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‘This Christmas has to be different’ health chiefs warn

HSE chiefs in the Midwest have issued a warning over the impact of a possible third wave of Covid-19 on service delivery in the region. “This Christmas has to be different,” Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health in the Midwest told members of the local authority. “The next couple of weeks are so important and will determine what happens in January, which is always tough anyway in terms of healthcare. We are appealing to people to reduce their social contacts immediately. Keep washing your hands and keeping social distance.” Dr Mannix also said there were far too many instances where people were sick and still turning up at work. “This cannot continue,” she said. Professor Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director said that University Limerick Hospitals Group (ULHG) could not rule out having to cancel elective procedures in January. He said the acute hospitals were preparing for a possible Covid spike in the New Year. “January is always a challenging …

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‘Body blow’ for hospitality as Covid restrictions make an early return

THE return of Level 5 restrictions, which will force gastropubs and restaurants to close from the afternoon of December 24, has been described as “a body blow” to the sector. Fears are growing for the future viability of the hospitality industry in Clare, with a warning that many businesses will face closure in the New Year, unless government supports are stepped up. Reaction in Clare to Tuesday’s announcement that restrictions are to be re-imposed from Christmas Eve, has ranged from resignation in the face of a third wave of Covid-19 to anger at the perceived delay in breaking the news. “This is very disappointing and word got out through a series of Chinese whispers,” said Clare Chair of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) Darragh McAllister. “The way that the details were leaked [last weekend] is shoddy, amateur and no way to run a country. There are huge problems now for the gastropubs in terms of all of the stock …

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Drennan demands action for hauliers caught on UK landbridge

THE Ennis man at the head of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has voiced concerns over the mental and physical health of up to 200 drivers from this country who were stranded this week in Britain. Chaos ensued around several ports in the south of England when France temporarily shut its borders over fears of a new and highly infections train of Covid-19 in parts of the UK. Eugene Drennan President of the IRHA said that while it was difficult to estimate the number of drivers stranded, up to 200 could have been caught up in long queues around some of the busiest ports with mainland Europe. “If this was a war situation or a major catastrophe, you’d have the Red Cross and the United Nations (UN) coming out to help,” he said. “I’d like to know who is going to check on these drivers and ask about the physical and mental health and what their situation is like …

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No change to status of Ennis General despite upgrades

DESPITE a number of upgrades, Ennis General Hospital won’t see its former status return, and will remain a Model 2 facility, the Chief Clinical Director of the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) has said. Professor Brian Lenehan told a briefing for local authority members that while new operating theatres are planned for the site in the county town, they won’t change the status of the facility within the hospitals group. He noted progress in a number of areas at Ennis General, including a new outpatient department which is now equipped and set to open in the first quarter of next year. “We will increase the range of services available in Ennis over the course of the year,” Professor Lenehan said. “The Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and the Local Injuries Unit (LIU) will see upgrades. The MAU is now open seven days a week and sees 32 patients a day. University Hospital Limerick (UHL) would struggle without it.” Professor Lenehan described the …

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Concern over loss of Moneypoint Power Station Contract

WEST Clare workers mustn’t be forced to carry an undue burden after Moneypoint Power Station lost a major contract and main source of income from October 2024, according to a local Dáil deputy. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne has urged the government to sit down the workers at Moneypoint, trade union representatives and local representatives to ensure that West Clare people are not forced to carry an undue burden as the state transitions to a sustainable energy environment. The latest blow for Moneypoint comes about 12 months after about 100 workers lost their jobs as part of a restructuring plan. In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the ESB expressed its disappointment that the Moneypoint units did not prequalify for the T-4 auction for the period October 2024 to September 2025. This means that Moneypoint will have no capacity income, which is its primary source of income, from October 2024. “This presents further viability challenges to the Moneypoint station which has …

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No debate about award for volunteer Denis

TULLYVARRAGA’S Denis Bates, a retired teacher, has received an award for volunteering work with Ireland’s largest aid agency, Concern Worldwide. Denis received a silver medal for his involvement with its national debating competition, Concern Debates, which he has been involved with since 1985. Hundreds of schools take part in the nationwide contest each year with students going head-to-head in debates about world and development issues – with volunteer judges like Denis deciding who wins each one. Denis was also a mentor for student teams at CBS Sexton Street in Limerick city when he worked there over many years. He has also adjudicated at many debating contests involving Clare schools like St. Patrick’s Comprehensive in Shannon and Coláiste Muire in Ennis. He became involved after having returned to Ireland after spending six years in East Africa. “When I came home I still had an interest in the developing world. There wasn’t much opportunity in Ireland in those days to express that …

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PUP numbers drop as trade steps up

THE amount of Clare people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment dipped significantly between December 8 and 15. Clare’s economy has apparently benefited from the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions and increased spending close to Christmas, with the number of people receiving the payment dropping by more than 800 in a week from 7,398 to 6,539. The weeks before Christmas are the busiest time of the year for retailers, and in Ennis Liam Meaney, the manager of men’s clothes shop Club Dangan on O’Connell Street, said that business has been quite brisk of late. “Thankfully trade has been very good since we came back, we can’t complain at all, we’re delighted with it. “This year we’ve spent almost as much time closed as we’ve been open, but here between the two lockdowns we got our website going, so that helped us in the second lockdown. “We were behind closed doors posting out orders and doing click and collect, so that was a …

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Windfarm developer cites long term gains for climate and communities

THE development of onshore windfarms is critical for Ireland’s transition to a low carbon society, according to Pádraig Howard of Mid Clare Renewable Energy, and his company’s proposed new development at Cahermurphy would be fully in compliance with new draft national guidelines. The so-called Cahermurphy II project has attracted a number of local objections and is currently with Clare County Council planners. Mr Howard met with the Clare Champion at the site of the first Cahermurphy windfarm on Tuesday, and was actually interviewed while standing at the top of a stairwell on a turbine. While there have been concerns raised about the potential for noise from the proposed new windfarm, it was possible to have a conversation of almost 30 minutes without raising voices, while actually on the turbine. On the day the wind speed was around 8.5 metres per second, and while this wouldn’t be exceptionally quick, Mr Howard said that the turbines were close to their most audible, …

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