Clare most compliant on household tax

AS MANY as 70 per cent of Clare householders have now paid the household charge, making the county one of the most compliant in the country when it comes to paying the controversial tax.

The county has also reached the figure quoted by local TDs as the figure that would ensure that Clare County Council could hold on to 100 per cent of its Local Government funding.

However, last month Minister or the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Phil Hogan said the loss of € 247,000 from the third quarter of the Clare budget would not be returned, despite the earlier reassurances.

Meanwhile the remaining 30 per cent identified by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) as having yet to pay received reminder letters in the last week.

Clare County Council was charged with issuing the letters, but could not reveal how many letters were posted.

The letters being issued are based on information taken from the Property Registration Authority compiled by the LGMA.

All owners of residential property in Ireland are liable for the household charge on each residential property they own, as of January 1, 2012.

The Government has said that revenues from the Household Charge will be forwarded to the Exchequer, and will be later distributed to local authorities throughout Ireland to support the provision of local services such as public parks, libraries, open spaces and leisure amenities, planning and development, fire and emergency services, and street cleaning and lighting. Changes to Local Government Structure announced last week stated that in the future each local authority would be directly responsible for setting and collecting its own property tax. Niall Barrett, Head of Finance, Clare County Council, said, “The responsibility is on all residential property owners to pay. The amount now due, including late payment fees and interest, is € 127 per property and this amount will continue to increase on the first of each month per property until the charge is paid.” He explained that the LGMA has carried out a comparison between the data on the Property Registration Agency database and those that have registered and paid, or obtained a waiver, in relation to the Household Charge. “The comparison exercise was carried out for a very large number of households across the country with properties that did not match exactly in both databases being listed to receive a letter. “Thus, if the information provided at the time of registration for the household charge does not match exactly the information provided at the time the property was registered then a letter will be issued. “Examples of items that may give rise to such mismatches include the use of abbreviations in one case and not in the other, changes of name due to marriage, changes in spelling of town lands, and the addition of house names to addresses. “It should be noted that a large number of houses are owned jointly by married couples. “This will mean that as each person who is a joint owner is liable for the household charge there will be two letters issuing to such households. The letter will provide contact details for the resolution of any issues arising from the receipt of the letters,” he said.


Fish farm to reel in €15m to local economy

A NEW offshore organic fish farm planned for the Burren coast will generate almost € 15 million in wages for the people of North Clare and South Galway each year.

That is according to figures released last week by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), who say that the jobs created by the € 40 million development will be high paying, sustainable employment with pay “well above the average industrial wage”.

The new BIM figures put the figure for annual direct wages at € 14.7 million, should the twin fish farms be developed to capacity. This would equate, roughly, to the entire Single Farm Payment (SFP) paid to all the farmers in North Clare each year.

Speaking to The Clare People yesterday, Donal Maguire, Head of aquaculture development at BIM, said that spin-off incomes for the area could also run into the millions of euro.

“This fish is a perishable project so it has to be handled and dealt with in the local community. So there is a great business argument for processing the fish in the local area. So you get a massive spin-off employment near these big fish farms,” he said.

“We estimate this as about € 14.7 million in wages for the local community.

“That is in direct and indirect employment concerning the farm but then there is the wider circulation of money when we look at the money spent in local shops, and restaurants and petrol stations.

“These are full-time, year round jobs that will pay way more than the minimum wage. They will pay more than the average industrial wage, so these are good jobs. It will also create an extra hundred million more in exports for the country which we don’t already have.”

The BIM also confirmed that all money needed to get this projects off the ground would be payable from the operating company and not the state.

“Basically, we do all the heavy lifting in creating the means for this to happen; in getting the aquaculture license and the foreshore license, but all the major spend in actually getting the project physically off the ground comes from the operator,” continued Donal.

“It’s not money for nothing. IT is a big undertaking and requires a lot of effort from different aspects of the state to achieve it. Also, we have had to do a lot of design work to ensure that a farm of this size would not have a negative environmental impact.

“We’ve looked at this really closely and we are confident that this will not cause a huge impact.”


Trad fest to bring pre-Christmas boost

ORGANISERS of the upcoming Ennis Trad Festival estimate that the event could generate up to € 2.5 million for the local economy.

A crowd of around 10,000 people are expected to visit Ennis during the festival, which takes places in the Clare county capital from November 8 to 12. Up to 500 musicians will perform at venues around the town for the festival, which is now 19 years in existence. There will once again be a strong international dimension to the thousands of music lovers that will descend on Ennis. An association of American veterans of the Vietnam War and a large group of Swedish music students will be among the throng soaking up the atmosphere.

According to festival chairman, John Rynne, the event will give a pre-Christmas boost to the Clare economy.

He said, “We’re in the midst of this terrible recession and there is a lot of doom and gloom about but we will have a lot of people coming in to the town spending money, spending on accommodation, taxi, pubs, food. There is a lot of money. We reckon that anything up to € 2.5 to € 3 millions is spent in the town and its environs. You will have people coming for the music but also going off to visit other parts of the county.”

Mr Rynne said the festival also offers a unique opportunity to market Ennis to overseas tourists.

He explained, “If you have 10 American tourists going back home telling their friends about the great music they heard in Ennis, that will build up year after year. It all adds up.

“We are spending millions on these advertising campaigns to market the country but at the end of the day the product sells much better than advertising,” he added.

Mr Rynne said the festival received a “fairly slight” response to an appeal for support from local businesses. He said that while it is a tough time for traders, the festival would help to generate a lot of “repeat business”.

He added, “It has a big footprint around the world internationally. It is very well recognised internationally.”


Wednesday is D-day for Doolin Pier

THIS Wednesday is D-Day for the Doolin Pier development as An Bord Pleanála come to Ennistymon for the final oral hearings on the much disputed development.

The planning authority will hear comments concerning the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the € 5 million development, which was completed in May of this year.

The development has been delayed for more than two years following objections raised by the local West Coast Surf Club and the Irish Surfing Association (ISA), who say that the development will damage the waves at Doolin and create a dangerous environment for surfing.

The ISA will be afforded the opportunity to address their board and give their opinion on the EIS.

An Bord Pleanála are likely to base the decision on two sections of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – one which deals with the impact that the pier will have on the limestone paving at Doolin Pier, and a second which uses hydrodynamic modeling and bathymetric data to determine what impact the pier will have on local currents and wave formations.

Local businesses believe that the planned pier could generate as many as 20,000 extra bed-nights for North Clare each year. This would result in a major boost to the local tourist trade and would likely create a number of new jobs in the area.

If the pier development is given the thumbs-up, construction work will likely not begin until the spring of 2013 with a completion date of early 2014 the most likely.

The West Coast Surf Club have stated on a number of occasions that they are not against the development of a pier in Doolin, but they do feel that the location of the current development will damage local surfing.

Surfing is the fastest growing recreational sports activity in Ireland and thousands of young people take surf lessons in the Clare resorts of Lahinch, Spanish Point, Fanore and Kilkee each year.


Clare could get Hurricane Sandy windfall

EVERY cloud has a silver lining and while Hurricane Sandy could mean devastation for parts of the American east coast, it could mean a miniboost for hotels in Shannon and Ennis.

Hundreds of tourists have already been stranded on both sides of the Atlantic as the hurricane has shut down airports all over the American east coast.

Aer Lingus cancelled all their Monday EI-111 and EI-110 services between Shannon and New York and it looks likely that further cancellations will take place this week.

The airline will announce later today if they will be in a position to operate the service this Wednesday and customers are asked to check their flights before coming to Shannon.

The centre of the hurricane is predicted to hit Philadelphia some time later today and is expected to move north to New York over Wednesday. This could bring about a lengthy closure of airports in New York, strand- ing American visitors in the Clare area for an extended period of time.

The airline has also offered to accommodate anyone affected by the cancellations on a subsequent service between Shannon and New York, at no extra cost.

A spokesperson from Aer Lingus said yesterday that they will continue to keep a close eye on the situation in New York and other American airports in the days ahead.

“Customers who wish to cancel their travel plans will receive a full refund,” said a spokesperson.

“Aer Lingus apologises to all customers affected by these cancellations.”

While there are no official figures for the numbers of tourists who have been forced to spend an unplanned, extended vacation in the Clare area, the effects of the hurricane could leave hundreds of Americans stranded in the Banner.

As many as 1,000 Aer Lingus customers are currently weathering the storm in New York, waiting for the city’s public transport and airports to reopen.


‘Prolific burglar’ banished

A MAN described by senior gardaí as one of the most “prolific burglars” in Clare has been expelled from the country.

Chief Supt John Kerin said that the number of thefts locally have de- creased by 10 per cent since the man was arrested.

He was a non-national living in the county and as such gardaí were able to petition to have him excluded from the country.

“This is something we intend to use more of in the future,” said Supt Kerin.

According to the Central Statistic Office, burglary and related offences had decreased by 3 per cent so far this year when compared to the same time last year.

Likewise robbery, extortion and hijacking were also down by 8 per cent, while theft and related offences stayed the same at 780.

A closer look at the figures reveal that theft from the person has increased by 220 per cent from five incidence in 2011, to 16 cases in 2012.

Superintendent Kerin said the majority of these incidents were in the Ennis area and mostly took place in supermarkets.

People who are doing a large grocery shop often leave their handbags or purses in the trolley and discover when they go to the check out that the purse has been robbed from the bag, the superintendent explained.

The number of car and vehicle thefts also increased during the first nine months of the year from 113 to 130 and theft from shops went up by 25 incidents when compared to the first nine months of last year.

General burglary was down 3 per cent however although aggravated burglary had increased by three incidents to five.

Robbery from premises was up from two cases to five also, while robbery from the person had decreased by one third.

Other thefts had decreased by 10 per cent.

Chief Supt Kerin said that the Gardaí have a detection rate of 65 per cent when it comes to these crimes, a figures that is considered high when compared nationally.

“While one crime is one too many, when compared to other Garda figures around the country we have managed to reduce the number of overall crime,” he said.


Eleven injured on Clare roads

ELEVEN people, including three children, were injured in four separate single-vehicle accidents in Clare over the past seven days – in what has been the worst week on the county’s roads so far in 2012.

A mother and her young child were trapped in their car for almost half an hour on Thursday last, when the car they were travelling in left the road and overturned on the N85, close to Kilnamona.

The incident was reported to emergency services just after 12.30pm on Thursday afternoon but, due to some confusion regarding the exact location of the accident, emergency crews were dispatched to three different locations. Emergency crews from Ennistymon responded to a report of a crash on the R460 between Inagh and Miltown Malbay, while gardaí from Ennistymon responded to an incident, reported to have taken place closer to Ennistymon.

A fire crew from Ennis located the crash on the N85, in the townland of Shallee in Kilnamona. It later emerged that all the 999 calls were in relation to the same incident, but there had been some confusion as to the exact location of the accident.

The mother and child were treated at the scene and were described as being very distressed.

Gardaí in Shannon are investigating a single-vehicle road traffic accident at Ballycasey in Shannon on Saturday night, from which the driver of an overturned truck absconded.

A spokesperson form the Garda Press Office confirmed to The Clare People yesterday that they are still attempting to track down the driver of the vehicle, which was discovered overturned around the Shannon slip road on the M18 at 11.15pm on Saturday night last, October 17.

Gardaí and fire crews searched the area but were unable to find anyone who might have been involved in the incident. Gardaí are understood to be examining the possibility that the driver checked into a local hotel fol- lowing the accident.

A mother and her two young sons had a lucky escape last Monday, October 22, when their car left the road and hit a tree before turning over onto its roof, at Ballyline, on the old Ennis to Galway road.

The woman was driving her two sons, aged three and four, in the direction of Crusheen village, when the incident took place. The vehicle collided with a tree before overturning onto its roof.

Meanwhile, five men were also injured in Ennis on Sunday, October 28, when the car they were driving crashed into a stone wall close to Drumcliffe Cemetery on the outskirts of Ennis. Th e e a rly p a rt o f t h e we e k will b e t yp ic a l No ve m b e r fa re , we t a n d w in d y, b u t c le a rin g b y t h e we e ke n d .


War veteran escapes jail

AN IRAQ war veteran from Clarecastle who admitted forging a doctor’s prescription has escaped a prison sentence.

Ross Culligan (25) was told by Judge Patrick Durcan that he was getting ‘the chance he deserves’ at Ennis District Court on Wednesday.

Mr Culligan, with an address at 41 Church Drive, Clarecastle, pleaded guilty to forging a prescription contrary to the misuse of drugs act on dates unknown between February 14 and February 22 (2012) at 41 Church Drive, Clarecastle.

He pleaded guilty to using the forged prescription at Mary Jo Duffy’s Pharmacy, Tesco, Ennis on February 22.

Mr Culligan also pleaded guilty to an offence under the firearms act at Ennis Garda Station on February 23.

The court previously heard that after being brought to Ennis Garda Station, Mr Culligan was found in possession of a .22 calibre bullet. The State accepted that Mr Culligan did not have the bullet for any sinister reason.

The case had been adjourned for the preparation of a report from the Probation and Welfare Services af- ter Judge Patrick Durcan said that he was considering a five-month prison sentence.

Mr Culligan served in the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army.

The court heard he was discharged for medical reasons. Judge Durcan noted that Mr Culligan had previously committed a similar offence and was on probation when he committed the current offence.

He said that Mr Culligan had experienced a lot of difficulties in the past.

Judge Durcan said as a result of his military service overseas, “he (Mr Culligan) saw and was probably involved in terrible things that will be with him for the rest of his life.”

He told the court that he was very impressed by what defence solicitor Shiofra Hassett had said on her client’s behalf.

Judge Durcan remanded Mr Culligan on continuing bail to July 17 (2013), with liberty to the State to reenter at 24 hours notice.

He also requested an up to date report from the Probation services. He added, “I will give you the chance you deserve.”

Judge Durcan said, “Best of luck to you Mr Culligan, you’ll have good days and bad days.”


Verbally abused gardaí after vodka binge

A Tipperary man who verbally abused gardaí in Shannon after a vodka drinking spree has been sentenced to two months in prison.

Luke Gray (24), with an address at 128 Ciamaltha Meadows, Nenagh, pleaded guilty at Ennis District Court on Tuesday to charges of intoxication and provoking a breach of the peace.

The charges arose out of a public order incident in Shannon town centre on October 13. Another man, Daniel Harty (32), of 73 Rossbracken, Shannon, also pleaded guilty to two charges of intoxication and provoking a breach of the peace. The court heard both men had been drinking to celebrate a christening.

Gardaí encountered Mr Gray at 1.25am in Shannon Town Centre, where he was roaring and shouting. Inspector John O’Sulivan said when asked to leave the area, Mr Gray told gardaí to “f*** off” “I’ll kill ye all”. Insp O’Sullivan said the father of five was “highly intoxicated.” Mr Gray has nine previous convictions.

The court heard that Mr Harty was also highly intoxicated but didn’t direct offensive language at the gardaí. Defence solicitor Jenny Fitzgibbon said Mr Gray had been drinking vodka prior to the incident. She said her client had a poor memory of what happened and that he was very repentant. Judge Patrick Durcan noted that Mr Gray had committed the offence three months after he had received a community service order. He said Mr Gray should be “ashamed of himself ”.

He added, “He decided to go a on a spree of alcohol consumption, consuming vodka which clearly doesn’t agree with him.” Judge Durcan said he had no time for people who interfere with the work of State agencies.

He imposed a two month prison sentence and fined Mr Gray € 250. Recognances were fixed in the event of an appeal. Judge Durcan said he considered a community service order but that would have a made a “mockery” of the community service regime.

Mr Harty, a father of four, said he was ashamed of his actions on the night. He apologised to gardaí and to the court. He received a 100-hour community service order. A VICTIMof domestic abuse last week questioned why her husband received a suspended sentence at Ennis District Court. Eddie Sherlock (32), with an address at 70 Dun na hInse, Ennis pleaded guilty onWednesday to a breach of a court imposed safety order. The court heard that Mr Sherlock struck his wife with a walking stick and told her that he would cut her face with a Stanley knife during the incident on October 19. The court heard that Ms Sherlock ran to a garda checkpoint that was near the couple’ s house to get help. Defence solicitor John Casey told the court that his client would say that the event wasn’ t as dramatic as the version outlined in court. He said Mr Sherlock “aplogised unreservedly” for what happened to his wife. “The relationship would appear to be pretty toxic,” he added. Mr Casey said alcohol was not a factor in the incident and that Mr Sherlock would be better of staying away formhis wife. Judge Patrick Durcan said the facts of the case are appalling.Addressing Mr Sherlock he said,“You should be ashamed of yourself, terribly ashamed.” He noted Mr Sherlock’ s early guilty plea and decided not to activate three month suspended sentence previously imposed a court. For the breach of the safety order, Judge Durcan imposed a three month suspended sentence. He also ordered Mr Sherlock to stay away fromhis wife. “If I meet you again, you’ ll br incarcerated for the longest period possible,” he added. At the end of the case, Ms Sherlock asked why her husband received another suspended sentence. “What does that mean?”, she added. Judge Durcan said Ms Sherlock could raise the matter with gardaí.


Maid of Erin – four remanded in further custody

FOUR people charged in connection with a public order disturbance at a roundabout in Ennis are due to appear in court again next week.

Ennis District Court heard on Wednesday that the men intend to apply to the High Court for bail.

Bernard McDonagh (45) and Christopher McDonagh (38), Bernard McDonagh Jnr (22) and a 16-year-old boy are alleged to have committed a number of offences arising out of the incident at the Maid of Erin on October 14.

Bernard McDonagh (45), with an address at 1 Ashline, Kilrush Road, Ennis is charged with the assault of John Doherty. He also faces three charges of criminal damage and one charge of dangerous driving.

It is further alleged that Bernard McDonagh (45) drove a vehicle in a dangerous and reckless manner which created substantial risk of death or serious harm to another.

Christopher McDonagh, with an address at 1 Davitt Terrace, Cloughleigh, Ennis, is charged with produc- ing an iron while about to commit an assault. He also charged with possession of an iron bar with intent to cause injury to John Doherty, Martin Doherty and Jimmy Doherty.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons is charged with possession of a hatchet with intent to cause injuries to John Doherty, Martin Doherty and Jimmy Doherty.

He is also charged with the production of a hatchet while about to commit an assault.

Bernard McDonagh Jnr (22) is charged with possession of an article with intent to cause injury and the production of an article in the course of a dispute.

He is also charged with assault causing harm. Defence solicitor Daragh Hassett said his clients intend to apply for bail.

All three men were remanded in custody to appear at Ennis District Court on November 7. The teenager was remanded in detention to appear in court on November 7. Directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are expected to be known by that date.