Volunteers head to Nepal on their mercy mission

FOUR physiotherapy students from Clare will travel to Kathmandu in Nepal at the beginning of May to participate in voluntary work in two orphanages.

Orla Kelly (pictured right), Tommy Finucane, Cathal Lyons and Lonan Hughes are in their third year of study in the University of Limerick and will spend a month helping chil- dren with disabilities in the Disabled Newlife Centre orphanage and the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation or- ed etaverehtxen

Orla from Cree, Tommy from Meelick and Cathal from Kilrush have all completed work placements in pediatrics in Ennis, which has en- couraged their interest in this type of work. Orla, who currently plays for the Clare ladies football team, has expressed a strong interest in work- ing with children in the future.

Tommy and Cathal are currently

planning a research project as part of the course in the pediatrics area. Both are also keenly involved in GAA, with Cathal playing for Clare U-21 footballers and Tommy with Meelick in hurling and football.

Lonan, from Kilmaley, hasn’t had the opportunity to work in pediatrics and is interested in gaining some ex- perience in this area.

“T think it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and gain experience, but also to help these children by offer- ing our skills, bringing out money/ equipment and raising awareness of the orphanages,” he said.

The Disabled Newlife Centre pro- vides care and education for 30 chil- dren with physical disabilities who have been abandoned by their fami- lies. Their disabilities range from po- lio to severe burns.

The Muscular Dystrophy Founda- tion provides care to 106 children affected by muscular dystrophy and aims to raise awareness of the dis-

ease, and improve the care services for sufferers and support for the fam- ilies in Nepal.

If you would like to support the Students, donations can be made to any Ulster Bank branch into the ac- count number 10397924, sort code eel Lem 1ep


Safeguarding Clares precious heritage

CLARE’S efforts to preserve the past for future generations have been given a major boost with the announcement that the fund for con- serving the county’s built heritage is to be increased by more than 20% this year.

Environment Minister John Gorm- ley has announced funding of €172,000 to Clare County Council under the 2008 Built Heritage Capi- tal Works Programme. This will be OTe mle leikore mm oy am se lommecel ous COUMUTN(eloMmLES Architectural Conservation Grants Scheme which supports the repair and conservation of buildings on the Record of Protected Structures.

The money is part of a funding package amounting to almost €25 Million to support built heritage projects in 2008. The provision rep- resents an increase of 42% nationally on the amount spent last year.

The Minister commented, “Invest-

ment in built heritage conservation is vital for the safeguarding of our architectural heritage, and the in- creased level of funding which I have secured this year underlines the Gov- ernment’s commitment in this area. | am confident the increased package of funding measures will encourage an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to built heritage conserva- tion as a whole.”

“The conservation of our historic buildings makes our towns and vil- lages more attractive to tourists and locals alike and can often act as a catalyst for further heritage projects in an area as it enhances local aware- ness in our built heritage”, said jun- ior Environment Minister and Clare TD Tony Killeen.

“Tam very happy to announce this funding for Clare County Council, an increase of over 20% on last year’s allocation. This allocation will sup- port the conservation of significant buildings all around Clare.”


Whirlwind and Hurricane brew up a storm

TWO of snooker’s greatest legends go head-to-head in an exhibition match in Ennis on Saturday. Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White and Alex ‘Hur- ricane’ Higgins brew up a storm for charity at the West County Hotel. The event has been organised to help raise funds for the Niall Mel- lon Township Trust which was es- tablished in 2002 to provide homes to the impoverished communities in

the townships in South Africa. Three locals from Clarecastle will travel to South Africa later this year to assist in the ongoing work there.

Jimmy White, who has played in Ennis before, has won a total of 23 professional titles. He has also been runner-up six times in the World Championship. As an amateur, he won the 1979 English Amateur Championship and the 1980 World Amateur Championship.

Alex Higgins, from Belfast, was

twice World Champion and twice runner-up. One of the best-known faces in snooker for many years, Hig- gins was famous for his frequent ar- guments, both on and off the snooker table. One of the most serious of these clashes was when he head-butt- ed a tournament official at the UK championship in 1986.

Although the Niall Mellon Town- ship Trust has only been in existence for six years, it is the largest provider of low-cost homes in South Africa,

producing 20% of such houses in Cape Town and 15% in the Gauteng region. Since 2002, over 3000 volun- teers have travelled to work on their projects in South Africa.

Next November, three volunteers from Clarecastle – Fiona Donnellan, Emma Clancy and Amy McEnery – will head to Cape Town South Africa as part of a 2000 strong team to build houses in the Shanty towns.

This weekend’s event will be spon- sored by KECO construction and

the Shannon Masters Snooker Club. Tickets are €25 while VIP passes are available for €50 from the West County or by contacting Kevin on 086-3034043 or Fiona on 086- TOW ieee

VIP tickets will entitle holders to a champagne reception and to meet and greet the players before the match. There will also be an auction on the night for a chance to play a frame against either of the two. The event will begin at 8pm.


More criticism of explosives plan

AN TAISCE has re-affirmed its op- position to the planned €10 million plan for an explosives factory on the Shannon Estuary.

A decision is expected in relation to the current plan in the next number of weeks. A previous planning ap- plication was refused by An Bord Pleanala.

It is now almost two years since Shannon Explosives submitted re- vised plans for an explosives factory at Cahercon pier in Kildysart. The company has already furnished the

council with substantial further 1n- formation. However, An Taisce, the Kildysart

Explosives Factory Opposition Group (KEFOG) and others oppose the project.

In a submission on the latest in- formation lodged by Shannon Ex- plosives, An Taisce’s Heritage Of- ficer, Ian Lumley states, ““We do not consider that the applicants have re- solved the key conflict posed by this development with the policy provi- sions of the West Clare Local Area Plan, 2003, including the specific ob- jectives for Kildysart to develop the

harbour area as a local amenity, tour- ism and leisure facility which will contribute to the tourism product.

‘No need has been identified for an additional explosives manufacturing facility in Ireland or no argument has been advanced that the capacity of the existing permitted manufactur- ing facility near Enfield in County Meath is not adequate to meet na- tional needs. . .

“We consider that the site because of its location sensitivity is, irrespec- tive of any proposal for an explosives factory, unsuitable for quarrying be- cause of its topography and relation

to this sensitive part of the Shannon Estuary. For this reason and in view of the unsuitability of the site on lo- cation grounds, we do not consider it necessary to comment on the other specific issues submitted by the ap- plicant, including the revised habitat and bat assessment. We recommend that this application be refused.”

In their objection, KEPOG state, “Development and day to day use of this land will be curtailed by the applicant. This is unacceptable. Pub- lic perception of the dangers of ex- plosives must be taken into account when considering the issue.


Dunnes under fire in pig controversy IFA supports milk testing cross-checks

WITH the days fast counting down to the beginning of the new Depart- ment of Agriculture scheme to cross- check the milk testing by co-ops, the IFA has come in with its support for the initiative.

According to IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Richard Kennedy, the scheme, due to begin on April 1, is in line with the Gov- ernment’s Partnership commitment to the IFA.

This protocol of verification will cover the testing of all constituents used for payment, audit of lab pro- cedures, check calibration of ma- ATEN Tom AMV ICM URANO OComBUch UO LRCMECTo OL! back to farmers. Results of the cross-

checks will be published by the De- partment.

Kennedy commented that while this new protocol was welcome, it was only the first step in raising the standards of Irish milk testing to in- ternational best practice, paving the way for full accreditation of central, independent milk testing laborato- ju Coe

“I believe this move will help focus the minds of all in the dairy industry on the importance of proper stand- ards in milk testing, from sample taking, all the way to the returning of results to both farmers and proc- essors, he said.

‘However, I see it as merely the first step towards world-class ISO 17025 accreditation of a small number of

centralised milk laboratories, shared by all milk processors, which could easily be established on an independ- ent footing.”

Kennedy said the chances of achieving fully accredited, and ulti- mately independent, milk testing in one or a few central laboratories for all of Ireland’s milk have never been aoa Koa

“Dairygold have committed to out- sourcing their milk testing needs to a fully accredited third party lab by 2009,” he said.

“The West Cork Co-ops have de- cided to centralise all their milk test- ing into one, accredited laboratory. Connacht Gold are preparing to in- vest in new, accredited facilities and are willing to share those with other

neighbouring co-ops. The Chair- man of Lakeland Co-op has publicly expressed his support for a single, world-class milk testing lab.

‘Many other co-ops have declared to us they were seriously looking into accreditation for milk testing, and an increasing number of them have now recognised the importance for farm management purposes as well as accuracy of results, of testing every collection.

‘These strands all go in the right direction, but now they must come together. Co-ops must agree to share the use of a small number of fully accredited, world class standard fa- cilities – eventually ensuring that those are operated independently,’ Kennedy concluded.


Doubts surround Clare FM sell-off

THERE was mounting speculation yesterday that the proposed €7.2 million sale of Clare FM to Radio Kerry had fallen through.

The rumoured collapse of the sale will disappoint hundreds of share- holders across the county who were set for small windfalls as a result of investing in the station in the early Les

The shareholders last had contact from the station’s board in Decem- ber when they were told that the sta- tion had decided to accept a €20 per share offer from Radio Kerry.

In a letter to shareholders, the chair- man of Clare Community Radio Holdings plc, Michael Evans, stated that the sale was conditional on 95 per cent shareholder approval.

Mr Evans stated that the sale should be completed by the end of March mau eres

However, there has been no further communication from the board to shareholders since then.

One major shareholder said yes- terday, “I understand that the deal has fallen through and this has been communicated to the Clare FM board, though we have heard nothing official as yet.”

Both sides are declining to com- ment. The Clare FM chief executive, Liam O’Shea, failed to respond to

e-mailed queries on the matter last Thursday and Friday, while Radio Kerry also failed to return a phone query.

However, even if the deal has col- lapsed, it will alert others in the marketplace that the station is up for grabs. It is believed that Radio Kerry was not the only station interested in purchasing Clare FM.

If the deal has fallen through, the station’s senior management and the CPIM SDrmeE-DesveAAmny some;


Carey cautious about hospital future

FEARS that nursing staff at Ennis General Hospital will not be rostered for duty in Accident and Emergency between 8pm and 8am from the end of April have been rubbished by the Jett) ay

Fine Gael Deputy Joe Carey said that he was made aware of the ru- mours circulating that this effective downgrading of the hospital and the implementation of the Hanly Report would take place before the feared Teamwork report was published.

The Irish Nurses Organisation said that it understood that the number of nurses were to increase in A and E in June when the 37-hour week came into play.

These latest fears follow on from the news that the €39 million origi- nally designated for the development of Ennis General Hospital has now gone to St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

“This news, 1f confirmed, will rep- resent a fatal blow to health service delivery in County Clare,” said Dep- uty Carey.

“In effect, what this means is that A and E services at Ennis General will be discontinued between those

hours and the care and attention cur- rently provided at the hospital will no longer be available.

“This means that 44,000 Clare people will be outside the golden- hour time for A and E treatment after suffering from an accident, stroke or a heart attack. Recent cases in west Clare have highlighted the need for patients to be able to access key medical services in the County. The closure of A and E services dur-

ing the times proposed will remove the last emergency birth services for Clare. Where will people go if they are involved in a serious car crash or a farm accident or have a sports in- jury?” he asked.

“The HSE cannot be allowed to fol- low this course of action. If you take into consideration the recent trauma bypass decision, abandonment of the €39 million redevelopment com- mitted to by Government before and

after the election, and the continued absence of an on-site CT scanner facility, all these decisions and inac- tions represent key elements in the implementation of the Hanly Report by stealth, and are huge backward steps in Clare healthcare provision which must be resisted at every op- portunity and reversed.”

Deputy Carey will meet with sen- ior HSE officials and the four Clare Oireachtas members next Friday to discuss these concerns.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin have called on the Government TDs for Clare to resign “if they have any integrity” in light of further delay in the develop- ment of the hospital.

Speaking at Sinn Féin’s Easter commemoration last Sunday, Sinn Fein’s Cathy McCafferty said, “This is appalling but not surprising news. Fianna Fail assured the people of Clare during the general election campaign last year that our hospital would be safe, even going so far as to get planning permission for the project. This latest news proves that promises from Government were oe


McMahon slams bluetongue laws

EU laws governing the control of bluetongue has come in for stick this week from Clare farmer and Chair- person of ICMSA’s Beef and Cattle Committee, Martin McMahon.

“If bluetongue arrives in Ireland it will not only lead to considerable movement restrictions, but also lead to livestock mortality, poor animal health and performance, as well as imposing considerable additional costs on farmers with the negative impact on farm incomes that comes from that,’ said Mr McMahon.

‘The starting point in our efforts to control the threat of bluetongue must be to ensure that EU rules at least do

not hinder Ireland’s ability to keep the disease out. And ICMSA’s view is that the current rules are unfortu- nately more of a hindrance to our ef- forts than they are a help.

“For example, under the existing rules, if a vaccination programme is introduced, then zones have to be es- tablished and movement restrictions put in place. In addition, Ireland’s trading status for live exports would ost ahem

He continued, “It is absolutely ab- surd that we would face extra restric- tions because we vaccinate to try and prevent the disease. What kind of logic has you disadvantaged for trying to prevent a disease?

“It is ICMSA’s firm view that we

need to strengthen our defences against bluetongue in the whole of Ireland. In this context, preventative vaccination for bluetongue should be considered as soon as the vaccine be- comes available. And we should be able to carry through this preventive measure without being disadvan- taged by the EU.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Agri- culture, Mary Coughlan, last week noted that a draft proposals from the EU Commission in relation to blue- tongue has been compiled.

The Minister said that she and her officials had been pressing the Com- mission to make every effort to en- sure that those countries that are free of bluetongue remain disease-free

and the latest proposals from the Commission should be seen in this context.

“Following the introduction of im- port control measures last month, which suspended the importation of certain cattle and sheep from blue- tongue-restricted zones, I had again asked the Commission to consider revising the conditions under which live animals may be exported from bluetongue-restricted zones in the light of the then emerging informa- tion,” she said.

The new proposals will be dis- cussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in Brus- sels on March 31.


Couglan still talking tough to WTO

AGRICULTURE Minister Mary Coughlan continued to talk tough at the World ‘Trade Organisation (WTO) talks last week, describ- ing them as representing a “serious threat to EU and Irish agriculture” while speaking at an EU Agriculture Ministers meeting on Thursday. Coughlan said that there were clear indications that the negotiations be- tween over 150 countries in Geneva may be reaching a critical point. The EU is represented in the talks, which are now in their seventh year, by the European Commission. “There is a real danger that, in an

effort to get a deal before the US presidential elections, there will be a temptation to agree concessions on agriculture which would be severely damaging to farming and the food industry in this country and through- out Europe,” she said.

‘This must be firmly resisted, and I and my Government colleagues have been and are working hard to build the widest possible alliance to pre- vent this happening.

“My worries in this regard have not been eased by the Commission, which accepts that there will be a major increase in imports into the EU if a deal is done along the lines currently on the table.”

The Minister said that it was huge- ly important that important sectors such as beef and dairy received the necessary protection.

“The European beef sector could not possibly survive the 70% tariff cut which is on the table in Geneva, and must therefore be treated as a sensitive product as provided for in WTO rules.

“While this is widely accepted, it is vital that sensitive product status must deliver real and effective pro- tection. Some proposals now being touted could seriously undermine Wena

Minister Coughlan claimed that Ireland has strongly pressed its case

in relation to the beef and dairy sec- tors in a wide-ranging set of contacts, throughout the EU and elsewhere in the world, as well as in every avail- able official forum in the EU and at WTO, most recently by the Taoi- seach at the European Council last Veto) @

Other member states have expressed equally serious concerns about other aspects of what is on the table.

Another key feature of the talks are the proposals to reduce domestic supports to agriculture.

Most of the supports received by Irish farmers are classified in a “green box” which is not subject to such reductions.


A century of memories shared

A NEW project aimed at balancing the scales of history will take place in the Vandeleur Walled Garden this Maren tee rhs

The “Bring a Story’ open day, which aims to root out some positive stories about the often-abhorred west Clare landlord family, the Vandeleurs, will take place on the ground of their old homestead from |llam to 4pm.

The Inrush House seat of the family was burned out in 1897 and Wednes- day marks the 111th anniversary of the razing of the house.

“We are not attempting to re-write

history,’ centre manager Susanne Matejka explained. “The stigma at- tached to the Vandeleur family as cruel landlords has lived on in the folk memory of west Clare and the burned-out ruins of Kilrush House stood as a reminder of those op- pressed times right up to 1972 when the shell of the great house was de- molished in the interests of public SAAS

“Yet in the 89 years that it survived, Kilrush House was a landmark in west Clare and an outstanding exam- ple of the great houses of the time. As home to the military and political family, which owned most of Kil-

rush and built most of its civic build- ings, the building of Kilrush House under the direction of Crofton Van- deleur was completed in 1808. It was built on classical style rising to three floors over a basement and with 86 windows which were a feature of the building,’ said Ms Matejka.

“We would like to balance up the bad taste which was left by the Van- deleur landlords by gathering what- ever positive information we can,” she added. “As the Vandeleur era is now more than a century distant, we are hoping that locals will have sto- ries which were passed down to them through the older generations.

“We will have people on hand on the day to record the stories or make arrangements to have them docu- mented. Depending on the response, we would also envisage assembling the stories in a publication.”

Ms Matejka is also interested in collecting pictures of Kilrush House before and after the burning and any other memorabilia connected to the Vandeleur estate.

Local people and any other inter- ested parties are invited to attend the centre free of charge for a coffee and an exchange of stories. Information can also be emailed to info@vandele