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Pain now, but economic hope for second half of 2021

WITH the third wave of the pandemic having crushed economic activity, there is a general malaise and many businesses having closed, there is a sense of malaise and pessimism in many quarters right now. However, with a vaccine being distributed there are hopes that normal life will resume later this year and at Tuesday’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District, Clare County Council’s Director of Economic Development Liam Conneally said there is genuine cause for optimism about what may happen in the latter months of 2021. “In November and December and so far in January the number of planning applications lodged have been up on the last number of years and that is a good barometer of economic activity,” he said. Mr Conneally said that there is reason to “look forward to quarter three and quarter four with a degree of optimism,” and added that “the construction industry normally leads out on this”. Mr Conneally said that there are large projects …

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Scariff anti-mask protests strongly condemned

ANGER over the regular presence in Scariff of a number of people protesting about pandemic public health guidelines has prompted furious debate on social media and a rejection of the anti-mask agenda. Since the end of last year, a group of up to 10 people been gathering in the centre of the East Clare town at weekends, carrying placards with phrases including, ‘Breathe again, masks do nothing’ and ‘I am here for your freedom too’. It is understood the group operate under the name ‘Vigil for Freedom’. In recent days, The Champion has been contacted by a concerned senior citizen living locally. In a strongly-worded letter, the man said he was “angered and appalled” by the demonstrations and the “callous disregard” of those taking part. “At this time when hospitals are being overrun by the sick and dying it is just not acceptable to have this type of demonstration going on,” he said. “Doctors, nurses and other health workers are …

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GP calls for clarity over Covid vaccine priority list

AN ENNIS GP has described a number of incidents where Covid-19 vaccines were administered people in non-priority groups as “insulting”. It emerged in recent days that so-called ‘remnant’ doses, left over after vaccination of priority groups at the Coombe and Rotonda hospitals in Dublin, were administered to relatives of staff. “The idea that hospitals would start giving spare doses to other people without evening thinking of their other frontline healthcare colleagues is insulting,” said Dr Máire Finn. “The fact that hospitals would get extra quantities of the vaccine and wouldn’t consider other staff or calling in GPs in their area makes me incredibly cross. There’s a sense that GPs have only been getting the scraps off the table.” Dr Finn welcomed updated guidance from the Health Service Executive (HSE) stating that hospitals should compile stand-by lists of other healthcare workers who would be vaccinated in the event of any spare doses becoming available. She also commended the roll-out of a …

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Drugs destined for Clare seized by Revenue

A QUANTITY of drugs that were on their way to Clare were seized by Revenue officers at the Dublin Mail Centre on Thursday. Officers, with the help of detector dogs, seized over 1.5kg of illegal drugs, including herbal cannabis and cannabis infused ‘jelly sweets’ with an estimated value of over €32,000. The drugs were discovered in parcels that originated in the United States and the UK and were declared as items such as ‘clothing’, ‘candle set’, ‘tea’, ‘backpack’ and ‘incense burner’. The parcels were destined for delivery to various addresses Dublin, Offaly, Kilkenny, Clare and Kildare. Investigations are ongoing. These seizures are part of Revenue’s ongoing operations targeting the importation of illegal drugs. If businesses or members of the public have any information regarding smuggling, they can contact Revenue in confidence on Confidential Phone Number 1800 295 295.

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Shannon airport

Shannon Airport passenger numbers fell to 352,000 in 2020

JUST over 352,000 people used Shannon Airport in 2020, a 79% drop on 2019, Shannon Group has revealed. Shannon Group’s heritage sites, which include Bunratty and King John’s Castles, had 302,000 visitors last year, which was down by almost 69% on 2019. CEO of Shannon Group Mary Considine said that while Covid-19 did huge damage to its business, there is a basis for recovery. “Covid-19 had a devastating impact on two of our three business operations, but with the right supports, the foundations for recovery exist within Shannon Group, namely our improved core airport infrastructure, vibrant property portfolio, strong tourism offering and vibrant aviation cluster.” Aviation is on the floor now, but she says there are positive signs for Shannon. ““With Ryanair set to reopen its base and operate 14 new routes from Shannon for Summer ’21 there are green shoots, but we recognise that recovery will be slow, rebuilding will take time, but we will get there. Crucial to …

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Call for council apology over role at Kilrush mother and baby home

CLARE County Council has been urged to apologise for the role it played, in the 1920s and ‘30s, in the running of the County Clare Nursery in Kilrush. Last week, in the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, the high infant mortality rate there was revealed. The deaths of so-called “illegitimate” infants is recorded as 168 during a ten-year period from 1922 to 1932. The commission concluded that the vast majority of those children died at the home. The facility was owned and financed by Clare County Council. At the outset of this week’s meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, Councillor Shane Talty proposed that an apology would be issued by the council at its February meeting.  He said the council was proud of its history but added, “We should acknowledge our dark chapters and if the local authority had a role in that, albeit nobody today can take responsibility, I think at a …

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President Leads Tributes to Dr Brian Hillery

President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes to former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator Brian Dr Hillery who has died aged 83 after a short illness. In a glowing tribute, President Higgins said the news of the death of Brian Hillery will have been received with great sadness by all those with an interest in politics and economics, by those who encountered him in a long life of public service, and particularly by his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil Party. Minister Higgins said after taking an early interest in commerce and the economy, Mr Hillery went on to make a distinguished contribution as a Senator and TD for Dún Laoghaire, to his mark in the world of administration and finance, serving as Ireland’s representative on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as Director at the Central Bank, as a Financial Regulator, and as a member of a number of bodies providing advice to Government. “He also held with …

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Cooney commends bus shelter boost

VITAL services to encourage the use of public transport in Clare are to receive a boost, members of the local authority have been told. The need to provide safe and accessible bus shelters was raised by Councillor Joe Cooney who called on the council to work with Bus Éireann on the matter. A formal response to Councillor Cooney’s motion outlined how works are being carried out in conjunction with Bus Éireann, the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on 11 bus shelters at locations across the county. Six of these are new and will be installed in Nemarket-on-Fergus, Lisdoonvarna, Ennis, Westbury, Kilkee and Crusheen. Senior Engineer John Leahy outlined how the other five projects involve upgrades to existing shelters in Shannon. In a remote contribution, Councillor Cooney told the meeting how, in some cases, people had to wait for busses “in atrocious conditions”. He also noted that school children had to wait for public transport at the …

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