Welcome changes to forest scheme

FARMING representative and poli- ticians have welcome the changes to the Forest Environment Protec- tion Scheme (FEPS) announced last week, hailing them as a major oppor- tunity for Clare farmers.

Speaking following the announce- ment, newly-elected IFA Farm For- estry Committee Chairman, Pat Hennessy, welcomed the changes.

“The new package includes land- owners now being able to receive a FEPS premium of €200 for each hectare of woodland planted, regard- less of farm size, and will encourage larger farmers to plant,” he said.

“The scheme has also been made

more attractive for farmers with small holdings as the minimum planted area allowed has now been reduced from eight to five hectares for farmers with less than 30 hec- eho

Meanwhile, Clare TD Tony Killeen has also welcomed the announce- ment, saying it will be of benefit for both small and large Clare farmers.

“This is a major development in the forestry schemes and it should be particularly suitable for farmers in Clare. It is good news for both small and larger REPS farmers with en- hanced incentives in all categories.”

“Clare farmers that plant eight hectares or more will now receive a FEPS premium of €200 for each hec-

tare of woodland planted, regardless of farm size. For owners of farms of 30 hectares and less, the minimum plantation size has been reduced to five hectares.

“In this case the FEPS payment will be €150 per hectare. The FEPS premium 1s payable in addition to the existing Afforestation Scheme grants and premium available meaning that a farmer planting eight hectares could, for the duration of FEPS, earn an annual tax-free forestry premium of up to €6,000 without affecting his/her Single Payment.”

The FEPS Scheme was introduced on a pilot basis in early 2007 to pro- vide a new option for farmers look- ing at forestry. FEPS offered an ad-

ditional premium, to the existing LOO per cent planting grant and yearly premium payments available under the Afforestation Scheme, of up to €200 per hectare for five years de- pending on farm size.

The scheme was targeted at partici- pants in REPS and was designed to encourage farmers to establish and maintain high nature-value forestry through a number of different meas- ures, particularly in the area of en- hanced bio-diversity and water qual- ity protection.

All forestry payments are tax-free, providing less than 50 per cent of a farm is planted, will not affect a farmer’s single payment entitle- ments.


New project set to modernise fishing

A MAJOR new project, designed to overhaul the Irish fishing industry, was launched last week by Minister Mary Coughlan.

The aim of the scheme is to perma- nently remove older fishing vessels from the fishing fleet, replacing them with more modern vessels capable of trawling for different types of fish.

This voluntary scheme will remove older and larger fishing vessels with mixed catches of fish such as cod, haddock, monkfish, mackerel and herring thus increasing the quotas available to the more modern com- petitive fishing vessels.

This investment in the future of the

catching sector will permanently re- move some 75 boats from the Irish ji stol

“The aim of this scheme is to bring about a viable future for the fishing sector and support the economies of those coastal communities depend- ent on fishing,’ said Coughlan.

‘The Government has invested a €21 million budget for the scheme in 2008 with a further €2] million committed in 2009. I will pursue further funding, in line with the rec- ommendations of the Cawley report, as required, taking account of the take up under the scheme.

“This programme represents a very substantial commitment to bringing the Irish fishing fleet into balance

with available resources and ensuring that those remaining in the industry can be assured of a profitable future. The recently published Finance Bill contains a number of measures spe- cifically designed to reduce the tax burden on fishermen taking up this scheme.”

The scheme is open to vessel own- ers in respect of fishing vessels 10 years or more 1n age and 18 metres or more in overall length. Vessels must be operational at the time of decom- missioning and have a recent track record of fishing.

The level of payments under the scheme are determined based on criteria including the age of the ves- sel and its catch history but will not

exceed in any case €7,500 per gross oy ey ator

“The Seafood Strategy sets down the road map for the development of the sector. We must focus on sustain- ability of fish stocks and maximising the return from the fish catch.,” con- tinued the minister.

‘Already good progress has been made, in line with the Cawley strat- egy, on delivering a more innovative and co-ordinated approach to the marketing and processing of seafood in order to maximise the value at every stage from the sea to the ta- ble.”

The closing date for receipt of all applications under this scheme is Spm on Wednesday April 30.


Bishop Willie opens new health centre

AT THE weekend, Bishop of Killa- loe, Willie Walsh, officially blessed a building that everyone in the know said couldn’t happen.

In just eight weeks — 28 labouring days — 165 volunteers and their work- ers from the Port Elizabeth township erected a new health centre and hos- pice against all odds.

For weeks, the activity on site was frenzied, with volunteers gulping breakfast, boarding the bus at 6.30am and working until 6pm or later in the evening.

The first crew to arrive were con- fronted with the daunting sight of the huge foundations and a mountain of blocks waiting to be laid.

Alan Carmody from Lisseycasey, the foreman with the first group, said he “got a shock when I saw the size 0) Mad otom obun Conberca

But everyone, including the locals, got stuck in and worked hard. It was so exciting to be involved. We’ll nev- er forget it.”

The teams pushed on through days of hard slog in punishing heat and before the first crew left, they had laid 130,000 blocks.

The next team cooked as the sun beat down on the silver, reflective material of the roof while they sealed the building.

The tradesmen did what they’re best at and everybody else did what they were told, whether it was painting, plumbing or carrying never ending supplies of water to labourers work- ing in puddles of their own sweat.

Each of the 62 windows had to have up to 16 panes of glass put in and gla- Ziers used half a ton of putty.

Workers laid 168 cubic meters of mortar and the volunteers downed 2,330 litres of bottled water .

In the scorching African sun, the builders of hope used 11 kilos of sun- block. And still they burned.

By the time the final team arrived, the structure had taken shape but there was still an enormous amount of plumbing, painting, plastering, til- ing, hanging ceilings and carpentry to do. And that was all before the massive clean up began.

Finally, everything was in ship shape, with the exception of the the floor covering which had to be put on the long finger because the floors had been laid so fast they hadn’t time to dry.

But the Irish carried the criac with them in their suitcases. Tin whistles, come all-ye’s, slagging matches be- tween teams of workers, ludicrous match making attempts and requests to fill the hotel swimming pool with aletoj mrs l MN eCom Ne OlMmNe Com abnE

As supervisor on site for the entire project, Jimmy Kenny from Dublin said, ‘We had a laugh’.


Waste not want not

MISSION VALE can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about recy- cling. Nothing that finds its way into the care centre goes to waste.

Recycling allows the centre’s staff to buy bread every day for the feed- ing station.

The people who queue for food bring something which can be recy- cled and that in turn is sold on to pay for the bread.

They collect a half loaf of bread and a scoop of soup mix and at week- ends, some rice or potatoes and an onion, along with any meat donated to the centre.

The process serves the dual purpose of giving people the dignity of doing something in exchange for their food and making inroads into the mounds of litter which the authorities never collect.

Crumbs created in the cutting of bread aren’t swept into a bin, they’re added to the powdered soup mix which is given out to families.

The styrofoam lunch boxes that

contain the volunteers’ lunches are all saved and will also be recycled and every bit of leftover, including the tiny jams are taken down the site to give to the township people work- ing on the care centre.

When the volunteers leave, their clothes will be given to the centre.

The Summerstrand Hotel where the Irish are staying has opened it’s store cupbord to Missionvale and do- nated dozens of old but perfect tow- els, sheets and pillowcases.

On most building sites, bits of bro- ken brick and end pieces of timber are a problem. In Missionvale, the leftovers from the care centre which the Irish are building have been used to construct a little raised garden and a seat.

The most poignant bit of recycling of all happens outside the kitchen door each evening. After every batch of scones baked for the volunteers, the crumbs from the baking trays were tipped into a plastic bag and given to one of the township children who come to play in Missionvale’s ee N KOE


It’s a family affair

THE project has become a real fam- ily affair, with husband and wives, mothers and daughters, dads and sons all getting involved.

TJ Talty, wife Maire and their daughter Grainne from Lisseycasey were on-site in South Africa, hand- ing each other paint brushes, ham- mers, saws and cleaning rags.

The Talty’s other daughter, Cliona, was part of an earlier group of volun- teers while their niece and nephew, Paula and Shane had also been work- ing with an earlier team.

Mary Kelly from Tulla was at the airport to see her son, Francis head off in the first wave of volunteers and later she was in the kitchen baking while her daughter, Lourda, was do-

ing everything from carrying water to sealing floors.

Susan Fitzgibbon from Darragh arrived on the project days after her NOIZE stom ae

Christy Ryan from Kilmaley was swinging a hammer alongside his son, Malcolm, and inseperable sis- ters-in-law, Angela and Betty Hayes from Lisseycasey and _ Limerick, were painting as a pair.

Husband and wife team, Bridget and Michael Haugh from Lisseyca- sey slapped mortar on hundreds of bricks and organiser, Maureen Mc- Carthy from Ennis didn’t have too much persuading to do to get her brother, Jody on board.

And Mike from Tulla and his broth- er, Gerard Daffy were joined by their cousin Patrick from Corofin.


Marys scones are just the job

SINCE Mary Kelly from Tulla land- ed in Africa she has baked more than 4.000 scones.

Having been president of the Ap- ostolic Society for 25 years, Mary says she “always wanted to come to Africa to see what they were all talking about when they came home and made presentations. And I’m not one bit sorry I came — it’s been bril- liant and please God I’ll come back again.”

Mary took up station in the Mis- sionvale kitchen to provide creature comforts for the ravenous volunteers at their tea-breaks.

And when she wasn’t busy turning out Spotted Dick loaves, scones, trea- cle bread and apple tarts she spent

her time teaching the women in the craft center to crochet and knit.

For years, shopkeeper, Maire Talty from Lisseycasey has kept every spare free toy, pencil or colouring crayon that came with a comic.

SS er eel W KM RUUU COM stROm Ns loeee

“I always thought there would be someone coming over with an empty Suitcase sometime’, said Maire who is also Ethel’s sister.

She struck pay-dirt with the group she was travelling to Africa with. Everyone loaded up with a dozen or so bags of toys for the Missionvale Santa to distribute at Christmas.

Dr Rory O’Keeffe left his practice in Ennis for the entire eight weeks to deal with the cuts, bruises, hyper- tension, heat exaustion and swollen limbs of the volunteers. When he

is not being called on to doctor, he plays with the township children.

Another volunteer shouldn’t be alive to be here, having been serious- ly ill, but he’s wearing his trademark straw hat and weilding power tools.

As they leave each day, volunteers bring bags of sweets for the children who wait in droves at the gates.

One volunteer had his passport and money stolen before he even left the airport. Within minutes, the group organised a whip-round and the money was replaced.

Every morning, volunteers squirrel away rolls, sausages and bread from their hotel breakfast so the African workers will have something to eat.

The litany of little acts of heroism goes on. But then, they are all he- Keen


Peugot get it on in the SUV range

HAVE you ever heard of Motown’? No, nothing to do with soul music, but a nickname given by a PR man to the area around the start of the Naas Road in Dublin which is proliferated by car companies.

The first car importer you hit when you make your way to ‘Motown’ from Dublin city centre is the Gowan Group. Recently I tested Citroen’s first SUV, the C-Crosser, now it’s the turn of Peugeot, the other company in the Gowan Group, to eventually get in on the SUV act with their new mL UrE

The 4007 is built on the same plat- form as Citroen’s C-Crosser and Mitsubishi’s Outlander. So it’s a tough call to make and ultimately it will come down to the brand you are loyal to. The entry price for the Peu- geot and Citroen is similar, while the Outlander is slightly cheaper.

I drove a black 4007 and I must say it looked very impressive. The front headlamps would do any sports car justice and the two silver roof rails definitely do add to the SUV effect.

Women are supposed to wear black to make them look slim; indeed I’ve known a few men to opt for black for similar reasons. But there is no need to try and make the 4007 look slim as it’s very neat especially the rear end. The only place you will see any colour other than black in the 4007 is the rear door, where there is a nice

touch of chrome as you open it. To be fair there 1S also a touch of chrome inside.

Like all SUVs, the 4007 is very There are no problems with any pil-

high and the seating position gives you an excellent view of the road.

lars to hide your view and overall I think it makes for very safe driving.

In the cabin everything is well laid out and decent size knobs are provid- ed for the radio. The back seat could hold three well built adults, whether they are wearing black or not.

I won’t say that the diesel was very noisy, but there is no doubt you will know straight away that it is a diesel. In some other diesels I have driven recently you would have to double check to see if it was petrol or diesel they were so quiet.

But diesel is the new black as eve- rybody wants one to cut down on the COQ2 emissions and avail of the ben- efits of Mr Cowen’s recent budget. Therefore you might like to wait un- til July 1 for the best deals.

I drove the ST version which gives you an option of five or seven seats and goodies like cruise control and MP3 player. Like most SUVs if you opt for seven seats there is very little luggage space left. You can switch from two-wheel to four-wheel drive by means of a switch located near the gear lever. I didn’t get an opportunity to drive the 4007 off-road but it felt like it could handle any terrain.

Prices start at €40,200 for the 4007 five-seat SR model and go up to €47,395 for the top of the range seven seater. All are powered by a 2.2 litre diesel engines. Peugeot say they expect to sell between 150 to 200 units in Ireland this year.


Helping the victims of HIV in South Africa

LIKE all grannies Ouma likes to spoil her grandson and give him some money for sweets. She is one of the few living in the townships of South Africa who has managed to get a government pension.

But in the case of 11 year old Veron, his granny’s kindness is literally kill- ing him. Veron is infected with the AIDS virus and the sweets are play- ing havoc with his blood counts.

Sr Ethel and her care workers are on one of their regular visits to his mother, Rochelle Grootboom.

Rochelle and two of her sisters are also HIV positive. A third has died from the virus.

“Rochelle had a CD4 (blood count) of 22 when we found her. A normal count 1s 500. She should have died’, says Nurse In Charge, Muriel Eskok.

Rochelle is concerned that Veron is getting wild and neglecting his schoolwork. Typical of an I1 year old, he doesn’t like medicine and is not taking his anti-viral medication . The stick-thin woman knows she is too week to force him. It’s too much for Rochelle, who breaks down in ReraN Ce

“lve known Rochelle since she was a little girl. She was one of the chil- dren who came to me when all I had was the loan of a tree to sit under’, says Sr Ethel.

Rochelle is just one of 120,000 people who live in the shantytown.

Every day, the five teams of trained careworkers visit about five clients rele ee

They have around 200 clients at any given time who need to be vis- ited twice a week. The workers dress wounds, check how medication 1s go- ing, treat hypertension, wash out peo- ple mouths — oral thrush and TB are two common diseases among people with the virus — and clean houses when the clients are too sick.

The house where Rochell, her mother, son and her mother’s part- ner live is made of thin wood and measures no more than 18 feet by 30 feet. There are four tiny rooms, no bathroom and they cook on a primus stove. Some shacks are much worse than this one, which is painted and Ore

Township people are often in de- nial about the possibility of having AIDS. “If they are tested early and get the antiviral drugs, they can live for maybe ten or twelve years. If they come late, about two years’, says Muriel.

Six in ten people are infected with the virus. Sr Ethel dosn’t like speak- ing about numbers. “One mother dy- ing of AIDS is too many”, she says.

Rape is common in the townships, based on the myth that having sex with a virgin is a cure. Sr Ethel tells the story of a nine-year old girl who was raped by her uncle. The child be- OF Weslo NNKerelKerO mrs NeLOMONoem

It is the culture than men are disin-

clined to use condoms, thinking it a slur on their masculinity or the faith- fullness of their partners.

The testament that the virus is

decimating the poor is in the cleared spaces where the shacks of AIDS victims have been burned and in the rows of fresh graves which stand in

the shadown of a large cross on the javeeR

The cross bears the inscription, ‘“Ethel’s People.”


Miussionvale: the facts

OF THE 125,000 people living in dire poverty in the townships of Port Elizabeth, 60 per cent of them are being helped by a mission started under a tree by one Little Company of Mary nun from Clare.

Missionvale works through joined up thinking, with care workers go- ing out to visit the sick and picking up on other needs, like food or help with claiming a pension and bringing those cases to the food kitchens and the social worker.

In turn the social worker can alert the caregivers that a client of theirs is ill.

Each day, 750 families get a half a loaf and soup at the feeding station

and a further 1,250 families get a food parcel every week.

The clinic on site refers at least 60 new cases each day to Sr Ethel for help with other needs.

Families ‘adopted’ by Sr Ethel have their children’s school transport costs and fees paid as all schools charge fees in South Africa. The family is given two sets of clothing twice a year from clothing donations to Mis- sionvale.

Sr Ethel’s team also ensures that households headed by children where parents have died of AIDS, are fed, get to continue their schooling and are taught basic cooking and house- keeping skills.

The young adults who head these homes in turn help with the centre’s

programme for orphans and vulner- able children. (OVC)

More that 170 children are attend- ing the pre-primary school at any given time and 500 children are giv- en what may be their only meal every day by the OVC.

A total of 74 people have work in the centre’s gardens, craft and car- pentry centres as well as the school, caring and feeding programmes.

Running costs for the centre are €150,000 a year – a pittance in Irish terms but a stunning amount in a country where factory workers earn SOOM: (cle) @

Donations for Missionvale can be sent to Ethel Normoyle Account No: 40354101 Sort Code: 985680 Ulster Bank, Ennis.


Sheltered housing ‘non-existent’

SCORES of young Clare adults with Down Syndrome are being denied the chance to fulfil their potential because of the lack of sheltered ac- commodation in the county. According to the Clare Branch of Downs Syndrome Ireland, the pos- sibility for young Clare people to avail of sheltered accommodation is severely limited, with only respite accommodation available.

Pat Hannon is from Sixmilebridge and his 21 year old daughter Orla would avail of sheltered accommo- dation if some were available.

“Orla is older now and we are think- ing about sheltered accommodation but there is little or no sheltered ac- commodation in Clare,” he said.

“It’s next to impossible to get any sheltered accommodation for adults in Clare. The only way you might get it is if you simply were not able to cope at home. But regarding some-

one having a choice to live in shel- tered accommodation, it 1s non-ex- istent.”

According to Margaret Dixon, Sec- retary of the Clare Branch of Downs Syndrome Ireland, there are many Clare people in the same position as Orla.

‘There are a lot of adults in Clare who are in and around Orla’s age who would jump at the chance at sheltered accommodation,” she said.

“IT would say that we would have a

least 20 young people ready to take up houses tomorrow if it was avail- able.”

Orla is currently living at home and training for work with the National Learning Network in Limerick. The work options available to Clare peo- ple with Downs Syndrome will be curtailed in May when the Shan- non Community Workshop will be closed, with the loss of 27 supported employment positions.

“I’d love to live in a house with a few different people. I’d miss living at home but it would be really great to be able to live in a house,” said Orla.

“Tm now in training in Limerick, so I can get a job. I’d like to get a job in a book shop. I had a job once before working in the library in Lim- erick. I’m really looking forward to getting a job and having some money of my own.”

Finding employment locally for someone with Downs Syndrome can be difficult.

“Work is very difficult, it’s not easy to get someone to take on someone with Downs Syndrome,” continued Orla’s father Pat.

“The National Learning Network in Limerick helps a lot, they have helped Orla get placement in jobs Where she can get some experience. But it’s not easy to find.”