Maintaining a status of high health

THE Minister of State at the Depart- ment of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Wallace TD, speaking at the Irish Equine Veterinary Con- ference in Killenard last week, ac- knowledged the contribution of the Irish bloodstock industry and vital role that equine veterinary practi- tioners play in “maintaining the high health status of the Irish equine pop- WIE LeCey ila

Minister Wallace described the bloodstock industry as one _ that “makes a tremendous contribution to the profile, culture and economy of this country and which also has

a well deserved global tradition and reputation”. The thoroughbred sec- tor has been the main flag bearer for the industry over the years with Irish bred horses winning some of the world’s most prestigious races, and Ireland was the world’s third largest producer of thoroughbreds. The min- ister added that the Irish sports horse had also flown the flag with great distinction and she predicted that the establishment of Horse Sport Ireland heralded an era of significant oppor- tunity for this sector.

The minister said that the reputa- tion of the industry was underpinned by the health status of the horse pop- ulation. In that regard, she described

equine practitioners as being “at the coalface” of animal health, and ex- pressed her appreciation and that of her department for the support pro- vided by the industry and the veteri- nary profession during the 2006 out- break of equine infectious anaemia. The minister also paid tribute to the “collaborative approach” taken by the bloodstock industry, the veteri- nary profession and her department in tackling and successfully eradicat- ing the disease outbreak.

Ms Wallace acknowledged increas- ing concern about the emergence of new disease threats facing the equine and other sectors for a variety of rea- sons, and the ongoing need for fur-

ther measures to enhance animal, and equine welfare in particular. Minister Wallace said that her de- partment was committed to playing its part through the introduction of new and robust animal health and welfare legislation to meet the com- mitments in the programme for Gov- ernment.

Minister Wallace also paid tribute to the late Michael Osborne, whose memory was honoured by the inclu- sion of the inaugural Michael Os- borne Lecture as a central part of the conference. Ms Wallace described Mr Osborne as “a man who made an enormous contribution to the Irish bloodstock industry”.


Taking young farmers into account

MACRA na Feirme national presi- dent, Catherine Buckley reacted to Commissioner Fischer Boel’s speech on the Common Agricultural Policy Health Check by stating that any modifications to the current CAP policy must favour new entrants and young farmers.

“The potential impact on new en-

trants and young farmers who are trying to make a go at full-time farming and who traditionally are the hardest hit as the result of policy changes must be taken into account,” she said. Ms Buckley declared that her organisation welcomed the Com- missioner’s assertion that increases in milk quota should be part of the package to allow expansion for those who want to expand in dairying.

“If we are to attract young people into the industry we need radical changes. The targeting of increased quota to new and recent entrants is required to allow the farmers who are the future of the dairy industry to rapidly expand their businesses in the years ahead and to prepare for an environment without milk quotas,” she said. On the matter of the current proposals to raise the rate of modula-

tion to 13%, Ms Buckley said this was totally unacceptable as it would have a negative effect on farmers’ i1n- come and, under current modulation rules, it would not reward farmers who are trying to progress their farm LURID ASAT oIce

Ms Buckley concluded by saying that other aspects of the proposal would need further discussion and debate within her organisation.


Doolin rescuers in a six-hour drama

A 24-YEAR-OLD Dublin woman, who was trapped on a ledge at the bottom of a 20-metre ravine for al- most six hours, was airlifted to hos- pital while five others had also to be rescued when a Saturday afternoon canyoning expedition in Clare al- most turned to tragedy.

The group of eight, from Dublin and Cork, had been canyoning along the bank of the Aille River near Doo- lin when one woman missed her step and fell several feet onto a ledge be- low. Two other members of the group risked their lives by floating along the river to a location where they

could safely reach a road and raise the alarm.

The group had set out at llam on Saturday to brave a three-kilometre stretch of the river in the townland of Ballysallagh when the incident oc- curred.

Canyoning is an adventure sport which involves walking, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and/or swim- eaneetee

The Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter was scrambled to the scene. The chopper landed in a near- by field as members of Doolin Coast Guard were lowered on to the ledge to recover the casualty and her five friends.


GP criticises health spending

AN AWARD-WINNING © north Clare-based GP said yesterday that a much better balance needed to be found in health spending so as more could be spent on primary care. According to Ballyvaughan GP, Dr Liam Glynn, 80 to 90 per cent of pa- tients in the health system are treated through primary care, yet it only re- ceives 20 per cent of health funding.

Dr Glynn — who recently scooped a medical ‘Oscar’ for a research project — said, “The balance is way wrong in terms of how the large hospitals swallow large amounts of health funding and that needs to be changed around in favour of primary care funding.”

The Government’s Primary Care Strategy was published in 2001-02 and Dr Glynn said, “It is making progress, but it could be happening


“When you invest in primary care, it results in a more cost effective and more effective health care system.”

Dr Glynn, whose brother Fergus also operates as a GP in north Clare, said that he was thrilled to win the Irish Journal of Medical Science An- nual Research Award for his paper entitled, “Chronic Kidney Disease as a Predicator of Cardiovascular Mor- bidity and Mortality’.

Dr Glynn also scooped the award in 2005 for his research on out-of-hours doctors’ service.

The results of Dr Glynn’s research into chronic kidney disease empha- sise the importance of recognising it as a significant risk factor in patients with cardiovascular disease in the community. The research involved a database of 1,609 patients with established cardiovascular disease. The database was generated from a randomised sample of 35 general practices in the west of Ireland.

On the challenges facing rural GP practices, Dr Glynn said, “Rural GPs need to be supported by Government. There is a need to ‘follow the patient’ and Government must accept that it 1s more expensive to provide a service in rural areas.” Dr Glynn said, “The people make it worthwhile. They are tremendous folk.”

Dr Glynn qualified from Trin- ity College, Dublin in 1995 and, after finishing his vocational train- ing in General Practice in the Scot- tish Highlands, returned to Galway where he completed the Senior Reg- istrar scheme in General Practice.

In November, 2004, he was ap- pointed Lecturer in Primary Care at NUI, Galway and is currently pursu- ing an MD in cardiovascular disease in the community.


New committee for Ennis hospital

ENNIS General Hospital Develop- ment Committee are preparing to elect a new committee although it is not yet known if chairman Peadar McNamara is to step down.

The long-serving member of the committee said he was fighting an internal battle and had not yet decid- ed if he would be vacating the chair.

The committee, which campaigns for the retention of 24-hour accident and emergency services at Ennis General Hospital and the reopening of the mammography unit, will hold

its annual general meeting on Mon- day, January 28.

Mr McNamara said that the meet- ing, which will be held in the Auburn Lodge, is open to the public.

“We are inviting all organisations to send a delegation and we hope to elect anew committee,” he said.

The group set up a sub-commit- tee – Clare Cancer Concern – earlier this year when it emerged that En- nis General Hospital was to lose its mammography unit.

At the end of September, the hospital committee organised a rally through the streets of Ennis protesting against

the threat to the acute hospital’s 24- hour accident and emergency service. Less than 5,000 people gathered in the square in Ennis on that Saturday afternoon in support.

Groups such as Clare People With Disabilities, Ennis Active Retire- ment, SIPTU, Shannon Aer Lingus Workers, Kildysart Agricultural Show, District Day Care Centre Clarecastle, Birth Choice Clare, Clare Sinn Fein, the INO, The Lions Club and members of Clare’s locals authorities took part in the March.

Mr McNamara is now hoping that the organisations will attend the

meeting along with the members of the public. “We hope to set up a new and revitalised committee,” he said.

When asked if he himself would be stepping down having served as chairman for a number of years he answered, “I am saying nothing.” In the meantime, he said he would con- tinue with the campaign.

Since the protest march, Mr Mc- Namara said that the group have met with Independent TD Finian Mc- Grath and the health spokespersons from the opposition benches. The eroup have also prepared a document for TDs outlining their plight.


Pneumococcal vaccine needs push

A CLARE GP has expressed concern at the lack of knowledge regarding the pneumococcal vaccine. A TNS MRBI poll showed that just two per cent of people have been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.

According to Dr Dermot Boyle, this is a very worrying Statistic given the serious side effects associated with the infection.

“The pneumococcal vaccine is free to all people aged 65 and over and to those at risk of contracting the dis- ease, including people with diabetes,

a weakened immune system or heart disease. I would encourage all those at risk and over 65 to speak to your GP about getting vaccinated against pneumococcal disease,” he said. While 77 per cent of Irish people believe that pneumococcal disease iS a more serious condition than the flu, only 11 per cent of respondents knew that a pneumococcal vaccine was available. This compared with 40 per cent who had been vaccinated against flu. However, between 1996 and 2006, more than 200 Irish peo- ple have died per year as a result of contracting pneumococcal disease.

The vaccine against pneumococ- cal disease is a single vaccination for most people.

The Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland recommend that all people over 65 years of age should be vac- cinated against both pneumococcal disease (pneumo bug) and the flu.

The survey carried out for Sanofi Pasteur MSD also showed that 29 per cent of respondents had heard of pneumococcal disease highlighting the need for increasing awareness levels. The research also demon- strated that confusion exists around the diseases that can be caused as a

result of pneumococcal infection.

If untreated, pneumococcal disease can lead to the development of pneu- monia, meningitis and septicaemia.

The research also revealed that low levels of people who were at risk of contracting pneumococcal disease had been vaccinated. A weakened im- mune system, heart disease and dia- betes are all conditions that can result in the person being more susceptible to pneumococcal disease. However, only 18 per cent with a weakened im- mune system, nine per cent of those with heart disease and 11 per cent with diabetes had been vaccinated.


Time to reduce the burden on farmers

THE Minister for Agriculture, Fish- eries and Food, Mary Coughlan said now is the time to pursue reducing the administrative burden on farm- ers. The EU Commission published its communication on preparation for the Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy this week. Following the publication Minister

Coughlan said, “I anticipate detailed and intensive negotiations on the Health Check over the next twelve months or so.”

The Health Check of the CAP aris- es from planned reviews of the milk quota regime and the operation of the Single Payment Scheme.

Minister Coughlan said this was an ideal opportunity to pursue her ob- jective of reducing the administrative

burden on farmers by simplifying in a genuine and practical manner the requirements of Single Payment. She also recalled that Commission- er Fischer Boel has frequently stated that the Health Check is not intended to fundamentally change the CAP. “I strongly agree with this point,” she said. “I firmly believe that farm- ers need a period of policy stability to adapt to the new decoupled pay-

ments regime.”

The Minister announced that she would establish a consultative com- mittee to advise her on the health check. This group will work in par- UOC M A 100MM eComOrOyeeULe-1O Romeo nelt1OMr-0 Ee ready announced on dairy quotas.

It will include all the main industry stakeholders with an interest in the issues encompassed by the Health Check.


Confidence returns to dairying

THERE is a renewed confidence in the dairy sector following the Tea- gasc National Dairy Confidence.

The sector, which is entering a time of massive change, is welcoming an increase in market returns for dairy products.

The possibility of milk quotas in- creasing could create an opportunity for Irish dairy farmers to organically erow their milk production business for the first time since 1984.

Speaking at the conference at- tended by more than 1,000 farmers, Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, said, “This opportunity has been denied to a whole generation of milk producers who have been locked into a rigid quota system for most of their farming life. The pro- posed policy changes unveiled by the European Commission require care- ful evaluation and consideration.

“As director of Teagasc I am taking an active hands-on interest in this process, so that the best outcome is

achieved for the Irish industry. I be- lieve that there will be new oppor- tunities for young committed dairy farmers to develop profitable dairy businesses in the future, but we need to plan for that now.

“We must ensure that there are adequate numbers of high quality replacement heifers being produced, so that individually and collectively we are ready to grasp the opportuni- ties that may arise in the future,” he Sr nLG

“The technologies to optimise protf-

it are developed and the Teagasc ad- visory service has been realigned to transfer this technology onto farms to allow producers generate higher profits while safeguarding the envi- ce)eeetoale

“Better breeding coupled with higher production and better utilisa- tion of grass continue to be the cor- nerstones of profitable dairy produc- tion. Dairy farmers are increasing their income by thousands of euro by using the latest grass budgeting tech- niques,” Prof Boyle concluded.


Cultural exchange is just ‘bellissimo

A WEST Clare secondary school is leading the way in developing an international relationship with Italy.

Fourteen transition year students from St Joseph’s Secondary school in Spanish Point made their way to the north of the country as part of a stu- dent exchange, bringing with them samples of Irish culture.

The school reinstated its transition year this September after six years.

The list of programmes, modules and events outlined by the school for this year’s students is likely to ensure the class attracts a lot of interest dur- ing the next number of years.

The class began the term with an outdoor pursuits trip to Mayo and are now organising a trip to Paris.

In the interim the 14 young people, along with transition year co-ordi-

nation Deirdre Comber and deputy principal Harry Hughes, travelled with the class to Luino on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Ms Comber struck up an alliance with the local ‘middle’ school during the Willie Clancy Weekend when one of its teachers Lorella Gallo and her husband Bruno attended the festival.

Armed with their musical instru- ments, the seven boys and seven girls from Spanish Point made the trip to link up with the “Scuolo Meda’ and were hosted by the local families and teachers. During their stay 1n the pic- turesque area of Italy the group vis- ited the city of Milan.

As well as a walking trip they also took to the lake for a day of sailing and visited the island owned by the Boromeo family.

While in the island’s palace, the

Irish group saw local historical treas- ures including Mussolini’s signature.

The Irish students played tradition- al music to more than 600 people in the local concert hall.

Iseult NiChoitir sang an_ Irish song, Sean O’Malley sang a Thin Lizzy song, Roisin Lillis and Aoife O’ Riordan played the fiddle and then Aoife joined Aisling O’Ryan for the brush dance, which almost brought the house down.

Anxious to forge links with west Clare, the Italians invited the teach- ers to a gala night where they were presented with gifts. A group of stu- dents from the school and some lo- cal dignitaries are now planning a return visit to Spanish Point in April. Ms Comber said that the school was proud of the pupils.

“They left a good impression of our

school and our area,” she said. “It was a very positive experience and we hope to make it an annual feature of transition year.”

The class is now really looking forward to a trip to France and a course studying local history. They will also take part in a 10-week driver education course.

Deputy principal Mr Hughes said the transition year can facilitate courses and study subjects that would not be possible during other years.

Italian is also back in the school as a subject for the first time since the 1970s, opening up another language and culture to the students.


Park contract for Kilmihil company

A WEST Clare building contractor has secured yet another major public contract. Kilmihil contractors L & M Keating have been commissioned by Limerick County Council to develop a major new public park and amenity area at Castletroy.

Work will commence on the €2.2 million project in early December.

Pat Quinlivan, commercial director for L & M Keating Ltd said, “This is a prestigious contract for the compa- ny as it is one of the largest purpose- built public park and amenity areas in County Limerick. The challenge to complete the park to the highest standard within six months is one that we are looking forward to.”

L & M Keating Ltd, with an annual

turnover of €40 million, currently employs 105 permanent staff and is best known for constructing the five- star lodge and clubhouse at Doonbeg Golf Club.

The company, which recently won a national award for its refurbishment of St Senan’s Church in Kilrush, was also involved in the construction of the newly opened University of Lim- erick Living Bridge across the River SJerVeveceyee

The west Clare-based firm is currently constructing the breakwa- ters for a new marina at Knightstown Harbour in Kerry, harbour devel- opments on Inisboffin, car parking facilities at Milford Care Centre and a mixed development at Quay Mills in Kilrush comprising apartments and offices.

It was also awarded the contract to refurbish the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church at Church Street, Cahirciveen.

The development of the 17-acre park in Limerick was designed by Nicholas de Jong Associates of Ur- ban Design in Limerick, following an extensive public consultation with the Castletroy community and local school children.

It is anticipated that construction work on the project will be completed by the middle of next year.

Castletroy Park will feature a fully equipped children’s playground, a skateboarding area, 1.2 kilometre of pedestrian pathways, a circular cycle route and a central perform- ance/exhibition area with covering Sea bCoLAe Ken

The development will also feature an array of natural habitats including a 4,300 square metre lake, wetlands, wildflower grass areas and wood- lands.