TWO Clare Champion reporters have been selected as finalists in this year’s Local Ireland Media Awards.
Peter O’Connell has been selected as a finalist for the second year running, this time in the news category, for his story, Death by Geography, while Dan Danaher has been shortlisted for his news series focusing on the EPA.
This is the second year of the awards. Last year, The Clare Champion was also shortlisted in two categories and went on to win the prize for Feature Story of the Year.
The awards event is organised by Local Ireland, which is the promotional brand of the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI). The group represents 35 companies across the country, including newspaper titles and printing companies.
In his selected entry, Peter O’Connell revealed that the Shannondoc service in Kilrush, Ennistymon and Killaloe was to be drastically slashed.
Residents throughout West Clare, particularly the remote villages of Carrigaholt, Cross and Kilbaha, expressed concern that, in the event of needing Shannondoc, they would have to travel to either Miltown Malbay or Ennis.
Shannondoc said they would operate a video link service from Kilrush but, when Yvonne McNamara from Kilbaha called Shannondoc on the evening of Monday, November 14, 2016, she was told that Shannondoc in Kilrush was “closed”. Her daughter had sustained a deep cut and needed medical treatment.
Ironically, that was the first day on which the reduction in the Shannondoc service took effect in Kilrush.
Ms McNamara was advised to travel to Miltown Malbay from Kilbaha but opted to go to the Minor Injuries Clinic at Ennis Hospital. However, she arrived just after 8pm and the clinic was closed. The mother and daughter then went to the Shannondoc centre in Ennis, from which they were sent to University Hospital Limerick. They were in the hospital until 11.30pm and doctors were planning to apply a local anaesthetic gel in the emergency department but they were out of the gel. Having left Kilbaha at 7pm, they were advised to return to Limerick at 8am the following morning.
“It’s death by geography for some residents of West Clare, unless our politicians can reverse the cuts in services quickly. If it had been a shallow cut, they would have been able to deal with it in Kilrush, if Shannondoc there had been open. It’s a bit far to be going to get a wound assessed. As it happened, it was a deep cut that needed stitches so I was referred on to casualty at the regional in Limerick. If it was a football injury, are people going to have to go to Ennis for something like that? It’s just ridiculous,” Ms McNamara told The Clare Champion at the time.
Over a 10-week period, Dan Danaher’s news series examined the environmental compliance of 17 local companies who deal with various different types of chemicals and hazardous waste.
Of those that were featured in The Clare Champion/Mary Raftery Special Investigation, 15 companies were initially granted Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control (IPPC) licences. The two exceptions were Enva and Clean Ireland Recycling Limited, who have waste licences. The main function of these licences is to ensure that companies, who are handling potentially toxic chemicals and waste that can seriously damage the environment, operate to the highest standards.
The investigation looked at the companies’ environmental compliance and examined the effectiveness of the EPA to act as an independent environmental watchdog. The series placed the current self-monitoring reporting system by companies for environmental breaches under the spotlight.
The Local Ireland Media Awards will be presented at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, on Thursday, May 18 and Michael Lyster, RTÉ sports broadcaster, will act as MC.