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Dick fires some parting shots

THERE is an urgent need for states- men and leadership in politics, not just in Government but in all parties.

That was the message from the out- going Chairman of the Clare branch of Fine Gael Dick Pilkington, whose three-year term came to an end last night (Monday).

The Cree man, who has been re- placed at the helm by local election candidate Rodger Fox, was critical not only of the leadership shown in the Government parties, but within his own party, of which he has been a member for most of his life.

“The body politic has gone beyond a joke,” he said.

“Tam calling on the Fine Gael party to show leadership. Is there a states- man among the whole lot of them?” Nemes) Col 0B

“It is unfortunate that when people are elected they are institutionalised and it is time they broke the shack- ie

The outgoing chairman said he was sad and disappointed to see George Lee leave the party and the Dail, but explained he understood his reasons for taking this step.

Mr Pilkington called for change across all aspects of politics.

“Politicians need to be held ac- countable, it is the tax payers’ money

they are managing. Would they con- tinue to run a private company in the same way they are running the coun-

try?” he asked. “The health services need to be addressed urgently as the quality of

the health services you receive de- pends on the size of your wallet,” he added.

The Fine Gael man said he was dis- heartened by the growing number of unemployed in the county, and asked how much longer people were going to accept things before they revolt.

With more than half a century of party politics behind him, the Cree man was selected as Director of Elections for Fine Gael in Clare for the last local elections.

He was also the chairman of the Clare branch of the main Govern- ment opposition party previously in the 1980s.

At the party’s AGM in Clare last night he welcomed the guest speaker Agriculture spokesperson Michael Creed TD.

“Has Irish agriculture got someone to rescue them at last?” he asked. “I hope Deputy Creed will now raise the profile of the party in rural ar- Cr TS

Mr Pilkington then wished the in- coming members of the executive of the Clare branch of Fine Gael well CLIT M barca UsCoIU mo mON TOMO) REleer

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New farmers market is eager to grow

THE call has gone out for local food and craft producers in Clare to trade their produce at the newly formed Ennistymon Farmers’ Market.

The idea of hosting a farmers’ market in Ennistymon has been

mooted for some time. Given the success of other farmers’ markets in the county, a small group of lo- cal people came together in July of last year to ensure that Ennistymon lives up to its reputation as a mar- ket town.

The newly formed Ennistymon

Farmers’ Market committee would like to have a wide variety of local produce sold at the market ranging from fresh vegetables including po- tatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions, salads and peppers as well as fresh cheeses, fish, meats.

They also hope to source a wide

variety of home baked goods such as cakes, buns, biscuits muffins, quiches, pies and soups as well as a variety of home crafts such as knit- ting, crochet, art work and even stained glass.

The organisational committee would also like to express a warm welcome to all local farmers who wish to take part in the market. At the moment farming is under pres- sure, and farmers must look outside their normal systems to generate more income.

Many local farmers have been growing their own vegetables over the years and now there will be a sales outlet right on their doorstep. Some farmers may not wish to stand and sell at a stall but there will be an opportunity to sell collectively from a community stall.

Anyone with an interest in Sell- ing at the market is invited to at- tend an information evening on Tuesday, March 9 in the Commu- nity Centre in Ennistymon from 8pm. For further inquiries please contact Gerry McDonagh, Clare Local Development Company on 086-8544036.

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Good food

THE Department of Agriculture is inviting Clare farmers’ markets to sign up to the Code of Good Practice for Farmers’ Markets. The closing date for applications is March 31 and all markets who take part will re- ceive a certificate and banner which they can display to inform the public that they are operating to a set degree of conditions.

These conditions include sourcing a substantial proportion, ideally 50 per cent of its produce locally, ac- commodating seasonal and _ local garden produce and complying with food safety and labelling rules and eloure

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Celebrating a job well done

HUNDREDS of people joined the party last week for the official open- ing of the building that the Irish built.

Villagers rubbed shoulders with high government officials.

During Mass, Fr Martin Keane’s niece, Roisin, played traditional Irish airs on the flute.

After Mass – at which the chief celebrant was Bishop Willie Walsh – the pople of Migombani laid on en- tertainment with traditional dances and songs while children from the primary school and the school for the blind provided refreshments.

Among the VIP guests were the Archbishop of Mombassa, Boniface Nele and the Irish consul to Kenya, Joe O’Brien with his wife, Gay.

In his homily, Fr Martin Keane said that it was “‘a very emotional day. It’s the climax of what has been a great event and what is very important is the local workers and the Irish did it together. You spoke a common l|an- guage — not Swahili or English but the language of Meitheal.”

Bishop Walsh told the congrega- tion that “we should see our own strengths and if we take anything away from here it should be the sense of the depth of love which this has brought out in people.”

Volunteers sang the Irish national anthem as the plaque commemorat- ing the work was unveiled and Con- sul Joe O’Brein ceremonially planted Ea Keron

He said that in Ireland “so lit- tle is seen of the good work which the Irish do overseas. The work you have done here will go much further than you know. We are very short in Kenya of properly trained crafts- men. This morning I saw the best craftwork I have seen since I came to Mombassa.”

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Ambassador gets behind jet plan

Shannon lures in the jet-set

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Disabled and stranded in Kilrush

The lack of a wheelchair-accessible public bus has also put added pres- sure on his mother, Mary. Ms King said she had to buy an expensive spe- cialist van so that she could ensure Shane got to his course in Limerick every week.

“Shane couldn’t do his course un- less I got the transport. This is a na- tional disgrace,” she said.

Ms King said there is a local trans- port service that is wheelchair acces- sible but it does not go to Ennis. While a Bus Eireann bus leaves Kilrush that would facilitate Shane’s travel to col- lege, it 1s not accessible to him or any other wheelchair users.

‘No one in a wheelchair can leave Kilrush. They are bound to stay here,” said Ms King. “This is not a

privilege Shane is looking for, it is a iu hae ee

Local Town Councillor Ian Lynch (FG) wrote to the Minister for Trans- port on behalf of Mr King and other wheelchair users in the town.

A letter from the minister’s office redirected him to Bus Eireann. A letter from Bus Eireann merely re- emphasised the fact that people in Wheelchairs cannot use the service from Kilrush.

The letter said that the company is

planning to roll out a coach service with a wheelchair lift but this would be on a route-by-route basis.

It says it also has a reservation system, where wheelchair users can book a place 24 hours in advance and a seat is taken out of the bus to accommodate them. Just one wheel- chair user at a time can use this serv- ice, however, and it is not available at all in Kilrush. “We do not have any booking system or accessible bus stop infrastructure to bring wheel-

chair passengers from Kilrush at present,” the letter said.

“Tf the issue was addressed, that is if a wheelchair accessible bus was to operate from Kilrush to Ennis, per- sons with disabilities could then take the train to further destinations,” said Cllr Lynch.

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Puree ute eens sparks call for drug units

CALLS have been made for a garda drug unit to be set up in each garda district in Clare, in the wake of fig- ures showing the number of drug of- fences in the county increased by 10 per cent in 2008.

CSO figures published last week show that there were 394 controlled drug offences in 2008; an increase on 357 in the previous year. The de- tection rate for these type of offences was high, at 99.2 per cent in 2008, oyenlorTaere Malem roRon oo) mene TAL ONE Of the 394 offences, proceedings were taken in 282.

Reacting to the figures, Fine Gael Councillor Martin Conway said it showed that the drugs issue was prevalent in the county.

“We have seen the proliferation of head shops throughout Ireland, including Clare. It shows that abuse

is rampant from north Clare right through to west Clare. Drugs destroy the lives of young people,” he said. A divisional drugs unit is attached to Ennis Garda Station and a unit was set up at Shannon Garda Sta- tion last year. Cllr Conway believes that similar units should be set up in the districts of Ennistymon, Kilrush and Killaloe, in an effort to curb the growth in the use of illegal drugs. “Each district needs a dedicated drugs unit. The figures prove that drugs are widely and regularly avail- able in Clare and we need to address that urgently,” said Cllr Conway. Meanwhile, the figures show that detection rates in Clare were high for robbery and public order offences. However, they were lower in offences of arson, criminal damage, car thefts and burglaries. While the number of cases of arson increased in 2008 – from 44 to 78 – the detection rate

remained low. It stood at just 19.2 per cent in 2008, compared with 11.4 per cent during the previous year. Just 26.5 per cent of the 845 criminal damage cases were detected in 2008. Only 85 of those were followed by court proceedings.

The figures also reveal that the number of assaults in Clare jumped by 50 per cent in 2008; from 215 to 322. However, several of those cases do not end up in court, as proceed- ings were issued in just 99 cases. In relation to more serious assaults, the figure for 2008 was on a par with that of 2007. There were 68 in 2008 and 69 during the previous year. The vast majority were detected by gardai.

The number of harassment cases increased from 75 to 96. While 31 per cent were detected, just two made their way to court.

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Parents to be educated on head shops

Disabled and stranded in Kilrush

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Just one-third of burglaries are detected by the gardai

THE number of break-ins to houses and business premises increased by 20 per cent in 2008, while just one- third were detected.

Figures published by the CSO show that just 36 per cent of burglaries in the county were detected, while just 89 of the 522 recorded cases in 2008 were brought to court. There were four cases of aggravated burglary, all of which were detected and two of which resulted in proceedings.

The number of cases of robbery dropped from 23 in 2007 to 13 in 2008. In this category, the detection rate increased significantly, from 56 per cent to 92 per cent.

Theft cases increased in 2008 – from 992 to 1,133. However, the de- tection rate slipped from 42 to 31 per cent. Just 219 of the 1,113 cases re- sulted in proceedings. 166 cars were stolen in 2008, but just 21 of those resulted in proceedings.

There were 21 cases of handling stolen property in 2008; which was an increase on 16 in the previous

year. There was a 100 per cent detec- tion rate in both years. Cases of fraud and deception increased from 76 to 108, but the detection rate dropped from 70 per cent to 53 per cent.

According to the CSO figures, the number of public order cases in Clare dropped slightly in 2008 – from 1,380 to 1,293. The detection rate was 98.5 per cent. 64 cases of trespass were recorded, but just eight of these re- sulted in court proceedings.

In 2008, there were no murder cases, compared with three in 2007. Two cases of threatening to kill were recorded in both 2007 and 2008. Seven cases of rape were detected in 2008; none of which resulted in pro- ceedings. This compared with eleven in 2007; four of which were brought to court. One case of defilement was recorded each year, while the number of sexual offences decreased in 2008 – from 20 to 13. Just eight of the 13 resulted in proceedings being issued.

While the burglary rates are alarm- ing, the trend does not appear to have changed. Several parts of Clare have

been subjected to a spate of burgla- ries in recent weeks, including Shan- non. The mayor of Shannon Coun- cillor Sean McLoughlin (Fine Gael) said yesterday, “There is a concern about burglaries and knife-related attacks in the town. I understand gardai have extra personnel and [| welcome that. Shannon traditionally has been associated with low crime rates and we want to get back to that. There is huge concern and worry in the community.

“Vd ask any member of the pub- lic who knows anything to contact the gardai. Without the public help- ing out the gardai can’t solve these crimes. It is not feasible to have a garda on every corner,” said Cllr McLoughlin.

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Council lash at player power

MUNSTER Council secretary Pat Fitzgerald has hit out at the player power that has raised its head in Clare, Cork and Limerick hurling over the past year, saying that “the terms strike or picket” have no place in the association.

In his annual report to be delivered to the Munster Council Convention in Listowel this Friday night, Fit- zgerald, has stated that co-operation between players and officials is the only way forward.

“Last year I mentioned difficul- ties which arose in Cork on player issues. Sadly this issue surfaced in other counties this year with Clare and Limerick embroiled in conflict between players and officials.

‘This trend is a disturbing one and we would now hope that with the Na-

tional Agreement between the GAA and the GPA these issues will be- come less frequent if not a memory altogether.

“We must all be aware of the re- sponsibilities we have, mutual re- spect is a two-way street, no person

or group hold a monopoly on respect because of their position. Genuine grievances must be sorted out in a spirit of harmony with all sides will- ing to listen.

“However, I must make a few clear points which might seem controver- sial but they are not intended to be. It is merely as aGAA person that I’m stating my beliefs. I respect any play- er who wishes to remove themselves for whatever reason, from their 1n- ter-county panel, however, I believe the terms ‘strike’ or ‘picket’ have no place in the GAA vocabulary and never should have.

“We must be more proactive with our players at inter-county level, making sure we are always aware of issues before they become confronta- tional. The day of expecting players to play and shut their mouths are over and rightly so,” added Fitzgerald.