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Cappahard Lodge inquiry delayed again

A NUMBER of staff employed in the Clare Mental Health Service, who were reportedly subjected to criticism in an Health Service Executive commissioned inquiry, have engaged solicitors following the publication of a draft report, The Clare Champion has learned.The independent review into allegations about the care provided to the late Gerard Finn, Kilrush, was due to be published this month but has been delayed yet again for an unspecified period.It is believed that some staff members who were allegedly criticised the draft report were only recently given an opportunity to view this criticism and make representations or observations to the review team.The Clare Champion understands that a number of individuals have engaged legal advisers to represent them in this process.Mr Finn (69), who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, died in June 2007. The latest inquiry was established by the HSE in November 2008 following complaints about his care by two of his daughters, Lourda Finn and Sharon Murphy.Psychiatric Nurses’ Association …

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Judge blames council’s failures for death

Clare County Council’s abject failure to enforce the Health Safety and Welfare Act led directly to an employee’s death, a circuit court judge said this week.The death of Thomas O’Grady, following a work accident, was recalled at Ennis Circuit Criminal Court when a 12-months suspended sentencewas imposed on Michael Scully, a retired senior engineer, who pleaded guilty to two charges under of the Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act. Having also pleaded guilty through solicitor John Shaw, the council was fined a total of €50,000 on four charges arising from an incident at a road construction site near Tulla in May 2006 when a dumper truck driven by Mr O’Grady overran an unprotected embankment. Mr O’Grady, who sustained serious injuries when thrown from the truck, died on July 7, 2006.In passing imposing penalties, Judge Gerard Griffin said, “The county council have a duty to enforce the Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act and their abject failure to do …

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Roads damage bill tops €11 million

CLARE County Council’s final estimate for the recent weather damage caused to large parts of the county’s road network tops €11 million.Describing the repair bill as “enormous”, Mayor of Clare Councillor Tony Mulcahy has called for a council deputation to meet with Minister Noel Dempsey and present a case for additional funding.“There is no point in sitting back and saying we have no money to repair roads in Clare. If the council doesn’t have the money to do a proper job, roads could become irreparable and it could cost three times as much to restore them to their original condition.“The scale of the damage to the county road network is massive. There is no point in just filling potholes because the road will be as bad as ever in a few months time,” he noted.Clare County Council has costed the repair bill as follows: national roads flood damage €630,000; non-national flood damage €2,352,000; national roads frost damage €1,022,000 and non-national …

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Shannon Region labelled the ‘basket case’ of Irish tourism

AN unprecedented collapse in overseas visitor numbers in the Mid-West is certain to trigger calls for a comprehensive review of the performance record of the three State tourism promotion agencies.The precise extent of the 2009 meltdown has yet to be established and is being disputed by Shannon Development. At this week’s release of its company’s review of 2009 activity, chief executive Dr Vincent Cunnane suggested that last year’s decline compared to the 2008 was closer to 22% rather than the 27% reversal suggested by Niall Gibbons, head of Tourism Ireland, the all-island promoter of overseas tourism. “Whatever the final figure turns out to be, a slump on the scale of last year makes the Shannon Region [Mid-West] the basket case of Irish tourism,” Irish Hotels Federation Shannon branch chairman, Michael Vaughan said. As a member of the Shannon Regional Tourism Board and newly appointed chairman of the tourism pillar of the 500-member Atlantic Way business alliance, he will be joined …

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€230,000 on the table for mart

THE future of Sixmilebridge livestock mart may well rest with the bargaining powers of a four-man committee that has been given a mandate to negotiate with Golden Vale for the purchase of the property.While the negotiations so far have been tentative, the committee is to step up its campaign after being given the go-ahead at a public meeting in Sixmilebridge on Tuesday night to try and broker a deal, which would ultimately see the ownership of the mart revert back to the farmers.Golden Vale has put the premises on the market with a guide price of €450,000, down from an original estimate of €600,000, but the fact that a €230,000 offer, tabled by the committee, hasn’t been accepted or rejected is viewed as an encouraging sign.Golden Vale says they received another offer of €300,000 but the fact that they haven’t given any indication as regards the committee’s bid is being interpreted as a willingness on their part to do business.If …

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Kerin appointed as Clare chief superintendent

THE Clare Garda Division has secured the appointment of a new chief superintendent and as a result, Belharbour man John Kerin is to return to his native county to head the division.The North Clare man has been brought in to fill the vacancy left in the division by Chief Superintendent Mary Fitzgerald’s retirement last December. The administrative role of the Clare Garda Division had been tasked to Galway Chief Superintendent Donal O’Cualáin in the absence of a chief superintendent in the county.Chief Superintendent Kerin returns to Clare next week, having previously held the position of superintendent in Ennis for seven years before his transfer to Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick in early 2007.Subsequent to this move, he was promoted to chief superintendent in 2008, taking over as head of the Kerry Garda Division. For the last two months, he has looked after the administration of both Limerick and Kerry Garda divisions, following the retirement of Chief Superintendent Gerry Mahon …

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Council debate over laptop ban

THE proposed enforcement of a ban preventing Clare county councillors from bringing their own laptops into the council chamber for statutory meetings should generate heated debate amongst members at their March meeting.A proposal to broadcast council meetings live on a webcast is also likely to provoke differing opinions from elected members.Official confirmation of a debate on whether laptops should be allowed in the council chamber has prompted Councillor Brian Meaney to table a motion requesting the broadcast of all statutory meetings on a webcast as well as retaining a digital archive of the entire proceedings.Councillor Meaney, who is opposed to any restriction on the use of laptops, said the council should follow the example of their counterparts in Fingal County Council, where the contents of discussions are broadcast on a webcam.He stressed that using a laptop at a council meeting is an essential tool for any councillor who wished to be kept up to date with all the latest developments …

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Councillors up in arms over draft planning guidelines

LIMERICK and North Tipperary county councillors will be lobbied by their counterparts in Clare County Council to oppose sections of the draft Mid-West Regional Planning Guidelines, following a special meeting on Monday.Clare county councillors are up in arms over various sections of the economic blueprint, which they claim promoted retail and economic development in Limerick City at the expense of the Banner County.Councillor Joe Arkins said the council should propose the deletion of certain paragraphs, replacing them with policies that protect rural development in Clare.He was supported by Councillor PJ Kelly, who warned that if the draft document is adopted by the regional authority, then development couldn’t take place in Clare without having all of the necessary infrastructure in place first.However, senior planner Gordon Daly and county manager Tom Coughlan cautioned against suggesting alternative wording as it could be viewed as an attempt by the council to re-write a regional strategy.Councillors Kelly and Arkins stressed that councillors should have amendments …

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