‘No criminality’ in Italian man’s death

AN ITALIAN journalist whose body was found in Liscannor earlier this year was identified through DNA analysis, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.

The body of Paola Pisano (44), who lived in Galway, was found at Clahane, Liscannor, on March 24 last.

Ms Pisano was working for an Italian magazine while living in Ireland.

Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan told the inquest that the body was not initially identified when it was discovered. Five days later, gardaí in Galway received a report of a missing person and Mr Pisano was later positively identified through DNA.

Mr Pisano’s housemate Peter Istenes recalled, in a deposition that was read out at the inquest, that Mr Pisano moved into the house late last summer. He said that the last time he saw him in the house was March 6. On that date, he heard him on the phone in his room and he said it sounded like he was organising a meeting.

Patrick Jordan, another housemate, recalled Mr Pisano as a “quiet man”. He said that on February 14 he left for a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. He lost his personal belongings, including his passport and mobile phone. He slept in bushes overnight and the following day he phoned Mr Jordan and asked him to buy a bus ticket for his return to Galway. He said he had no money to pay for rent but Mr Jordan, whose parents owned the house where they lived, told him not to worry.

Zac Blasi, from Liscannor, told the inquest that he was out walking at Clahane Beach in Liscannor on March 24 last. He saw what he thought was a dead seal washed up on the rocks. On moving closer, he realised that it was a human body. He notified gardaí, who in turn contacted the Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber. Dr Jaber later carried out a post mortem examination at Limerick Regional Hospital. He concluded that death was due to multiple bodily injuries and drowning, consistent with a fall from a height into the sea.

At yesterday’s inquest, Mr Pisano’s brother Roberto praised the “professionalism and humanity” of the authorities in their efforts to establish the cause of death.

Coroner Isobel O’Dea said, given that there were no eye witnesses, “We don’t know if he fell in, we don’t know if the wind blew him in or if he was peering over the edge”.

“I am satisfied there is no criminality involved in Mr Pisano’s death. There is absolutely no evidence that Paola had any intention of taking his own life,” she said.

She recorded an open verdict and praised Doolin Coastguard, gardaí and all involved in the case.


Women mark 16 Days campaign

THE Clare Womens’ Network, in association with the Ennis Access Programme, released 75 balloons at a function in Ennis on Friday, to highlight domestic abuse.

The balloons were released as part of the Womens’ Network’s efforts to mark the 16 Days initiative highlighting violence against women. Friday was UN Day Opposing Violence Against Women and was the first of the 16 day campaign. This was the third year that the group organised a similar initiative to mark the annual event.

“We always find some way to highlight the 16 Days of action against violence against women,” said Elaine Dalton of the Clare Womens’ Network. “We always feel it is very important to highlight violence against women. It is on the increase in the downturn,” she said.

The Network will – in conjunction with the county library – also host an exhibition highlighting the plight of Iranian women who have lost their lives or been incarcerated. The exhibition will take place in the county library from December 3 to 17.

The learners on the Ennis Access Programme have created a handmade patchwork quilt which is to be raffled to raise funds to support Clare Haven, which provides a vital service for those suffering from do- mestic violence in the community.

The fabrics used are natural fabrics and recycled materials. The quilt is constructed in the form of patchwork and applique in rainbow colours with a black background. The rainbow colours signify hope and the hearts and doves symbolise love and peace.

The learners had taken part in several workshops which were funded by the HSE, which had highlighted the increasing numbers of women suffering from domestic violence locally, nationally and internationally.

The learners on the programme have expressed the wish to stand in solidarity with abused women in County Clare and across Ireland and with organisations who are providing vital support and care to victims of domestic violence.

As part of the 16 Days campaign, a candlelit ceremony will be held at the friary in Ennis on Thursday at 7.30pm. Candles will be lit in memory of each victim. Sixteen community leaders – including a member of a sporting organisation, a garda and a community volunteer – will each bring a candle to the altar representing each of the 16 years since the initiative was established.

“It sends out a really strong message that each of their organisations are opposing violence,” said services manager with Clare Haven, Denise Dunne.


Garda honoured for brave rescue

A CLARE garda who risked her life to rescue a woman from the water at Cappa Pier in Kilrush has received national recognition.

Garda Margaret Purcell dived into the water and rescued the woman in her 60s – at St Patrick’s Day 2003. The woman was lying face down in the water and a young local woman, Ann Marie Histon, was attempting to rescue her.

On arrival there, Garda Purcell quickly jumped into the water and she and Ann Marie managed to successfully bring the woman to safety.

At a function in Farmleigh House on Friday, Garda Purcell was presented with a bronze medal and certificate of recognition, by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, as part of a Deeds of Bravery Council initiative which recognises deeds of bravery.

Gda Purcell, who is originally from Glenamaddy and was raised in Ennis, told The Clare People she was delighted to receive the award. “I was only 10 days into my duty in Kilrush at the time. I didn’t even know where Cappa Pier was,” she said.

A colleague, Gda Denis O’Herlihy informed her that a call had come in for garda assistance. Gda O’Herlihy drove out and the recovery plan swiftly sprung into action.

“You don’t forget it. It was a fabu- lous sunny day. I started taking off layers. Denis turned to look for a lifebuoy, but I was gone. I had a background in swimming and as a lifeguard and diving. I swam out to her. Ann Marie and myself started swim- ming towards the pier. Denis threw out a lifebuoy. We tried to keep her airway clear. The wall was high. We had to try and get up. We then lifted the woman onto the boat,” recalled Gda Purcell. “We put her into the recovery position and she was taken to hospital,” she said. The woman made a full recovery. Gda Purcell says it was part of her work. “When you are called to a scene, you have to do something and not stand by. I knew I had Denis on shore . . . I do remember afterwards waking up and reliving it, the jump and the shock of the cold. “It was horrendously cold. It would take your breath away. It was approximately 12 feet high. I had to jump that distance. She was between 50 and 75 feet out, but conditions were good. We were able to see her pretty much straight away,” she said. Ann Marie was honoured with a similar award in 2007. “It was my decision to go in but it was a joint recovery. The whole thing did go on a good while. It wasn’t over in a blink,” she said. Margaret is currently based at Ennis Garda Station and is one of two juvenile liaison officers in the Clare Garda Division. Chief Superintendent John Kerin paid tribute to Gda Purcell, saying, “There are very, very few people who get these awards. It takes exceptional bravery. She risked her life for the life of another.”


No welcome for tourists, conference told

THE Céad Míle Fáilte brand of Ireland Inc that’s plied all over the world in a bid to promote the country’s tourism industry is a trademark belonging to a different era.

It’s not Ireland of the Welcomes anymore, but Ireland of the Snarls – that was the damning verdict delivered to the annual Clare Tourist Council conference in Ennistymon by Limerick University chancellor and chairman of the National Roads Authority, Peter Malone.

In what was a stinging rebuke of the Irish tourism, the former chief of the hugely successful Jury’s Hotel Group chain blasted the sector’s high prices, unfriendly staff and lack of organisa- tion that has too many organisations dedicated to the promotion of the industry.

“We have lost the friendliness that we became famous for,” said Mr Malone.

“Staff don’t say please. Staff don’t say thank you. The little touches I learned all over the years in Jury’s, they’re gone.

“You get a lift in any hotel, staff won’t even say ‘good morning’, or ‘good evening’ to you.

“Go into a shop, go into a post office, go in anywhere, we snarl at people. We are not nice to people.

“Unless we stop the rot soon and improve training and standards in our country, the friendliness will not return. We have a long way to go,” added Mr Malone.

And, in continuing his broadside against the industry, Mr Malone said that radical changes will have to be made if tourism is to play its part in Ireland’s ecomonic recovery, a policy that has been specifically targeted by government when it launched it’s Gathering initiative in September – a plan to bring 350,000 extra tourists into country by 2013.

“If you wish Irish tourism to improve, prices must be tackled,” Mr Malone warned the Irish tourism industry during his controversial address.

“The cost of food in restaurants and bars are unreal prices. Even a cup of tea or coffee is often € 2.25 or more. Take children out now at your peril as they are charged as much nowadays as adults.”

Mr Malone also rowed in behind a government move to abolish quangos, throwing his weight behind a more co-ordinated marketing effort in the industry, a policy the could see and end to Shannon Development’s role in tourism marketing.

“When we had one agency, Bord Fáilte, it was much better,” he said. “It is very important that we have one brand for Ireland. With one brand and one organisation, it makes life easier.

“There is great confusion all over the country in the tourism sector as to who is doing what job and the industry has become frustrated,” added Mr Malone.


Padraig praised for knife attack intervention

AN ENNIS man has been awarded for making a potentially life saving intervention in a Christmas night knife attack outside his home.

Padraig Sheahan received a bronze medal and certificate at the National Bravery Awards in Farmleigh House, Dublin, last week.

Padraig was at home at Westfields with his wife Trofi and the couple’s two daughters on Christmas night 2001 when he heard a woman screaming for help outside his house.

“I opened the door and saw a man holding a knife to a woman. She said ‘please help me’, twice.”

The woman was being dragged along the road by a male who was in possession of a knife and threatening the woman with the knife. Neither person was known to Padraig. The man brought the woman behind a car.

He held her down and pointed the knife at her. Padraig intervened and confronted the attacker while the woman made her escape into Padraig’s house.

The attacker then smashed the front window of the house to gain access but was prevented by Pad- raig. Padraig managed to subdue the man until the emergency services arrived. During the altercation he was struck with the knife and received cuts to his face and arms and a fractured nose. Padraig yesterday described the incident as “horrific” but said that he is “so thankful at the way it turned out”.

The honours were awarded by Comhairle na Mire Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was established in 1947 to provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery.

The council stated that, “Padraig Sheahan put himself in grave danger by confronting this attacker. There is no doubt that this incident could have had a more serious outcome.”

The father of four was considered for the award following a report submitted by the Clare Garda division. The report was endorsed by Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick West, Niall Collins. Originally from Dooradoyle in Limerick, Padraig’s family have strong connections with Garryowen rugby club.

Now living in Ennis, he works at the family run Enzo’s chain of fast food outlets. Padraig thanked Clare Gardaí and Mr Collins for nominating him.


Shannon sexual offences trebled in 2011

THE NUMBER of sexual offences reported in Shannon so far this year has almost trebled, compared to last year. The attacker was known to the victim in each of the 11 complaints to gardaí this year.

The 11 incidents this year compares with four during the same period last year. Five of the 11 complaints related to alleged incidents prior to this year, one of which dated back to the 1970s, while another dated back more than 20 years ago.

Some of the complaints referred to alleged multiple incidents. Of last year’s four complaints, two related to incidents that occurred last year, one related to 2009 and the other complaint related to more than 20 years earlier.

According to the Rape Crisis Centre in the mid-west, the reason for the substantial increase is due to the fact a victim came forward.

Earlier this year, a woman who was violently raped in Shannon more than 20 years ago, spoke for the first time of her horrific ordeal.

The woman, who was aged 15 at the time of the attack by a gang of boys, said she was afraid to tell gardaí or her family about what happened as she was afraid of the repercussions.

“I never got help myself, but at least now I can help people access the services that are there for them and encourage people to avail of those services,” the victim said. She said she was telling her story for the first time because of the feared closure of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), the umbrella group for rape crisis centres across the country, amid projected cuts.

Miriam Duffy of the Rape Crisis Centre in the mid-west, said, “Increases in reported incidents have shot up.”

“Partly because of that interview, people reported. The only thing we can assume is that prompted others to come forward,” said Ms Duffy.

“It is not unusual in the days and weeks after a story such as this that people take the step of making a formal complaint. It is quite possible that because her story had a positive outcome other survivors were encouraged to come forward,” she said.

Chief Superintendent John Kerin told The Clare People that the alleged attacker was known to the victim in each case reported this year and that the increased figure reflects “an increase in reporting”.

“They are all domestic related or childhood related. None of them is a violent attack that happened there and then on the street,” he said.


Residents ‘prisoners’ of bad parking

THE high number of cars parked on the Old Gort Road on certain days of the week is causing “extreme difficulty” to residents, a meeting has heard.

Councillor Tony Mulqueen (FG) raised the matter at the November meeting of councillors in the Ennis west electoral area. He called on Ennis Town Council to “provide yellow lines and yellow box markings on the Old Gort Road, Ennis as local residents are having extreme difficulty getting deliveries and gaining access to their homes”.

Senior Executive Engineer, Eamon O’Dea stated, “Ennis Town Council will consider this road in preparing their road works programme in 2012.” He added, “The council will examine the present traffic and parking situations with the intention of providing an appropriate turning area at the end of the cul de sac.”

Cllr Mulqueen told the meeting that the number of cars parked there on certain days is making it difficult for one elderly resident to receive deliveries of home heating oil.

He said he had counted 19 cars parked in the area on one day. He claimed that a Health Services Executive (HSE)-run building near the entrance to the Aughanteeroe estate has been turned into a “mini conference centre”.

Cllr Mulqueen told the meeting that elderly residents are “prisoners in their own homes” on some days of the week. “It is very frustrating for them,” he added.

He said ambulances and delivery trucks have difficulty turning in the area. Mr O’Dea told the meeting that he is aware of parking problems in the Old Gort Road. He said the council would attempt to devise a solution that works best for all parties.

Meanwhile, concern has also been raised over the location of telephone poles on the Ruan road.

Cllr Tom McNamara (FF) has requested that Eircom “relocate poles that are a traffic hazard at the verge of public roads and in particular the pole in front of Lynch’s house on the Ruan road after Drumconora bridge”.

Mr O’Dea stated that the council will contact Eircom regarding this location after the planning files have been inspected. He added, “In some (not all) cases, the moving of the pole may be part of planning conditions. In recent times any request to Eircom in moving poles or diverting cables requires the council to pay for any works required.”


Ennis ‘drug dealer’ jailed for six months

A 60-YEAR-OLD man whose drugs’ “hidey hole” was his armchair has been jailed for six months after drugs were found at his home twice in the space of a month.

John Joyce, with an address at Watery Road, Ennis, pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale or supply late last year. Ennis District Court was told last week that on one occasion the drug seized was amphetamine, while it was cannabis on the other occasion.

Garda Gary Stack told the court that he went to the defendant’s home on December 15, 2010, on foot of a search warrant gardaí had obtained.

He said that the accused was sitting on an armchair. He seized a glass jar containing amphetamine, while he recovered € 3,350 in the kitchen of the house. Resealable dealing bags were found in the sitting room, said the garda.

Defending solicitor Tara Godfrey put it to the garda that her client had sold a horse at the Ballinasloe Fair a few weeks before this and some of the money had been from that sale.

Ms Godfrey said that her client sold pallets and some of the money was the proceeds of that. She said that it was approaching Christmas at the time and some of the money was his and his wife’s savings for that period. However, Gda Stack replied, “He was questioned in relation to the drugs and cash. I wasn’t happy with any of the answers.”

Inspector Tom Kennedy told the court that on another occasion, 11 bags of cannabis were found at the defendant’s home, which, he said, were valued at € 400.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy was told that the accused had no previous con victions for drugs offences.

Mr Godfrey submitted to the court, “It appears as though his hidey hole for his drugs was the back of his seat. Within one month of the first matter, he was found to have cannabis in his house in the same chair.” She said that her client’s house has been searched “three or four times since and nothing has been found”.

She suggested that Joyce be referred to the Probation Service for which he is “an ideal candidate”, she said.

However, Judge McCarthy said, “I don’t agree. He is a drug dealer. He had deals in his house,” said the judge. Ms Godfrey said they were “relatively small amounts”.

“He wasn’t living an extravagant lifestyle,” she said. “I am asking the court to take the view he hasn’t been involved in drugs before. Presumably he would have been detected if he was up to this mischief previously,” said Ms Godfrey.

The judge imposed two six-month jail sentences, to run concurrently. He fixed a bond in the event of an appeal.


New centre for rape victims ‘brings hope’

THE PEOPLE of Clare have been urged to ensure a new centre for rape victims in Ennis remains open. The centre, which was officially opened on Friday, does not receive funding and is largely dependent on voluntary assistance.

The office, located in the Tracklands Business Park on the Clon Road in Ennis, is managed by counsellor Anne Ginnane, who is a native of west Clare. She told the large crowd that attended the official opening on Friday that it was a memorable occasion.

“Today marks a very special day for Clare, the opening of a new centre. I am very honoured and privileged to be part of this from the very beginning,” she said.

“I’m very passionate about this. I love the work I do. I am very honoured to be here working in this centre, bringing new hope, new light. This is a centre of hope and light. I hope the people who come here bring hope and light out into the world,” she said.

She read from a reflection written by a survivor, which focused on the “vision of hope shines on us” where there is “no-one to judge us”.

“It speaks volumes,” said Ms Ginnane, adding, “This woman is out there now, a therapist doing great work in healing.”

The Mayor of Clare, Councillor Pat Hayes officially opened the centre and told those in attendance that its survival is crucial.

“It is very important that we have the opportunity here in Clare to service the people, whether it be from Loop Head or north Clare, that people can come in in confidence and feel at home here,” he said.

“It reflects on society that this is an increasing problem. Maybe it is a case that people come out and face their issues and say we need help. There is an onus on us here in Clare, now that we have a centre, in whatever way we can do to support this service,” he said.

“Nobody knows anyone’s situation. Things go on in families. It is great to say it (the service) is there on the doorstep,” he said.

“People who go out and give their service and help in any way are a credit to that. This evening is a celebration of that. I would appeal to everybody. We need to get out there and support this because we need to hold on to services if at all possible,” he said.


Garvey blasts Clare tourism operators

TOURISM interests across Clare have been accused of lacking will and motivation to play their part in kick-starting the local economy by driving a co-ordinated plan for the the county’s biggest industry.

This broadside against hoteliers and tourist operators was delivered by former Mayor of Clare Flan Garvey during the 23rd annual Clare Tourist Council conference that was staged at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon Thursday to Saturday last.

Mr Garvey, a founder member of the Clare Tourist Council in 1989 and a former chairman, launched his scathing attack on tourism interests over what he blasted as their “complete failure” to support the conference, out of “a selfishness where they are only interested in promoting their own interests and not Clare tourism”.

He made his comments during the conference that attracted a wide range of tourism interests from the local government sector, third level education, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and the European Union.

“The tourism operators in county Clare,” said Mr Garvey, “we promote their business but a lot of them ignore this conference and what we are trying to do for Clare tourism and what the Council has been trying to do at home and abroad for many, many years.

“We travel to promote their business and for some reason or other they seem to be in their own little closet, in their own little cocoon, fighting their own corner. People who are involved in Clare tourism should be working for Clare tourism,” he added.

The three-day conference attracted a number of keynote speakers, among them Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, Declan Power of the Aviation Business Park in Shannon and Galway county manager Martina Moloney.

“All these people were coming together to promote tourism,” continued Flan Garvey, “but the support from Clare tourism operators wasn’t there. It’s alright for people to fight their own corner when looking for a share of the tourism market, but by having a co-ordinated plan for tourism is the best way forward, because that way everyone involved benefits.

“In Clare Tourist Council, we see the bigger picture. None of us are involved in tourism as an operator. I don’t make a penny out of tourism – I never did and I never will, but I have a passion for tourism, because I see it as saving the economy. I see tourism in Clare as being part of putting money in every house in the county,” he added.