Nuclear plant for Clare possible

THE ESB have not ruled out the possibility of constructing a nuclear power plant at Moneypoint, once the current coal burning plant is decommissioned in 2025.

The company also say they are aware of Small Modular Reactors ultra safe mini-reactors based on the technology used in nuclear submarines – but have not yet investigated the technology in detail.

With nuclear energy prohibited by law in Ireland, the company say that their current focus for Moneypoint post-2025 involves the investigation of a coal of gas site.

However, any coal plant would require the integration of carbon capture technology, which has yet to be developed, as well as the expensive exportation of the captured carbon waste, as the storage of carbon is also currently prohibited by Irish law.

The creation of a gas burning plants is also likely to bring about a large increase in costs, unless a cheap source of gas is made available, possible through hydraulic fracturing in the Clare Basin.

“Since nuclear generation in Ireland in prohibited by law, ESB’s focus on future low-carbon generation options for Ireland does not currently include nuclear generation,” said a spokesperson.

“ESB is aware of Small Modular Reactors, but has not examined their suitability for Moneypoint.”

The ESB says it has also investigated the possibility of building a giant pipe-line from Moneypoint to the old Kinsale field off Cork, should carbon capture technology become viable and carbon storage become legal in Ireland. It is understood that such a scheme would be prohibitively expensive. “Such data is commercially sensitive but it is widely acknowledged within the industry that the cost of carbon capture and storage is high at present and that the industry is attempting to reduce these costs,” said the ESB spokesperson. According to Denis Duff of pronuclear group Better Environment with Nuclear Energy, (BENE), the ESB faces a difficult decision when the existing Moneypoint facility is decommissioned. “For environmental reasons, coal or gas fired replacements would need to have carbon capture facilities attached. ESB acknowledge that this would be a very expensive option and this is exacerbated by the costs of having to export the captured gases,” he said. “I believe that replacing coal at Moneypoint with these small reactors would be very beneficial to County Clare. The reactors are due out in 2021 and will supply affordable, clean, safe and reliable energy. For reasons of climate change, energy security and the economy in general, it is entirely likely that Ireland will install a number of these within 20 years. This will be the safest energy technology ever built and will be able to produce electricity significantly cheaper than any similar alternative.”


Price of farmland collapses in Clare

FULL-TIME farming in Clare could soon be a thing of the past with unstable commodity prices, crippling debt an aging farming population driving farmers from the land.

The average prices of farm land in Clare fell almost 24 per cent last year, as the county’s farmers reeled from the effects of the fodder crisis. The average price of land in Clare fell from € 8,500 per acre in 2012, to just under € 6, 500 last year – a drop of 23.5 per cent – compared to national average price drop, which was less than 6 per cent.

More and more Clare land, especially poorer land, is now being planted for forestry as uncertainty about the future of milk prices ahead of the end of milk quotas in 2015 and continued uncertainly about crucial such as the Single Farm Payment, is prompting farmers to call it day.

Last year’s fodder crisis also created a large amount of debt amongst Clare farmers, who could yet face a second fodder crisis this year if the weather does not improve soon.

“The uncertainty that is out there at the moment is the biggest problem. We are after an expensive year last year because of the fodder crisis; people are in debt, are are still trying to recover,” said Clare chairperson for the ICMSA, Martin McMahon.

“There is massive uncertainty about the Single Farm Payment (SFP); everyone is wondering how much is going to be cut. The price of cattle on the floor, it’s as low as it has been in 30 year compared to costs.

“The only think going well at the moment is milk and no-one knows what is going to happen when quotas going on in 2015. We have a lot of Clare farmers who are shoving on in age and there is no generation coming through to replace them because of the uncertainty that is there at the moment.

“Then climate change is also taking it’s toll. We had no spring last year and things are no much better in 2014.

“Fodder is starting to get low again and unless things straighten out early in April we will be in big trouble. You will see farmers broke in Clare if we see another fodder crisis this year.”

New figures released by the Irish Farmer’s Journal also show there was also a marked increase in the amount of Clare land being offered for sale in 2013, with more than 30 per cent more land sold last year compared to 2012.


West Clare man on multiple rape charges

A WEST Clare man accused of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault over a three-year period appeared in court in Kilrush on Tuesday.

The man who cannot be named for legal reasons was charged with two counts of rape of a female under Sec- tion 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 on dates unknown between, and including, July 1, 2009 and November 26, 2012 in the West Clare area.

He was also charged with four counts of sexual assault contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 as amended by Section 37 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

Garda Patrick Costelloe told the court that the defendant made no reply when he was charged and cautioned.

The defendant was released on his own bail subject to a number of conditions. He must reside at a named address, sign on at Kilrush Garda Station three times a week.

Additionally he have no contact with the alleged injured party or her family members.

He was also obliged to surrender his passport.

Superintendent Seamus Nolan told the court that directions on the case are to be sent to the Central Criminal Court and the Book of Evidence should be served by April 15.


OPW indecision delays storm repairs

EFFORTS to spend large sections of the € 16.9 million allocated to Clare following the unprecedented series of storms in January and February are being hampered because of delays in decisions being made by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Clare Council Council cannot undertake any significant redevelopment of coastal infrastructure until the OPW clarifies which of the 15 coastal protection schemes planned for the North Clare area are to go ahead. The situation was described as “outrageous” at yesterday’s North Clare Area meeting, with the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Brian Hayes (FG), coming in for particular criticism.

“He [Minister Hayes] said there would be no delays because of bureaucracy between one department and another. The phrase used was ‘joined up thinking’ so that the projects that needed to proceed urgently would be able to proceed urgently. We are now two months on and nobody seems to know what projects will be able to proceed and what projects cannot,” said Cllr Richard Nagle (FF).

“For all the people who were battered by these storms, I think that this is not good enough. I think that it is outrageous. At this stage I would have expected that our senior engineer here [in Ennistymon] would have notifications from the department as to which projects would go ahead and which ones would not. I am at a loss to understand why we cannot proceed.”

Clare County Council has been able to complete temporary work at several North Clare sites, with access to severally damages areas such as The Flaggy Shore and the Lahinch Promenade being restored.

“We have money to do the work in places like the prom but we’re not yet sure what money we have for coastal erosion works, which has to be done first. We are waiting for clarification from the OPW. We are expecting that clarification from the OPW will be forthcoming shortly,” said a council spokesperson.

The OPW is currently processing 15 requests for coastal protection work from the North Clare area with a further 20 allocation coming from the West Clare area. Some of the request involving returning coastal protections to their previous levels while others involve further development.

, Lissycasey, Clare. Reposing at his residence today (Tuesday) from 4.30pmwith removal at 7.30pmto Our Lady of theWayside Church. Funeral Mass onWednesday at 12.00. Burial in local cemetery. May he rest in peace.

Mary MCCARTHY (née Reidy)
, Lissane, Clarecastle. Formerly of Lissane, Clarecastle. Suddenly. Deeply regretted by her brother Damian, sister-in-lawBrid, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, relatives and friends. Due to unforeseen circumstances the funeral will be delayed by a number of days. See for details. May she rest in peace.



Clarity called for speeding cases

A NUMBER of Clare motorists alleged to have been detected speeding by the Go Safe speed vans have had their cases adjourned after a judge requested clarity on the prosecutions being brought to court.

At Ennis District Court on Friday, Judge Patrick Durcan adjourned eight cases to May 2. He struck out cases against two motorists after the State applied to have them withdrawn.

Judge Durcan has requested the State look at the legislation underpinning the prosecutions brought by Go Safe.

After hearing evidence in one al- leged speeding case, Judge Durcan raised concerns over the evidential basis of photographs taken by the vans’ cameras of alleged speeding motorists.

Following the judge’s direction, it is unlikely that any Go Safe prosecutions will proceed in Clare over the next six weeks.

In one case, Go Safe official Paul Bennett gave evidence that the speed van camera detected a woman driving at 66km in a 50km zone at Ballymulcashel, Sixmilebridge, on September 2, 2013.

Inspector John O’Sullivan told the court that as a result of information downloaded, a fixed charge penalty notice was issued and went unpaid.

Judge Durcan asked Mr Bennett, “Are you observing or is the machine continuously recording?”

Mr Bennett said the camera machine was continuously recording.

Judge Durcan told Insp O’Sullivan that “the reality of it is, is that Mr Bennett doesn’t know what vehicle went by”.

“What evidence do I have for the picture that is taken and downloaded? There has to be a clear chain of evidence,” he added.

Insp O’Sullivan said he would have Insp John McDonald of the Garda Fixed Charge processing unit in Thurles to give evidence on the adjourned date on May 2.

Judge Durcan said the role of the man in the speed van “has been shrouded in mystery for too long”.

Judge Durcan has been strongly critical of Go Safe prosecutions.

At Kilrush District Court on Tuesday, the Judge dismissed two Go Safe cases and struck out the remaining two.

He said, “The sooner this is highlighted the better – the appalling waste of public money by these people who come into court and don’t know or don’t happen to be told how to prosecute simple road traffic matters.”


‘New Year’s Eve terror’ for family

A FAMILY were “terrorised” at their home in Shannon when a gang of 12 people arrived for a confrontation in the early hours of New Year’s morning, a court has heard.

Grandfather Michael Murphy (45) suffered cuts to his face, lip and knee during the incident at the Cluain Alainn estate in Shannon at around 4.30am on January 1, 2012.

Mr Murphy and his then 19-yearold son Kieran had to run a “gauntlet” of kicks and punches during the ordeal, the court heard.

Garda Colm Moriarty of Shannon Garda Station told the court that as many as 12 people were outside the house at during the incident which was sparked by an alleged assault at Finian Park in Shannon earlier that night. Four people appeared before Ennis Circuit Criminal Court yesterday having pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Schoolmates Daniel Larkin (22), from Mount Ivers, Sixmilebridge, Jake Egan (22), from Aidan Park, Shannon, Shane O’Connor (23), from Ballycasey Manor, Shannon and Gearoid Condron (22) from Drumline, Newmarket on Fergus, were among a large gang of people that traveled in cars from Shannon and Ennis to the quiet residential area near Hurler’s Cross.

Mr Murphy, his wife, son, daughter and young granddaughter were in the house at the time.

Garda Moriarty told the court that at one point a person, not one of the four men before the court, threatened to burn down the house.

When Mr Murphy Snr pleaded that there was a young child in the house, the reply from the person was “F*** the kids”. Garda Moriarty agreed with prosecuting counsel, Stephen Coughlan’s view that the Murphy family were “terrorised” on the night. The court heard Mr Murphy’s daughter was afraid to stay in the house for weeks after the event.

Garda Moriarty said Daniel Larkin organised people to go to the Murphy home to confront Kieran Murphy.

He said Mr Larkin alleged that he had been “jumped” by Kieran Murphy in Shannon at around 1.30am that night. The groups had been socialising in the Shannon Knights Pub. The court heard Michael Murphy found Mr Larkin and Jake Egan standing outside his front door at 4.30am. They were roaring for Ki- eran Murphy to come outside, the court heard.

Mr Egan, who plays rugby with St Senan’s rugby club, used his foot to prevent Mr Murphy from closing the door, an action that forced Mr Murphy to hit Mr Egan.

Counsel for the DPP, Stephen Coughlan told the court that Michael and Kieran Murphy went to the edge of the property and asked the gang to leave. Counsel said the men were “harried, circled and struck from behind”.

“It was like running a gauntlet. They were struck by one person, then another and then another”, he added.

At one point Kieran Murphy brought a knife to the door but was persuaded by his mother to leave the weapon in the house.

Garda Moriarty told the court Gearoid Condron and Shane O’Connor arrived at the house having been driven from Ennis in a black Audi car.

The court heard that Mr O’Connor, a rugby player, shouted “C’mon so you f*****, swing for me” at Mr Murphy Snr. Gearoid Condron, the court heard, pushed his way into the hallway and engaged in a fight with Michael Murphy. Mr Condron denies entering the house. At this point, the court heard that Kieran Murphy struck Mr Condron with a golf club.

Garda Moriarty said Daniel Larkin kicked the taillights of two cars parked in the driveway.

Jake Egan and Shane O’Connor have no previous convictions. Daniel Larkin has 16 previous convictions for road traffic offences.

Gearoid Condron has three previous convictions for road traffic offences. Judge Gerald Keys said he was willing to adjourn sentence to April 29 to allow the men time to come up with compensation for the victims. He ordered the four men to pay the money from their own pockets.

“This is money you are going to have to earn for yourself for the outrageous conduct of all four of you”.

Judge Keys said this was a case where Mr Murphy Snr had been kicked in the face. He said the accused were all educated men from good family backgrounds.

“None of you will walk away from this court without living up to your responsibility to Mr Murphy”, he added. The men were remanded on continuing bail to appear again in court on April 29. Judge Keys said he was not ruling out a custodial sentence.


Pothole liability claims add up to €8k for county council

CLARE County Council reached settlements totaling € 8,837 on pothole related public liability claims since 2012.

The figures for public liability and employee liability claims settled or in process for 2012 and 2013 were revealed at yesterday’s meeting of Clare County Council.

Cllr Brian Meaney requested the information in a motion submitted to the adjourned March meeting.

He stated, “I request a case by case listing of all public liability and employee liability claims lodged settled or in process against Clare County Council for the year 2012, 2013”.

The Fianna Fáíl councillor also requested details of any legal costs arising from the claims.

The figures supplied by Clare County County Council show € 4,269 was paid out in pothole settlements in 2012.

Almost half of the settlements re late to a pothole in the Claureen area of Ennis.

In 2012, the council agreed settlements of € 2,117 for claims made in relation to potholes in Claureen.

Cllr Meaney questioned what measures the council is taking to ensure it doesn’t have to make further payments for pothole related claims.

He said in the case of Claureen pothole, it might be more accurate to call it the “Claureen chasm”.

Cllr Meaney also questioned what work had been done to repair a pothole in Fanore, which he said seems to have become more of a “fissure”.

The figures show that the council agreed a settlement of € 3,369.24 in 2013 for a claim arising from a pothole on the Fanore Coast Road.

“Did the car fall in, in its entirety to the thing or what happened”, asked Cllr Meaney.

He also sought further information on why the council paid out a settlement of € 10,912 in 2012 for a defective public litterbin in Shannon town.

Senior Executive Officer, Michael McNamara told the meeting that he did not have the information to hand.


Cannabis growing a ‘cottage industry’

A COTTAGE industry in the cultivation of cannabis seems to be forming in West Clare according to a District Court Judge.

Judge Patrick Durcan made the comments during the case of a 44year-old man who appeared before him charged with growing six cannabis plants in his Tullycrine home.

Stephen McMinn of Tullycrine, Kilrush pleaded guilty to the cul- tivation of cannabis plants without a licence contrary to Section 17 of Misuse of Drug Act 1977 and the unlawful possession of a controlled drug contrary to Section 3 and Section 27 (as amended by section 6) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1984.

The court heard that on May 23 gardaí searched the defendant’s home in the presence of his wife and discovered six potted plants.

Defence solicitor Fiona Hehir told the court that he was growing the plants for his own recreational use.

“He is on social welfare and doesn’t have the money to go out at night and grows it as a pastime,” she said.

She added that he no longer smokes the drug and was “not a man typically involved” in this crime.

“It was more of an experiment,” she said.

Judge Durcan questioned if this did not make the issue more serious.

“You seem to have a bit of a cottage industry here in Clare,” he said to Gardaí.

“There is a bit of it,” replied pros- ecuting Garda Supt Seamus Nolan.

“More than a bit,” replied the judge.

The superintendent pointed out that there were a number of similar cases before the court.

“You don’t have a poitín problem down here?” queried Judge Durcan.

“More sale and supply,” replied the Garda Superintendent.

He added that it was “not something we take lightly.”

The judge ordered a probation report for Mr McMinn for May 20.


Council may buy back lahinch loo

THE famous Lahinch ‘loo with a view’ – a tiny plot of land on the promenade which was sold for more than € 400,000 at the height of the property bubble – could soon revert to previous function as a public toilet.

The tiny property, which was sold by Clare County Council in June of 2008, could yet be purchased back by the local authority and redeveloped as toilets, using the same € 400,000 which the council received from the sale of the property more than five years ago.

Plans to develop a new state of the art public toilet facility at Lahinch have been shelved for a number of years. The money raised from the sale of the old toilets has been ringfensed for the project but Clare County Council has been waiting for matching funding from Fáilte Ireland before gong forward with the project.

Council officials at yesterday’s North Clare Area meeting of Clare County Council said that the possibility of purchasing back the “loo with a view” would be examined. The property has not been developed since it was purchased at auction in 2008.

“Surely to God we could buy back that block at the top of the prom- enade and put in place a state of the art toilet. How much do you want to spend on these toilets?” said Cllr Bill Slattery (FG) yesterday.

“I am very frusratrated with the situation. Nothing has been done by Clare County Council or Fáilte Ireland. The criticism that we are getting in Lahinch because of the lack of toilets is unreal. We can’t walk down the promenade without being criticised. We have no public toilets in Lahinch and I think that is an absolute disgrace.”

At present the public is provide with access to toilets at Lahinch Seaworld, which councillors yesterday said were not adequate to deal with the crowds who descend on Lahinch beach each summer.

Cllr Richard Nagle (FF) also said that the council should not spend any more money on consultants reports.

“There were no less than three different consultants involved in producing the report and since the report was produce nothing has been done,” he said.

“Every year, every councillor in inundated with complaints about the toilets in Lahinch because they are not fit for purpose.”

The possibility of using the € 400,000 to extend and develop the current toilets at the Lahinch Seaworld will also be examined.


Misled by Goverment ‘spin’ over storm funding

NEARLY a quarter of million euros worth of funding announced on Friday for the repairs of four Clare piers is part of the € 16.8 million previously announced by the Government, despite reports to the contrary.

The funding – which amounts to € 130,950 for Liscannor Pier, € 65,700 for Ballyvaughan Pier and € 18,000 for Seafield Pier and Kilbaha Pier in West Clare – will not come from fresh government funding.

Councillors at yesterday’s North Clare Meeting of called for an end to the Government “spin” in relation to the Government funding for the storms, which they say is creating confusion amongst the public.

“We should not have any further announcements of this kind, this is very misleading. The very least that could be done is that we should know where we stand. This sort of confusion is not acceptable,” said Cllr Richard Nagle.

A spokesperson from Clare County Council said that the most recent announcement was supposed to indicate the exact locations where the funding would be spent and not to indicate that new funding was being made available.

Cllr Michael Kelly (FF), said that the most recent statement represent “spin” from the Government.

“There should be clarity, this is all spin. We would all be as well off to get a clear statement and leave it at that,” he said.

“This is the second time that there has been a misunderstanding like this. There is a lot of misinformation coming out about this funding.”

The four piers were severely damaged by the successive storms which rocked the Clare coast in January and February.

“This is no extra money, it is just clarification of where that money is going. My understanding is that this money has already been included in the general fund and that is that,” said a council spokesperson.