Gort nun recalls Haitian friends

IT NOW lies in ruins on the streets of Port-au-Prince, a concrete grave for countless nameless souls, but three years ago it was a happy home for a group of Burren travellers on a mission from Ireland to Haiti.

In July of 2006, Sr De Lourdes Fahy and four students from Gort

Community School were the guests of Concern in Haiti. While there they made friends, and saw firsthand the work done in one of the poorest countries in the world.

They were joined in Port-au-Prince by a group of Haitian teenagers, or their “twins” as they were called. Since the earthquake, Sr Fahy has spent much of her time trying to

track down her lost Haitian friends.

“My own twin’s name was Cas- sandra, and all she wanted to be was a lawyer so she could help her poor people. I’d love to know where she is right now. We haven’t heard what has happened to any of the twins who became our friends when we visited over there. We don’t know if they were killed or not,’ she said.

‘‘T haven’t been able to contact any- one over there. I have been searching for information on the internet and I was able to get some information on some of the people that we knew.

“The students really enjoyed their time over there. They had great fun and slept on the roof of the hostel where we were staying. That hostel is now rubble.”

Even before the earthquake, most people in Haiti lived in poverty.

“The conditions that we saw over there were atrocious even then. There was terrible, terrible poverty. We vis- ited all of the poorest parts, especial- ly one area of Port-au-Prince which was called San Martin. The whole area was terribly poor but the people were So nice,’ continued Sr Fahy.

‘That whole area of the city was to- tally neglected. To me, it seemed that the government over there was very inept, useless really. It was also a dangerous place, gangs would roam the streets every night but most of the crime over there was fuelled by pov- erty, aS well as corruption and bad government.

“Concern have done excellent work over there. They set up a lot of water purification projects and run a clinic which looks after HIV patients and a school which they set up.” To donate to Haiti, visit


Broadband mast gets the plug pulled

Gort nun recalls Haitian friends


Bridge float into seventh heaven

ALL is quiet in the defending cham- pions camp at the moment. The pro- longed winter recess has seemingly done little to rebuild their confidence as this game ultimately proved. Put simply, this was the sort of game that last year Bunratty would have etched out a 1-O win. However, their current fragile state ensured that this was not the case on Sunday as from a po- tentially winning position, the home side were hit for three goals inside the last 20 minutes.

A lack of confidence is something that Bridge Utd are certainly not af- flicted with as they maintained their title challenge at the other end of the table. They won this game because realistically they just wanted it more and while the scoreline perhaps flat- tered them slightly, their hunger epitomised by the likes of Adrian Whyte, Jonathon Downes, Derek Fahy and Trevor Maxwell deservedly extended their current unbeaten run to seven games.

In saying that, they certainly had to ride their luck before finally get-

ting on top in this encounter. The first-half, while slow to start, was predominantly controlled by the home side but they were unable to convert that dominance into goals. It took 22 minutes for the first real opportunity of the game but when it arrived, it almost opened the flood- gates. Iwo slick one-two’s between Shane Purcell and Ryan Kelly down the right wing finished with a teasing cross from the winger that had to be dealt with by the Sixmilebridge de- fence and subsequent efforts from Pa Twomey and Daithi O’Connell were all somehow scrambled away.

Bridge United did have two glori- ous chances of their own late in the half through Jonathon Downes and Greg Deegan but in the main, it was Bunratty who looked the most likely to open the scoring, empitomised in the 40th minute when a Pat Twomey effort agonisingly went the wrong side of the post.

The holders did finally break the deadlock after the break but ironi- cally it came during Bridge United’s most productive period of the game. A free from the left wing broke to

Daithi O’Connell whose shot was parried by goalkeeper Paul Tuohy and Ryan Kelly was the first to react to slip the rebound to the net.

The tithe winning Bunratty would have used that advantage to tighten their grip on the game and secure the points but such an eventuality did not materialise this time around. Instead, once a momentary lapse of concentration allowed Greg Deegan to waltz through the centre of the defence and chip goalkeeper Enda McNamara in the 72nd minute, Bun- ratty switched to vulnerable mode and were subsequently punished for their fragility.

Only five minutes later, Mark Cul- bert slipped in Trevor Maxwell to flick over McNamara for the lead and the final blow came in the 8lst minute when Derek Fahy shrugged off a tackle before rifling to the top corner of the net from outside the box.

Those hammer blows sent shock- waves through the champions and it would only get worse for the home side when Terry Duggan was dis- missed for two yellow cards inside a

pep eeLbikon

In the space of nine minutes, Bun- ratty’s world had completely turned and as Avenue Utd continue to set the pace at the top, it is Bridge Unit- ed and not the defending champions who look the most likely to make a meaningful stab at halting the runa- way leaders on current form.


Wild birds hinder flightpath of new seaplane venture

CONCERNS over possible injuries to birds in Lough Derg from a new seaplane service have prompted Clare County Council to seek a sci- entific assessment of the plan.

Last year, Harbourair Ireland Ltd announced plans for a _ seaplane service aimed at tourists for the west of Ireland. The company lodged ap- plications with planning authorities in Galway and Clare to allow it land a seaplane in Lough Derg, Galway city docks and the main harbour serving Inis Mor.

The Clare plan attracted wide- spread local opposition, prompting company director Ronan Connolly to comment, “We are not planning to land a jumbo jet here.”

The chances of the venture start- ing during the 2010 tourist season receded yesterday when the Clare Council sought a scientific assess- ment on the impact service will have on birds in Lough Derg, which is a Special Protection Area under the EU Habitats Directive.

According to a submission lodged by the Department of the Environ- ment, Lough Derg is of importance for both breeding and wintering birds and supports a nationally im- portant breeding colony of Common

Tern and is also home to Whooper Swans, Cormorants, Mallards. Coots, Lapwings and Goldeneyes.

Seeking the assessment, the Coun- cil stated it had regard to the site being adjacent to an Special Protec- tion Area on the shoreline of Lough Droge

“Concerns arise that birds are like- ly to be disturbed and possibly in- jured by the operation of seaplanes in Mounsthannon Bay.

“Under the EU Birds and Habitats Directive, there is an obligation to prevent significant disturbances of these and other species and of their habitats and breeding of resting places

“Concerns arise that the develop- ment may have a negative impact on fish species at this location and the assessment should comment on the effect — if any — that the develop- ment as proposed may have on ex- isting species and stock levels.”

Reacting to the council’s request Mr Connolly said the information requested was not too onerous and not the full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that the company had feared.

He admitted that the request for further information made starting up services this summer “a more distant prospect”.


‘No more social housing’

ENNIS Town Council does not ex- pect to start or complete any social houses this year – despite the fact that numbers on the housing list have in- creased by 35 per cent over the past year.

Figures supplied by the council show that numbers on the housing list increased by 235 from 671 to 906 between December 2008 and De- cember 2009.

The council completed 62 social houses in 2008 but no homes were completed last year and the indica- tions are that none will be completed over the next 12 months.

The council also confirmed that it has had six affordable houses on the market since 2008 and they remain unsold in spite of the cost being cut from €175,000 to €150,000.

Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Frankie Ney- lon (Ind) said yesterday that he does not expect any new social homes to be completed in Ennis over the next five to Six years.

“There is a lack of activity because the council does not have the money from Government to buy new land or start new schemes. That is not hap- pening and won’t happen for another couple of years and by the time the council does acquire land for hous- ing, it will be five or six years before a new social house 1s built.”

Clir Neylon also called for special EU funding to meet the housing re- quirements of the non Irish nationals

on the list and pointed that there are over 300,000 empty homes through- out the country with a sizeable number in Ennis.

Cllr Brian Meaney (Green) said that the National Assets Manage- ment Agency (NAMA) could provide a substantial part of the solution by allowing developers’ unsold houses be used to address the lengthening housing list numbers.

“There are a lot of empty houses

out there, but the Government should be prudent in not bailing out devel- opers.”’

Stating that there was “a dire need for housing in Ennis’, he added that the numbers on the housing list did not represent the true housing need as people seeking rent allowance must first be on the housing list.


Shannon Chamber rises above gloom

Value tempts potential homeowners


Prioritise pothole maintenance, says councillor

THE Government should shelf capi- tal projects such as the Gort/Crush- een bypass in favour of funding emergency works on Clare’s belea- guered road network.

That is the opinion of north Clare County Councillor Martin Conway CSCO Mays loe- lionel ela onmerr ime lexomcee per potholes around the county will cause a Serious accident if they are not addressed immediately.

With reports coming in of potholes,

many more than a foot in depth, around the county, Cllr Conway says that quick action is needed in order to avoid a tragedy.

“We have a situation where the roads have deteriorated dramatically over the last number of weeks. We need Clare County Council to carry out an audit on the roads that have been damaged, put together a costing on how much it would cost to bring these roads back to the former stand- ard and we need to present that to Government,’ he said.

“A special fund needs to be estab- lished by the Government to fund this work. Even if a capital project, such as a bypass, needs to be put on hold so that this work can be fi- nanced, then that needs to be done.”

With the local authority budget in the poorest state for many years and funding from central government continuing to be cut, it seems likely that Clare County Council will not be in a position to fund repairs with- out outside help.

“We are already in a situation where

Clare County Council has seen a cut of around 10 per cent in it’s road budget already. We are in a situation at the moment where the budget has been cut for roads by around 30 per cent since 2007. This means that we have to focus on what is the absolute priority and there are roads in every corner of Clare which are 1n a critical condition at the moment,’ he contin- aren

“Motorists are now contending with an obstacle course when driv- ing on the county’s roads. People

are swerving around these potholes to ensure that they don’t do damage to their cars and unfortunately this could very easily lead to a death on our roads,” he said.

“People unfortunately don’t have the chance to drive with any level of comfort or security on the roads. They are watching their cars, they are watching for damage and this is just not good enough in a modern society.

“Even in a recession this is not an acceptable situation.”


Students urged to explore agri-food

LEAVING cert students are being urged to look at the agri-food sector when deciding what to put down on their CSO form with the sector be- ing branded as a central part of the new smart economy and one of the leading areas which will help lead Ireland out of recession.

Agri Aware last week launched a

new campaign to help show inter- ested students where they can go to find a route into the industry. The campaign, which is called ‘Food Routes — Your Guide to Agriculture and Food Courses’ includes a the booklet and website and has been compiled with the help of Teagasc and the ASA (Agricultural Science Association).

“This is a great time to consider

a career in this area. With exports worth over €8 billion, the agri- food industry has been indentified as key to the economic recovery of our country and of huge strategic importance for food security,” said Agri Aware Chairperson, Mairead oay

“T encourage any student with in- terest in industry to check out this resource. A fulfilling career is read-

ily available for hard working and enthusiastic graduates.”

According to the Head of Educa- tion at Teagasc, Paddy Browne, the new resource will help students and teachers alike to get useful informa- tion about agri-food industry.

“Never before has there been so much debate on agri-food related issues such as climate change and food security — it is a very exciting time for the industry, with equally exciting opportunities available in Ireland and around the World,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Clare TD and Junior Agriculture Minister, Tony Killeen (FF), has reminded growers across Clare that the closing date for re- ceipt of applications for the third round of the grant aid scheme for the development of the horticulture sector is February 19.

“This aid, which is set at 40 per cent (50 per cent in the case of young farmers) of total eligible capital in- vestment, will fund projects in com- mercial horticultural production carried out during 2010,” he said,

“The scheme covers all horti- cultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and in limited circumstances mushrooms – and is aimed at assisting growers to efficiently produce high quality products in what is now a very com- petitive market.

‘There is a need to sustain exper- tise within the sector and maintain production capacity to maximise volume and food security.”


A mosaic of artistic young minds

FIRST year students from Mary Im- maculate Secondary School in Lis- doonvarna have been chosen to take part in a pilot EU project to explore the European Charter of Human Rights.

The Mind Mosaic project, which is being trialed by the Léargas group in just 13 Irish schools, aims at helping

secondary school children to come up with their own opinions about the charter. The school which does the best will win the chance to see their ideas turned into a giant mosaic by a professional artist.

‘The idea is to develop the kids un- derstanding of the European Charter of Human Rights. The charter itself is quite technical so what we have been working on is finding ways of

helping them to understand the char- ter and how it impacts on their own life,” said teacher Shane Slattery. “Over the weeks they are being asked to try and understand what the charter is about and put it into their own words. The next step is to take the words of the charter and then come back with their own ideas about it. So they might draw a picture about what freedom means to them

or write a poem about equality.”

More than 300 children are tak- ing part in the project across five EU countries. If the students in Lisdoon- varna find the course acceptable, it may be rolled out to every EU sec- ondary school in the coming years.

“We have been compiling all the work here on the display wall in- cluding the pictures and poems that the children have made. The idea 1s then that, if it’s good enough, some- one will come along and construct a physical mosaic from their work,” continued Mr Slattery.

“We have a lot of work done al- ready. Right now we are taking all of our rough work and putting them together for the mosaic. The kids re- ally like it – it’s very hands-on from their point of view. They can have discussion and really get involved in it, rather than just reading about it in a text book.

“Our job after this is also to as- sess this as an educational tool. Some parts of it are quite difficult for them to understand, like some of the words, because it is essentially a legal document.

‘“[ have been keeping a record of the progress and when we are finished I will compile a report on how we have got on with the project as a class.”


Talented teen takes on the world

BEN Escorcio is going for all Ire- land glory, having already won West Clare’s Got Talent and numerous other competitions in his young life.

He will showcase his singing abil- ity this Sunday evening on the popu- lar RTE television competition, The All Ireland Talent Show.

The teen will not only represent Clare but the whole of Munster when he does battle for judge John Cree- don’s team.

The second-year student in St Flan- nan’s College, Ennis, has not revealed the song he will sing in an effort to

make it to the semi-final, but he is hoping the people of his new home in Milltown Malbay, Clare and Munster will like it.

Born in London, Ben moved to Australia with his parents Sandy and Leo, and his brothers when he was young. He went to school there- and was educated before the family moved to Ireland and settled in Mil- town Malbay.

Ben is no stranger to performing, competition or even television. Last year he won not only the local com- petition West Clare’s Got Talent, but also made it to the final of RTE 1’s ‘Jam the Musical’.

While living in Melbourne, he was part of the largest dramatic society in the city. As well as playing a main role in ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Oliver’, he also had a part especially written into “The Pirates of Penzance’, and won the Guild of Victoria.

On moving to Clare, he continued to work on his singing. Just months in the county, he joined Clare’s famed Lismorahaun singers, and took up singing lessons with the choir’s founder, Archie Simpson.

Then a few short weeks ago, the talented teen auditioned for the All Ireland Talent Show in Cork. On the first day of auditions, John Creeden

put Ben through to his final 16.

“Tt was brilliant. When John said I was through, I could have run and shrieked with joy. Luckily I remem- bered I was on camera,” he laughed.

On day two of the auditions, the judges had to narrow down their se- lection to just eight acts and Ben was once again called up.

‘As soon as we got back home, we began brainstorming for song ideas, with only a few weeks to prepare,” he said.