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Councillors reject ‘gravy train’ claims

CLARE County Councillors have dismissed claims they are on a “gravy train”. Councillor Pat McMahon said councillors are not benefiting in terms of their expense claims. The Newmarket-on-Fergus councillor told The Clare Champion he knows of several professions who are earning much more. “I know councillors are easy meat and we can be taken out as part of a ‘one-day wonder’. In my honest opinion, we are only getting what is laid down by the minister – no more no less. “Councillors have no say whatsoever in terms of what expenses or allowances they are paid,” he said. Councillor Bill Slattery outlined even if he won the National Lottery, he would still like to work as a councillor, as he isn’t doing the job for the money. The Fine Gael councillor said he gets great satisfaction from being able to help a constituent who has a genuine concern or difficulty. Political representation is part of his family’s tradition, as his …

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Council directed to release Chemifloc incident reports

CLARE County Council’s refusal to grant The Clare Champion access to three incident reports about the “toxic release” of chlorine dioxide gas at Chemifloc Limited in 2012 was “not justified”, according to a ruling by the Commissioner for Environmental Information, Peter Tyndall. Mr Tyndall found a request by the newspaper under the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) should have been granted in full. He ruled that grounds for refusal did not apply to information contained in the incident reports concerning the time, location and composition of chemicals emitted from the Smithstown facility. On August 6, 2015, The Clare Champion made a request to the council under AIE regulations for access to “all correspondence and documents relating to Clare County Council’s response to the chemical incident at the Chemifloc Plant on December 20, 2012”. It requested access to correspondence between the council and Chemifloc concerning the incident, as well as documents relating to the cost incurred by Clare Fire …

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Leaving and Junior Cert exams start

Almost 121,500 Leaving and Junior Certificate students began their written exams across the country this morning (Wednesday). In Clare, in the region of 2,800 students are sitting exams. Education Minister Richard Bruton extended good wishes to students, reminding them that while these exams are important, “they were just one pathway in education”. “A range of opportunities now exists which will help students to fulfil their ambitions,” he said. Nearly 57,000 Leaving Cert students kicked off the exam with English Paper 1 this morning. Around 62,000 Junior Cert students faced the English and CSPE exam. It is the first exam under the new junior cycle English programme, where the paper accounts for 90% of the grade.

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Taoiseach visits WW1 site in Belgium

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Astrid of Belgium will jointly attend commemorations for the Battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium today (Wednesday). The visit marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the historic battle, which was hugely symbolic as it was the first time that the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions fought alongside each other during the First World War. The Taoiseach will first visit the grave of Major William Redmond, who was MP for East Clare, in Locre. Following this, Mr Kenny will then join the Duke of Cambridge and Princess Astrid at the Island of Ireland Peace Park for a commemorative ceremony, jointly organised by the Irish and UK Governments, in partnership with the Mayor of Messines. The Park is a memorial to the 50,000 Irish war dead. This commemorative event will include a wreath laying ceremony, readings by members of the Irish Defence Forces and British Army representatives as well …

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Brexit forum at Thomond Park

As part of a nationwide Brexit roadshow, Enterprise Ireland will host a ‘Prepare for Brexit’ forum at Thomond Park in Limerick on Thursday. Launching the event, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen said, “The majority of companies, large and small, will be affected by Brexit. The message is simple – prepare now and be fully equipped to meet both the challenges and the opportunities arising from Brexit. The UK continues to be Ireland’s main trading partner and the aim is to uphold these strong trade relations while also preparing Irish companies to look at new opportunities and expand their reach in international markets. “Time is of the essence for Irish companies in the Mid-West to prepare for Brexit. The Brexit SME Scorecard aims to highlight to individual companies and businesses some of the key operational areas that may be exposed and help them to begin preparing a strategy to deal with these challenges.” Part of Enterprise Ireland’s …

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Kilkee Coast Guard back in sea

IRISH Coast Guard operations manager Declan Geoghegan has confirmed to The Clare Champion that the Kilkee Coast Guard Unit is likely to be fully operational in the coming week. However, the town will be without the service for the June Bank Holiday weekend, which is traditionally one of the busiest of the summer season in Kilkee. Following the tragic death of coast guard volunteer, Catríona Lucas, on September 12, 2016, the Kilkee unit ceased to provide a full water-based search and rescue service. The unit has not been fully operational in the town for nine months, which is the longest inactive period since the Kilkee Marine Rescue and Recovery Service was established in 1981. Mr Geoghegan confirmed that training has taken place for current Kilkee Coast Guard members and that they will be subject to an inspection in the coming days. “We will be putting in an ORA [Operational Readiness Assessment] team. Subject to that, the unit will be on …

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‘Opportune time’ for Harty to consider position

DEPUTY Michael Harty has said he is looking at his position in relation to supporting the current Government, arising from a lack of delivery on assurances he received under the Programme for a Partnership Government. He said 15 months after he voted for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach and with a new Taoiseach about to be selected, many people, including him, will be re-evaluating their positions. “It’s up to Fine Gael to elect their leader. I haven’t a preference of one over the other. It’s 15 months since I voted for Enda Kenny. I did that on the basis that there was a possibility that there would be a general election if there wasn’t a nomination for Taoiseach on that morning. I felt it was the responsibility of all TDs in the Dáil to provide a Government. “That Government has been in place for the past 15 months. There is to be a change of leader and I think everyone is …

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BurrenLIFE receives ‘Best Ever’ award

THE BurrenLIFE project has just received a special “Best-Ever” award from the European Commission, recognising it as the best ever LIFE project in the 25-year history of the programme. The prize was awarded in the Nature and Biodiversity Category. The awards are being presented in Green Week to exceptional LIFE projects over the past 25 years, at the Green Awards ceremony in Brussels. A special edition of the annual LIFE awards, the Green Awards singled out projects that have had remarkable effects on the EU’s natural environment and in creating green jobs and boosting green growth over the past quarter century. The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said at the ceremony, “A quarter century is a long time, and over that time LIFE has funded more than 4,000 projects to the tune of over €3 billion.” He told attendees that the awards symbolise the Commission’s “appreciation for the efforts of thousands, the hard work and …

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