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Further incidents dash hopes of end to Tulla grave thefts

HEARTLESS thieves, who have stuck again at Tulla Graveyard, over the festive period, have been condemned by a local councillor. Gardaí say that in the run-up to Christmas four graves were targeted and a number of decorative items taken. The incidents have quashed hopes locally that a spate of thefts over the course of last year had finally come to an end. “The latest news is hugely disappointing,” said Councillor Pat Hayes. “Gardaí have put huge time and effort in to tackle this situation and it seemed to have stopped. It’s a sinister activity and people are, naturally, hugely emotional when the grave of a loved one is disturbed. People go to the graveyard for quietness and solace and shouldn’t have to be worrying about what they’ll find when they go there.” Prior to the December incidents, it is understood that there have been more than 20 thefts at the remote graveyard over the course of the year. At least …

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Hospitals’ Group issues new advice for hospital admissions

A HOSPITAL medic has appealed for people to follow all public health guidelines to curb the increasing spread of Covid-19 as the UL Hospitals’ Group prepares for a surge in admissions of very sick patients with the virus. Visiting bans which were imposed across acute public hospital sites in the Mid-West at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020 remain in force. Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals’ Group said the group regretted it is again curtailing scheduled care in their hospitals. He pledged the group will prioritise their most urgent patients for planned procedures and appointments and look forward to increasing this activity as soon as possible. “We have commenced vaccinating hospital staff against Covid-19 as part of the biggest such mass vaccination campaign ever seen in Ireland. It gives our staff such a sense of optimism that we are at the beginning of the end of this pandemic. “They know what they are potentially facing …

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Waterways Ireland plan new Lough Derg mooring points

THREE new ‘tranquillity moorings’ are being proposed for sites along Lough Derg’s Clare shoreline. Waterways Ireland has lodged applications with Clare County Council to build the moorings at Castle Bawn Bay, Ogonnelloe; at the mouth of the Scariff River; and on another site North West of Inis Cealtra, close to Knockaphort Jetty, around 130m from the lakeshore. Consultants who worked on the application noted that the lake is currently used for recreational boating, mainly during the summer months. “Casual boat mooring occurs within quieter inlets outside of the existing navigational markers, with boats dropping anchor near parts of the shoreline,” they note. “The proposed development aims to formalise mooring facilities in these areas, but discourage more casual mooring closer to the lake shore.” If granted permission, the development off Knockaphort Jetty would involve a new floating mooring buoy anchored by a concrete weight, sitting on the lake bed connected by a galvanised steel chain. That proposed mooring would only be …

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Garda checkpoints return under Level 5 lockdown

‘EXPECT to meet us anywhere,’ is the message from Clare Gardaí as they continue to enforce public health restrictions on travel. Following the return to Level 5, the policing plan for the division will now see three static checkpoints in Clare, and a number of roving, randomised checkpoints on roads across the county. “We will have checkpoints right across the division and you can expect to meet us anywhere,” said Superintendent John Galvin. “As well as three static checkpoints, we will be operating random, short-term checkpoints at a wide range of locations. The message is that if you are on out on the roads, we will be asking you about the purpose of your journey.” Superintendent Galvin noted that the approach taken to policing the 5km travel restrictions will be a “common sense” one. “We will be there to explain, advise and encourage,” he said. “People are entitled to travel to shop for essentials, for example, but they shouldn’t need …

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Sharp rise in restrictive practices at Ennis psychiatric unit

THERE has been an increase of 70% in the use of physical force to manage patients at Ennis’s Acute Psychiatric Unit, new figures show. The rise comes at a time when mental health experts say such measures should only be used in “exceptional” circumstances. A report from the Mental Health Commission shows there were 85 incidents, in 2019, when residents of the unit were physically restrained after they were judged to pose an immediate danger to themselves or to others. While there was a decrease nationally in the number of episodes of physical restraint in the country’s 65 approved inpatient psychiatric treatment centres, the facility in Ennis bucked that trend. There were 50 incidents of physical restraint at the unit in 2018 and 85 episodes involving 41 residents in 2019. In response to a query from The Champion, the Health Service Executive (HSE) Midwest, said it welcomed the report’s findings and is currently reviewing them. “While restrictive measures are sometimes …

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Date set for hearing on Kilfenora Waste Water Treatment Plant

AN ORAL hearing is to be held later this month in relation to the compulsory purchase of lands required for an upgrade to the Kilfenora Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). An Bord Pleanála will facilitate the online hearing on Tuesday, January 19 with a decision on the matter pencilled in for January 21. According to December’s management report from Clare County Council, it is proposed to upgrade the existing Kilfenora WWTP, reuse the existing treated effluent rising main to the current discharge point and construct a new percolation area at this site. Planning permission has been granted to Irish Water, but the appeals board has opted to hold a hearing before it adjudicates on the project. The event is described as an opportunity “to make further submissions and to allow the inspector to seek clarification on any relevant issues arising and objections made”. The board has also stressed that the hearing will look at the nature of the Compulsory Purchase Order …

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Different views for future Shannon Heritage ownership

THE government has been urged to put a strategic plan in place to support the development of Shannon Airport and tourism attractions this year. This issue was raised by Deputy Michael McNamara in the Dáil recently when he reminded An Taoiseach Micheál Martin that he highlighted the Shannon Group, Shannon Airport and their pivotal role for the economic well being of the Mid-West following his elevation six months ago. Deputy McNamara asked what plan is in place to support aviation and tourism across the Mid-West in 2020. “What is the plan for Shannon Heritage? The two sites that have opened are closing on January 3. It is planned to open the sites again in April, but Shannon Heritage remains in the Shannon Group with a commercial mandate and the sites ill fit a commercial mandate because while they generate money, they generate money more broadly in the economy than they do within the group itself. The Taoiseach acknowledged this “serious” …

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HSE suspends testing of close contacts of Covid-19

THE Mid-West HSE has suspended testing of close contacts of Covid-19 confirmed cases on a temporary basis in response to the very high rates of positive tests seen in recent days. In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the HSE appealed to everyone to stay at home and to effectively act like they have Covid-19. In a continuing effort to maintain effective turnaround times for testing and contact tracing, the HSE will not be referring any close contacts in the country for a test. This step is being taken to ensure that those who are symptomatic are prioritised and receive a test as quickly as possible. The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry explained the HSE are asking all close contact to restrict their movements, as this is the strongest defence against the spread of this virus. “If you show any symptoms please call your GP or GP out- of-hours service immediately and they will refer you for …

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