‘Bishop to mediate in school dispute’

THE Bishop of Killaloe has been asked to intervene after a “septic relationship” developed between some parents and the principal of a small West Clare primary school. Dr Kieran O’Reilly has been asked to mediate on issues at Labasheeda National School, details of which were aired at Kilrush District Court on Tuesday.

Martin Tubridy (55), with an address at Quarry Vale, Mounthshannon, Labasheeda, was found guilty of assault causing harm to Liam Woulfe at the school on December 9, 2011. Mr Tubridy, a father of two, denied the charge.

The court heard that Mr Tubridy punched Mr Woulfe in the face after complaining about the treatment of his son. The court heard that some parents had withdrawn their children from the school because of alleged disputes with Mr Woulfe.

Judge Patrick Durcan said this was a case where there were “no winners”. He said, “I want to say how saddened I am to see such divisions in Labasheeda over a septic relationship between the two parties.” He said he found the entire episode “distressing” and warned that the dispute threatens the future of the school and the local community. Judge Durcan added, “I know this kind of thing can sound the deathknell for a school and the deathknell for a school is a deathknell for the local community.”

Mr Woulfe, who has been principal of the school for 17 years, said Mr Tu- bridy drove to the school after hours on the date in question. The court heard that Mr Woulfe had been talking to another parent in a classroom at the time. Mr Woulfe said he went out to Mr Tubridy and asked if he could come back to meet him again. He said Mr Tubridy told him he had put his son outside of the classroom and that he (Mr Woulfe) had been “at him all week”.

Mr Woulfe said, “He struck me and hit me in the face.” He added,“I recoiled back into the classroom. I was obviously shocked and dazed.”

The court heard that Mr Woulfe suffered a swollen nose, black eye and a broken tooth as a result of the assault. His injuries were disputed by defence solicitor Patrick Moylan who said they had not been noted in a dental report handed into court. Mr Moylan said Mr Woulfe had exaggerated the extent of his injuries.

Mr Moylan said in court that parents had withdrawn their children because it had been alleged that Mr Woulfe had behaved in an “aggressive” manner towards them.

The court also heard that Mr Tubridy’s wife made a complaint to the of- fice of the Bishop of Killaloe.

Mr Woulfe admitted issues had arisen in his dealings with the Tubridys. He described their behaviour in a previous meeting as “aggressive and over the top”. He said that 2011 had been a “difficult year” at the school.In his evidence, Mr Tubridy denied this and said it was Mr Woulfe who behaved in an aggressive fashion. Mr Woulfe denied Mr Tubridy’s version of events.

Parent Caroline O’Shea, who was in the school at the time, told the court she saw the assault. Mr Tubridy said she could not have seen what happened as the glass on the classroom door is opaque. He claimed Mr Woulfe grabbed him by the back of the neck and he reacted by pushing him away. He told the court that he drove to the school to meet Mr Woulfe because his son was very upset.

Judge Patrick Durcan said there had been “bad blood” between the parties. He said he did not accept Mr Tubridy’s version of events, describing it as “improbable.” Judge Durcan said he accepted Mr Woulfe’s and Ms O’Shea’s evidence. He adjourned the case for just over an hour to allow for discussions between the parties.

On the resumption of the case, Supt Gerard Wall told the court that Mr Tubridy had offered a “full and unconditional” apology to Mr Woulfe.

Judge Durcan said he accepted a proposal to invite Dr O’Reilly to mediate on the matter. He adjourned the case until April 9, 2013 and ordered Mr Tubridy to pay € 400 compensation to Mr Woulfe and Ms O’Shea.


Former editor’s behaviour ‘despicable’ – Judge

, said he regarded the Mid West Business magazine as a rival for advertising revenue to The Cla re People . He said, “There was a fundamental breakdown in the office and he (Mr Collison) was the root cause of it.” Mr Moloney said there had been an “acrimonious relationship” between he, the shareholders and Mr Collison. Mr Moloney said he had never seen the agreement entered into between the company and the NUJ. He told the court that the paper had gone though a difficult period but that circulation is now growing. Judge Patrick Durcan said it was his view that Mr Collison was not in breach of the agreement. Judge Durcan added that he could not see how the reputation of the paper had been damaged when circulation had gone up in the context of Mr Collison leaving. He described Mr O’Rourke as “obviously a talented man” but someone who may have been “naive”. He said that in engaging Mr O’Rourke, Mr Collison’s behaviour was “despicable and manipulative”. He described Mr Moloney’s evidence as “honest, professional and refreshing”. Judge Durcan awarded Mr Collison € 4,700 but said he was making no order for costs “by virtue of his (Mr Collison’s) behaviour”. Judge Durcan dismissed the counter claim, making no order for costs.


Early ash harvest for hurley industry

THE possibility of a hurley shortage has been averted, at least for now, as Coillte have agreed to bring forward the harvesting of 40,000 hurley planks to meet the demand of manufacturers.

The state sponsored company agreed to a mass felling of ash on Friday after fears that Irish hurley manufacturers would run out of wood in the new year as a result of regulations brought in to prevent the spread of ash die-back disease or Chalara fraxineaposes.

The news will come as a relief to Clare’s hurley manufacturers – who between them produce around 25 per cent of the 360,000 hurleys made in Ireland each year.

The commitment from Coillte should provide hurley makers with an extra four to six weeks of raw material.

If the import restriction are not lifted at that stage, and no further new Irish ash supply has be located, hurley shortages could still be in place by the middle of next year.

“Coillte is very keen to play its part in helping the hurley manufacturing industry in Ireland cope with the current supply challenge. We are already harvesting ash in one of our forests in County Westmeath and have identified a number of other locations where we will harvest material in the coming months,” said Gerard Murphy of Coillte.

“We have committed to supplying 40,000 ash planks to the hurley making industry in the coming months to ensure the ongoing survival of this important part of our social and sporting heritage.”

The issue was also discussed in the Dáil last week with Clare TD, Michael McNamara (Lab).

“One hurley maker in Clare employs six people and makes between 60,000 to 70,000 hurleys per year. There are several other hurley makers across County Clare from Tuamgraney, Ogonnelloe, Broadford, Kilmurry, Kilkishen and Tubber,” he said.

Ash die-back disease has now be confirmed in Galway, Tipperary, Meath, Leitrim and a number of locations in Northern Ireland. The disease has devastated ash forests in central Europe and is very difficult to contain.

Ireland currently imports more than 10 per cent of all the ash used in the country but current targets suggest that it will become self-sufficient for ash by 2020.


Broadford to fight post office closure

A NEW community group that has been established in Broadford has pledged to fight the decision by An Post to close the local post office overnight without giving any advance notice to any of its customers.

This campaign cranked to life at a public meeting in the village on Thursday night last that saw the formation of the Broadford Post Office Action Group that as a first step has demanded a meeting with An Post officials.

“People want their post office back,” the action group chairman PJ Mason told The Clare People . “This post office has been in Broadford for as long as there have been rural post offices in Ireland.

“We want an urgent meeting with An Post about this. An issue arose a couple of weeks ago, which we are not privy to. Suddenly when people turned up for their pensions and welfare a few weeks ago the office was closed and they were directed to go to Tulla.

“That’s a big problem for some people, who haven’t got transport. Tulla is about ten miles from Broadford, while some people would be 20 miles away from Tulla. It’s not good enough that they should have to go all the way to Tulla,” added Mr Mason.

The public meeting was attended by over 150 people, among them officers and members of all the local organisations including, the ICMSA, IFA, local hurling and camogie clubs, ICA Guilds, the local development association, community alert groups, gun clubs, parents groups, as well as members of the boards of management of the local schools.

Local councillors present were Michael Begley (Ind), Joe Cooney (FG), Cathal Crowe (FF) and Pat Hayes (FF), while Martin O’Loghlen represented Deputy Timmy Dooley (FF).

“The post office serves a large population in a wide catchment area that includes all of the parish of Broadford, an area of Bridgetown, O’Callaghan’s Mills and Bodyke,” revealed Mr Mason, who was elected chairman of the action group on the night.

“The closure of the post office has caused people severe hardship and disruption, as the Christmas period and beyond rapidly approaches. Some people have been unable to get to Tulla, others have had to get the assistance of neighbours and friends to get them to there. We want our post office re-opened as quickly as possible,” he added.


Western Rail Corridor comes off the tracks again

IARNRÓD Éireann has come in for fresh criticism over the length of time it has taken to create an online booking system for the Western Rail Corridor. At present, it is possible to view timetable information for services between Ennis and Galway but not to price a ticket or make an online purchase.

This was identified as one of the main areas for reform earlier this year and prompted Iarnród Éireann to commit to developing an online system. The delay in developing a system was described as “perplexing” by North-West MEP, Jim Higgins (FF), last week.

“I cannot understand how you can book most buses in the country on line, but not the train. I wonder if this was a train on the east coast, would a solution to the online booking problem have been found by now,” he said.

MEP Higgins was also critical of the time taken to travel on the Western Rail Corridor when compared to a car journey. “I’ve raised this issue before, and I will raise it again. To drive between Galway City and Limerick takes one hour and 25 minutes but on the train, it takes two hours and 15 minutes,” he said.

Iarnród Éireann confirmed last week that journey times between Limerick and Galway on the Western Rail Corridor will be reduced by as much as 15 minutes in the coming months.

Latest passenger numbers for the Western Rail Corridor show an increase of 6 per cent for the first nine months of 2012, the first positive passenger number trends since the service was established.

Meanwhile, the future of the proposed development of a new train station at Crusheen remains unclear. A final planning decision on the station was due in early November but no decision has yet been released.


Clare animal-lovers gone to the dogs

A GROUP of volounteers behind an animal shelter in Clare who feared closure earlier this month are planning to spend the night on the footsteps of Ennis Courthouse next month.

‘Out with the Dogs’ will see members of Paw Pourri and Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue leave their warm homes for the steps of Ennis Courthouse on December 16.

The aim of the sleep-out is to raise awareness and funds for the two charities.

According to Hillary Killowry of Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue, “Even in recessionary times, we have to be mindful of animal welfare. We want this night to highlight the plight of unwanted animals in Clare and the rescue and rehabilitation of Bernese Dogs.”

Hillary added, “If every home in Clare that has a pet gives us one can of food on that night, that will go a long way to alleviating the huge food bills that we are faced with.”

Paw Pourri Animal Rescue and Shelter rescues and re-homes abandoned dogs and cats. All animals remain with the centre until new homes can be found.

The shelter has launched a Christmas appeal aimed at attracting more donations, volunteers and much needed fosterers.

Earlier this month, the shelter said it was struggling to maintain its service because of a lack of volunteers and funds.

However, Catriona Lowry of Paw Pourri has stated that the local com- munity had responded well to the appeal.

The shelter is also seeking more volunteers to help keep the shop open, along with urgently needed fosterers to give a home to some of the animals at the shelter.

The amount of animals in Clare that need shelter and rescue continues to grow, according to Paw Pourri.

Their Christmas Wish List is made up of everything from dog and cat food as the weekly bill for feeding the animals runs into hundreds of euros.

People of Clare can get behind the ‘Out with the Dogs’ fundraiser by supporting those with official sponsorship cards. People can also drop by on the night and meet Molly, Clare’s famous Bernese Dog, whose sibling now resides in Arás an Uachtarán.

Molly works hard as a therapy dog with the elderly, children with autism and those with special needs in Clare.

People can also donate online on


Grand Prix title for Ruan gran

MARY Rice, owner of Babyzone store, from Ruan, Ennis and 66 years young, was crowned Breakfast with Hector’s ‘Granny Grand Prix Champion of 2012’, in Mondello Park, Kildare, on Sunday, November 18, with an impressive time of one minute and seven seconds.

Said Mary about the event, “It was the best day of my life. I’m still recovering. I wasn’t out to win. I was just out to do what I was told to do. Little did I think that I would be the winner.”

Mary was more surprised than anyone to be taking part in the contest, let alone winning the title, having no knowledge of the event until she found herself picking up the phone to Hector at work.

“I thought it was my son-in-law in England; he’s always playing tricks,” she chuckled. It was her daughter, Sheena, who nominated her for the competition. Sheena, who lives in Germany, listens to Hector’s show to avoid getting too homesick and happened to hear about the competition one morning.

Blessed with a family of eight children, and 11 grandchildren, Mary was not short of supporters on the day. Family and friends travelled from as far as Germany and Birmingham to cheer her on, donning printed t-shirts reading ‘Mary Mops for Grand Prix Title’.

In honour of her win, Mary was also presented with a voucher for a weekend away in The Radisson Hotel, Galway to enjoy with a few of her friends.


An Taisce calls plan ‘premature’

AN TAISCE has recommended that the proposal by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to build a carpark at Mullaghmore be withdrawn, because it’s “premature” ahead of the implementation of a Burren Management Plan and because it could “lead to future demand for expansion” of visitor facilities at the site.

The environmental watchdog made its comments in a submission to Clare County Council planners on Thursday last and in it the NPWS has been advised to withdraw its controversial application pending proper public consultation and the publication of the Burren Management Plan.

“Any consideration of new car parking provision should be undertaken only as part of the current 2011-2018 Management Plan for the National Park and surrounding area,” says An Taisce spokesperson Ian Lumley.

“The current Management Plan does not make any provision for a car park at this site.

“If parking provision is deemed desirable in or near the core area of the National Park, a careful site selection evaluation is required identifying a number of site options and considering site suitability on a number of criteria. State ownership is not sufficient grounds to justify location selection of this site,” he adds.

The National Trust for Ireland has also echoed the Burren Action Group (BAG) fears that provision of car park facilities could signal further development. “A further concern is that any car park provision made will lead to future demand for expansion and ancillary services including toilets,” says Mr Lumley. “This is an additional reason why the site suitability of any car park provision needs to be properly considered in the first place. We recommend that this application be withdrawn and that any proposal be put forward after appropriate public and stakeholder consultation on the updating of the Management Plan for the National Park and provision of a Management Plan for candidate Special Area of Conservation designated area.

“Any car parking provision needs to be based on an overall visitor accommodation strategy, and any site proposed needs to be based on a selection process examining a wider number of location options, than those currently considered,” he adds.


‘Proposal could impact on tourism’

CLARE tourism will be damaged internationally, while both private and State-run tourism operators will be the big losers if Clare County Council gives the green light for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to develop car park facilities near Mullaghmore.

This claim is a major plank of the Burren Action Group (BAG) submis- sion to the planning authority, opposing the controversial NPWS application, that has been secured by The Clare People this week.

In a hard-hitting submission, BAG says that the car park proposal “makes no consideration of tourism practice in the area and does not appear to inform itself as to the policies of other statutory agencies or of the objectives of the County Development Plan”.

According to the BAG submission, permission for the car park facility would “endanger the reputation of the Burren” and “poses a risk to investments of other tourism operators” throughout North Clare.

“Substantial inter-agency efforts helped secure Geopark status for the Burren and efforts are ongoing to achieve a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing,” says the BAG submission.

“Smaller operators have undertaken international marketing activities through the Burren Ecotourism Network and have developed an accreditation scheme for green tourism that has been adopted as the Irish standard and has been approved by Fáilte Ireland.

“News of the existence of a statemanaged facility that is operating contrary to the precautionary and sustainability principles will harm the area’s reputation and the international perception that it is a prime ecotourism destination.

“The application runs counter to the objectives and principles of ecotourism, is contrary to the objectives of the County Development Plan and will endanger the tourism investments of both private and statutory tourism providers.

“It is not compatible with the area’s reputation for ecotourism and thus poses a threat to tourism operators in the wider Burren,” the submission to the Clare County Council planners adds.


Car park is ‘putting the cart before the horse’

PUTTING car park facilities in place at Mullaghmore is a case of the National Parks and Wildlife Service putting the cart before the horse, the Burren Action Group’s 15-page document against the controversial development proposal has claimed.

BAG, which campaigned successfully against the Office of Public Works proposal to build an interpretative centre at Mullaghmore, has blasted the planning application as it comes ahead of a commitment to deliver the Burren Management Plan.

This management plan is now in its third draft, but the feeling on the ground locally in North Clare is that it will never see the light of day, with the NPWS instead pressing ahead with its car park proposal adjacent to the original Mullaghmore Interpretative Centre location.

In its submission, BAG says it shares the NPWS objective of “alleviating the problems associated with random car parking on the Crag Road and at the crossroads between the Crag Road and the Green Road”, but that the application is premature as it comes in advance of an agreed National Park Management Plan.

“Three draft versions of a Plan (Burren Management Plan 2011 – 2018) have been produced but none have been published and none have benefitted from the input of the public, tourism operators or adjoining landowners,” says BAG.

“There is no indication when this Plan will seek the views of the public nor is there any proposed deadline for its completion. The application, therefore, is not in a position to avail of any agreed or finalised management proposals,” the submission adds.

In a further indictment of the NPWS proposal, the BAG submission says that the application, which was lodged with Clare County Council on October 22 is “incoherent”, “uncoordinated” and “missing significant data”.

“The application lacks the coherence that might be provided by a Management Plan and, in the single instance where its impacts in combination with other practices are acknowledged, no data is offered, even in relation to the applicant’s own services and facilties,” the BAG submission says.

“There is considerable potential for successful dialogue that can result in a Management Plan that respects and promotes the needs of the host people, local environment and those wishing to engage in sustainable low impact tourism in and around the National Park.

“There are alternative sites that can accommodate parking in the ownership of the applicant. There are also options for more multifaceted management practices available that can contribute to better visitor management in the park.

“A process to explore these options should precede a grant of permission to return to a site that has already failed the test of one of the longest and most comprehensive planning processes in the history of the state,” the submission adds.