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Dooley clashes with Shannon Airport strategy director

THE current Aer Lingus ownership structure gives no guarantees on the provision of Shannon-Heathrow services, group strategy director of Shannon Group, Patrick Edmond said at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communication. Various political interests have called for the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus to be retained, claiming it ensures connectivity for the Clare airport. However, Mr Edmond said that is not the case, pointing out that in 2007, Aer Lingus management, under the same ownership structure as exists now, transferred all of the Heathrow slots serving Shannon to Belfast. While Clare TD Timmy Dooley challenged him, Mr Edmond stood firm on his observations. In his first contribution to the sitting, Mr Edmond said that if the Government does opt to dispose of its 25% holding, it should make sure it gets some guarantees around connectivity. “We would, therefore, expect that any Government decision to sell the State’s Aer Lingus stake to IAG would be conditional on an enforceable …

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Ennistymon public meeting on controversial community centre ‘constructive’

The board of directors of Ennistymon Community Centre will meet next week to discuss the outcome of a public meeting about the centre, which was held in the town earlier this week. According to a statement from the board, its members are “at a complete loss” to understand some of the allegations being made about the centre and its governance. A public meeting was held in The Falls Hotel on Monday, organised by a newly-formed group called the Ennistymon Community Action Group. The group was set up “in response to concerns in the greater parish and community about the current vitality of the Community Centre”. The board of directors of Ennistymon Parish Project Community Centre Ltd did not attend the meeting but refuted claims the centre was unavailable to clubs, that it was alienating young people and that it was not meeting its objectives. The board acknowledged that it had been invited to Monday’s public meeting but declined to go, …

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Nine million hear Clare woman’s voice

A North Clare woman wowed judges on the hit television programme, The Voice UK at the weekend. More than nine million people tuned in as Burren resident, Sharon Murphy sang Bob Dylan’s Forever Young in the show’s blind auditions broadcast on BBC 1 on Saturday. “To be honest, I have done gigs here and done gigs in other countries but I was not prepared for my nerves. It is very surreal because you are dealing with cameras. I normally play the guitar but this time I decided to focus on my voice because that is the show,” she explained. “I got on the stage and there were two Xs on the ground. You do the rehearsal and there is one X and then, when I went out, there were two so I didn’t know which one to stand on and then, on the very last note, I thought, this might not happen for me,” she added. Throughout the performance it …

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Clare golfers to tee off in LA Special Olympics

TWO Clare-based athletes are busy preparing for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles next July. Seventy-two-year-old Patrick Rutherford is very excited to have been selected as a playing partner for 29-year-old Paul Kirrane from Ennis. Apart from being “shocked and surprised” at being selected for the games, Patrick is also “very happy”. “At my age it is marvelous,” he said. With seven centrally planned events, Patrick won’t be taking his foot off the pedal and will be training four times a month at Ennis Golf Club. Not content with just playing golf, which he has been doing for over 25 years, Patrick also enjoys triathlons and athletics. When he’s not on the golf course or completing triathlons, widower Patrick is kept busy with his family of two sons and six grandchildren. Paul is very excited to be competing in this year’s Special Olympics as part of Team Ireland. The moment Paul heard the news that he had been …

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Families call for extended maternity review

Pressure is growing on Health Minister, Leo Varadkar to extend the timescale and scope of a review of maternity services in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, after claims that the number of babies who died or have been deprived of oxygen is more than double the official figures. Many women from the East Clare area avail of maternity services at Portiuncula. The Saolta Group, which runs Portiuncula Hospital, has sanctioned a review into maternity services at the hospital, after the deaths of two babies and oxygen deprivation for five more. This review covers the nine-month period from February to November of last year. However, Warren and Lorraine Reilly, Loughrea, who lost two babies in Portiuncula Hospital within two years, have requested Minister Varadkar to extend the terms of the proposed inquiry from 2008 to 2014. The couple lost babies Asha and Amber, in 2008 and 2010 respectively, in the hospital. Asha was stillborn, while Amber had to be rushed to Holles Street …

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No Shannon guarantee no deal, Minister hints

WHILE he didn’t go as far as saying that there is no prospect of a deal with IAG on Aer Lingus in the absence of guarantees for Shannon, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe stressed that connectivity for the Mid-West will be a very important consideration, when he spoke to The Clare Champion. “We’re looking at all of the consequences that the proposed bid could have for connectivity. I’m very much aware of how important connectivity is for the Shannon region and how important Shannon Airport is. I have said throughout all of this that national connectivity and the particular impact on our regions will be vital if a bid comes in,” he said. There have been claims that even if guarantees for Shannon and Cork are built into an eventual agreement between the State and IAG, they will have no real legal standing. Asked if there are any precedents where guarantees have been given on future connectivity, the minister declined to …

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Killaloe hay barn fire ‘suspicious’

KILLALOE gardaí are investigating the circumstances surrounding a suspicious fire, which has caused in the region of €20,000 to €40,000 worth of damage to property at a hay barn in Garraunboy, Killaloe. Gardaí received a call at 6.30am on Sunday, alerting them to a fire at a hay barn, where farm machinery is stored, in the townland of Garraunboy. At the scene, gardaí found that extensive damage was caused to not alone the hay barn but also to two silage trailers and a sprayer. An investigation was launched and the fire is being treated as a deliberate act of vandalism. Gardaí have determined that there was nothing in the hay barn or any external factor that may have caused an accidental fire at this location and so are treating the incident as suspicious. The owner of the property, who works as a farm contractor and lives nearby, was alerted to the fire by neighbours, who heard an explosion and contacted …

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Des O’Malley for book festival

Former Progressive Democrats leader and government minister, Des O’Malley will participate in a special political debate as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival in March. The Limerick politician will join a panel of experts for this year’s Sunday Symposium, entitled The Naked Politician on Sunday March 8. The panel discussion about life as a politician in Ireland today also features Professor Gary Murphy, political scientist at DCU; Mick Clifford, correspondent for The Irish Examiner; and Katie Hannon; political correspondent for RTE. Supported by Clare County Council, Clare County Library and The Arts Council, the three-day programme of festival events is expected to attract an estimated 3,000 book club members and literary enthusiasts from all over Ireland, Europe and North America.

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