‘Lives could be lost in Lahinch’

LIVES could be lost on Lahinch beach as a result of new parking bylaws which will force all the town’s surf school to trade in one area of the promenade. That is the opinion of surf school operator Ben Bennett, who believes that the schools provide the first line of defense for people who get into difficulty while in the water at Lahinch.

Mr Bennett, who operates Ben’s Surf Clinic in Lahinch, was responding to the introduction of the new bylaws which he says will not fix any of the difficulties experienced by beach users at Lahinch.

The bylaws force the surf school to operate and to enter the beach at the northern end of the Lahinch Promenade. They were put in place after a number of complaints were made by members of the public about overcrowding at the beach.

“There seems to be a confusion between surfers and surf schools,” said Ben.

“None of the surf schools allow the surfers into the swimming zone but it is the inexperienced surfers that do drift in there. The surf schools are getting blamed for what the surfers are doing.

“Surfing is keeping Lahinch alive all winter long. It is not just a summer thing – the car park will be filled with surfers in the middle of the winter and all of them will be paying parking fees to Clare County Council – we are getting a really bad rap here.”

According to Ben, the surf school also provide a year round safety net for people using the beach at Lahinch.

“I personally rescue about seven to eight people a year at Lahinch because I am on the beach all the time. I would imagine that every other surf instructor would do something similar,” continued Ben.

“The council are putting us at the furthest point possible from the beach. We can’t see the beach. I am located at the first ramp down and from there I can see the beach and advise the people who are there about the tides and the currents.

“There will definitely be more accidents and more incidents due to the fact that surf schools are being placed at the back of the prom. I think the safety issues are very serious and I believe that some day, someone is going to be stretchered off very badly injured just as a result of moving the surf schools back. Someone is unfortunately going to drown.”


Limerick’s attempted ‘land grab’ fails

THREE thousand Clare people were unaware that they were close to becoming citizens of Limerick last week as amendments were made to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2012 at Dáil committee level.

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would in essence bring in the proposals of the controversial Limerick Local Government Com- mittee (LLGC) report more commonly known as the Brosnan report.

He put forward amendment nine, which stated, “The administrative area of the new Limerick Local Government Authority shall be extended to include the residential areas of Shannon Banks, Westbury, Carrig Meade and Athlundard in Co Clare and shall also include that part of the campus of the University of Limerick also in Co Clare.”

The new Limerick Local Government Authority that would take over from Limerick County Council and Limerick City Council was one of the Brosnan proposals accepted by Government last year.

The proposal to extend the boundary of this new authority into Clare was rejected however after much protest from the Banner County by the Government last year and by the committee on Thursday.

Labour Junior Minister Jan O’Sullivan, who was chairing the committee meeting, told Mr Collins that the Government would not be accepting the amendment after those in attendance voted to reject it.

Among them was Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara who described it as an attempted land grab.

“In Government, Fianna Fáil transferred Aer Rianta International in Shannon to the Dublin Airport Authority and privatised Aer Lingus so that it can leave Shannon on a whim. In opposition, Fianna Fáil now wants to move part of the campus of the University of Limerick and the residential areas of Shannon Banks, Westbury, Carrig Meade and Athlundard out of Co Clare,” said Deputy McNamara.

, Sallus, Quilty East. Suddenly. Funeral mass today (Tuesday) at 11 o’clock at The Star of the Sea Church, Quilty, with burial afterwards in Mullagh Cemetery. Family flowers only please, donations, if desired toThe Irish Heart Foundation. May he rest in peace.

Kieran FAHY,
26 Lower Main St.Tulla and late of Lahardan. Peacefully at home. Funeral mass today (Tuesday) at 11 o’clock at Ss Peter and Paul’s Church,Tulla, with burial after in local cemetery. May he rest in peace.

of 32 Liosard,Tulla Road, late of 2 Chapel Street, Longford town. Laid to rest in Drumcliffe Cemetery, Ennis. Donations, if desired, to Milford Hospice. May he rest in peace.


Ennis hospital 50-bed unit set to open

THE new 50-bed unit at Ennis General Hospital is to open at the end of next month.

The exact date to the opening has not been announced at the HSE awaits the arrival of specialist equipment for the unit.

Clare county councillor Tom McNamara (FF) said there was a lot of disappointment that it still wasn’t opened as the builders had handed over the unit last October.

“I cannot see how the delivery is taking so long. We were way under budget (at Ennis General Hospital) last year. Why couldn’t that saving have been used?” he asked.

“We need to put a definite date on it.”

CEO Mid Western Hospital Group, Ann Doherty, said the delay was not a budgetary issue.

“I don’t want to give a date and not meet it,” she said.

“We are well on the way to the opening of our new inpatient accommodation in Ennis. Currently the equipment is on order and delivery schedules are being agreed.”

“As of yet, delivery dates are not confirmed for all items of equipment and therefore an opening date cannot be confirmed. It is anticipated that the unit will be open in the next four to five weeks,” she said.

Ms Doherty said that once she had received definite information about the equipment and its installation she would confirm a date for the opening of the € 15 million extension.

The extension will include two new wards with 50 new beds and ensuites, and facilities for CT scanning, operating theatres, endoscope facilities and day surgery.


Surf schools engaged in turf war

LARGE surf schools have been accused of operating a monopoly on Clare’s beaches – with smaller operators not being allowed access to prime trading beach such as Lahinch.

Thousands of surf lessons take place at Lahinch, Spanish Point, Kil- kee and Fanore beaches each week – with dozens of surf school springing up around the county in recent years.

Yesterday’s North Clare Area Meeting of Clare County Council heard accusations that large surf schools were operating a monopoly and essentially forcing smaller operators out of business.

The meeting became heated when Lahinch-based Cllr Bill Slattery (FG) read out information on behalf a Lahinch-based surf school, which also trades on a number of other beaches in the county. Cllr Michael Hillery (FF), who is based in Spanish Point, then made representations on behalf of a Spanish Point-based “friend” who currently trades in Spanish Point, but cannot gain access to Lahinch. Fianna Fáil Cllr Richard Nagle, reprimanded councillor for making representative on behalf of individual surf school – while others schools were not present.

The trading bylaws which govern the licensing of surf schools in Clare are due to be updated next month. However, Irish Water Safety are due to complete a risk assessment on all beaches in Clare where surfing takes place.

It was decided at yesterday’s meeting to grant month-long licenses to the surf schools, to allow time for changes to be made to the trading bylaws, once the results of the risk assessment have been released.

“There are a number of individual who are licensed to provide les sons in Lahinch and throughout the country. The difficulty is that once you have a licence, you can employ as many people as you like. So one person with a licence could have 160 people on the beach with 24 instructors – is it a licence to trade or is it a monopoly,” said Cllr Joe Arkins (FG).

Separate bylaws limit the number of surf schools who can trade on Lahinch beach to six. However, no such bylaws exists on other Clare beaches, meaning that Lahinchbased schools can operate school on every Clare beach – while other schools cannot gain access to the town’s most popular surfing beach.

“The surf schools are becoming a victim of their own success. The number of surfers are increasing on a yearly basis and Lahinch can only cope with so many surfers at any one time,” said Cllr Nagle. Tue29May12


Cllrs question HSE sick days

THE highest level of absenteeism within the HSE West is in the midwest area and more specifically among the nursing profession in Ennis, Limerick and Tipperary hospitals.

According to figures released by the HSE absentee levels within the mid west area is at 5.93 per cent, compared to 4.89 per cent in the west and 5.46 per cent in the former northwest health board area.

The sector most affected by long and short-term absenteeism is nursing in the mid-west with 6.46 per cent of staff not showing up for work on a regular basis.

Previously members of the HSE West Forum such as Clare’s Cllr Tom McNamara (FF) had warned that stress levels among nursing staff was extremely high as staffing levels were cut.

However at a recent meeting of the forum some councillors brought up the possibility that bank holiday absenteeism might be an even bigger issue, with figures requested for Friday and Monday spcific absentee rates.

At last week’s meeting of the forum, Galway’s Cllr Padraig Conneely was critical of high absentee levels across the HSE West, the councillor claiming there were issues about some staff taking long weekend by ringing in sick.

Cllr Damien Riedy asked that the members of the forum be furnished with a break down of how many staff are missing work on the Friday of bank holiday weekends and on ordinary Mondays and Fridays.

Absenteeism is an issue that the HSE continues to take very seriously according to officials.

Regional Director of Operations HSE West John Henessy told the meeting that there had been instances of disciplinary action taken due to missed work days; “I know of two staff members in the HSE who have lost their jobs due to absenteeism.”

Francis Rogers, Assistant National Director of Human Resources, said, “Attendance management is continuing to receive priority attention by the Area Task Force working closely with local service management.”

Meanwhile absenteeism in the medical and dental area in the midwest is also at an all time high at 2.77 per cent, with other patient and client care at 6.25 per cent.


Jackie’s future in craft assured

CLARE designer, Jackie Maurer, stole the show at this weekend’s Future Makers Awards, bringing two awards back to the Banner County – including the main overall prize.

The Ballyvaughan-based designer won the inaugural Scarva Pottery Materials Award and also won the overall Future Makers Student Award.

The combined prize fund for winning both awards was € 3,000.

“These awards are fantastic. They will give me a platform and allow me to further my work. I’m absolutely thrilled,” she said.

“Nine years ago I got my work into a major exhibition in the RDS. I’ve been making pieces since I was 16 years of age.

“I started out as a functional maker, I trained with Stephen Pearce. In 2008, I went back to college and completely changed the style of my work.”

A graduate of the Limerick School of Art and Design, Jackie is renowned for her unique wearable ceramic neck pieces.

This weekend’s award recognises excellence, creativity and technical ability, and offers professional support for students to build their profile at a very early stage in their career.

With a total prize fund of € 30,000, the Future Makers awards and supports the next generation of Irish designers, helping them develop an exciting future in the craft and design industry.

Future Makers promotes and dis tinguishes craftsmanship and excellence in design for creative students and graduates at a critical stage in their career.

A total of 28 designers made it as far as the grand final, which was hosted by Sonya Lennon, host of the RTÉ One Off the Rails programme.


Gort to Galway motorway on track

THERE was unexpected good news for businesses in North Clare and South Galway yesterday with the news that the European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a loan for the completion of the motorway connecting Gort and Galway.

The project, which has been stalled for more than two years, had looked unlikely to go ahead in the near future after a number of attempts to find a consortium willing to undertake a Public Private Partnership (PPP) on the site.

The Department of Transport confirmed yesterday that European Investment Bank had given approval, in principal, for a loan to be issued for the completion of the roads project.

According to the Department of Transport, the EIB will provide a loan of up to € 170 million for the Gort to Tuam route. This road is estimated to cost as much as € 530 million to complete in full.

It is as yet unclear whether this investment would allow the Government to further the roads using its own funds, in combination with the EIS money, or if the preferred method will be to continue on with the much used Public Private Partnership model.

A PPP would mean that a number of tolls would be put in place on the road to allow the private investors to recoup a profit from their investment.

Construction work on the road was due to begin more than two years ago but the British and Dutch partnership of BAM and Balfour Beatty pulled out of the project because of difficulties in finding investors because of concerns about Ireland’s sovereign debt.


Kaithlin carves out a career in fashion

A KILKEE woman has been hailed as one of Ireland’s up and coming fashion designers after being named as the overall winner of the prestigious 2012 Fashion Degree Show at the Limerick School of Art and Design.

Kaithlin McGrath from Farrihy in Kilkee beat off competition from 23 other young designers to claim the prize from a panel of judges that included designers Una Burke and Emma Kate Manley, and the Chairperson of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers Eddie Shanahan.

She scooped the prestigious award for her final year collection ‘Still Grew the Beat of Our Wings’ which was inspired by the old Irish tale of The Children of Lir.

The 21-year-old was a finalist in the recent Golden Egg Awards in Galway and did her work placement with Atilier Bordelle, a London-based lingerie brand established on bridging the gap between innerwear and outerwear.

In winning the coveted prize, Ms McGrath received the AIB Graduate Business Development Award which includes a bursary of € 2, 500 and a year’s mentoring programme with renowned retail and fashion consultant Eddie Shanahan and AIB’s Small and Medium Enterprise Specialist Maeve Duff.

Shanahan, who is the chairperson of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers works on fashion and new product development projects with Irish and international designers, deliver- ing new product development, fashion and branding seminars for Enterprise Ireland and the Crafts Council of Ireland and for several County Enterprise Boards in Ireland.

The Fashion department at LSAD, under the expert guidance of Anne Melinn, Head of Fashion Department and her team Siobhan Hanley and Michelle Molloy, has been named in the top 50 international fashion colleges and programs worldwide, a list which includes fashion colleges in London, New York and Paris. The LSAD Fashion Department is the only Irish college to be included.


Challenging times for hospital’s new CEO

A SIGNIFICANT cut in hospital budgets, an increase in the number of seriously ill patients requiring hospital treatment and an urgent need for a new Emergency Department to cater for the growing needs of the mid-west area are all challenges facing the new CEO of the Mid Western Hospitals Group, Ann Doherty.

The woman charged with overseeing a new single hospital system for Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary is optimistic about the future despite the challenges.

Ms Doherty accepts that there are many shortfalls within the current system and does not dispute the “trolley watch figures” published daily by the nurse’s union – the INO.

A number of measures are already being put in place to deal with bed shortages including a patient flow system across the region’s hospitals, which sees day procedures transferred to Nenagh and Ennis.

She said the new emergency department, which has received approval, is also urgently needed.

Under the new hospital system a board of governors will be appointed to which Ms Doherty will report.

She explained that the new board of governance would provide a democratic input into the hospital system that many felt was lost with the dis- solution of the former health boards.

“We are engaged in building a single hospital system. If that sounds radical let me assure you that the Trust will not be an exercise in centralisation of services at the expense of the smaller hospitals. It is significant that changes in medicine and technology are leading to the establishment of region-wide specialist departments in fields such as radiology and cardiology. This had led to dramatic improvements such as in Ennis where tele-radiology was introduced in April 2011 as the main method of reporting X-rays and the development of outreach cardiology services such as the heart watch programme,” she said.

“The experience in Limerick over the last number of years is that three hospitals were organised to work as a single clinical unit providing acute care, orthopaedic and maternity services to the region. This concept is now being extended to include Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s hospitals as part of the Mid-West Hospitals Group and operating as one single hospital system of corporate and clinical governance.”

Complex medical cases will be treated at the Mid Western Regional Hospital Limerick.

“Facilities at the smaller hospitals (like Ennis) can be used to the maximum to ensure that people with less complex care needs get their treat- ment in a timely fashion and not experience delays as a consequence of pressure in the bigger centre,” said Ms Doherty.

“The challenge facing us is to bring about a unified hospital system in the mid-west at a time when we must focus on reducing costs while maintaining services. This year our budget has dropped by € 21.768 million or nine per cent on the 2011 figure,” she said.

“It is going to be extremely tough to maintain activity levels with this resource. It means we have to make what we have been given by the taxpayer go further through managing every aspect of our business more efficiently.”


HSE mid-west boss vows to fight against MRSA

“I WILL be monitoring every hospital to ensure cleanliness is up to the required standards,” vowed the new CEO of the Mid Western Hospitals Group.

Ann Doherty is almost five months in her new job and said the hospitals in Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary have made measurable progress in relation to the control and prevention of the hospital bugs.

She claims this is evident through the reduction in MRSA and C difficile rates. “However there is a continuous need to increase our effort to support progress and ensure further improvements. In short we must do better,” she said.

At the Mid West Regional Hospital Ennis positive MRSA patients are isolated and remain isolated un- til a patient is deemed to be clear of MRSA. A patient is not deemed to be clear of MRSA until all three sets of screenings, taken 72 hours apart, return negative.

Patients continue to be screened at weekly intervals whilst in hospital. In Ennis all single rooms are vacated and prioitised for isolation.

There is a similar practice at the Mid Western Hospital in Limerick, which has 51 adult single rooms, 29 paediatric single rooms and 25 twobedded rooms.

“The principles and behaviours that prevent and control Healthhcare Associated Infections are well known and apply to all health and social care services,” according to Ms Doherty.

“These principles must be delivered by all staff who apply them as part of their daily routine, to eliminate the likelihood of a patient acquiring a Healthcare Associated Infection. Patients should expect nothing less,” she said. “It is therefore, important that everyone, both users and providers of all services, realise and embrace the principle that they, individually and collectively, have a responsibility to ensure that the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infection are met and actively enforced across our hospitals.”