Ennis hospital staff vote for industrial action

MORE than 90 per cent of staff at Ennis General Hospital have voted to begin industrial action which could begin in as little as seven days.

The IMPACT trade union held the ballot at Ennis and other hospitals in the Limerick Hospital Group on Friday in response to the revelation that the HSE paid one of its local managers € 258,000, on a contract bases over a 13-month period.

The union claims that this role was previously carried out by a salaried staff member in the HSE who earning about € 80,000 per annum.

IMPACT will now bring the results of the ballot to the HSE and will begin industrial action within seven days if no agreement can be reached.

The industrial action will include a suspension of all contact between members of the IMPACT union and the manager in question but will not at this time include any withdrawal of work.

“The ballot was passed by about 90 per cent. I’m not surprised, I’ve rarely seen people this annoyed about a local issue within the hospital group,” said Andy Pike, IMPACT rep for Ennis General Hospital.

“Once notice of industrial action is served, no union member will taking instruction from that persons [the contracted manager], we wont be providing any information to that person or we wont be reporting to him.

“We are concerned that any form of industrial action that we undertake would not detrimentally effect patient services so this will be an inconvenience for people in the hospital group but it will not effect hospital services. “We plan to contact the HSE at national level and give them another chance to tell us when the contact with the individual will end. “If we get a satisfactory response to that engagement then the prob- lem can be solved. But if they still refuse to even inform staff when the contract is due to end then we will serve notice and the action will begin within seven days. “We think it is responsible to give the HSE another chance.” The contractor is paid in the region of € 700 a day – which amount to more than the total yearly salary paid to HSE secretary general Tony O’Brien.


Pro-Lifers picket outside Timmy Dooley’s office

A CLARE Pro-Life group say they will continue to host pickets outside Timmy Dooley’s constituency office in Ennis until the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is overturned.

The group held a hour long protest outside Deputy Dooley’s constituency office on Friday afternoon, to highlight the East Clare TD’s decision to vote for the 2013 bill.

The bill brought in a legal framework for the Supreme Court ruling of the X Case, more than two decades after the initial court ruling.

Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, allowed his Dáil deputies an ‘open vote’ on the bill with only five of his 19 TD’s, including Deputy Dooley, supporting the legislation.

The Clare Pro-Life group have also held protests outside the office of Pat Breen (FG) and Joe Carey (FG) but have not picketed the office of Michael McNamara (LAB).

“We come out here to protest because Timmy Dooley voted for the abortion bill [the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill].

“Most of Fianna Fail voted against it, but he unfortunately went along with Michael Martin and voted in favour of the bill,” said Maria Mahoney of Clare Pro-Life.

“We’ve had contact with the TD on a number of occasions. Before the bill went through we had a lengthy contact with him [Timmy Dooley] and he wasn’t to be budged.

“We are left with showing our disapproval with what he has done and protesting.

“The pro-life people who voted for him are not going to forget and we are not going to let him forget.

“It is a long way to the next election but people will support candidates based on the voting record in the Dáil.”

Deputy Dooley said that he wel- comed anyone who wished to express their views outside him office.

“People are fully entitled to exercise their views and they [the protesters] are welcome outside my office any time they like,” said Deputy Dooley.

“My vote is a matter of public record and anyone who would like to see it can.

“If some people have an issue with that [they way he voted] they are welcome to come and protest any time they like.”


Family robbed while they slept

A LOCAL businessman has spoken of the “fright” his family felt after their home was broken into Ennis earlier this month. David Germaine and members of his family were asleep when their home at Brookville on the Lahinch Road was broken into in the early hours of Friday, June 13.

David and his wife Philomena were asleep when the thief walked into their bedroom and stole David’s phone.

“I had left it on the bedside locker. It was literally inches from my head. So whoever did it just came into the room and took it”, recalled David.

The thief also made of with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 3 and a Sony Viaro Laptop. The loss of the laptop was a particular blow to the family as it contained precious family photographs. David is appealing for the laptop to be returned.

“The computer itself would be fair- ly old. Its pink in colour and a lot of the keys have been melted away..One of my daughters lived in Spain for a number of years and she has a lot of photographs stored on that computer from her time there. They mean an awful lot to her. She was absolutely devastated when she found out it had been stolen. You can replace the computer but you can’t replace what’s on it”, he explained.

David’s daughter Nicole has also issued an appeal through the social networking site, Facebook for the safe return of the laptop.

David, who runs a B&B at Brookville, said the break in left the family shocked.

“It is something that would frighten you. You would be a bit upset by it alright.

“My wife was very rattled by it. When something like this happens, when someone comes into your bedroom, you wonder what would’ve happened if you’d woken up”, he said.

Gardaí in Ennis are investigating the break in. It is though the thief gained access to the house through a downstairs sash window.

David, who also works as fisheries officer, said it took him some time to figure out the home had been broken into.

“I was expecting a call form someone at work. When I woke up I reached for my phone but couldn’t find it.

“So then I reached for my jeans but I couldn’t find them. I looked downstairs and saw them hanging on the banister at the bottom of the stairs”,

“My wife said she found them in the dining room. So I still couldn’t find the phone, so I went to get the laptop or the tablet to use Skype to make the call and I couldn’t find them. So I kind of worked it out then.

“He probably picked up the jeans but they started to rattle because of the belt so he took them downstairs”. Tue24June14


HSE ‘mistake’

AN EAST Clare woman says she was treated ‘almost like a criminal’ by the HSE, when they accidentally sent her a full list of personal documentation belonging to another family earlier this year.

Noreen Keane has revealed that the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) sent her a complete list of personal information – including banking details, pay statement and lease documents – belonging to another family in February of this year.

The East Clare woman, says she was then treated by suspicion when she reported the HSE’s mistake and paid for the documents to be couriered safely back to Dublin.

“In February I got two envelopes in my door from the HSE. One contained all of my original documents from the HSE, and the other one contained the entire documents belonging to somebody else. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“They had sent me somebody’s tax returns, their lease, their address, bank statement, pay statement, everything. I contacted them straight away and explained the situation to them.

“I was officially treated almost like a criminal and I don’t mind saying that. Even the wider situation surrounding the medical card they said that I was asking them to do something that was ‘illegal’,” she said. The Clare People contacted the HSE is relations to this story but no formal response was received at the time of going to press.


Lifeguards on duty from this weekend

CLARE’S water safety officer has urged people using the county’s beaches to be extra vigilant until full time lifeguards are deployed, starting from this weekend.

The recent warm spell has seen thousands of people visiting Lahinch, Kilkee, Fanore and other popular beaches – with early season bumper crowd reported on many coastal locations.

Clare Council Council will commence it’s full-time, seven day a week, lifeguard service at a number of beaches from this weekend and people are urged to be extra vigilant while swimming on unguarded beaches for the next four days.

Despite the large crowds, there has been no reports of any serious incidents on the county’s beaches over the past two weeks.

Clare’s newly appointed water safety officer, Claire McGrath, has asked that people continue to be extra cautious while swimming on unguarded beaches.

“The lifeguards will be on seven days a week from June 28, they have been on weekends for June and will be on at the weekends for the first two weeks of September,” she said.

“People should swim parallel to the shore, swim where you can stand and don’t head off for a marathon across the bay.

“People should also supervise their children at all times and always have with you. “Never swim alone,” Ms McGrath added.

So far there have been no major incidents on the county’s beaches this Summer.

“The beaches have been busy, when the sun comes out people flock to the water. We have had no major incidents on the beaches so far, thank God. Just the usual minor cuts and bruises but nothing major,” she continued.

“People need to know the locations of the life guards and swim in life-guarded areas, stay within the flagged areas that the lifeguards set out and follow the rules that the lifeguards put in place.”

Clare County Council have also issued advice for people planning to use leisure crafts and boats on Clare waterways in the coming days.

People are advised to check local weather conditions, wear correctly maintained and fitting lifejackets and not to consumed alcohol prior to entering the water.

The appearance of full time lifeguards at the busiest Clare beaches this weekend coincides with the primary school holidays which begin nationally this week.

Despite the various warnings there are still a number of people who are swimming in local lakes and rivers with no supervision, often late in the evening.

The water safety authorities have been very strong in their pleas to young people in particular to think safety first when contemplating swimming in locations that do not have any lifeguard coverage.


Phoenix exchange programme

TWO YOUTH Ambassadors from the US state of Arizona are settling in to Ennis life as part of the Ennis Phoenix Youth Ambassador Exchange Programme.

For three weeks each summer the exchange students will live with their host families and experience life of Irish teenagers in County Clare.

Seventeen year old Estefania Lopez and Emma Mertens were selected from hundreds of applicants to travel to Ireland as youth ambassadors from Phoenix.

During their time here they will learn to surf in Lahinch, Kayak in Killaloe, volunteer at the District Daycare Centre in Clarecastle and indulge in afternoon tea in Dromoland Castle.

They will also enjoy sporting and music activities and simply hanging out with their Irish peers.

The Youth Ambassador Programme is a popular initiative of the twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix.

The first student exchange was in 1992, and since then over 100 second level students have participated in the the annual exchange programme between Ennis and Phoenix.

In July the Ennis hosts Elana Bradley and Ailbhe Hogan both students at Colaiste Muire will travel to Phoenix as youth ambassadors.

While In Arizona the Ennis ambassadors will partake in a Grand Canyon adventure, visit Disneyland, attend an American Prom evening and do some community.

Elana and Ailbhe will also get to meet up with ambassadors from other Phoenix twinned cities in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Czech Republic, Israel, France, Italy, Taiwan and China.

Since the formation of the twin- ning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix in 1988, civic and community leaders from both sides of the Atlantic have visited each other and developed strong ties and personal friendships.

According to Cllr Mary Howard, who has served on the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board since 2009;

“The Youth Ambassador Programme is a success thanks to the host families and to the young people themselves who represent their families and communities very well.

“These youngsters have gone on to make lasting friendships and Enns students get to represent their town on a global stage.”


Britain’s Got Talent star Ryan to play Bindon St Switch gigs

AN IRISH singer who took Britain’s Got Talent by storm will be the headline act at the second Switch concert in Ennis next month.

Dubliner Ryan O’Shaughnessy reached the final of the talent show two years ago and is currently working on his debut album.

He will perform at the Switch concert in Ennis on Friday, July 4.

The concert, billed as Ennis’ answer to the hugely popular Other Voices show in Dingle, will take place at St Columba’s Church of Ireland on Bindon Street.

O’Shaughnessy, who learned guitar by watching footage of Eric Clapton, is the headline act that features up and coming bands from Clare, Limerick and Galway.

In 2012 he signed a record deal with Sony records. Sean Griffin says the Ennis Music Project, who run Switch, are delighted to have secured O’Shaughnessy for their second show. “One of the lads had done a bit of work with him in a studio before.

“We were looking for someone to play for the show. He asked Ryan and he said he’d be happy to do it which is great for us”, he explains. O’Shaughnessy is joined on the bill be Juhn Echo – a three-piece band whose members come from Clare, Limerick and Galway.

The trad folk band will launch their debut EP in Cruises bar in Ennis on Wednesday.

Also performing on the night will be local instrumental outfit, The Guy Montag. Switch is the brainchild of the Ennis Music Project. Committee members Shane Killowry, Robin Fitzpatrick, Sam Lavery, David Naughton and Sean Griffin wanted to try something different – present live music in a alcohol free setting.

A Clare Youth Service initiative, Switch aims to showcase old and new music talent from all over Ireland in unexpected locations around Clare.

The group of volunteers involved promise a “unique live music experience” and is aimed at 18 – 25 yr olds in the Clare area.

Further concert details are available on the Ennis Music Project Facebook page.


Warning on Lahinch currents

SWIMMERS and surfers have been warned to watch out for dangerous currents on Lahinch beach as thousands of tonnes of sand have banked up on the beach in recent weeks.

Lahinch was turned into a virtual rock beach in January and February following a spate of unprecedented storm which literally stripped the beach of all its sand. A large amount of this sand has slowly been washed ashore by the tides over the past three months – but this returning sand has created some potential hazards for beach users.

People are being urged to consult with the lifeguards or local surf school operators before entering the water in Lahinch.

“The sand levels are pretty much back to what they were but the way it has landed is very different – so there are a few current that people would not be aware of. Because of this it is very important that people who are coming to swim or surf in Lahinch have a chat with the lifeguards or the surf schools to find out how things have changed,” said Ben Bennett of Ben’s Surf Clinic.

“There are some unusual currents there and they will change over the summer. The currents will continue to change and to reduce as the summer goes on and we would expect them to be gone completely by the end of the summer. There will always be some current on a surf beach, the problem with these currents is that people wont be expecting them.”

According to Ben, all the tourism related businesses in Lahinch are open and ready for business, but numbers are a little down on recent years as many people believe the beach in not accessible due to the storm damage.

“Lahinch has recovered well. The beach is almost back to normal and all the businesses are open so things are going well. We need to get the word out to people – we have had a lot of people ringing us up who think that we got wiped out by the storm and that we’re not here anymore, so we need to get the word out that Lahinch is open for business,” continued Ben.

“We’re a bit down on this time of year. It is hard to tell because the sun has been great but there has been no surf. So we’ve had a lot of day trippers down to the beach but not as many surfers as normal.”


Staff at Bunratty plant to begin picket of Roadstone

STAFF at Roadstone Woods in Bunratty will today begin their eight day of picketing in a dispute with the management over proposed cuts to bonuses.

Members of the SIPTU and TEEU unions agreed a six million euro cost saving package with the company in 2012 but the current dispute centres around a further € 10 million in cuts proposed by management.

According to local SIPTU rep Davy Lane, this cut will cost Clare staff in the region of € 20,000 between now and 2019 – when the proposed deal would expire.

“We have already absorbed more than € 6 million in saving for the company and now they are coming back looking to take another € 10 million.

“It became clear in the run up to the strike that the company would not budge on this € 10 million,” he said.

“This mean that our lads will loose bonus payment which are part of the wage structure.

“The loss to each of our members between now and 2019 is € 20,000. We told the management that that is not sustainable and we wanted a realistic proposition from them in relation to the cost savings.”

According to SIPTU the standoff is hurting both Roadstone Wood and its employees and is urging the company to go to the Labours Relations Com- mittee to discuss the situation.

“The picket started in Monday the 16th. We think at this stage that the cost to the company could be around € 5 million.

“The LRC (Labour Relations Commission) are in the background and SIPTU will always accept an invitation to attend the LRC. It’s a matter for the company whether they wish to avail of the LRC,” continued Mr Lane. The strikers are receiving strike benefit from the union.

“They are down a weeks wages at this stage so they are not doing too great, and the prospect of a second week ahead.

“Everybody is losing with this, but it is a matter for the company to move on this.”


Clare movie nominated for award before it premieres

A CLARE film has been nominated for its first major award – even though it is yet to be given it’s big screen premier. A Nightingale Falling , a film set in Kilnaboy during the Irish War of Independence, has been nominated for this years Bingham Ray New Talent Award. The film, which was shown to selected audiences at a preOscar event in Los Angeles in February, will receive its world premier at the Galway Film Fleadh next month. The Bingham Ray award recognises emerging talent in cinema and actor Tara Breathnach, who plays May in A Nightingale Falling is one of four people shortlisted for the prestigious accolade. A Nightingale Falling is based on the PJ Curtis book of the same name.

PJ’s novel tells the partially true story of a wounded English soldier who is taken in by a pair of Protestant sister living in Kilnaboy. It stars a number of professional actors as well as local star, Maura Clancy, a stalwart of the Corofin Players.

“The genesis of the story begins here [in Kilnaboy], where there were two Protestant sisters who came un- der some suspicion and even some ostracisation during the Irish War of Independence,” said PJ.

The film was shot in Daingean in Offaly and Tyrellspass in Westmeath last July by Irish based production company Mixed Bag Media. Mix Bad Media has its own Clare connection with Whitegate resident, Gerry Burke, working as co-producer on this film.