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Growing up with Michael D

  It is well known that Ireland’s ninth president, Michael D Higgins, spent a large portion of his youth on a farm near Newmarket-on-Fergus. His brother, John Higgins, spoke about their time in Ballycar and what his success means to the family.“I have to say, Clare was a nice place to grow up but not as nice as it is now. We came when I was four and Michael was five and we lived on the farm. We’d cycle in and out to school, through the fields—it wasn’t too far. Lucy Hastings taught us from infants until second class and Willie Cloon taught us thereafter,” he remarked, speaking fondly of his time in Ballycar National School. “The school is a private house now and a new one’s been built elsewhere.” “We later went to Flannan’s in Ennis. Michael was always into books and reading, whereas I was more hands-on. I was very into the hurling, while my brother was always …

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Clare rows in behind ‘one of our own’

Michael D Higgins was elected Ireland’s ninth president last Thursday and, as votes were being counted on Friday afternoon at the Clare Inn, just a few miles from where he grew up, it was clear that the Banner County was well behind him.Higgins took almost 44% of the number ones cast in Clare, more than 6,000 ahead of his nearest rival Sean Gallagher.The new president’s nephew, Michael Higgins from Ballycar, was at the Clare Inn and was delighted with his uncle’s performance. “I think not only will Michael D win the election I think the nation are going to win the election. He’s a safe pair of hands and hopefully he’ll steer the country in the right direction. He had a good campaign, didn’t get down in the trenches and stayed presidential,” he commented.Speaking at the count centre, Seamus Ryan, who acted as Labour Party director of elections in Clare, said the county had been very well disposed to Michael …

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President’s poetry made a mark on McNamara

If first impressions last, Michael McNamara’s first contact with Michael D Higgins was extremely positive. Watching Mr Higgins deliver a poetry reading in Mike McNamara’s pub in Scariff back in the ’80s left the young Scariff teenager with a warm glow.Mr Higgins struck a chord with young people in the audience that day. The introduction of the East Clare Drama Festival fostered an interest in the arts and theatre in the young teenager.Most of Mr Higgins’ poetry was personal and provided a social commentary on some of the issues facing the poor and underprivileged.He was the first poet the young teenager heard talking about places he knew such as St Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis, where Mr Higgins reluctantly sent his father when he could no longer be looked after at home.Maybe it was the fact both of them had a similar upbringing in their formative years. Alice Higgins was forced to send her five year-old Michael and four-year-old John to …

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New group refutes windfarm developers’ tourism-enhancement claim

THE developers of a proposed €100 million windfarm in West Clare have been accused of misrepresenting the tourism and long-term employment benefits from the development.According to a feasibility study completed by Jennings O’Donovan and Partners for Clare Coastal Wind Power, the windfarm has good wind regime, good access points, good grid connection options, is not located within a Designated Area of Conservation and would enhance tourism in the Doonbeg area.The study claimed the development, which extends into Kilrush, Doonbeg and Cooraclare parishes, would not impact the vistas of the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Ballyea waterfall, the Burren and Spanish Point where North Atlantic views form the main scenic amenity.“It is evident that the Doonbeg tourism industry revolves around coastal scenery and amenity and therefore it is not anticipated the proposal will cause any negative impact,” it stated.The study also cited an independent report produced by Sustainable Energy Ireland in 2003 called Attitudes towards the development of windfarms in Ireland, which …

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Reports of Fianna Fáil’s death have been greatly exaggerated

They haven’t gone away, you know. Reports about the death of Fianna Fáil over the past year or so have been found to be exaggerated.Those who were dancing on the Soldiers of Destiny’s grave will have to go and dance on another one.As I have pointed out in this column on many occasions, it is extremely difficult to predict a lot of things in politics with any degree of accuracy. I have even heard Fianna Fáil supporters say the party was finished. But last weekend’s Presidential election and the byelection in Dublin West showed there is life in the old dog still.Fianna Fáil may only have a handful of seats in the present Dáil, and no seat at all in Dublin, but you cannot write off a party with a history like that of Fianna Fáil with one stroke of the pen. Certainly Fianna Fáil should not boast too loudly about some of that history but any organisation that has …

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Keep them safe

SAFE Ireland recently launched its annual report for 2010 and to describe it as depressing reading is an understatement of significant proportions. In the statistics lies a story of such devastating truth that if it is acknowledged fully, as it must be, then no stone would be left unturned in order to address the problem. Make no mistake; there is a problem. As with all statistics, they must be read keeping certain things in mind. The over 3,000 occasions on which women and children were turned away from refuges where they sought shelter from physical, emotional, sexual and mental abuse may represent instances of the same women being turned away repeatedly. Keeping this in mind almost seems to make the report worse somehow. The number of women and children turned away represents a 38% increase on the 2009 figures.When viewing statistics, we instinctively look for big numbers to illustrate our point. In this case, the thought that the number of …

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Michael D is Áras bound

FROM humble beginnings to the highest office in the land, that’s the story of Michael D Higgins, President elect of Ireland.With a CV that lists his diverse roles as a poet, sociologist, author, broadcaster and politician, as well as outlining his interest in sport, it can be truly said that Michael D is a man of the people.The electorate was quite decisive when it came to the only poll that really matters. Having secured 701,101 first preference votes (39.6%) in last Thursday’s Presidential Election, Labour Party candidate Michael D (Daniel) Higgins went on to amass a total of 1,007,104 votes on the fourth and final count. It was a phenomenal performance by any standard, a tribute both to the calibre of the man and his campaign strategy.Independent candidate Sean Gallagher’s challenge fell away in the final few days of the campaign, when he failed to give satisfactory explanations for his role in facilitating fundraising for Fianna Fáil, clearing the way …

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