FAI blasted for failing to support the mid-west

AN € 80 million bounty is being lost to Clare and the mid-west because of the Football Association of Ireland’s refusal to back the ambitious plans of an Ennis-born entrepreneur to bring the cream of European club soccer to the region.

Damien O’Brien, who hails from the Turnpike area of Ennis and is bringing Manchester City to Thomond Park this Sunday to take on Limerick FC, has blasted the FAI’s commitment to soccer outside Dublin over failing to sanction his plans for a multi-million euro soccer extravaganza in the mid-west.

“I was due to do a tournament in Thomond Park this year – the same weekend that Man City are coming, but the FAI refused the rights to bring four teams into Limerick,” revealed Mr O’Brien.

“It’s ridiculous what went on. It was a four-year deal that I was bringing to Limerick and it would be worth € 80 million into the economy, but the FAI in their own ignorance decided to stop it,” he added.

Thirty-eight-year-old O’Brien was the brainchild behind ‘Football’s Next Star’, the Sky TV programme that has been dubbed “football’s X-Factor” and syndicated to 103 countries around the world. He is the managing director of the Iconic sports agency that’s based in Manchester.

Having been thwarted in his bid to host a tournament in Thomond Park this weekend, he helped secure the services of Manchester City who will take on Limerick FC in a friendly game this Sunday evening at 7pm.

“Being refused for the tournament wasn’t going to deter me,” he revealed. “I had the support of Limerick in this and that’s why it’s happening. Limerick had to go to the High Court to get the right to hold this match. It’s shocking.

“It’s a great showcase for the region, the stadium and for the Limerick players. This is putting soccer in the region in the shop window. This match will air live in over 100 countries, so it’s fantastic for Limerick.

“Manchester City are bringing their full squad – it will be their full line-up and it’s their last pre-season friendly before the Community Shield and Premier League starts,” he added


‘Farming legend and proud Clareman’ – Paddy Lane

INTERNATIONAL rugby player, army officer, dairy farmer, president of the Irish Farmer’s Association, MEP and proud Clare man Paddy Lane passed away on Tuesday.

His death at the age of 77 brought to an end a busy life that impacted on many people and organisations.

Not only was the Parteen man the only Clare man to serve as national president of the IFA from 1976 to 1980, he also served as a Fianna Fáil MEP from 1989 to 1994.

Leading the tributes, IFA President John Bryan said Mr Lane led farmers at what was a difficult time economically, with high inflation and interest rates eroding farm incomes.

“Paddy Lane, who was a powerful voice for farmers, had a longstanding commitment to IFA and serving the farming community. He led a successful campaign of opposition to the then Minister for Finance George Colley’s notorious two per cent sales levy. Paddy Lane battled for better conditions and facilities for farmers, and a more receptive attitude in the Department of Agriculture,” he said.

As part of the farmers rights campaigns, he took part in the great march to Dublin in 1966. A year later, he and his neighbour John Doherty were sent to Limerick prison for a total of five weeks for civil disobedience, when they were singled out for following the then NFA’s advice on a go-slow campaign in paying rates.

“Earlier this year, the IFA conferred Honorary Life Membership on Paddy Lane at a meeting of the Clare IFA Executive, and I recall him being deeply honoured. On behalf of our membership, I want to extend our sympathies to his family.”

He also served as IFA Deputy President from 1974 to 1976.

The late Parteen man was also a member of the Fianna Fáil party and served Clare in Europe for five years.

Clare TD Timmy Dooley (FF) paid tribute to the East Clare man and sympathised with his family on behalf of the party.

Mr Lane was capped for the Irish rugby team in 1964 and had a distinguished rugby career with Old Crescent and Munster.

Paddy Lane was pre-deceased by his wife Carmel, and survived by his children Tommy, David and Liz.

He was laid to rest in Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery on Friday, following Requiem Mass in Parteen Church.


Kilfenora relishing ‘rare home gig’

THEY are the most famous ceilí band in the world but this Saturday night, the Kilfenora Ceilí Band are in their home county to play in a oneoff ceili at the West County Hotel in Ennis.

The gig, which will feature set dancing will start at 10pm and run for three hours, with the entire famed group in attendance.

The cast of talented musicians have been playing traditional music for over a century, but as band leader John Lynch explains, it’s always a pleasure for them to play in their home county:

“It’s where you’re from and where you grew up so you enjoy coming back (to play in Clare).”

Indeed, the attendance at the band’s ceilís and concerts within the county has been phenomenal over the past year as the band’s ‘gigging’ appearances in Clare can be rare.

Over 800 attended the sold out event at the West County last year while over 600 attended both ceilis during Willie Clancy Week.

The level of interest is something Lynch and the band “appreciate so much” and audiences have been huge at each of their five events in Clare so far this year.

Lynch enjoys playing at both concerts and ceilis but for different reasons:

“At ceilís, the audience are on the floor dancing sets and there is a great atmosphere and response from the crowd.

“On the other hand, we can arrange pieces and harmonies much more easily at concerts as the audience are in their seats listening.”

He adds that Saturday’s concert will include music from past and present:

“You have some people there who have listened to previous bands so we want to play some of the older music to please them.

“On the other hand, we want to show that we are progressing with new material. And of course we want to get people out dancing!”

A member of The Kilfenora Ceilí band for 20 years, Lynch, who plays the banjo, says that there is a “little bit of tension before an event” but as soon as you begin to play, “the music takes hold.”

There are still a few tickets remaining for Saturday night’s show in the West County (tickets are € 15 apiece), they can be purchased at reception.


Public beach the focus of major row

A MAJOR row has er upted in Nor th Clare over plans by Clare Count y Council to excavate stones from a public beach just nor th of Lahinch.

A local woman has blasted what she has labelled “illegal” plans to privatise a section of Cregg Beach, while a local representative has tabled a motion before Clare County Council that the works be carried out “to allow public access to the beach”.

The stand-off sparked by the oneperson protest waged by Maura Lehane has resulted in work at the beach – which lies at the southern end of Lahinch on the Miltown Malbay road – being halted.

Excavation work began on Saturday, July 21 at Cregg Beach at the southern end of Lahinch village.

“I saw what was happening,” revealed Ms Lehane.

“The excavation of the sea stones was going on for a considerable length of time and I could see a visible difference.

“A machine driver was using a track machine to alter the course of the River Moy and, if this work continued, it would have resulted in the flow of the river running through the centre of the beach. I could see that if this work was allowed to continue, the southern part of Cregg Beach would be lost to the public – at least half the beach would be privatised,” she added

“It is a contentious issue,” admitted local councillor, Bill Slattery (FG) “and it is one that has to be resolved. What was being done was to provide access for the general public to the beach.

“The work has now been stopped and it is gone back to the county council and the engineers will deal with it.

“This work has to be done to allow the public have access to the beach and this has to be resolved,” added Cllr Slattery.

“That fact that there was no engineer or safety officer on site or any signs of warning of work on the beach shocked me, not to mention the untold damage they have done to our beautiful beach,”said Ms Lehane.

“I am aghast that our beautiful coastline would be touched to such a degree.

“It is imperative that this situation is rectified immediately and the beach returned to its natural state,” she added.


Miltown’s ‘Fast Eddie’ stars in his own documentary

A CLAREMAN’S obsession with rally driving is set to be showcased on the international stage in the next year, thanks to a documentary film that’s being shot about the Clare Stages Rally.

Miltown Malbay man Eddie Cogan is the subject of the documentary called ‘Fast Eddie’ that filmmaker Neil Hynes says “follows a man’s passion for the sport and a dream to win the Clare Stages Rally” – the flagship motor race in the county that takes place this coming September.

The idea was born when Hynes, who also hails from Miltown Malbay, discovered Cogan’s passion for the sport of rallying five years ago and made a short film about his preparations for an event.

“I decided to come back again and do a bigger production by following the adventures of a man, as he deals with life and prepares a car and himself for the Clare Stages competition.

“The film is not just about the motor sports; it’s an observation of the people involved in it and what makes them tick.

“The film follows Cogan’s pursuits in the run up to the event. His workplace and private life are all in the mix as we get to see a man wheel and deal, beg and borrow for a chance to try and finish first,” he added.

Hynes has put together an experience and varied production team for the documentary. His cameraman is Polish native Domink Koisci, who performed camera work on the Rubberbandits hit video ‘Horse Outside’.

Others involved are Miriam Garcia Mortell, who was production assistant on the Pat Shortt film ‘Mattie’ and Ronan Cassidy is on sound, having just produced a documentary on the rugby scene in Limerick that has aired both in Ireland and America.

“It’s heading for film festivals once it’s completed and we hope to secure distribution both here and abroad,” said Mr Hynes.


Bullseye for darts teens

CLARE may be known for various sporting achievements but few would consider darts in the line-up.

However, four of the six members of the under-age darts team that has returned from a successful European championship are from the Banner county.

The Clare teenagers include Eoin Lahiff (14) and Brendan Casey (13) from Kilrush and Ennistymon’s Darragh Clancy (17) and James Youdell (12).

The Clare teens travelled with their teammates, two girls from Sligo and Galway, to Antwerp, Belgium last week.

Their entourage included their par- ents or guardians as the team was one of the youngest competing in the under 18 European Championship.

Proud mother to Eoin, Catherine Lahiff told The Clare People that the team did exceptionally well, finishing seventh in a competition where the majority of the competitors were significantly older.

The Irish team was successful in their group, but were beaten in the next stage by an experienced Dutch team who went on to win the competition.

However, seventh place was considered a significant achievement.

Success comes at a cost of dedication and commitment not just for the participants but their parents also.

Each week, the Clare teenagers train with the Ennistymon club and also travel to Clarecastle. The boys also play in adult competitions to keep their skills sharp.

“The parents are on the road the whole time, as we drive them all over the country to competitions,” said Ms Lahiff.

But there are many advantages to darts, according to Ms Lahiff. Not only does it provide an interest and social interaction for young people, it also significantly improves their maths and arithmetic skills.


Where eagles won’t be scared

FEARS and public concern have been allayed this week that a new tourism initiative on Lough Derg would be responsible for scaring away two rare white-tailed sea eagles that have made their home near Mountshannon.

Environmentalists in East Clare had voiced their concern that an air show due to take place in Mountshannon on September 9 next would threaten the rare eagles that are now breeding in Ireland for the first time in more than 100 years.

The eagles were driven to extinction a century ago; the last white- tailed sea eagles to breed here did so in remote coastal areas of Kerry and Mayo back in 1898.

This new breeding pair – a fouryear-old male and three-year-old female – were introduced to Ireland in 2008 and 2009 respectively from the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway.

They were among 100 birds released in Killarney National Park as part of the reintroduction programme and early last year they made their home in Bushy Island, a thickly vegetated outcrop on Lough Derg, close to Mountshannon.

“People were afraid of what might happen to the eagles because of the air show,” revealed John Harvey of Mountshannon Community Council. “But Dr Alan Mee, who is in charge of the eagles, said he doesn’t think there will be any problem unless the planes fly over the island.

“We had a meeting to address those concerns on Friday night and everyone seems to be happy. We are going to meet with the pilots before the show, so we will know exactly where they will be flying over. Once they stay a kilometre away from the island, it will be okay. They will be flying at 1,500 feet, so we seem to think that everything will go ahead without any problems,” he added.

The air show is being organised by Harbour Flights, the company that has been given permission by Clare and Galway County Councils to operate a sea-plane service on Lough Derg that will include a floating pontoon and slipway at Mountshannon.

“The intention of putting on this activity is to attract people from all locations across Ireland to Lough Derg and introduce them to what we believe is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets,” says Rose Curtis of Harbour Flights.

“As Lough Derg is the second largest lake in Ireland, it is hoped the air show will attract a large amount of cruiser owners from as far away as the six counties,” she added.


‘Back to school will add to woes’

MABS in Ennis has warned that money-lending in the county is a significant problem, a problem that is likely to multiply in the coming weeks.

Denis Corbet said that people seem to turn to moneylenders, the majority of them legal and licensed by the Financial Regulator, to cover the cost of returning to school, as they feel there is no alternative available to them.

“Back to school and the three Cs – Christmas, Communion and Confirmation – put families under the most pressure. As access to credit is a problem for people, money-lending from legal and illegal moneylenders is going to increase,” he said.

The finance advisor warned against people turning to “doorstep credit” at all costs. This form of credit sees the loan agreement made at the person’s home and the repayments collected at the door.

“They are usually high interest rates with short repayments,” he said.

Legally registered moneylenders, many who advertise on television and in newspapers, carry out the majority of these transactions, and they are forcing many people into even more debt, he explained.

“There are legal moneylenders out there but there is no cap on the interest they can charge,” he said.

“Say, for example, you borrow € 100 from a lender and you pay back € 30 at a time over six months. You borrow € 100 from the credit union and pay back € 2.50 over a period of time. Now multiply that into thousands and you get the picture.”

The comparison may seem extreme to make the point but there is no limit on the interest charged so any number can be plucked from thin air.

Mr Corbet said the issue is part of a national social debate that needs to take place.

“Cash loans on the doorstep is just one part of the issue, catalogues and credit sales are also a problem,” he added. “If someone needs money, where do they go?” he asked.

He suggested that people first turn to MABS for assistance.

He maintains that a lot of the issues can be dealt with through some financial education.

In the coming weeks, MABS in Ennis will be producing a campaign to help inform people about the dangers of money-lending.


Young mums face homelessness due to cuts

YOUNG mothers in the county are facing homelessness as cuts to their rental accommodation supplement means they can no longer pay their rent.

In Ennis, a young mother, who recently lost her husband, said that she has to move house as she can no longer pay the rent.

Her rental support has been significantly cut and she cannot make up the difference and meet all her bills.

She told The Clare People that the landlord is not able to reduce the rent cost so she must move.

Finding a new home for her young family on her budget is proving difficult, however.

Making rental payments is not just an issue in the county town.

Cllr Gerry Flynn (Ind) from Shannon said he has been approached by a number of people in a similar situation.

“One was a young mother that just didn’t know what to do.

“The average cost of a three-bedroom house in Shannon is between € 500 and € 550 per week but, in the last number of months, people have been told that they must ask their landlords to bring the rent down to between € 450 and € 475,” he said.

“The landlords cannot bring down the cost because they have mortgages and other charges to pay.”

He said he was approached by a number of people who will not be able to afford their rent and fear homelessness.

The town and county councillor said the housing issue was further compounded as the local authority and HSE is now “totally reliant on the private sector to provide homes as our (the council’s) capital funding was removed.”

He said, “Clare County Council will take house clusters as part of the Rental Accommodation Scheme, but it seems reluctant to take just one house.”


Bank closures ‘another obstacle’

THE loss of two branches of AIB in West Clare will have a devastating affect on local businesses. Kilkee businessman John Nolan said that the closure of the Kilkee branch is another impediment to businesses in the town. As a result of the bank’s closure, business people who carry out their business with AIB will now have to travel to Kilrush every day to lodge cash. He said that there is too much of a risk in leaving money on the premises overnight so they will have to make the 28-kilometre drive daily. A mobile unit muted for the town would not work as different businesses need to lodge cash at different times of the day, he explained. “Personally, I think it is very bad for the town at the moment to see the bank go at a time when other businesses are struggling,” he said. Mr Nolan now fears that the town’s only remaining bank – Bank Of Ireland – will close its branch too, leaving the seaside town without a banking institution. Meanwhile, business people in Kildysart will face a 63kilometre round-trip for their business transactions. Eddie Michaels, owner of Centra, said the town’s people are not very happy about the loss of the bank. “It is a very important service, especially to older people. People feel this is another service taken away. People are generally not happy,” he said. The business man added that he did not believe the mobile bank would be adequate for businesses trying to lodge cash, so business owners would have to travel to Ennis for their banking. “This is another obstacle that we have to get over, and we will have to,” he said optimistically.