Charges of cruelty to horses brought

A MAN HAS appeared in court charged in connection with the illtreatment of horses in the county.

John Joe Fitzpatrick (57), of Mountbellow, O’Briensbridge, is facing two charges of cruelty to an animal, on January 25 and January 27, 2010.

He is also facing two charges of permitting a carcass to remain unburied at Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, on January 25, 2010.

Inspector Tom Kennedy told Shannon District Court on Thursday that the case could not go ahead this week as he required veterinary inspectors and personnel from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) to be present for the hearing and he sought a later date.

Judge Joseph Mangan adjourned the case until February 17, when a date for the hearing will be fixed.


Shannon couple enter guilty plea

A COUPLE living in Shannon have been given seven-year sentences after being caught in Dublin handing over cash they brought from Limerick to exchange for heroin with a street value of almost € 50,000.

The couple got lost in Finglas as they headed back to Limerick with the drugs before gardaí pulled them over. They told gardaí they were in financial difficulties and were to get € 500 from criminals for the drugs run.

Ross Buckley (22) and Barbara Campion (23), both with an address at Delacey Park, Shannon, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to possession of the heroin for sale or supply at North Road, Finglas, on August 4, 2009.

After the couple were arrested they each attempted to take responsibility for the offence and absolve the other. Their co-accused, Gerard Ledwidge (26) of Cappagh Road, Finglas, also pleaded guilty to having heroin for sale or supply on the same date and was also given a seven year sentence.

Judge Katherine Delahunt commented it was a difficult case involving the parents of young children but said she was satisfied they were all fully aware of what they were doing and had engaged in it willingly. She suspended the final two years of each sentence.

Gardaí, on foot of certain information, observed a car driven by Buckley with Campion as a passenger, being driven up Cabra Road before stopping at the junction of Ratoath Road.

Two males approached the car, one of which was later found to be Ledwidge, and the window was rolled down.

Ledwidge handed in a small package and Campion handed out a bag. The car left the area and was followed by gardaí. Ledwidge was arrested in a nearby house shortly afterwards.

Gardaí following Buckley and Campion, activated their sirens and pulled the car over on North Road. They found a bag in the glove compartment which contained heroin with a street value of € 48,060.

Campion told gardaí she had come from Limerick with € 8,000 in cash and guessed she had to collect heroin. She and Buckley were to get € 500.

She said they had been asked to go to Dublin and had been given a phone number to ring to find out the location of the hand over. She said she rang the number and handed over the money to Ledwidge in return for the drugs.

Campion, who worked as a catering assistant, said she did not have a drug problem and would not name the person she was working for.

Buckley initially told gardaí he was committing the offence to clear a drug debt but later admitted he had done the run in return for cash payment. He mentioned at one stage the money was to be used for a holiday to Spain.

He said they were to return to Limerick with the drugs for a drop off but he did not realise the value of the drugs.

Ledwidge has 31 previous convictions while Campion has one conviction and Buckley has five convictions.

Det Gda Byrne agreed with Ms Grainne O’Neill BL, defending Campion, that the couple’s role was “amateurish in nature” and they had no plan if they were stopped.

Ms O’Neill submitted that Campion had a disruptive childhood but a strong work ethic. She said she had suffered post natal depression and had been in financial difficulties after returning to work on a part-time basis after her maternity leave.

She said Campion made “a very, very bad decision” which she and her child will have to live with. Det Gda Byrne agreed with Mr James McCullough BL, defending Buckley, that the couple made no attempt to evade gardaí and there was no evidence of high living. He said he was not aware of any threats being made.

Mr McCullough said Buckley, who played soccer at underage and senior level with Shannon Town, was remorseful and that he was a vulnerable man who was quite naive. He said the couple were devoted to their young child who would suffer trauma as a result of her parents going into custody.


Deadline looms for Clare people to register to vote

AS MANY as 85,360 Clare residents are already registered to vote in the upcoming General Election, but almost five per cent of those people from the Banner will be voting outside the county.

A total of 4,200 Clare people are registered as voters in the constituency of Limerick East, despite living in Clare and being registered with Clare County Council.

According to the breakdown of the new Clare register to be published in February, 88,474 people are registered to vote in local elections.

However not all will have a right to cast their vote in Clare during the General Election, as this is restricted to Irish and British citizens only.

In the case of a presidential election and a referendum, just people with full Irish citizenship can make their mark.

More than 4,000 people will also be voting for candidates in the neighbouring Limerick City constituency.

Included among those Clare people exercising their voting rights in Limerick are people living in areas that the Boundary Commission controversially believe should belong to Limerick.

Limerick East was always a largely urban constituency that contained small parts of County Clare.

A report by the Constituency Commission was published in October 2007 that also recommended changes to the electoral set up of this area.

As a result of population decline, Limerick East was replaced by a new four seat constituency called Limerick City which will also contain parts of Clare.

It is not too late however for Clare people to have their say in the democratic process as there is still time to register for the supplementary elec- tion register.

According to the Clare Registrar’s Office people have 14 working days in which to register from the date the Dáil is dissolved and the Minister has announced the official polling date.

This supplementary register can also be used if a person has changed address from one electoral area to another or from one county to another.

It is also available to teenagers who turn 18-years-old on or before the day of the election.

For citizens who wish to vote by post, they must register within two days of the dissolution of the 30th Dáil.

Application forms for those wishing to register to vote are available to download on line on the Clare County Council website.

A member of the gardaí must sign all forms before they are submitted.


‘Massive’ need for special clinic

ONE of the mid-west region’s largest independent providers of therapies for children with special needs is reporting a “massive” increase in demand for its services.

Ann Norton, Director of the Clare Crusaders, said calls to the charity’s Barefield-based clinic have increased steadily over the past 12 months.

Ms Norton explained, “There is a massive demand. Monday and Tuesday alone, I got calls from seven parents. The problem that is out there, with the embargo in the Health Services Executive (HSE), is that one of the therapists in the Shannon area has gone on maternity leave and they don’t actually have someone to replace her. So we have just been inundated. I could not say that a day goes past that we don’t get a phone call from somebody.

“A few years ago, people had extra money and you were putting the money into your children. You were paying anything up to € 120 an hour for speech and language or for occupational therapy. Unfortunately people don’t have that anymore. The majority of people that have children with special needs would be getting different grant, respite or carers allowances but it has all gone. Everything has been reduced. So people don’t have that extra spare cash to put into the children.”

Founded in 2005, seven therapists are employed at the Clare Crusaders

clinic in the areas of re

flexology, physiothera

py, speech and language

therapy, occupational

therapy and Montessori.

170 children attend the

clinic on a weekly basis

while the Clare Crusad

ers also conducts ther

apy sessions in schools

in Ennis, Barefield and

Newmarket on Fergus.

Ms Norton added, “We do hands-on therapy. We don’t do assessments. We use the assessments that are provided by the HSE. We work with the kids one-on-one. We can’t do an assessment on a child and go around and say, well there is a waiting list for two years. By the time that two years comes up, you’d have to have an assessment again. So they are literally going around in circles again and it’s not good enough.”


Talks underway for west Clare aero medical trial

A HELICOPTER charged with bringing critically ill patients from west Clare to hospital is now a possibility, although it is unlikely to satisfy all health campaigners.

When the 24-hour accident and emergency services closed at Ennis General Hospital in April 2009, protesters warned of the dangers to the people of the west, who were hours from the nearest Centre of Excellence, and outside the Golden Hour in the case of heart attacks and strokes.

Many even suggested that the only safe and quick way to get seriously ill or injured patients to proper medical help in time was by helicopter.

Almost two years on and that wish could become a reality as former Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey announced that coast guard helicopters may be deployed to transport critically ill patients to hospitals.

This is to be part of a trial in Clare later this year.

The service will not be a full-time air ambulance service – a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) – which many campaigners have been calling for.

The Minister, who resigned shortly afterwards, told the Dáil talks were under way about the possibility of an “aero medical trial” taking place in west Clare.

If the trial is successful, the new service could be extended to other areas along the west coast.

In response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Pat Breen he said it was hoped that the trial in west Clare might commence in the middle of this year.

“The Department maintains search and rescue [SAR] helicopters on permanent readiness at four bases for maritime emergency response, including two on the west coast in Shannon and Sligo,” said Mr Dempsey.

He continued, “These helicopters are principally employed for marine emergencies but they are occasionally used for land-based rescue tasks where other rescue agencies require assistance, as recently witnessed during the spell of severe weather, and in remote areas where the distance to hospital and a long ambulance journey would be a significant threat to a patient.

“However, the Coast Guard could not support a normal HEMS service with its SAR helicopters as this would reduce their availability for their primary task of providing helicopter marine emergency services on our coasts and waters.”

He added the new trial would be subject to a review by both the HSE and the Coast Guard to consider its effectiveness and value.


Three charged with Sixmilebridge hostage case

THREE men have appeared in court, charged in connection with an incident in which a family was held hostage near Sixmilebridge a year ago.

The incident led to a major Garda investigation and charges were brought against three men – two of whom have addresses in Shannon and one in Dublin.

Noel and Martin O’Callaghan and Simon Gentles appeared before court sittings last week in connection with the incident, on January 7, 2010.

Simon Gentles (25), of Casement Grove, Finglas, Dublin; Noel O’Callaghan (39), of Rineanna View, Shannon and Martin O’Callaghan (22), of Finian Park, Shannon; are accused of committing burglary at Ardkyle, Sixmilebridge, while in possession of a shotgun.

Shannon District Court was told on Thursday that in reply to charge after caution, Martin O’Callaghan replied, “No.” The court also heard that Noel O’Callaghan did not make any reply to charge after caution.

Inspector Tom Kennedy told the court that the DPP has directed that the case be dealt with in the circuit court and he sought an adjournment for preparation of the book of evidence.

Free legal aid was granted to both defendants.

Mr Gentles appeared before Ennis District Court on Friday. The court was told that he was charged that morning and did not reply to the charge after caution by a Garda. Free legal aid was also granted to Mr Gentles.

The court was told that the DPP has also directed that his case be dealt with in the circuit court.

His case was also adjourned until March 10, for service of the Book of Evidence.


Community in shock after tragic fire

“YOU would have to be here to know how bad it is” – the words of one Tubber native following the tragic death of Mossy and Jimmy Quinn on Saturday morning last.

The community of Boston and Tubber is in mourning today following the deaths of well known father and son Mossy and Jimmy Quinn after a fire in their house at Kiltacky More.

Both men were well known in the local community having both represented the Tubber hurling club with distinction over the years.

According to local councillor Micheal Kelly (FF), who was a classmate of Mossy at Boston Primary School, the whole community is deeply saddened by the tragedy.

“The people of Boston and Tubber, and indeed the whole area, are deeply saddened by the death of Mossy Quinn and James in this tragedy. The fact that it was the family home makes this tragedy even sadder,” he said.

“The Quinn family are very well known and well respected in both farming and GAA circles. Mossy is an uncle of Clare hurler Gerry Quinn and they have all played hurling with Tubber – they are good neighbours and will be sorely missed in this community.”

No funeral arrangements have yet been announced for the father and son as it is understood that the family is waiting for one of Mossy Quinn’s daughter to return from Australia. The daughter had spent Christmas at home in Clare and had just returned to Australia days before the tragic blaze took place.

According to one local person, the community is ready to provide all the help and support that they can to the family.

“You would have to be here to know how bad it is. The whole community is in total shock. We were in our local pub here on Saturday night and I can tell you there was no one smiling. It is a tragedy for a small community,” said the Tubber native.

“It is times like this that the local community has to come together. We are a close knit community and we do stand beside someone when they need it and I know that help will be coming to the Quinns.”

A Garda forensic examination took place at the scene on Sunday with the investigation centering around a stove which they feel may have been the cause of the accident.


Students celebrate the life of a friend

FORMER classmates of a “beloved” young Ennis student who died from cancer last year are aiming to pay tribute to her memory by raising awareness about the illness.

Sixteen-year-old Ciara Conroy passed away last May following a battle with cancer. A student at Coláiste Mhuire, Ennis, Ciara was also involved with Can Teen Ireland, a nationwide support group for young people who have or have had cancer, and for their family and friends.

Now many of Ciara’s friends and classmates are participating in a project aimed at raising awareness about cancer among young people.

A group of transition year students at Coláiste Mhuire are taking part in the Young Social Innovators (YSI) awards – a programme that aims to promote social awareness and activism among young people.

While one transition year class are basing their project around cancer awareness, all second and fourth year students will be involved in a fashion show to raise money for Can Teen in March.

Transition year student Mairead Cunnane explained, “The fashion show is in memory of Ciara Conroy, a beloved student who passed away from cancer last year”.

Teacher Margaret Harrold said students were eager to celebrate Ciara’s life. She said, “We’re raising awareness of teenage cancer and we’re also doing events in memory of Ciara. Ciara was very much involved with Can Teen. In our posters we will be mentioning that the money raised will be going towards Can Teen. It is the Transition Year 2 group that are involved in the young social innovators project but all of the transition year students are involved in organising the fashion show. The whole Coláiste community will be involved, teachers, students. There will be no outside models”.

Margaret added, “It’s because she was so young and style and fashion are important to young people. It’s a way of commemorating Ciara. It’s a celebration for the school, of Ciara’s life and who she was.”

Students will design some of the dresses but local stores have also donated dresses to be modeled also. The theme of the show is ‘Beautiful things we love and love to share’.

All second and fourth year students will model on the night while students from transition year will produce the show.

The show, which is being run in conjunction with the Martina Costelloe modeling agency, will take place on Thursday, March 3.


Tulla nursing home headache for council

A PAIR of developers who were granted planning permission for a 60 bed nursing home in Tulla earlier this year have lodged an objection with An Bord Pleanála against the planning permission granted for a separate nursing home in the village by Clare County Council.

John and Ted Nugent were granted planning permission for a 30 person single storey nursing home by Clare County Council in January. The nursing home, which will comprise a 26 bedroom main building as well as four semi-detached single units and four semi-detached two bedroom self-contained units, was given the green light by the local authority after more than one year in the planning process.

This planning permission will have to be scrutinized once more, however, after an objection was made to the granting of planning by Geraldine Cosgrove and Mary Coleman.

The pair, who had lodged a submission as part of the original planning permission for the Nugents’ development, were themselves granted planning permission by Clare County Council for the construction of a 60 bed nursing home in Tulla in March of last year.

As part of their submission against the original planning permission lodge by John and Ted Nugent – Geraldine Cosgrove and Mary Coleman said that the second nursing home was outside the “settlement boundary” as identified to them during their own planning process.

They claim that they were encouraged by the council’s planners to identify and obtain a second site which was inside the local settlement boundary, a condition which did not prevent John and Ted Nugent’s proposal from securing planning permission.

“My clients are of the opinion the requirements of the local authority have not been rigorously addressed by Ted and John Nugent,” said the submission of Geraldine Cosgrove and Mary Coleman.

“Ted and John Nugent have not adequately demonstrated that no alternative sites were available within the settlement boundary. My clients do not consider that this site is the optimum location for the development as it is not with the settlement boundary.”

A final decision on planning is due from an Bord Pleanála on May 17 of this year.


Service awards for coastguards

THE founding members of the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coastguard were recognised this weekend for the long and dedicated service to the people of Clare.

Six members of the Doolin Coastguard were awarded prestigious Long Service Medals at a ceremony at the new Costello Bay Coast Guard Station in Galway on Friday evening last.

Medals were awarded to founding members Mattie Shannon and Thomas Doherty, as well as long serving members Conor McGrath, Ray Murphy, Richie Jones and Ian Lambe. The coastguard, which has been the busiest in Ireland over the last 10 years, was founded 23 years ago by Mattie Shannon and Thomas Doherty – who are currently the stations officer in charge and deputy officer in charge respectively.

“The long service awards are given out to people who have been involved in the coastguard for 20 years so it shows the great commitment which has been there down the years. We also have a number of volunteers who have been involved for 17 or 18 years and they will qualify for awards in the coming years,” said Mattie.

“It is great for the volunteers who have given all that time over the years – it is nice to have that recognised. They will always have something now, they will have a medal as a token that they can pass on to show their commitment over the years.”

The Doolin unit of the Irish Coastguard has been so successful in attracting members in recent years that they currently have more volunteers than they can bring into the unit.

“We are recruiting at the moment. We have interviewed 12 people from the north Clare area and we are hoping to take five new members on over the coming weeks. The interviews are ongoing at the moment and we will be making up our mind come the end of February,” continued Mattie.

“We had a great response to this latest call for members but we are really looking to get members who are based as close as possible to Doolin. We had a lot of people applying from Ennis and different areas, which is great, but they really need to be based close to Doolin in case of an emergency. We will take on a few people living in the local area and then we will go a few miles outside of that for the last few people. But unfortunately for anyone who is living 10 of 15 miles away it is just a bit too far.”