Funding boost for Lahinch

ONE of Clare’s most popular tourist locations is to undergo a major facelift with the news that almost € 190,000 in government funding has been allocated to the Lahinch Promenade. Indeed, there was a second major funding boost for North Clare with the news that a further € 145,000 has been allocated towards the improvement of lighting in Liscannor.

Both allocations, which total € 323,000, were made available under the Department of Agriculture’s Marine Leisure and Marine Tourism Capital Infrastructure Development Programme.

The Lahinch allocation will be used to redevelop access and slipways and the Liscannor end of the promenade while the money earmarked for Liscannor itself will be used to totally replace the surface of the pier and improve public lighting.

“This is a big boost for Lahinch and Liscannor and it will also allow Clare County Council to keep on a number of their part-time workers throughout the winter,” said Senator Martin Conway (FG).

“This will greatly improve the look and the access in both locations and will hopefully encourage more of the tourists travelling to the Cliffs of Moher to stop off. I am asked over and over about the parking charges in Lahinch, and if they are being ringfenced, and maybe there is an issue there, but I am very happy to be able to welcome this funding at least.”

When parking charges were first introduced in Lahinch they were done under the condition that any proceeds from the charges would be reinvested in Lahinch.

This issue has been raised by a number of councillors at recent North Clare area meetings of Clare County Council, with specific attention being paid to the last of public toilet facilities in Lahinch and a the need for upgrade work, including basic security measures, on the Liscannor Road car park.


‘Range and nature of cuts unacceptable’

LABOUR TD for Clare, Michael McNamara has signalled his opposition to rumoured € 100 million cuts to education spending in October’s budget.

In a statement, Deputy McNamara told a public meeting organised by the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation (INTO) that the “range and nature of the cuts proposed in the media in recent weeks are not acceptable”.

He continued, “I had a long conver- sation with the Minister for Education about that funding and schools big and small are at the limit of what they can endure. There is simply not a future for a further € 100m in cuts and savings to be found or anything near that amount.”

The statement was read by a spokeswoman. She told the meeting that Deputy McNamara was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting in the West County due to a prior commitment.

Fine Gael TD Pat Breen said no decisions had been taken on the exact level of cuts and tax increases in the budget. He added, “It is a challenge but as the Minister for Finance says, ‘we are going in the right direction’. At the moment all departments are putting together their budgets, including the Department of Education and Science.”

His party colleague, Deputy Joe Carey said, “It [education] certainly is a priority of mine. I will fight for ye as people here, as parents, as teachers. Education is so important for our country and our economy. I’ve listened to what ye have to say and I will certainly support ye.”

Referring to recent economic data that says Ireland has emerged from recession, Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway said, “I certainly want to see that coupled with a period of growth in investment in education in this country.

Fianna Fáíl TD and party spokesman on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Timmy Dooley, said he would like to see an easing of the cuts to school grants and minor works schemes. He added, “There has also been the increase in the student population but unfortunately there hasn’t been a requisite increase in the number of teachers to cater for that demand.”


3,500 children in classes of 30 or more

OVER 3, 500 Clare children are being taught in classrooms of 30 pupils or more, a meeting has heard.

The increase in the pupil teacher ratio and it’s impact on small and large schools was the focus of much discussion at a public meeting organised by the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation (INTO) in Ennis last week.

The meeting at Tracey’s West County on Thursday night was at- tended by an estimated crowd of 400 people.

In a presentation, INTO Vice President Sean McMahon outlined the level of education cuts that have hit Clare schools in recent years.

The meeting heard that Ireland has the second most crowded class size in the European Union.

Mr McMahon said that of the 13, 501 primary school pupils enrolled in Clare schools in 2012/13 3, 585 are in classroom of 30 or more students; 1,887 are in classrooms of 0-19 students; and 8,029 are in class- rooms with between 20 and 29 students.

Mr McMahon said it is vital that Department of Education and Science moves away from the “madness” of a “magic number” of pupils that determines a school’s future.

He said, “I had a conversation with a teacher in the Ennis area this morning with 37 children in second class. In that class were four children whose first language is not English; there was an autistic pupil and a pupil with Aspergers. They are in a very difficult environment.”

“We want an increase in spending in primary education and a reduction in class size in line with European norms which would facilitate the employment of our young, enthusiastic and well-trained professional young teachers. We also want the madness, which is the assault on smaller schools, some rural and some urban, to cease,” Mr McMahon added.

Brendan Horan INTO National representative urged parents and teachers to lobby government TDs by taking part in the union’s post card and email campaign.


‘Schools are not businesses’

THE education officer for the Diocese of Killaloe has warned that continued cuts to education budgets is making the management of primary schools in Clare almost impossible.

Fr Gerry Kenny said it’s time to stop treating schools like businesses and again prioritise investment in education.

He was speaking in Ennis on Thursday night at a public meeting called by the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation (INTO) to highlight opposition to cuts to education spending in next month’s budget.

He said the cuts in capitation grants are seriously affecting the ability of volountary Boards of Management to run schools.

“Schools are being treated more and more like businesses. Most of you in boards of management will be familiar with water bills. We haven’t received it privately but in recent years the water rate bill has hit the schools and by golly is that an eyeopener,” he explained,

“We are charged for ESB and gas. It’s estimated that 1/3 of those bills are just the service charges that come to us even when the schools are closed. It’s becoming more and more difficult with the small pool of money that is being given in the capitation grants. On top of that the minor works grants have disappeared. That means there is often very little left to do essential works that often have to happen for the maintenance of the schools.”

Fr Kenny continued, “We have lived through austerity and I think on behalf of the pupils for whom we manage the schools, it’s time to say to our State, ‘You have to begin once again to prioritise investment in our schools.’”

Diocesan communications officer Fr Brendan Quinlivan told the meeting that by increasing class sizes and cutting school budgets, the Government is “storing up a whole lot of trouble for the future”.

He added, “We are effectively making enemies of our children because if we deprive them of the things that are most important – the opportunity to learn, grow and socialise, the opportunity to value who they are as individuals, the opportunity to achieve their full potential – if we deny them those things, all we will be doing is storing up resentment and anger in a society for the future.”


Eirtech to ‘grow its global footprint’

THE Shannon-based Eirtech Aviation has announced a major expansion, saying that it will growing “its global footprint”, following the news released on Monday that it will begin painting aircraft in the former Alitalia Paint hanger at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

The state-of-the-art hanger, which is used for the painting of wide-body aircraft, boasts four magic carpet platforms, suspended from the ceiling.

The magic carpets facilitate the preparation and painting of an aircraft without the need for docking, helping to reduce the time taken to prepare aircraft for painting.

The Rome facility brings Eirtech Aviation’s number of dedicated aircraft painting locations to four, with over 20,000 sq mtrs of hangarage.

Niall Cunningham, CEO of Eirtech Aviation, said, “Our expansion into Rome is the next phase in the company’s development, which is focused on being able to provide state-of-the-art services to clients in geographically advantageous loca- tions. Providing multiple location options for clients gives Eirtech Aviation a competitive advantage as moving aircraft for painting and maintenance can be a costly exercise.

“Ultimately however we are judged on our responsiveness, service provision and cost effectiveness and it’s heartening to see clients returning to us again and again. It’s an exciting day for the team as we launch our new hangar in Rome, which follows the launch of our facility in the Czech Republic in 2012.”

During 2012, Eirtech Aviation painted over 200 narrow and widebody commercial aircraft and clients include SAS, Qatar Airways, and Lufthansa to name a few. The expansion into the Rome facility, which can cater for all aircraft types and will further strengthen Eirtech’s wide-body capability.

Painting will commence in October following commissioning and handover.

Eirtech would like to acknowledge and thank Aeroporti di Roma for their assistance and look forward to continuing to work with them in future.


Westair application to be made to council

AN APPLICATION to build a major extension to an aircraft and helicopter leasing facility in Shannon has been ruled not to be of strategic importance by an Bord Pleanála.

The planning authority last week turned down an application from Westair Aviation to a have a 253 square metre extension of their Shannon hanger deemed to be a Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID).

If the company had succeeded in gaining SID status, it would then have been allowed to apply for planning directly to an Bord Pleanála – and not through Clare County Council. In addition to this, an Bord Pleanála would also have worked with the company to ensure that the planning process would be navigated as smoothly as possible.

Having failed to receive SID status the company must now apply directly to Clare County Council, should they decided to go ahead with the hanger extension. Any decision made by Clare County Council would then be open to an appeal to an Bord Pleanála, a process which could take a number of years to complete.

The proposed expansion would see Westair Aviation develop the large extension to the south side of their existing hangar, which currently forms part of their corporate jet hire centre.

Detailed plans for the proposed extension were not submitted to the planning authority but it was stated that the extended hangar would be not be higher than the existing structure and would accommodate larger aircraft. It was submitted that the use of the building would remain the same, just with an increased floor area. There is no indication from the submitted plans whether the expansion would have led to an increased workforce at the company.

In his report inspector Philip Green stated that the proposed development was too small to be considered a SID.


Sainthood beckons Liscannor priest

CLARE could soon be celebrating a once in a thousand year religious occasion as the process has begun to make Liscannor man Thomas Cusack a saint.

The Korean Church has applied to the Holy See to begin the process which could one day lead to the Columban priest being beatified.

If he is successful, Fr Cusack would become Ireland’s fourth saint of the past thousand years; joining Cellach of Armagh, Saint Oliver Plunkett and Charles of Mount Argus.

Fr Cusack was killed by communist forced in Korean in 1950 and the Korean Church are seeking his beatification as a martyr.

The Liscannor man’s 15 years in Korea were marked by intense bravery and hardship. He refused to flee the county during the Japanese invasion in World War II and as a result spend a number of years in a brutal prisoner of war camp.

He again refused to leave the country when the Korean War erupted and was captured in 1950 by communist troops as they retreated north of the border following a battle on July 24, 1950.

Fr Cusack, along with a number of other Catholic priests, were martyred in “the massacre at Taejon Prison” with took place on September 24, 1950.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the Columban in Korea in 1933, the Korean Church has put forward a number of priests martyred during the Korean War for sainthood.

According to Fr Malachy Smyth, who has recently completed a documentary on the Columban Fathers in Korea, Fr Cusack would most likely have been more concerned with the work on the ground than any future accolades.

“The Korean Church has started the process and we will have to wait and see what happens from here. I’m not too sure how long this will take but it could be a large number of years,” he said.

“We [the Columbans] are not the sort who look for sainthood. We are much more interested in the work amongst the grass roots.”

Father Cusack was born in Ballycotton in Liscannor on October 23, 1910. He was educated in Ballycotton National School before going on to St Mary’s College in Galway.

He entered the Columbans in 1928 and was ordained in 1934. The following year he was sent to Korea and at the time of his death he was serving in Columban mission in Mokpo.

At present Ireland boasts a total of 166 saints. The vast majority of these saints were lived during the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries for which Ireland was known as the Island of Saints and Scholars.


Dog walker finds weapons cache

FIREARMS, ammunition, balaclavas, explosive components, including detonators and paperwork have been seized following a discovery made in East Clare at the weekend.

Gardaí unearthed the haul from a wooded area in Meelick on Friday evening last. An army bomb disposal team was called to examine the area before it could be declared safe.

The items found were taken away for a forensic and technical examination. Gardaí made no arrests following the seizure and the investigation is ongoing.

The haul, which included a gun, multiple rounds of ammunition, items that could be used in the production of explosive devices and some papers, was accidentally discovered in Glenagross Wood, by a member of the public at around 8pm on Friday night last. The man in question was walking his dog when the cache was found. On being informed of the weapons find, gardaí cordoned off the area in question and an army bomb disposal team was sent to Meelick from Cork.

The unit carried out an initial inspection of the find and the nearby area before it was subsequently declared safe and that part of the wood was reopened to the public a number of hours later, after gardaí had carried out a number of searches in the area.

The firearms and explosives were removed for forensic examination. No arrests have yet been made in the wake of the discovery but it understood the haul is suspected to be related to dissident republican activity, according to Garda sources.

The haul included balaclavas and some CS gas containers as well as a number of ammunition magazines.

Gardaí are also examining the possibility that the discovery could be related to dissident republican and criminal activity in the Limerick City area, the weapons and materials being discovered just inside the Clare border.

Until a full forensic examination is made of the materials and firearm found in the Meelick wood, gardaí will not be able to comment on how long they think the arms cache was hidden in Glenagross Wood.

The wooded area is a popular one with walkers and members of the public are urged to report any suspicious activity they see in the area to their local Garda station.


Expect long delays at the tax office

CLARE people seeking to tax thei r cars face long queues at Clare County Council this week, as the deadline for the end of “gapping” looms next Monday.

The local authority has recorded a 50 per cent increase in numbers us ing the tax office since July and are expecting very high volumes over the past seven days.

From September 30, motorists will no longer be able to retrospectively declare their cars “off the road” and will instead be liable for the full cost of their car tax, since it was last taxed.

When this process, which is known as gapping, comes to an end next week, motorists will have to declare their car off the road in advance – or face paying thei r motor tax in full.

“The complexities of the new legislation has caused some confusion amongst members of the public which has led to a significant increase in the numbers of people attending the County’s primary Motor Tax Office on the New Road in Ennis,” said Fiona Mooney of the Motor Tax Department Office.

“The surge in applications has caused waiting times in the Motor Tax Office to increase and has led to a backlog in processing postal applications. Customers can avoid or shorten queues in a number of ways, including opting to renew the tax on thei r vehicles online, a service that is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week at www.

“Anyone who doesn’t have their PIN number, can click ‘PIN retrieval’ on the website and take it from there. Customers wanting to lodge completed off the road declarations, where they are not taxing the vehicle, can simply drop them into the motor tax post box at the motor tax office at Aras an Contae. They don’t need to wait in the queue.”

The council’s motor tax depar tment advises that anyone wanting to tax a vehicle that has been off the road, to complete a RF100A form and have it signed and stamped at a Garda station.

If members of the public have a car which is is cur rently off the road, and will continue to be off the road after September 30, the must complete both a RF100A and a RF150 form. The RF 150 does not need to be signed and stamped at a Garda station.

More detailed are available at the Motor Tax Office or from www.


Families living near Inagh dump to be compensated

SCORES of families who have been living in the shadow of the Ballyduff beg Waste Management Facility in Inagh for almost two decades are finally to be directly compensated by Clare County Council.

Councillors at yesterday’s meeting of Clare County Council agreed to take a new approach to dispersing the final € 108,000 tranche of the facilities controversial community fund.

The fund, which was set up as a means of compensating the people in Inagh and Kilnamona for the inconvenience of the waste facility, has been a source of local conflict for more than a decade.

The new scheme will see the final tranche of funding being ring-fenced for the 54 houses who live within a 1.5 kilometre of the centre of the dump. These houses will be invited to submit applications for € 2,000 for projects which will have a positive environmental impact.

“The issues of people, who are closest to the landfall, has always been disregarded up to now. Funds were appointed to every corner of Inagh and Kilnamona who never had to look at, or to deal with the landfill. Their case has never been heard up to now,” said Cllr Joe Arkins (FG).

“There were proposals in the past about a new waste treatment plant and a wind turbine in that local area – and all of those proposals were pushed aside. I want it to be clear that this is open to any environmental project that could have an environmental benefit.

“It is high time that the people effected by this are to be compensated.”

A spokesperson from Clare County Council confirmed that the finding will not go outside the buffer zone. If any of the 54 households do not apply for a portion of the € 108,000 funding – a second tranche will be set up to disperse the remainder.