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Three years and a €5m estimate to fix Ballycar flooding

WORKS carried out in 1929 to prevent flooding in the Sixmilebridge and Bunratty areas had the unintended consequence of disrupting railway services 80 years later, Shannon area councillors heard this week.They were given an Iarnród Éireann presentation on the persistent flooding problem at Ballycar and also told that around €5 million would be required to remedy the situation.Conor McGuinness, programme manager with Iarnród Éireann said the line had been closed for eight weeks in 2009 due to flooding at Ballycar, which prompted a study. Consultants were appointed and they presented a report in October of last year.Mr McGuinness said there had been no flooding at the site prior to 1930 but arterial drainage works were carried out in 1929 on streams going to Ballycar Lake and the area has flooded on 14 occasions since, including 1994, 1995, 2005, 2008 and 2009. The floods reached a high point of 1.6m in 1995. Five possible options were outlined and Mr McGuinness said …

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Hopes high for bumper tourist season in Clare

2012 looks set to be a bumper year for tourism businesses in Clare, according to industry experts. Recently released figures from the CSO show heightened numbers of visitors to the country and Irish Country Hotels show an increase in bookings in traditional, Irish family-owned hotels.Statistics from Irish Country Hotels, a collection of 26 family-run hotels across Ireland, reveal a 21% increase in bookings for January and February compared to the same period in 2011 including a 5% increase from the UK. The figures were unveiled as Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the inclusion of Irish Country Hotels as the latest member of Guaranteed Irish scheme. The group, which includes The Armada Hotel in Miltown Malbay and Hyland’s Burren Hotel in Ballyvaughan, are the first hotels to be given the Guaranteed Irish logo, Ireland’s recognised symbol for Irish manufactured goods and services. The Irish Country Hotel bookings for January and February show a significant rise in business from the overseas market, in …

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Gloves at the ready for yearly spring clean

CLARE County Council, in association with An Taisce, is urging people to get involved in the 14th annual National Spring Clean Campaign.Last year, hundreds of people across the county and more than a half a million people nationally came together to organise clean-up events in their communities.  Participation in this year’s campaign, themed Working Together – for our community, is open to individuals, schools, businesses and community groups such as Tidy Towns committees, residents’ associations, development associations and sporting organisations.Groups and individuals that register to participate are issued clean-up kits containing valuable tips on how to hold a successful clean-up event, posters to advertise an event, plastic bags in which to collect litter and recyclable material and tabards and gloves.Mayor of Clare Councillor Pat Hayes noted litter has become a national problem and with limited resources, the help of local communities is now more important than ever.  “It does not matter if it is two or 200 people that take …

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Mayor ‘embarrassed’ over Ahern findings

Mayor of Clare Pat Hayes has admitted he is “embarrassed” former Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader, Bertie Ahern, failed to give a “truthful account” at the Mahon Tribunal.Bertie Ahern resigned from the Fianna Fáil party last weekend in the wake of stinging criticism of rulings and statements made disputing his evidence at the tribunal. Councillor Hayes has also acknowledged the main findings against Mr Ahern are a “body-blow” to the party. Having listened to some of the evidence at the tribunal, Councillor Hayes recalled he felt at the time it wasn’t “adding up” and didn’t sound good for Mr Ahern.However, he also hit out at the exorbitant cost of the tribunal, believed to be in the region of €350 million, and the fact that some individuals had earned multiples of what Bertie Ahern was paid.“We have to come up with a far more cost-efficient way of getting to the bottom of issues like this,” he said.Councillor Richard Nagle also admitted …

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Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa

I blame myself for believing in Bertie Ahern down through the years. Ahern was on the take and I didn’t want to believe it. The evidence was there from the time he started telling tall tales to the Mahon Tribunal about the sources of money in his account. But I, like thousands of others across the land, closed my eyes and ears to that evidence. Because I liked Bertie Ahern and because I liked the hard work he put in to ensuring there was peace in our island in our time. Obviously, there are two Bertie Aherns and I am afraid history will remember him more for the greed that was in him than for the good. We will not be able to praise him for helping to bring about peace in the North without also remembering the Mahon Tribunal Report. Bertie Ahern was not a man to cultivate enemies. He was not a divisive or an abrasive figure like, …

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Course fee jumps 70%

STUDENTS in Clare are among those involved in an unusual protest against a rise in the cost of third level education.Existing students of the part-time BA Art and Design course in GMIT recently discovered that the cost to them of taking the six-year course is likely to increase by 73%. The proposed fee for the part-time course for 2012/13, based on 30 credits of study, is €1,605. The fee for the programme for this academic year was €1,100 for first years and €878 for other years.“Unfortunately, fees are going up by more than 70%. This will mean a lot of us will probably have to drop out. You have to remember we are getting hit by taxes and cuts on every side too, so this is in addition to all of those. Getting hit with this in the middle of the course is a strange one. The cost for full-time students is going up 12.5% and yet we are getting …

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Successful US trip

SHANNON Development, in association with the North American Advisory Council (NAAC), held a number of influential networking events and one-to-one business meetings in New York, recently, aimed at securing American investment in the Mid-West.One of the highlights of the visit was a successful Shannon Region Information Evening held at the residence of the Consul General of Ireland in New York and hosted by his Excellency, Noel Kilkenny. The NAAC was initiated by Shannon Development in 2009 to assist with leveraging more strategic investment for business and tourism in the region. It consists of high-profile business people with Irish connections who have pledged to act as business ambassadors.Dr Vincent Cunnane, CEO of Shannon Development, noted, “Tourism continues to be one of the key economic drivers in the Shannon Region, employing more than 25,000 people in over 1,000 tourism businesses and attracting over 1.8 million visitors last year. “One of the primary purposes of the US visit was to promote the new …

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New judge welcomed to Clare

Judge Patrick Durcan was warmly received at a gathering of solicitors, gardaí and court service staff at Ennis Court House last Friday, where the Clare Law Association formally welcomed the Mayo man to the county. Judge Durcan was appointed to the Clare District Court area in December and took up the post this month. At the event, Marie Keane, president of the Clare Law Association, welcomed Judge Durcan, commenting on his vast and extensive experience following 39 years in private general practice in his native Westport. She commented on the judge’s “excellent” reputation as a practitioner and his “courteous” nature, which would influence his work on the bench. Ms Keane also spoke of Judge Durcan’s long and distinguished record in the public service, having served as a town councillor for Westport, county councillor with Mayo County Council and as a senator. Judge Durcan outlined to those gathered that he felt there were a lot of similarities to County Mayo in …

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