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Miltown Malbay Has Made Me Feel At Home

A YOUNG Nigerian asylum seeker, based in West Clare, has challenged negative media portrayal of relations between rural communities and those seeking international protection in Ireland. Innocent Iroaganachi is one of approximately 31 men being provided with emergency accommodation in Miltown Malbay and says his experience there has been “wonderful”, thanks to the welcome afforded by the local community. Innocent told The Clare Champion that he decided to seek asylum here after he challenged homophobic attitudes of the government and some community leaders. His decision to speak out is something he believes lead to him being sacked from his job as a Dean of Students at a leading secondary school in Abia in the South East of Nigeria. He was already in Ireland pursuing an internship in the media when he learned that his employment had been terminated. “There was a situation in at the school and I responded by using common sense and judgement,” he explains. “But the situation was …

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Theresa Hits Out At Far Right Intimidation

A LISDOONVARNA resident, who set up a welcome group for asylum seekers living in direct provision, has decided to lift the lid on her experience of intimidation at the hands of what she believes to be far right agitators. Theresa O’Donohue, who has been active in welcoming asylum seekers to the North Clare village, says that “exasperation” at the secrecy still surrounding the process of housing asylum seekers in rural communities has motivated her to write a book to expose those trying to exploit the information vacuum. “Lessons have not been learned,” she says, “and that’s incredibly frustrating. I had no intention of doing this. And then Oughterard happened. I was exasperated that this is still happening in terms of the Department [of Justice] and communities. The lack of information.  It’s demoralising when it’s happened in your own community and it’s still going on. The Department haven’t learned any lessons.” Reflecting on the atmosphere around the time the news broke early last …

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Two President’s Award Leaders from Clare celebrated at Gaisce Civic Merit Awards Ceremony

ÁINE Meehan from Ennistymon Vocational School and Grace Kearney from St Anne’s Community College, Killaloe have both been awarded Gaisce’s Civic Merit Award at a ceremony at Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park, Dublin yesterday. Gaisce – The President’s Award held a special Civic Merit Award Ceremony, in recognition of 28 President’s Award Leaders from all over Ireland who have graciously supported young people to achieve their potential. Gaisce – The President’s Award is a personal development programme for young people which enhances confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical and community challenges. Since its inception in 1985 over 178,000 young Irish people have completed a Gaisce Award, including former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh and Irish rugby international Robbie Henshaw. Gaisce’s Civic Merit Award Ceremony honours President’s Award Leaders who have supported young people to take part in the Gaisce programme for more than five years. Master of Ceremonies was Gold Awardee Jamie Moore and the guest speaker on …

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‘It’s Hard To Look At Buildings Lying Idle When People Need Homes’

IT IS A bright and chilly Friday morning in Tulla and there’s a buzz of activity about the place as locals stock up on the shopping and catch up on the news ahead of the weekend. “Ideally, we’d love to see this level of activity every day of the week,” says Councillor Pat Hayes who is taking The Clare Champion on a short walking tour of following the news that over 40 vacant premises have been identified in the area. While the heart of Tulla is beating strongly, as we make our way down Lower Main Street, the evidence of a report compiled by Clare County Council from Geo Directory statistics becomes more apparent. “We are coming to an area where there would have been busy pubs and shops, as well as a cinema,” Cllr Hayes explains. “But, you know life has changed and times have changed. Still it is hard to be looking at buildings lying idle and empty …

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Despite the political rhetoric, there isn’t a jobs crisis-Comment

CLARE had a genuine jobs crisis not so long ago. It was one of the bleakest times in living memory in the county. Thousands emigrated, countless businesses closed, taxes increased, incomes fell, mental health issues soared and a general sense of decline and unease hung over our towns and villages. Given that this was all recent enough to be fresh in the memory of every adult who lived in the county at the time, it is disappointing that people are trying to conflate the recent announcement of job losses with an employment crisis. There is no doubt that losing one’s job creates a very definite personal crisis. For many of us our work shapes our identity; for almost everyone it creates the means to provide for themselves and their dependents, and when it is stripped away, an array of problems appear. Many Clare people who had been in seemingly secure and well-paid employment are dealing with this vista today, and …

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Brave Father’s Memory Lives On

WHEN Caroline Lynch from Quin married lively Dubliner Chris Byrne on June 28, 2013, building a dream home in the Banner County was always part of their plan. The Ringsend native was “larger than life”, says Caroline, and made a big impression on her native village. He found common ground with everyone he met and always had a friendly word. When we’d go out to the pub in Quin, everyone was like: ‘There’s Chris,’ whereas they hardly noticed me and I’m the native!” she smiles. While this year, Caroline is fulfilling the dream of raising her family in Clare, she’ll be doing it without her soul-mate, after losing Chris to an aggressive form of brain cancer in the Spring of 2016. Now, her rocks of support are her parents Ann and Des, her five-year-old son Harry, and a wide circle of relatives and friends. But she admits that the void left by Chris’s death has left her feeling “robbed” of …

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Coolmeen’s Aaron Finds It’s Good To Talk

EVEN in the 21st century, coming out in rural Ireland takes courage, and that’s something that Coolmeen-Cranny native Aaron Kelly has in spades. The 28-year old admits that it wasn’t always the case and that his struggle to accept his sexuality pushed him to the brink in terms of his mental health. It’s been a long road for the West Clare man who is urging others to be true to themselves and to seek support in overcoming mental health challenges and embracing life. “I suppose I always knew I was gay,” says Aaron. “But I couldn’t always picture myself having a happy life as a gay person. Growing up in Clare and going to a small school, the word ‘gay’ wasn’t really used and if it was, it wasn’t in a nice way.” Aaron, who is well known in local GAA circles, admits that, for a time, he tried to fit in with what was considered to be the norm in …

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New Cliffs Of Moher 2040 Strategy

CONTRACTS were signed on Friday by Clare County Council with Haley Sharpe Consultants to prepare a new Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040. The consultants comprise a multi-disciplinary team who will devise the Strategy that will inform future developments at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. This is a joint initiative between Clare County Council and Fáilte Ireland. Deputy Mayor of Clare, councillor Clare Colleran Molloy, stated that the challenge of this Strategy, and its component master plan, is to deliver a world class visitor experience utilising best practice visitor management and environmental management practices to ensure the future of the natural asset is safeguarded. Clare county council Chief Executive Pat Dowling said that the opportunity is there to provide adequate facilities onsite while securing a continued contribution to the wider economy, to ensure commercial and environmental sustainability into the future, maintaining market positioning. The project value is €400,000 and will be completed over 15 months with key deliverables at scheduled …

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