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Shannon’s odour still not identified

THE ORGIN of unpleasant odours detected in Shannon has not yet been identified, according to the EPA.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Clare County Council are investigating the presence of an unsavoury smell in the town.

Both authorities are carrying out odour checks in an attempt to pinpoint the source of the smell which has been reported in Smithstown and Ballycasey in recent weeks.

The reports that a smell was in circulation prompted widespread concern in Shannon, after another smell emerged over two years ago and lingered on for some time.

In a statement released to The Clare People yesterday, a spokesperson for the EPA confirmed that an investigation into the odour complains is continuing.

“Both authorities (the EPA in Clare County Council) have been carrying out odour assessments in the area over the last couple of weeks. Odours have been detected during some of these assessments but their precise origin has yet to be determined.

“It is important to note that differ- ent types of odour have been detected during some of these assessments, and there are also a number of different activities in the area, so it is difficult to identify the precise reason for the main odour which is predominantly giving rise to nuisance in the area,” said the spokesperson.

Local Senator Tony Mulcahy (Fine Gael) said that the root of the problem must be pinpointed as a matter of urgency.

“The EPA need to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. These things seem to keep going on. This has to be stopped. There are health concerns,” he told The Clare People .

A spokesperson for the county council said, “These complaints were investigated by Clare County Council and this investigation is ongoing. It is acknowledged that there is an odour present. The matter has also been referred to the EPA for investigation.”

In March of this year, the EPA put monitoring measures in place in the town and indicated at the time that it would continue for up to a year.

The EPA’s mobile laboratory which is located in the town actively analyses the quality of air in the town and surrounding areas.

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New EPA report blames smoky coal for Ennis air quality

THE burning of bituminous or socalled smoky coal has been blamed for having an impact on air quality in Ennis in a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

According to the EPA report on Air Quality in Ireland 2010, domestic solid fuel use is the other main source of particulate matter in air in Ireland and it particularly impacts air quality in areas where the sale of bituminous coal is permitted.

The report states, “As a result, levels of particulate matter in smaller towns are similar or higher than those in cities or in towns above 15,000 population, where bituminous coal is banned.

“To help with this, from 2011, new regulations will require that all bituminous coal placed on the market in Ireland for residential use has a sulphur content of no more than 0.7 per cent.

“In addition, the sale of bituminous coal has been banned in four additional towns in 2011 – Ennis, Clonmel, Carlow and Athlone.”

However, according to monitoring data on the EPA website, air quality in Ennis is currently considered good.

In June, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, announced that, with effect from August 1, Ennis would be added to the list of towns and cities covered by the ‘Smoky Coal Ban’, under which it is illegal to market, sell, or distribute bituminous or ‘smoky’ coal.

The proposed restricted area of Ennis includes Ennis and environs, comprising the following electoral divisions: Ennis Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 Urban; Clareabbey; Doora; Ennis Rural; and Spancilhill.

Under the Air Pollution Act, sellers found in breach of the ban could face fines of up to € 5,000. Amendments are also being made to allow fixed payment notices or ‘on the spot fines’ to be applied in respect of relevant offences.

Micheál Ó Cinnéide, EPA Director said, “The EPA welcomes the change in legislation regarding bituminous coal, which will have a positive effect on air quality.

“However, we must also work to reduce traffic emissions through reducing travel demand, emphasising sustainable transport modes such as cycling, walking and public transport and improving the efficiency of motorised transport.”

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Pupil teacher ratio among EU highest

PRIMARY schools across Clare are now among the most overcrowded in Europe, damning statistics secured by The Clare People this week have revealed.

Department of Education figures relating to the pupil-teacher ratio in Clare and given to The Clare People by the Irish National Teachers Organisation this week have shown that the majority of primary pupils in the county are in classes greater than the EU average.

Figures have revealed that 17 per cent of Clare schools have 20 or less pupils; 63 per cent with between 20 and 29 pupils, with 20 per cent of schools with above 30 pupils.

“The EU average is 20 and the way you look at that is that in county Clare you have 83 per cent of pupils in classes that are above EU average,” said Clare INTO chief Sean McMahon.

“It’s a fairly shocking statistic that in 2011 one in five primary students in Clare are in a class of 30 or more, particularly when you take the geography of Clare into consideration. You have 124 schools in Clare and along the western seaboard you have a lot of relatively small schools, so that statistically implies that some schools have very large classes,” Mr McMahon added.

Meanwhile, INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan described the figures as “shocking” and represent “a wake-up call for the parents of Clare’s 13,000 primary school pupils in advance of the 2011 budget”.

“What we’re concerned and worried about is that the upcoming Budget is going to exacerbate things even more,” said Mr McMahon. “We are being told we are in fiscal situation where very little can be done, but when the Celtic Tiger was roaring among us very little was done for primary education.

“It’s wrong that children in primary school would pay the price for fiscal recitude. We are saying to the Minister for Education, not only do we not want class sizes increased, we want them reduced. We are the second highest in Europe when it comes to class sizes. The problems with the economy haven’t been created by primary school pupils. I fail to see why they should be the ones paying for it,” he added.

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Potential for 5,000 cargo-related jobs

THE development of a cargo-hub operation in Shannon with the potential to provide employment for up to 5,000 people is dependent on the opening up a cargo pre-clearance facility at Clare’s international airport.

Local Fine Gael TD, Pat Breen, has admitted as much this week followed exploratory lobbying for a official round of bilateral negotiations between the Irish and US governments to extending the existing passenger pre-clearance facilities at Shannon to freight traffic.

“A huge selling point for us in promoting and encouraging tenants to set up their Cargo operations will be the availability of US Cargo pre clearance at the Airport,” he told The Clare People from Washington, where he opened negotiations in his capacity as Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade.

“I met with a number of key Congressmen to discuss this possibility. They included the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, Congressman Chris Smith, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as Congressman Richie Neal, former Chair of Friends of Ireland and Congressman Dan Burton, Chair of the Europe Subcommittee of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

“They were all very supportive of the proposal to extend the Pre Clearance facility at Shannon to include freight and certainly the signing of the Heads of an Agreement has strengthened our case in pursuing this,” he added.

In May, The Clare People revealed that DAA backing for the cargo facility in Shannon to the tune of € 6m would only bring a longterm jobs dividend if it came on stream with a pre-clearance facilities.

“Lynx will only be a major success if the Irish and US government can reach a deal on the pre-clearance of cargo at Shannon,” an Shannon Airport Authority insider told The Clare People .

“This has been done for passengers and for Lynx project to realise it’s full potential it will have to be done for cargo traffic as well.”

This claim has been backed up by local Fianna Fáil TD and the party’s transport spokesperson, Timmy Dooley, who has challenged the Government to play its part in transforming Shannon into a new world-wide cargo hub creating thousands of long-term jobs.

“I am delighted after a prolonged period of time that the DAA are prepared to invest appropriate funding in Shannon to enable Lynx to build a facility there,” said Deputy Dooley.

“It’s a vote of confidence in the airport – the short-term potential is limited, there is long-term potential if the Irish government can secure a deal with the US administration for the pre-clearance of cargo at Shannon,” he added.

The DAA investment in the Shannon project will amount to infrastructural works on the ground – making the site identified accessible by road, providing connection to the airport taxi-ways and fencing – before Lynx would step in and invest € 2m over in building their temperature control facility.

The project was first heralded in 2009 when Lynx and the Shannon Airport Authority signed up to a memorandum of understanding to develop an international logistics hub in the Shannon Free Zone.

In 2009, the Mid-West Task Force called on the Government and DAA to back the Lynx project to, while Shannon Development chief executive and task force member, Dr Vincent Cunnane warning that “the airport will not survive on passengers alone and needs a cargo hub”.

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Freight hub a step closer

SHANNON is ideally located to become a global air freight hub – the first stage of which was signaled with the signing of a Heads of Agreement between Dublin Airport Authority and the Lynxs Cargo Group, which proposes building a new cargo facility at the airport.

That’s the message from Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar this week as Clare’s international airport gears up to cash in on the emerging air cargo market that could yield hundreds of jobs in the short and longterm.

“I see great scope for the development of the air cargo business in Shannon,” Minister Varadkar said. “I hope it will lead to a dynamic business partnership to develop and expand the air cargo business through Shannon. This would benefit the airport, the entire mid-west region and the national economy’

“The airport has a significant industrial hinterland, with a large volume of high-value products transported by air. But a very significant proportion of air cargo, around 80 per cent, is currently taken out of Ireland by road and flown onwards from airports outside the country. This is something I would particularly like to see addressed by Shannon airport.

“The signing of this Heads of Agreement confirms the continued commitment of both parties to further develop the valuable air cargo market. Shannon’s lengthy runway means it can take very heavy cargobearing aircraft, unlike many other airports, giving it a unique capacity to exploit air cargo,” he added.

This final agreement between the DAA and Lynxs brings to an end a process that started in 2009 when the a memorandum of understanding was first signed on developing a € 15m cargo facility in Shannon.

“The creation of a logistics centre at Shannon and the development of a marine transportation hub on the estuary could potentially lead to the creation of further employment for 5,000 people in logistics and related high-end manufacturing in the wider region over the next 10 to 15 years,” said SAA chairman Brian O’Connell.

“Lynxs will give Shannon Airport an excellent opportunity to exploit its central location between the major economies of the US, Europe and Asia and to develop as a significant cargo destination,” Mr O’Connell added.

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‘I can’t believe it’s been twenty-five years’

WHILE Malbay Manufacturing played a central role in life in Miltown Malbay and the wider west Clare community for more than half a century, there are young people in the town for whom the famous factory holds almost no relevance.

Indeed, as the town marked the quarter-century anniversary of its closure last week, one of the most common phrases to be heard around town was “I can’t believe it’s been that long”.

With a whole generation of teenagers and young adults born too late to remember the landmark facility, students at Youthreach Miltown Malbay, with the help of textiles texture Nicola Barner, have created a docu- mentary featuring interviews with employees from the facility and a host of old photographs.

“Most of us hadn’t realised that the factory had even existed so, when we came upon the idea, it seemed to us like a really good thing to do the documentary on. It took a lot of work but after a while we were able to find out more about the factory, the people who worked in it and the type of work that they did there,” said Rebecca Walker from Kilkee.

“We did a lot of work on the internet to find out about the factory and then we interviewed a lot of local people who would have worked in the factory going back down the years.”

Students from Youthreach took part in every stage of producing the documentary, from research and camera work, to interviewing and digital editing.

“It was very interesting to be part of making the documentary. We found out a lot about making documentaries and about using cameras and interviewing people,” said Grace Burke from Ennistymon.

“My job was to do some of the interviews, which was very interesting. Some of the other people who took part learned about using the cameras and more technical things like that. We get a FETAC Level Three certificate from doing the course in digital film-making and it is something that we would be interested in doing more of in the future.”

The work included a section of development education which tracked the changing global trends in textile manufactoring over a number of decades. This, according to Youthreach co-ordinator Josephine Dempsey, was a key part of the course for students.

“As part of the documentary, the students also did some work on development education and a lot of work on clothing and where a lot of the cloths that are coming into Ireland from Asia and other places are coming from. They also interview a lot of people around Miltown to check what they knew about where their own clothes were coming from, asking were the cloths produced in a sweat shop or in a more equitable environment” she said.

“That is the main reason why the factory closed. They just couldn’t compete any longer with imports coming in from the Third World. The factory here was very successful for a long time and produced a really good quality product. They used to supply a lot to the Italian market, to Macy’s in America as well as to Dunnes Stores, Marks and Spencers and Penneys.

“The impact that it had on the town was huge. There were all the people who worked there but it also had a big impact on the local shops and pubs. It also helped generate a lot of cottage industries around the area because women who had children and could no longer come into the factory were encouraged to work from home. It was the biggest employer in west Clare and, at one stage, there were three buses being shuttled in every day.”

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Accused ran across bonnet of car during incident on Tulla Main St

A SINGLE father ran along the bonnet of his car before jumping feet first at another man during an incident outside Supervalu on Main Street, Tulla last year.

Terry Cassells (42) with an address at Magherbawn, Feakle pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and dangerous driving in March. Details of the incident involving Mr Cassells and another man were heard at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday.

The court heard that on February 20 (2010), a man was exiting the Supervalu store when he was struck on the leg by a car driven by the accused. The court heard that the accused then ran across the bonnet of the car and jumped at the complainant, knocking him against the window of the store. A garda told the court that the window broke during the incident causing € 1050 worth of damage. The court heard that a fight developed between the men. CCTV footage shown in court also showed that another man was present during the incident. The Garda said that Mr Cassells and the complainant knew each other prior to the incident. The court heard that the accused man had expressed regret for his actions and had written a letter of apology to the other man. In a victim impact statement the man said he had felt terrified during the assault. He said he had been out of work for 13 months. Judge Carroll Moran was shown a medical report stating that the victim had sustained a fracture to the base of his skull. Counsel for the accused, Pat Whyms BL, disputed the cause of the victim’s injuries. He said there was no evidence to suggest that the fracture had been the result of the incident outside the store.

Mr Whyms said his client’s judgment had been clouded by the break up of his relationship and an allegation he had heard about the com- plainant. Judge Moran said that the victim had suffered a serious injury. He said he was satisfied the fracture had been caused during the incident, either when the man fell against the window or further up the street when he was knocked to the ground.

He ordered that the accused bring € 1050 to court on January 9 (2012). He disqualified Mr Cassells from driving for 12 months. He adjourned making a decision on the assault charge until January 9.

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Safety first at Ennis Auto Fest

A FOCUS on the importance of road safety will be one of the main features of the Ennis Auto Fest, according to organisers.

The event, takes place at Ennis Showgrounds next month, will include a 110ft demonstration and display space hosted by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

The RSA Shuttle allows members of the public to interact with road safety campaigns.

Participants can practice driving skills on simulators, test hazard perception skills, test brake reaction time and take the driver theory test.

The shuttle is designed to include an interactive, educational road safety experience presentation area, with lectern, projector, screen and seating for an audience of 25 people.

Ennis man Kevin Mulqueen who is helping to organise the Ennis show explained that the display will also feature a “rolled over Audi” which will re-create the experience of road crash.

“People can experience what its like to be in a car crash. I’ve done it be- fore and it certainly makes you think about things differently,” he said.

Kevin said the demonstration will emphasize the importance of safe driving and driver responsibility.

The event is being organised to raise money for Ennis cubs and scouts, which caters for almost 200 children in the Ennis area.

Other attractions will include a display of custom, vintage and classic cars and bikes along with trade displays and kids events.

Kevin, who is Chairman of Ennis scouts and has also organised prodrift racing events in Ennis, said the festival has received support from car enthusiasts throughout Clare.

He added, “Most of the things we do are church gate collections or flag days so we wanted to do something where people are getting a bit of value for donating money. The committee at the Showgrounds have been good to us, they have given it to us for free for the day.”

Ennis Auto Fest takes place at Ennis Showgrounds on Sunday, October 2, from 1pm to 5pm. For further information contact Kevin at 086 0850015 or Darren at 085 2054032.

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Last call for Cliffs Seven Wonders vote

THE management of the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Experience have issue a call to patriotic action in their bid to make the iconic tourism location one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

A day of action, designed to get Irish people to vote of the North Clare tourist attraction, is being organised for next Friday week, October 7, and management are asking people to support the cliffs, in “the national interest”.

A place as one of the final Seven Natural Wonders of the World is estimated to be worth tens of millions to the tourism industry in Clare – and it is estimated that success in the competition could bring thousands of extra tourists to Ireland each year.

“The vote isn’t looking too bad at the moment. It is not possible to see what position we are in at the moment but voting trends are recorded by the competition organisers and we have been going up in the voting trends in recent weeks,” said Geraldine Enright of the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Experience.

“We have been doing very well at attracting international votes but we need to keep it up. We are going to have a national vote day and we will be encouraging everyone to vote for the cliffs on that day, in the national interest.”

A series of events, talk and media stunts have been organised for October 7, which is hoped will kick off a major run of votes before the completion of the competition on November 11.

“We are contacting all primary

and secondary schools

in the country, we are

doing some promot

ing with Fáilte Ire

land and there will be

a number of national

radio broadcasts on

October 7 to promote

the voting,” continued

Geraldine.

“There will also be a

abseil down the side of

the National Conven

tion Centre in Dublin

to promote the voting. Someone will come down the side of the building with a big banner saying ‘Vote for the Cliffs’.

“The Cliffs are an iconic site in Ireland and we are pretty confident – we have made it to the top 28 so we are really hopeful that we can make it into the top 7. The spin-offs of this are massive. Fáilte Ireland have suggested that this could bring a 35 per cent increase to visitors not just to the Cliffs but to Ireland as well.”

On October 7 anyone who shows that they have voted for the Cliffs via text message will be admitted for free to the site.

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Second nurses’ work stoppage planned this week

A SECOND work stoppage will take place in the Emergency Department of the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick this week as an ongoing dispute between nurses and the Health Services Executive (HSE) looks set to continue.

The dispute, which centres around budget cuts in Ennis, Limerick and Tipperary hospitals, since the reconfiguring of emergency services in the region last year, saw nurses down tool for three hours last Wednesday.

This week marks an escalation in the action as an extra hour has been added onto the time for the work stoppage by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) with the stoppage due to take place from 8.30am until 12.30pm.

The INMO have restated that they stand ready to treat any emergency cases that presents from Clare during the work stoppage and will not be putting patient safety at risk through their actions. The nurses union will have a skeleton staff in place to manage any emergencies that may take place.

Since reconfiguration any Clare emergency instances in which require an ambulance, such as car accidents and heats attack, are redirected to Limerick. As well as this any general admissions to the emergency room between 8pm and 8am must be made in Limerick and not in Ennis.

The INMO have declined to con- firm or deny whether these actions will spread to the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Ennis in the coming weeks.

The organisation have blamed the moratorium on the recruitment of registered nurses, the closure of 100 beds in the acute hospital services in the Clare and Limerick region as well as the failure of the reconfiguration process to transfer all day surgery to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals for the work stoppage.

“It is simply not possible for this hospital to continue to provide regional services in surgery, trauma and emergency with further reduced budgets, closed beds and approximately 70 nursing posts unfilled,” said Clare INMO spokesperson Mary Fogarty.

The organisation also claims that some € 13 million in investment, which they say was promised to Ennis, Limerick and Tipperary as part of the reconfiguration process, has never materialised.