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Clare asylum advocate optimistic over end to Direct Provision

A CLARE-based advocate for those seeking asylum in Ireland has said he remains hopeful that plans to end Direct Provision by 2023 will succeed, despite considerable opposition from the Department of Housing. South African national Bulelani Mfaco, who lives in Knockalisheen, is a member of an expert group, led by Dr Catherine Day. In October, the panel published a report calling for a new asylum system to be put in place over the next three years. The plan recommends housing applicants in a State-owned centre for three months, then helping them to move to own-door accommodation with the support of a scheme similar to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). While Mr Mfaco and fellow members of the advisory panel argue that the proposed system would lead to cost savings for the State and more humane living conditions for asylum seekers, there is considerable resistance from the Department of Housing. Submissions by the department said the plan has the potential to …

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Reopen the streets and end the nonsense, say Ennis traders group

THE chairman of the Retailers of Ennis group has slammed Clare County Council’s policy of keeping O’Connell Street and Abbey Street closed in peak trading hours, something he says is killing business in the town centre, and will not help stop the spread of Covid-19. The streets have been closed to vehicles to allow more room for pedestrians, which the Council claims will help limit the spread of Covid-19, but business owner John O’Connor says it is a nonsense. “The rationale the Council used is based on a fallacy, that if you walk a normal street landscape you have every chance of transmitting or contracting the virus. The logic behind that is a total fallacy. At the start there was an element of fear and total ignorance, “What the Council have been doing is continuing with that ignorant discourse and trying to convince people, and they have a lot of people convinced, that if you walk the streets of Ennis …

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Objections to 175 metre turbines

OBJECTIONS have been lodged against an application for the development of wind turbines outside Miltown Malbay, which would be up to 175 metres in height. The development would involve works in the townlands of Glendine North, Fahanlunaghta More, Curraghodea, Letterkelly, Cloghaun More, Cloghaun beg, Silverhill, Doonsallagh East, Shanavogh East and Knockalassa. In her objection, Marian Kenneally said the proposal would seriously affect her home. “The proposed development consists of wind turbines which would be the largest in the country, standing at 1.75 metres. These wind turbines will be covering over my family’s homes and my own.” She claimed that the applicant, Slieveacurry Limited, hasn’t liaised with her. “I was never approached by any of the developers and did not hear about this until the evening of the public consultation in Miltown Malbay-which I could not attend as it was by appointment only.” Ms Kenneally added; “The construction of these wind turbines will block sunlight from my home and I fear …

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Spike in calls to Rape Crisis Midwest, as funding drops

RAPE Crisis Midwest has seen an increase of more than 50% in helpline contacts since the start of the pandemic, as it struggles to make up a funding shortfall of around three-quarters. Fundraising Manager, Verena Tarpey told The Champion that many of the calls since March relate to abuse experienced decades ago, and that the lockdown may have triggered painful childhood experiences for some. “There’s no doubt that, particularly during the first lockdown when people were at home with their kids, there may have been triggers for them,” she said. “People also had time to reflect and to take stock. We saw a marked increase in calls to our centre during lockdown. Between March 1 and September 30, there was an increase of approximately 54% in helpline contacts when compared to the same period in 2019. There was also a significant increase in contact from particular age groups in the Midwest with a spike from those in the 24-29 and …

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Shannon Airport almost empty of people

DURING a previous crisis Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary made a typically exaggerated claim that tumbleweed would be blowing through Shannon Airport, so quiet would it become, but even O’Leary couldn’t have foreseen what it would be like in the winter of 2020. With no scheduled flights at all in operation, the airport still remains open, but there is virtually nothing happening there. It still gets some cargo flights and some transit, but the terminal building is nearly vacant. Only a handful of people, nearly all of them employed on the premises, were there on Wednesday morning. Huge areas were entirely vacant, while screens showing arrivals and departures were bare, while the check in areas were closed. The restaurant on the ground floor was open for takeaways, but there was little demand there. At the newsagents across from it, the sole worker there had the shelves and coolers perfectly stocked, but he was a solitary figure on the premises until the …

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Council engaging with homeowners to verify pyrite problem

THE founder of a group of up to 40 home owners, whose properties are crumbling because of defective building materials, has appealed to the government not to delay the extension of a support scheme to County Clare. The council has confirmed that it has sought the extension of the scheme and been contacted by the Department of Housing. The authority has made contact too, in recent days, with The Clare Pyrite/Mica Action Group. “Our situation has been raised by the council, TDs and senators, we’re so grateful for that support,” Dr Martina Cleary said. “It’s very important now that the process isn’t made overly complex. Several of our members are living in homes that are ready to fall and they’re afraid for their lives. Each winter that goes by, with the damp and the frost, the situation is getting worse and you can literally hear the blocks cracking. You can imagine the psychological stress. In Mayo and Donegal, where people …

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Over 7,500 Clare people on PUP

LATEST figures show that there are 7,513 Clare people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. The figure has increased marginally over the last week, but is significantly lower than the peak number of 14,600 receiving it in early May. Across the country there are now 352,000 people in receipt of the PUP, a number that has increased by over 145,000 since the start of October. The pandemic is wreaking destruction on the domestic economy in particular, and has shut down the county’s hospitality sector, which is particularly important in the west of Clare. Kilkee-based Councillor Cillian Murphy said this week that his home town is very quiet. “There’s nowhere open, nowhere open. There’s probably two places in Kilkee to get coffee, just on a takeaway basis. “When you have a big reliance on seasonal tourism that’s what can happen. At this time of year you’d have weekend trade, Monday to Thursday would be harmless enough especially in the run up to …

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Gardai seize €60,000 worth of drugs and cash

GARDAI seized of over €60,000 worth of suspected drugs and cash on Wednesday evening. As part of an operation targeting the sale and supply of drugs, Gardaí from the Clare Divisional Drugs Unit carried out a search of a yard in the Clarecastle area. There they seized suspected cannabis herb with a street value of €40,000 along with €17,000 cash. Follow up searches were also carried at fields in Ennis and Tiermaclane where Gardaí seized over €2,500 cash and €700 of suspected cannabis herb. All of the suspected drugs will now be sent for analysis. Two men, both aged in their 40s, were arrested and detained at Ennis and Shannon Garda Stations under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996 and have since been released. A file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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