A day of frustration

POSITIONING himself on the half- way line on the stand side of Mac- Donagh Park, Donal Madden was the picture of frustration on Sunday. His arm in a sling hidden beneath his Clonlara tracksuit after breaking a finger in a challenge game against LIT the week before, it was obvious from his movements that he was hit- ting every ball internally but knew he could not effect the game whatsoev- er. He beckoned encouragement and advise but as the game slipped away from Clonlara’s grasp, the tracksuit top came off as he ran up and down the line in the hope of motivating the players. In the end, the expected comeback never came and _ after- wards outside the dressing rooms, he conveyed his frustration and disap- pointment of the day’s events as he analysed the game.

“They probably got the goal that we needed. Darach (Honan) reck- ons the ball wasn’t wide but I felt it was wide being honest about it. They got the goal, we didn’t and that’s the difference between winning and los- ing. Personally I am just absolutely eutted. To be standing there on the sideline and to have absolutely no influence, it’s very, very hard and it’s probably one of the hardest days I have ever had in sport. It’s been a tough week and things had been go- ing well for us and I was hurling rea- sonably well but the whole thing just

blew up. It’s a pity because they are a great bunch of young fellas but the be all and end all is about the senior hurling next year. We lost today but I would like to wish Tommy Larkins the best of luck and probably the bet- ter team won being honest.”

Madden had further reason to be disappointed in not playing any part on Sunday. Along with missing his new club’s most historic day, the former Tulla player also has an un- tenable link with the Galway side as his father Paddy would have played for Tommy Larkins but he was still disapponted for the Clonlara play- ers and mentors who had put a lot of work into their successful year.

“There is a very narrow line be- tween winning and losing, it’s a game of inches. They got the break today. I’ve seen Tommy Larkins hurling about three times all year and they only played to about 70% of what they are capable of and hope- fully they will do themselves justice in Croke Park. Even chatting to Cyril Farrell there, they weren’t happy with their performance, we are not happy with ours but we can have no regrets because lads gave it their best. There are a great group of players and men- tors in Clonlara and hopefully this won’t be the end of this team.

“The lads are absolutely gutted and it’s not everyday that you get the chance to go on and represent your county and an opportunity to play in Croke Park. I’m fierce disappointed

for Niall Hogan and Jim Gully and these guys. We have trained for 150 times this year and Niall Hogan prob- ably did everyone of them himself. I’m just fierce gutted for that guy, he is a great guy.”

Croke park would certainly have been a fitting finale to a superb year for Clonlara but although Madden has famously played there before in the All-Ireland minor final of 1997, he is sure that the young stars of Clonlara will get their chance to play at GAA headquarters in the future.

“We are looking forward to next year and maybe I am pushing on or whatever and | may never again get a chance to play in Croke Park but I have no doubt that Domhnall O’Donovan, John Conlon, Darach Honan and Nicholas O’Connell will get to play in Croke Park and hopefully wearing a Clare jersey or maybe even a Clonlara jersey. I can’t see why they won’t go on to play in Croke Park.”

SW ilomCCeea Vo ncy-le Ceo MOO OOM AUD UNTocO Mme this year’s senior championship and the Clonlara’s prospects for the year ahead to which he quipped.

“Looking forward to it. Hopefully we ll get Tulla in the first round.”


No go for windfarm in Midnight Court

CLARE County Council has reject- ed plans for a €10 million windfarm between the east Clare villages of Tulla and Feakle, close to the setting for one of the most celebrated poems in Irish literature.

The proposal by Ventus Energy sought to develop eight turbines in the vicinity of Lough Graney to sup- ply electricity to 22,000 homes.

The lake was the literary backdrop for Brian Merriman’s epic poem, ‘The Midnight Court’, which was written in 1780.

As part of the plan, the developers sought to remove 425 acres of forest ele lelOee

However, the plan encountered widespread opposition across the east Clare area and the Department of the Environment also expressed concern.

Ironically, it is the designation of a large tract of land on Slieve Aughty as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds — being opposed by local farmers and landowners — which in part led to the council refusing plan- ning permission for the proposal.

The council refused planning per- mission as it had concerns over the impact the development would have on the hen harrier, particularly in light of the designation of the area as an SPA.

The Clare County Development Plan goes against granting planning permission in areas that are likely to have significant adverse ecological impacts.

The council also stated that the pro- posed development had the potential to have a serious ecological impact on the SPA by virtue of the proposed removal of an extensive expanse of trees and the disturbance and loss to natural habitats.

In one objection, the Centre for Environmental Living and Train- ing (CELT) claimed that houses and farm prices in the vicinity of the wind farm would drop by 20 per cent.

The plan was also opposed by a eroup of east Clare-based artists, including Aosdana member, Joe Comerford who pointed out that the county planners had worked for many years to protect the landscape heritage of east Clare with good rea- son. The group sais they hoped this precious resource would not be dis- carded so easily.

In a separate objection, Mairin Kel- ly pointed out that “the cumulative effect of the turbines in combination with the existing communications mast on Maghera would be to alter the landscape character from remote upland to semi-industrial”.

The developers now have the op- tion of appealing the decision to An Bord Pleanala.


An Taisce ‘off the rails’

AN TAISCE came under fire yes- terday after it appealed to An Bord Pleanala a ruling by Clare County Council to give the go-ahead for a home beside the Western Rail Cor- ridor.

The national trust has lodged the appeal — the only instance it has ap- pealed a decision relating to a one- off home in Clare in the past year —in spite of Iarnrod Eireann having no objection against the proposal.

Last month, Clare County Council eranted outline planning permission to Monica McMahon to construct one home at Bearnafunshin, Barefield. _In the planning process, larnrod Eireann initially had reservations due to the proximity of the home to the Ennis-Galway rail-line which is oLeSUITSMGUDUReIILOMAmUNOscau-lelsrem

Green Party councillor, Brian Meaney said, “I believe that the functions that An Taisce carry out are necessary, but intervening in a case like this — when the compe- tent authority, Iarnrod Eireann sees

no problem — damages An Taisce’s crest ae

“Iarnrod Eireann adopts a very hard line when developments en- croach very close to the rail line and you would think if Iarnré6d Eireann didn’t have a problem, An Taisce shouldn’t.

“IT would have to question if this is a good use of An Taisce’s resources and time and there are other develop- ments that it could be concentrating


In its appeal, an Taisce state, “It is submitted that notwithstanding the alleviation of the concerns by Jarnrod Eireann on the impact of the proposal of the operation of the upgraded railway crossing, the pro- posal because of its location, would be of poor residential amenity qual- ity because of its proximity to the level crossing.

“While historically, all across the country, there are railway crossing keepers’ houses and houses already existing in proximity to railway cross- ings, outside of urban areas, the gen- eral principle should be maintained of restricting development in proximity to railways crossings for reasons for residential amenity, particularly in this case, since no site specific need has been advanced for development of this kind, and there are alternative development locations.”

An Taisce conceded that the rail company no longer objected to the eben


An innovative system for winter feed Time to eat healthy, says Food Dude!

MAJOR improvements are needed to the diets of young people in Ire- land according to an extensive scien- tific study on teens’ diet, which was presented at a RELAY-organised conference in Dublin last week.

The study, which benchmarks di- etary intakes of a nationally repre- sentative sample of Irish teenagers, was carried out by the Irish Univer- sities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) at UCD and UCC and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisher- ies and Food under the Food Insti- tutional Research Measure (FIRM), and co-funded by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The study is described as a valuable

tool for allowing farmers and food producers to tailor product develop- ment based on more healthy lines.

“This is the first comprehensive scientific evaluation of dietary intake in teenagers in Ireland and provides direction for the dietary strategies that need to be established to prevent obesity in Irish teenagers,” said Min- ister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan.

“Funding had been awarded under FIRM for a group of third level re- search projects on developing breads and ready meals with a reduced salt content, and I welcome industry co- operation with this work.”

Stressing the contribution of well focused research to policy making, the Minister said that the earlier Sci-

entific study on children’s diet had provided an evidence base to support the decision to launch the National ‘Food Dude’ programme to encour- age increased consumption of fruit and vegetables by primary school- children, which was run in over 300 primary schools in 2006, and the review and re-launch of the school milk scheme to include a wider range of dairy products.

The study on teens’ diet surveyed 450 teenagers aged 13-17 from sec- ondary schools throughout Ireland during 2005 and 2006, and was car- ried out by researchers in UCD and UCC.

In addition to diet, the study in- cludes direct body measurements on each teenager and provides accurate

data on the extent to which the obes- ity crisis is affecting Irish teenagers. It also included essential information on lifestyle, including physical activ- ity, for both the teenagers and their parents.

“We need clear guidelines for healthy eating for teens – guidelines that focus on appropriate portion siz- es, lower consumption of fat, salt and sugared drinks, and higher intake of vegetables and fruit, fibre, vitamins and minerals,” said Professor Albert Flynn, Department of Food & Nutri- tional Science, UCC.

“The pyramid model used in Ire- land to guide healthy eating, has been completely revised in the US to tackle obesity, and similar revisions need to take place here.”


HSE under fire for handling of property assets

THE HSE has come under attack for its handling of the money secured from the sale of Our Lady’s Hospi- tal, as the mental health service in the county continues to be under- funded.

The Irish Psychiatric Associa- tion this week criticized the way the health authorities disposed of property assets associated with Irish mental hospitals.

The Clare Mental Health Services was one of the authorities stripped

of their assets according to the IPA, when 40 acres of Our Lady’s Hos- pital site was sold to Clare County Council and Shannon Development Authority for €2.6 million.

A report from the association points to widespread ‘asset-stripping’ of buildings and land. It stated lands linked to psychiatric facilities were sold or given away at significant un- der-valuations and any financial real- isation was not paid into the mental health service.

The IPA made the accusations on the second anniversary of the pub-

lication of the Government’s mental health policy, ‘A Vision for Change’. The policy committed the Govern- ment to spending €25 million extra a year on mental health services. The Irish Mental Health Coalition (IMHC) said almost half the budget allocated to the HSE in 2006 and 2007 to implement this policy had been spent on deficits in other areas. According to information received by the IMSC under FOI, just over half (57 per cent) of the 2006 funding of the mental health plan was spent, with only 40 per cent of the budget

spent in 2007.

The HSE said the balance of the funding from these years was time- delayed to address core deficits in existing mental health services.

In a statement, the HSE said it ac- cepted all the recommendations of ‘A Vision for Change’ and is work- ing to ensure that everybody has easy access to high quality mental health care and services.

“Such fundamental changes will inevitably take time to implement, but to date steady progress has been made,’ the spokesperson said.

Priorities outlined for 2008 and 2009 included the provision of eight additional consultant child psychia- try teams, together with an increase in the inpatient bed capacity from 12 to 30 by the end of 2008.

“The Waiting List report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services completed in 2007 will be utilised to develop a number of in- centives to address waiting lists,” it Cr HOR

Clare and the mid-west region cur- rently have no adolescent psychia- eho


€24 million Ennis house plan rejected

AN Bord Pleanala has turned down a planned €24 million housing devel- opment for Ennis.

Last year, Clare County Council refused planning permission to one of the county’s best known builders, McCarthy Brothers, to construct 94 homes at Ballybeg on the southern environs of the town.

In the appeal, consultants for Mc- Carthy Bros pointed out that the land was zoned residential in the Ennis and Environs Development Plan. The consultants said that the devel- opment of the site responded to the availability of the land at present and while the surrounding lands were zoned residential, there was no guar- antee that the development of these lands would take place at any time in the near future.

The consultants stated that the open space provision met the requirements of the Clare County Development Plan with a total of 16.4 per cent of the site given over to open space. They said that the Ballybeg Road was adequate to cater for the level of traffic generated by the proposed development.

After assessing the application, the appeals board’s planning inspector concluded that the proposed develop- ment “would represent a haphazard and non-integrated piece meal devel-

opment”. The appeals board stated, “The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable develop- ment of the area.”

The appeals board also stated that “it 1s considered that the proposed layout of the development was sub- standard due to the general layout and disposition of public open space and the overall linear emphasis in terms of the layout of access roads and adjoining housing units”.

The board inspector found that the proposed development would seri- ously injure the residential amenity of future occupants of the estate and the proposed development would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable develop- ment of the area.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would seriously injure the amenities of the residents of an ex- isting cul-de-sac road, particularly having regard to the fact that a more suitable access which would serve the entire area of residentially zoned lands at this location was located approximately 120 metres further west.

As aresult, the board inspector con- cluded that the development “would endanger public safety by reason of a traffic hazard and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustain- able development of the area.”


Shoppers hit by poor connections

BUSINESS development in Clare is being hit by a lack of internet infra- structure, with the county lying on the poor end of a new Irish ‘digital divide’.

According to new information re- leased this week, Clare is one of a number of western counties which have a low levels of businesses using Internet-based sales and payments eKeu DBL Blohy

The ecommerce index, which was produced by ebay Ireland and its sis- ter company PayPal, is Ireland’s first

ever county by county breakdown of internet sales.

The index made poor reading for Clare which lagged well behind the likes of Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow and Laois.

The index was calculated based on the total amount of shopping car- ried out on throughout 2007. When adjustments were made for population size, the figures showed a wide east to west gap in term of take-up.

“In the past two years, most busi- nesses have developed some sort of web presence, but in terms of actu-

ally doing business over the internet, companies in the west seem to have been more reactionary that proac- tive,’ said Paul Montwill, of Ennis- based ebusiness solution experts, Magico.

“There is a real divide. Because the traffic 1s so bad in Dublin, a lot of businesses have caught on to online selling a lot quicker.

“Broadband is a major issue. It 1s a lot better in Dublin than in Clare and the west. That has led to a lot of people in Dublin getting into online shopping quicker than those outside of it.”

The ebay survey comes just days after Shannon Development Chief Executive, Kevin ‘Thompstone, called for an urgent Government in- vestment in the communications in- Ge-FOmeCCAbNKo

Mr Thompstone singled out Shan- non town as the location for a pilot Next Generation Networking (NGN) scheme in the western region.

The ecommerce index is_ based solely on ebay Ireland purchases and does not take into account whether Irish shoppers are using other shop- ping websites for their online pur- Ont Iene


Developers pull park and ride plans

CONTENTIOUS plans for a €15 million park and ride facility for the Cliffs of Moher at Liscannor have been withdrawn by the developers.

A decision was due by Clare Coun- ty Council last Friday. However, 24 hours prior to the anticipated deci- sion, Mermaid Partnership wrote to the council requesting that the appli- cation be withdrawn.

Applications are usually withdrawn at the last minute when developers are told informally that the applica-

tion 1s set to be refused.

The proposal was facing wide- spread opposition across the village of Liscannor.

The area has suffered a population loss, according to the most recent census.

The developers had also made ef- forts to allay the concerns of locals by reducing the size of the plan.

Last year, the Mermaid Partnership lodged plans for the park and ride fa- cility that also included a major re- tail component with a total of 6,322 Square metres.

However, Clare County Council declared that it had ‘a number of serious concerns’ in relation to the proposal.

In revised plans lodged with the council, the applicants scaled back the retail component by almost two- thirds.

The original plan envisaged retail space of 6,322 sq metres; the revised plan scaled back the proposal to 2,361 sq metres.

According to the developers, “the overall scale and design of the pro- posed development has been signifi-

cantly reduced”.

However, a wave of fresh objec- tions were lodged against the revised plan in the last 14 days.

A number of residents stated, “If the development goes ahead, it will irreparably damage the sustainable retail and commercial element in Liscannor which has evolved over many years.”

They stated that “the residents of Liscannor have for too long been subjected to the gradual and sadden- ing deterioration in the fabric of the community”’.


Talking the talk with BurrenLIFE

FOLLOWING the Dublin launch of BurrenLIFE’s first ever Farming for Conservation international con- ference last week, the Carron-based organisation has teamed up with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to announce a series of illustrated rece

These will take place in the Coun- cil Chamber of the County Museum Building in Ennis for six Wednes- days, from February 6 to March 12.

The series will reflect on and cel- ebrate the hugely diverse range of natural and cultural heritage in the Burren region. It promises to be a rich and varied programme of talks.

The series kicks off with a talk entitled “Eating The Landscape – Farming The Burren’ by Ruairi O Conchuir.

The talk will highlight the upcom- ing conference and will also focus on the production of quality food from a quality environment.

The lecture on February 13 will be delivered by Barry O’Donoghue, park ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

O’Donoghue grew up watching hen harriers on the family farm in Tralee and this helped him attain a depth of knowledge of the factors regarding the conservation of these rare birds.

His talk is called ‘Rare, Beautiful and Preying – the Hen Harrier’.

Ian Doyle will take up the mantle on February 20 and give a talk en- titled “The Vanishing Monuments of the Burren’.

This will be concerned with, amongst other things, the huge den- sity of archaeological monuments in the region and the real threat posed to them by the onset of scrub.

Guest speaker on February 27 will be Eugenie Regan. She is one of two ecologists in the National Biodiver- sity Centre in Waterford.

Eugenie’s research is focused on wetland and limestone grassland ecology.

The penultimate talk in the series will focus on the rich geological di- versity of the Burren Region. The

talk is entitled “Rocks and Land- forms – The Geodiveristy of the Bur- ot

The speaker in this case is Mat- thew Parkes, assistant keeper of the National History Museum in Dub- lin with special responsibility for its geological collections.


Hedging it inch by inch, row by row

THE Clare-based Irish Seed Savers Association, 1n association with Tea- gasc, organised a series of biodiver- sity walks which took place across the country last week. The walks were organised to highlight the larg- est planting of hedgerow in the his- tory of the Irish state.

Nationwide, farmers are busy planting hedgerows on their land, with 15,000 expected to plant an in- credible length of 5,000 km of new native Irish hedgerows in the next KAW (erase

According to Teagasc this will change the landscape of every parish in Ireland as farmers participate in

the REPS 3 and REPS 4 schemes.

More than 25 farm walks will take place around the country between now and the end of February.

The Teagasc walks will demonstrate best practice in hedgerow planting and maintenance. A full range of na- tive Irish hedgerow species are being planted on farms, including whiteth- orn, holly, hazel, spindle, guelder rose and blackthorn.

“Correct planting methods and maintenance will ensure the estab- lishment and survival of all these new hedges,’ said Tim Hyde, Tea- gasc environment expert.

“This is the start of widespread planting in the countryside so it 1s important to get it right first time.

All the stages, including cultivation, planting, pruning, weed control and fencing, will be featured.”

Most Irish hedgerows were planted in the 1700s and 1800s. Acts of Par- liament were then passed, making it obligatory for landowners to plant hedgerows at that time. Hedgerows along townland boundaries often date from medieval times or earlier.

Over time if hedgerows are not managed they grow into an escaped hedgerow with a thin, gappy base. One management option for such hedgerows under REPS is to rejuve- nate by laying or coppicing.

A further 2,800 km of existing hedgerows will be rejuvenated, and the skill of hedge laying will be

CC aaeyeOecIKceMmDOMBOOT- DIN AMGOleII Non MEvaN a number of events contractors will demonstrate coppicing with a circu- JE Tansy- Me

A range of other demonstrations/ stands will also be presented at this series of Teagasc Biodiversity walks, and may include broadleaved tree planting, traditional orchards, LIN- NET crops for wildlife, The Hen Harrier Scheme and slurry injection methods.

The walks are being held in as- sociation with Coillte Nurseries, Seed Savers, the Hedge Laying As- sociation of Ireland, the Professional Contractors Association of Ireland and others. A full schedule can be viewed on