Ambassador gets behind jet plan

Shannon lures in the jet-set


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.


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.


Parents to be educated on head shops

Disabled and stranded in Kilrush


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.


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.


Judge ‘torn between victim and ‘drunken lout

A 19-YEAR-OLD man, described in court as a “drunken lout’, re- ceived a three-year suspended jail sentence for an unprovoked assault on a man in Lahinch.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Sean O Donnabhain said he was “torn” between two sides when sen-

tencing Christopher Collins.

The judge said it was a very vi- cious assault and he was impressed by the evidence given by the vic- tim, who “seems a very stoic young rere be ae

He said the victim, who had lost six teeth and required a bridge, would carry the scars of the attack for the rest of his life.

“This was an unprovoked assault by a drunken lout,” said the judge. He said the severity of the assault deserved “the imposition of a pris- ONS ie eee

Judge O Donnabhain added that he was also taking into account “no previous convictions’, the death of Mr Collins’ brother and his level of co-operation with the court.

“You are showing some element, although late in the day, of matu- rity,’ he told Mr Collins.

“In the circumstances I think it is appropriate to sentence you to three years, suspended for three years.”

The judge also directed the de- fendant to stay under the care of the probation service and undertake any counselling, including inpa-

tient care, directed by the service.

Mr Collins is also to pay €20 per week until he pays back €3,000; the cost of the victim’s dental treat- eetoale

“If he doesn’t obey the conditions, to jail he will go. He is to remain sober in public for the duration of the sentence,” said the circuit court judge.


Calls for ‘covert surveillence of litter blackspots

DESPITE spending €1.2 million on its environmental programme, En- nis Town Council is losing the bat- tle against litter louts, it was claimed yesterday.

At yesterday’s meeting of Ennis Town Council, Clir Brian Meaney (GP) said that given the scale of 1I- legal dumping taking place around the outskirts of Ennis, it was time for the council to re-assess its litter policy.

‘The volume of rubbish dumped in Lees Road has snowballed in the last

couple of months,” said Cllr Meaney. He added, “It’s unbelievable what is being dumped there. This is a battle we are losing.”

Cllr Meaney said the council need- ed to secure some “high profile” prosecutions of people engaged in illegal dumping and should engage in “covert and non-covert” surveil- lance of litter blackspots.

Cllr Meaney said that the absence of documentation in the items being dumped showed that this was “pre- meditated” activity.

Cllr Peter Considine (FF) said that the council had lost the fight against

litter on country roads.

Town clerk Eddie Power said the council’s environmental staff were working hard to stamp out illegal olovesheyparee

He told the meeting that the coun- cil would focus on the Lees Road area during an upcoming spring oA Crea onl

Figures from the council’s 2009 report on prevention and control of litter show that a total of 130 litter fines were issued in 2009.

The report states that the council received income totaling €8,970 from litter fines while a total of 131

fines were issued in 2009.

The figures show that just 59 of these fines were paid in 2009 while two cases were referred to a solicitor. Explaining the figures, town clerk Eddie Power said that often difficul- ties arise when pursuing legal action against people for littering offences.

He said often there was difficulty in identifying litter louts while in some cases, alleged offenders may have moved away from Ennis.

Town Manager Ger Dollard said the some of the fines could be paid nO OF

Cllr Mary Howard (FG) urged

the council to consider re-locating Wheelie bins at Drumcliffe grave- yard in order to prevent dumping in the area.

She said that dumping was also prevalent along a stretch of the N85. Mayor of Ennis Cllr Frankie Neylon (Ind) said the bins had been removed from Drumcliffe as people had been using them to dump household rub- tOE

The litter report states that Ennis Town Council issued 114 abandoned vehicle notices under the waste management act while 24 cars were removed on behalf of the council.


Schools curb dropout figures

NINE years ago 16.5 per cent of the county’s secondary students had dropped out of school before com- pleting their Leaving Certificate ex- aminations.

Although Clare may have had one of the highest student retention rates in the country, the fact that three out of every twenty students dropped out of the education system before their eighteenth birthday should be the cause for some concern.

The demand for increased skill levels from employers has resulted in a steady decline in job opportuni- ties for those who leave school be- fore completing upper second-level education. Leaving school early is an important indicator of educational disadvantage and in the current cri- sis, a full education is a vital neces- sity for a successful future.

Back in 2001, the latest date for which department statistics are available, there were 1,388 students attending Clare’s eighteen second- level schools. 4.4 per cent of them left school before their Junior Certifi- cate examinations and 16.5 per cent before their Leaving Certificate.

On a national level, the number of first year pupils enrolled in the 705 second-level schools was 56,278. The number who sat and were grad- ed in at least one subject in the Junior Certificate examination, amounted to 54,067. Therefore there was a 13.9 per cent drop in attendance. The fi-

nal rate of students who dropped out before their Leaving Certificate was 15.3 per cent.

Male students were less likely to complete their Leaving Certificate with a drop-out rate of 18 per cent in secondary schools; 31 per cent in vocational schools and 24 per cent in community and comprehensive schools in comparison to 13 per cent, 18 per cent and 13 per cent respec- tively for female students.

There is now a wide range of pro- grammes and initiatives focused on ensuring each participating sec-

ond-level pupil can experience and progress to their full ability by pro- viding a wider range of curricula. These include the Junior Certificate school programme, the school com- pletion programme, the home school community liaison scheme and many more.

Full details are available on the De- partment of Education website.


Chriost Ri counting on maths success

PUPILS from Scoil Chriost Ri, Cloughleigh, will be among thou- sands from around the world taking part in World Maths Day tomorrow (Wednesday, March 3).

Pupils from the Ennis school, who have been regular participants in World Maths Day, are busy sharpen- ing their maths skills ahead of the worldwide event.

World Maths Day is all about get- ting students to unite together. A global event, organisers say that World Maths Day 1s a fantastic op- portunity to be a part of something special. The World Maths Day team have been so impressed by the efforts of schools in 2009, they have decided to create a limited number of World Maths Day roving reporters.

Scoul Chriost Ri’s proud record in the event has seen first class pupil Maurice Abdulla being chosen to take on one of these roles.

Essentially the roving reporters will be tasked with writing a news report about World Maths Day at their school. These reports can be as creative as the student wishes and will be collated with the best ones being published online for all to see.

Each maths game is a series of one-minute quick fire mental maths questions, with four children from anywhere in the world competing against each other in each game.

All classes in Scoil Chriost Ri will be competing in the challenge and the target for this year is to answer over 100,000 maths questions in 48


Pupils can also log in at home and take on students from around the world. The challenge is to answer as many maths questions as possible during that time and to try and beat last year’s record of 64,568 correct answers.

A unique feature of World Maths Day is that it runs for 48 hours once it

is March 3 somewhere in the world.

Gearoid Roughan, learning sup- port teacher at Scoil Chriost Ri, ex- plained the school has been a regular participant in the event. He said the students were looking forward to once again taking part.

“It’s for schools from all over the world. The school (Scoil Chriost Ri) has taking part for a few years. This

year they have introduced a new fea- ture where one student is designated a World Maths Day reporter. One of the pupils here will be a reporter for the day,” explained Gearoid.