The Ford Kuga – well worth waiting for

FORD was a bit late entering the crowded SUV market, but I think it was worth waiting for their Kuga.

I first drove this neat SUV over a testing off-road obstacle course at Druid’s Glen golf course in County Wicklow last year. As I said before on these pages, car companies go to great efforts to show us what their SUVs can do off-road. In reality, the only grass that will touch the wheels of most SUVs is if the driver has to pull in and let another car pass on a CoO MYM Ouse IF

I genuinely expected the Kuga to pick up some silverware at the end- of-year Irish motoring awards, but it was beaten by the Volvo XC60 for SUV/Crossover of the Year at the Semperit sponsored awards.

Coincidentally, my week in the Kuga came immediately after testing the massive XC60. Naturally friends wanted to know which was the best. Comparisons in this instance are not fair; the XC60 is bigger and chunkier and much more expensive. The Kuga would probably be compared more with Nissan’s Quashgai, which is even cheaper. Ultimately it comes down to what you can afford in these recessionary times.

It’s no secret that I am a big Ford fan and as far as I’m concerned cars with the famous blue oval logo can do no wrong. But I also realise that others, including my own family, are not as keen on everything to come O)HmOm one

When I sat in I was immediately impressed with the way my back fit- ted snugly into the seat. There is am- ple seating for five adults. The boot is huge and of course the back seat can be let down to provide more carrying space if needed.

The interiors of most new cars are predominantly black, so it was nice to see a grey strip stitched to front and rear seats. The grey lines did brighten up the interior, but really I think they looked a bit naff.

The dash is regular Ford design with discreet slave controls for the radio/CD to the side of the steering Wheel. On the bonnet, straight in

your line of vision, are two raised creases which help you get a feel for where exactly you are positioned on the road.

Externally the car looks very neat. The front has attractive headlamps and the rear is well finished. Two sil- ver roof racks add to the SUV effect.

At night you get the benefit of a dis- creet light under the side mirrors to

help you walk away from the car in leyu rca alae lente

The Kuga, which is built on the same platform as the Focus and C- Max, handles very well and is I think ideal for city or rural driving. Natu- rally, being an SUV, the driving po- sition is high and the visibility front and back, is good.

Only available in 2.0 diesel, prices

Start at €32,565 for the five-door two-wheel drive Zetec and go up to €39,995 for the top of the range Ti- tanium All-Wheel drive. All models are in Band D for road tax which has risen to €447 per annum from Janu- Aan


Website hacked

€19,000 award for toddlers tumble


Drug advice just an hour a week

DESPITE the ever increasing scourge of drugs among young peo- ple, the Killaloe area has just one addiction counsellor who is paid to spend just one hour with one client a week.

The Killaloe/Ballina Family Re- source Centre gets funding for the hour of counselling but it is totally inadequate to deal with the problem, Tracey Doyle, a community worker FMW Oet tA KoMESY- BLOM

The resource centre offers counc- selling services from a voluntary councillor and a student counsellor but their paid counsellor is funded for just one hour per week by the Department of Family Affairs.

‘Addiction is affecting young peo- ple of about 15 upwards but we have to rely on the counsellors’ good will to give us hours for free. Otherwise we would not be able to offer any level of service,” said Tracey.

Other counsellors offer their time voluntarily, but don’t have the spe- cific qualification needed to counsel addicts.

“We don’t have figures for the number of people who are suffering addiction in the area but the numbers who are caught in possession are high, so considering the number who

aren’t caught, that’s a big figure.”

In her work with the Family Re- source Centre, Tracey makes contact with families when youngsters fall foul of the law because of drugs.

“We also talk to the probation and welfare officer in the court and we had considered putting it out to the judges that this service is avail- able but we couldn’t do it. We’d be swamped.”

Other areas that are not covered by counsellors with the specific quali- fications are domestic violence and child abuse.

“We’re hoping to make a very strong case for increased funding for the service for next year but, in the meantime, we have to play on the goodwill of our counsellors, who give a lot,” said Tracey.

And the need extends beyond Kil- laloe, the community worker pointed out.

“Go down the road to Scariff and there is no addiction counsellor at all. Yes, people have the option of going private but what happens to people when families can’t afford a private counsellor?”

The Killaloe/Ballina Family Re- source Centre is now up and running in its new premises on Main Street in Killaloe and counselling and other activities are going ahead again.


Shannon’s Gallic flavour doubled

CITYJET is to double its capac- ity on the Shannon to Paris-Charles de Gaulle route. Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was in Shannon yes- terday to announce the new capacity and new departure times, linking up with 841 destinations.

Parent company, Air France will base its modern AVRO RJ85 aircraft in Shannon to serve the route. The aircraft will cater for 95 passengers in two classes.

Basing the aircraft in Shannon

means that the first flight will depart from Shannon earlier in the morning and the last flight will return to Shan- non later in the evening, offering a wider choice of connecting flights.

The Shannon to Paris-Charles De Gaulle flights will depart at 06.30 and 14.50 every day, arriving in Paris at 09.30 and 17.55, local time, while the Paris to Shannon flights will leave CDG at 11.00 and 18.45 local time, arriving in Shannon at 12.05 and 19.50.

Minister Dempsey said he very much welcomed the entrepreneurial approach

that CityJet and Air France have taken to ensure that the mid-west continues to have easy access to key European and international destinations.

Mr Geoffrey O’Byrne White, Cit- yJet’s chief executive, said that while this was a resounding vote of confi- dence on the part of Air France and CityJet for the hard-hit mid-west re- gion, the support of the community for this service was “vital for its sur- vival”.

Shannon Airport Director, Martin Moroney described the announce- ment as a major vote of confidence

and he called on industry and tour- ism in the mid-west to fully support it. “This is excellent news for the region as it significantly enhances one-stop connectivity options out of Shannon. We now have better access than ever to international markets from Shannon and, having fought so hard for this, we would call on the industry and tourism sectors here to take full advantage of it,” he said. Deputy Timmy Dooley said it will ‘be a boost to business in the region, providing excellent connection for business customers, despite the on- going global economic downturn. “It also shows that other interna- tional airlines view Shannon as a strategically important airport hub that is not just a destination in itself but that can also serve as a link to other flights travelling across the At- lantic and to other destinations.” Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare, TD Pat Breen has welcomed the news. He said, “This news 1s a vote of con- fidence in Shannon Airport and I am delighted that Cityjet has decided to follow up on their commitment to ex- pand and increase their services.” Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive of Shannon Development, said the “development will bring significant opportunities to grow tourism and industrial business for the Shannon region and the west of Ireland.”


Future plans for Molex still unclear

Shannon’s Gallic flavour doubled


Short-time deferred as workers sit in

THE introduction of short-time working hours at the Element Six plant in Shannon, originally planned for January, has been deferred until opts)

Management at Element Six are meeting with workers’ representa- tives this week after workers staged a sit-in at the factory last Friday.

Workers were protesting against the planned introduction of short-time working hours, which they claim would cut the wages of up to 180 workers at the plant by 50 per cent.

A compromise 1s believed to have been reached, whereby short-time would be introduced for a defined period of time and not indefinitely,

The new working arrangements were due to be introduced earlier this year but workers rejected the propos- al on the grounds that no negotiation had taken place between manage- ment and unions. Workers believe cost-cutting measures are not being introduced on an equitable basis.

The company announced last De- cember that it was seeking 150 re- dundancies as part of a group-wide Savings programme and sustainabil-

Tava) e-b ee

That figure has been reached through a combination of voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

One member of staff, speaking anonymously, said workers remained confident that union representatives would be able to negotiate a package that will share the financial burden in an equitable manner.

“No members of the management have taken their fair share of the fi- nancial burden. It has all been tar- geted at floor staff and that is why we were protesting.”

A meeting between staff and gen-

eral management is expected to take ECO AN KIL c1o).@

Element Six manufactures and dis- tributes industrial diamonds and su- per-hard materials and its products are mainly used in the manufacture of tools for such applications as drill- ing, sawing, cutting, grinding and polishing of different materials.

Element Six, which was established in the Shannon Free Zone in 1960 as De Beers, currently employs just un- Caen eee

The company is co-owned by South African diamond giant De Beers and Belgian company Umicore.


Cree man wins technican accolade

CREE man Dan Kelly has had plenty to celebrate in the last few months.

As well as the arrival of his second child just four months ago, he has also been presented with the inaugu- ral Massey Ferguson “Technician of the Year’ award.

Not content with beating off stiff competition here in Ireland, he then went on to represent the country in the

UK and won the overall competition.

The competition was open to all en- gineers working in Massey Ferguson dealerships in the UK and Ireland, regardless of age or experience, and despite working in the area for just two years, Dan proved to be top of aVismeee De alse

Achieving this high accolade was not easy as it required long out-of- hours work and weeks of training in the UK, away from his wife Mary

and children Aishling (20 months) and James (20 weeks).

The 31-year-old took over the fam- ily farm in the past year adding to his PLES ACE AYA

The son of Jim and Ann Kelly, Dan has always been interested in tractors and farmwork.

When he left school, he went to the Athenry Agricultural College, before spending nine years as an apprentice and technician for Aer Atlanta in


He then worked on the A380 for Airbus UK in the south of France.

Two years ago, he joined the MF dealership at Joseph Whelan Trac- tors. This is the second award for the Kilrush company. In 2005, Joseph Whelan (Jnr) won the European salesperson of the year award.

Dealer principal Joe Whelan praised Dan for his hard work and Yo su teaiea0 slo OL

“His previous experience, com- bined with numerous AGCO Acad- emy training modules, has led to Dan emerging as the top agricultural di- agnostic technician he is today,” he said.

“On top of that, Dan experienced a steep learning curve in the workshop with help from the workshop team, sO we were all overjoyed at having won the inaugural MF “Technician of the Year’ Award and we congratulate Dan on his wonderful achievement.”

Massey Ferguson International was also impressed with the west Clare yrarenee

‘The winner demonstrated an ex- ceptional all-round performance, in terms of hard work, attendance, team-working, appropriate use of technical knowledge and contribu- tion to dealer standards,” explained Jason Burbidge, AGCO’s Training and ‘Technical Assistance Group Manager.


Shannon motorcyclist claims he panicked when he saw gardai

A MOTORIST who panicked when he saw gardai drove through a set of traffic lights and overtook cars on a continuous white line.

Brian Murphy (27), of Rineanna View, Shannon, pleaded guilty to careless driving arising out of an in- cident at Smithstown, Shannon, on October 30 last.

Inspector Tom Kennedy told Shan- non District Court that the accused drove through a set of traffic lights in

Shannon and failed to yield.

He said that Murphy, who was driving a motorbike, overtook cars on a continuous white line.

He accepted that while he overtook the cars, he hadn’t inconvenienced anyone.

Murphy also pleaded guilty to a public order charge arising out of a late-night incident at Shannon Town Centre on November 15 last.

Inspector Kennedy told the court the accused hassled security staff “‘to the effect if they laid a hand on him

he would kill them.”

Referring to the driving offence, defending solicitor Eamonn Dillon said his client had taken the mo- torbike out for a spin and panicked when he saw the gardai.

The solicitor said that his client was remorseful and apologetic for his ac- tions on November 15. He said his client had not been out for some time prior to that night and unfortunately had consumed too much alcohol.

Judge Joseph Mangan imposed fines totalling €500.


String of fresh charges in jewellery investigation

AN additional 20 charges have been brought as part of an investigation into the discovery of a haul of sever- al thousand euro worth of jewellery, which was stolen from several homes in Ennis late last year.

The jewellery was discovered in November, after a major investiga- tion, “Operation Ennis’, was set up to tackle the spiralling rate of daytime burglaries in Ennis.

An Iranian national, Ali Reza Ve- layati, was charged in November with entering three houses – at Ard na Greine; Dun na R1, Tobartaoscain; and Ard Aoibhinn, Limerick Road, Ennis – as a trespasser and stealing aia oes

SU sloma eT Comey Mm NaloMn (AW o) UJ a’amr-NE (orees edly taken from the house at Dun na Ri was €1,950, while €500 worth of jewellery was allegedly taken from the house at Ard Aoibhinn.

Velayati (40), of Avondale, Kilrush Road, Ennis, was also charged with handling stolen jewellery, at Oakwood Drive, Ennis, on November 8 last.

He re-appeared in court last Friday where the court heard he had been charged with another 20 alleged of-

fences, the previous day.

He is charged with 19 counts of theft of jewellery or cash from houses on various dates between September 19 and November 8 last.

The total amount of jewellery list- ed on the charge sheets 1s €48,050,

along with 5,000 dollars.

The homes are in various parts of Ennis, including Clon Road, Shan- non Park, St Senan’s Road, Elm Park, Glensheen, Cahercalla Estate, Tulla Road, Tobartaoscaoin, College Grove, College Green, Abbey Court,

Victoria Court, Oakpark, Bramble Lane, Glenina and Inis Carraig.

He is also charged with handling €50,150 worth of stolen jewellery and €8,500 cash, at his home on No- (ole mC Ee

Garda Cyril Page told Ennis Dis-

trict Court that the accused did not make any reply to 10 of the charges after caution.

Sergeant John Cunningham told the court that in reply to the other 10 charges, the accused said, “I will talk to my lawyer.”

Inspector John Galvin told the court that the new charges will form part of a book of evidence which is due to be served next month.

Defending solicitor Daragh Hassett said his client had been “deprived of his liberty” for two months and was led to believe he would be facing up to 50 charges, when, in fact, he is now facing 24 charges.

Inspector Galvin said he under- stood the book of evidence would be ready for the next date. “This is the final chapter. These are the final charges,” he said.

Judge Joseph Mangan heard that the accused is currently on bail and said he would not mark it peremptory against the State.


Bail refused to ‘€100-a-day’ heroin addict

A MAN whose heroin addiction costs him €100 a day is a threat to society and has a ‘dysfunctional lifestyle’, according to gardai.

In objecting to bail for the father- of-two, who faces five drug-related charges, gardai said he was a flight risk. After hearing that the accused injects himself three times a day and his addiction costs him €100 a day, Judge Joseph Mangan refused to grant bail.

Emmet Curley, (28), of Rineanna View, Shannon, is accused of posses- sion of cocaine and ecstacy for sale or supply, at Tullyvarraga, Shannon, on April 11, 2008.

He is also accused of possession of cocaine, ecstacy and cannabis, on the SENSO Esl Kom ;

Garda Sean O Murcht told Shan-

non District Court last Thursday that he arrested the accused the previous morning in Cork City.

Mr Curley was brought to Shannon Garda Station, where he was charged with five alleged offences.

He did reply to each of the charges when they were put to him, said the garda. In reply to one, he said, “I apologise. I had a serious problem with coke at the time.” In reply to another charge, he said, “I apologise for being involved in ecstacy as I don’t take them but they were for my friends, so I picked them up.”

His response to another charge was, ‘“T apologise for having the ecstacy as I don’t take them. They were for my friends,” while in reply to another charge, he said, “I apologise about the cocaine as I had a serious prob- lem at the time.”

Replying to the fifth charge, he said,

“T had that for my own personal use to help me sleep as I have an anxiety problem.”

Judge Mangan asked what quantity of drugs would the State be alleging was involved. The garda said it was €1,700 in total.

Inspector Tom Kennedy said the DPP would be consenting to summa- ry disposal of the case in the district court, but only on a plea.

However, defending solicitor Jen- ny Fitzgibbon said she wasn’t in a position to comment on that at this stage. She sought bail for her client, but Inspector Kennedy said the State would be resisting this.

The solicitor said her client has been living in accommodation pro- vided by the Simon Community in Cork for the past couple of months.

Inspector Kennedy said that two of the charges were for alleged sale or

supply of drugs.

“They go back to last April when they were detected. Shortly after that, he left the area and his whereabouts was not known until yesterday. Garda O Murcht went to Cork looking for him. It was fortuitous that he found him on the street in Cork,” he said.

Garda O Murchu then explained that the accused had left Shannon in ALbn ten

“I was made aware that he was in Cork city, but that he was living rough. When he was stopped by gardai in Cork city, he was giving his Shannon address,” he said.

Inspector Kennedy said the accused was giving the Shannon address as it was “convenient” for him. “He has no address. He has a dysfunctional lifestyle. He is addicted to substances by his own admission. He represents a flight risk. He’s in a vulnerable po-

sition and he is also a threat to soci- ety, he said.

Garda O Murchu explained that the accused is addicted to heroin. “He’s injecting himself three times a day, at a cost of €100 a day,” he said.

Mr Curley told the court that his wife has been encouraging him to return to their home for the past two months, but “because of my problem with heroin I didn’t want to go home to my kids.”

He said he gave his Shannon ad- dress to gardai in Cork as he still con- sidered it as his home address.

“I begged for money in Cork to feed my habit, which I’m afraid of. I never committed any crime in Cork. I am not a threat to society,” ater BCG

Judge Joseph Mangan remanded Mr Curley in custody to reappear in court later this month.