on it, Brian Fleming is on percussion and Keith Horan …

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Ennis Fleadh bid gets a boost

CLARE could be tuning up for a €30 million Fleadh Cheoil windfall in 2016, after a bid to secure the return festival to the Banner County got a major boost. Efforts to host the lucrative 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann competition in Ennis got a significant shot in the arm after a submission from the local branch defeated Cork City by 11 votes to nine. For the first time ever, counties have to submit their plans for hosting the event and Clare’s bid, which was in the name of the Abbey branch in Ennis, triumphed, with two votes to spare. It is expected a final decision on the current shortlist will be made next March. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was last held in Ennis in 1977. People always remember the 1956 Fleadh too, made famous by the Robbie McMahon song, The Fleadh Down in Ennis. Ennis is now in a three-horse race involving Sligo, who are hosting the All-Ireland showpiece …

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IWS recognises Liam’s dedication

FORMER Clare Civil Defence officer and water safety development officer (WSDO), Liam Griffin, has been named Irish Water Safety’s 60th Life Governor in recognition of his dedication towards the humanitarian goal of saving lives from drowning. Clare County Council’s WSDO from 1996 until his recent retirement, Liam followed in the footsteps of the late Noel Carmody, who died before his time and was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the best WSDO’s ever. Liam maintained and then improved standards in the performance of his duties as WSDO and as a member of Irish Water Safety (IWS). Clare is one of the most challenging counties in which to hold this brief, being surrounded by water on three sides. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean, with the west coast famous for its many swimming and surfing beaches, from Bishop’s Quarter in North Clare, to Fanore, Lahinch, Milltown Malbay, Spanish Point and Kilkee in the south. Inland, Clare is bounded by …

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Breaking the mental illness taboo

WHEN Bernie McCarthy thinks about it, she knows that she has the unflinching support of her family and a wide network of friends. Still, her 14-year stand-off with bipolar disorder, manic depression, including bouts of self-harming and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is an often isolating existence. Those close to her are well aware of the Quilty woman’s mental health issues but, for a passing acquaintance, it’s a shock. Bernie is not someone whom you would ever link with depression or its assorted impacts. In recent weeks, Bernie completed a 17-week counselling programme with Pieta House in Limerick. She found it trying and emotional but is delighted that she stuck with it. “You’d come out and, while it’s a relief, it’s also really draining. You’d be so tired after it. You’re like ‘did I just say all those things?’ Things came out that nobody knew, only me and my counsellor. But you feel better for it,” Bernie reflected candidly last …

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Nursing home addressing issues of non-compliance

A Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report, from an announced inspection of a nursing home in Ennis, found 10 out of the 18 ‘outcomes’  were non-compliant, two of which were categorised as ‘major’ non-compliance. The HIQA inspection took place at Ennis Nursing Home, Showgrounds Road, on September 30 and October 1 of this year but the report was only published last week. Despite the issues of non-compliance, the report states that residents of the nursing home told the inspector they were happy living in the centre and they felt safe there. Staff also demonstrated good knowledge of the residents’ care needs when speaking with the inspector. However, “significant improvements were required in the documentation of nursing assessments and care plans and medication management”. The report found major non-compliance in the area of safeguarding and safety. The inspector found that training in adult protection had not been delivered to all staff or was overdue for some others. Improvements were required …

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Jancinta’s Christmas in Haiti

A Corofin woman will spend this Christmas in Haiti volunteering with orphans, while on holidays from the NGO job she started this summer. In July, Jacinta McGuane took up her new role as general manager with Camara Education Ltd, an organisation dedicated to using technology to improve education and livelihood skills in disadvantaged communities around the world. In 2010, Jacinta decided to leave her teaching job in Dublin to volunteer in Dominican Republic, on the other side of the island of Hispañola. After a year as a special education volunteer with charity Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (our little brothers and sisters) she moved to the Haitian branch of the same organisation, Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs, in September 2011. Jacinta spent the past three years as a special education volunteer in St Helene. There, she developed and ran a special needs project with local staff, catering for children with learning, emotional, physical and behavioural difficulties. Alongside that, she was visitor and …

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Fears over ‘unsafe’ hospital plan

UP to 1,200 nurses in the Mid-West look set to approve industrial action early in the new year over “unsafe” plans to provide more than 100 extra beds in corridors and unsuitable rooms at Ennis Hospital and other local acute hospitals without extra staffing. Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) and SIPTU will ballot for industrial action during the first week of January over a new HSE escalation plan, which is designed to tackle chronic overcrowding in the emergency department (ED) at University Hospital Limerick (UHL). The general consensus indicates this ballot for industrial action will be approved by a large majority, paving the way for a work-to-rule as a starting point possibly during the third or fourth week of January. INMO representative, Mary Fogarty has demanded to know who sanctioned the reconfiguration of acute hospitals services in the Mid-West, which involved the closure of 24-hour emergency services in Ennis without putting the required additional resources into …

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