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Shannon still waiting for full autonomy

With a new slimmed-down Shannon Airport Authority due to take office on September 16, Dermot Walsh surveys the five-year tenure of the inaugural authority   THE Shannon Airport Authority got off to a controversial start and has seldom been very far from controversy since the break-up of the old Aer Rianta and its replacement by separate boards at the three State airports in 2004.Five years after that proclamation of “autonomy” by the late Seamus Brennan when he was Minister for Transport, Shannon has yet to see Government promises delivered. Shannon has an airport authority but no independence and, as the July report of the Government Task Force documented, is still under the thumb of the Dublin parent body. Neither has the pledge that Shannon would set out as a separate entity “debt-free” been honoured.

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Clare farmers combat aerial mapping

AERIAL mapping, using the latest satellite technology, has led to unexpected deductions for alleged overpayments in grant entitlements for Clare farmers, it has emerged this week. Cash-strapped Clare farmers, who are already left reeling from a dramatic hike in production costs and falling prices due to the atrocious weather conditions, have been hit with unexpected cuts in their annual income from the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Single Farm Payment and the Disadvantaged Area Scheme. The cuts have ranged from €1,000 to €2,500, depending on overall acreage.

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SIPTU proposes abolition of airports’ boards

WORKER representation on the board of the Shannon Airport Authority is to be more than halved on the orders of the Minister for Transport, at a time when Shannon is under pressure to bear new cutbacks on top of the 183 jobs shed since 2007. In response to the direction from Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to reduce the number of ministerial appointees, as well as worker-elected members of the airport board, the SIPTU negotiators have tabled a proposal for the boards at Shannon and Cork to be abolished.

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Celebrating ‘The Greatest’

THE people of Clare are being urged to come out in force to enjoy ‘The Greatest’ celebration as details of Tuesday’s open  air event to mark the visit of Muhammad Ali to the town were unveiled this week. Sports Academy International, the Clare-based sports event management company, are expecting thousands to turn up on Tuesday to participate in an open-air concert which will feature some of the biggest names in music.

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Rail opening stopped in its tracks… again

TRAINS will not run on the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor until at least December, even though work on the track is finished and the opening is already several months behind schedule. Iarnród Éireann would not reveal the cause of the delay but confirmed that trains will not travel between Limerick and Galway until December.

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Concern over loss of Clare agriculture office

CLARE looks set to become the only county in Munster without a local Department of Agriculture office, if the Government proceeds with a national rationalisation of offices. The Government has approved a plan submitted by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for a reorganisation of the department’s local office network. The plan involves a reduction from 57 to 16 in the number of offices from which the department will operate district veterinary, forestry and agricultural environment and structures support services in the future. The department has set a target of 12 months for the implementation of the plan.

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