€17 million outdoor dining scheme provides huge opportunity for Clare

  • Scheme has long and short-term goals
  • Aims to emulate successful outdoor dining in Europe


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement of a €17 million outdoor dining grant scheme.

The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme comprises two parts and will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities across the country.

Part One of the scheme targets the short-term goal of providing funding for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity.

Funding allocated under Part Two will enable Local Authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres, like those that exist in various European cities.

“I’m delighted that this scheme will operate on a nationwide basis,” said Deputy Crowe.

“A previous iteration of this scheme launched in February was largely based around urban centres and had a bias in favour of larger towns and cities. This new scheme will be national, enabling restaurants, tourism providers and local authorities to provide permanent outdoor dining areas which will help the hospitality sector during the months ahead but also long-term beyond the current pandemic situation.

“At the beginning of March, I met with a number of senior figures in Fáilte Ireland and relayed concerns to them that had been expressed to me by restaurateurs in Clare that they wouldn’t be able to derive any benefit from the scheme as it was.

“Fáilte Ireland assured me that they would have a further look at the scheme and I’m delighted by today’s news it’s to be expanded.

“Covid has shaken the bedrock of our hospitality sector and for the past 12 months it has only hung on with a thread but yet with continued supports, it could be among the first to see a bounce back as many people are already talking about how they will visit their local bar or restaurant when the country reopens.

“So, with the right supports in place we should look forward to a reasonably good summer but we have to ensure that the sector is supported until it returns to 2019 trading levels.”


Annual South Clare Spring Clean returns on April 1st

  • 7 locations will be targeted
  • All encouraged to get involved


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is pleased to announce that the annual South Clare Spring Clean will proceed this year, in a safe, socially distanced manner.

Volunteers of all ages are being asked to come forward and make themselves available on April 1st, to pick up litter and generally make the area look cleaner, tidier and more attractive for the residents.

“This is my 16th consecutive year organising springs cleans in the South Clare area,” said Deputy Crowe.

“They have, thankfully, been hugely successful in times gone by but this year because of the Covid-19 restrictions, it will be different.

“Nonetheless, I expect a large participation as usual as I know a great many of fantastic volunteers look forward to this day each year.

“The schedule will take in seven meeting points – we’ll begin at Westbury Church at 9:30am, Shannon Banks at 9:45 and Carraig Midhe at 10am.

“There’s two simultaneous starts in Meelick at 10:30am – one at The Tavern and the other at the community hall – then Parteen school at 10:45am and McMahon’s Bar in Ardnacrusha at 11am, so there’s plenty of scope for people to fall in wherever suits.

“For anybody that is in a position to help us out, I’m asking them to bring their own gloves and hand sanitisers while litter pickers and bags will be made available on the morning.

“Of course, we are still operating within a 5km limit on movement so if you are further out than that, you won’t be able to give us a hand this year unfortunately.

“All of the rubbish collected will be taken away and disposed of, thanks to Clare County Council and the Shannon Municipal District office and as per pervious, years An Taisce will be on board to help with the supply of bin bags and other materials involved in collection of rubbish.

“Over the years there has been a marked increase in illegally dumped materials right around the county but as always, rural areas bear the brunt of this.

“I have seen a spike in my own locality in South Clare in particular and it can be particularly frustrating to see larger items such as fridges and mattresses thrown into hedgerows when they can easily be recycled at any one of the various sites around the county.

“Over the years, these clean ups have exposed some more alarming items dumped in the countryside including the carcasses of dead horses, bags full of soiled nappies and so on.

“These are items that should be disposed of in a much safer, sanitary way and when this isn’t done, they pose a serious health and environmental risk.

“Sadly, the perpetrators don’t seem to care too much and while I wish these clean ups were not needed, it’s heartening to see that there are so many people out there who do, in fact, care about their community and want to see it looking its best so they participate in these events.

“During the clean, people are advised to either stay well apart and be by themselves or else remain in their own bubble to ensure social distancing is complied with and that we all stay safe. Please also bring your masks and any other PPE you feel you may need and I look forward to joining you on April 1st to give the place a proper cleaning!”


Housing Update – March 24th

Every Wednesday, I will update you here on the social houses that are available via Clare County Council.

As always, it is vital that you register with Clare County Council’s housing section for their Choice Based Letting site, where you are able to register your interest for a property. You can contact the housing section on (065) 6821616.


Address: 34 Crossroads, Killaloe, Co.Clare

Details: 3-bed, semi-detached

3 bedroomed semi detached two storey; Kitchen/Dining area; Sitting Room; Heating – Gas heating only; Shower in bath; Rear garden; Private entrance

N.B-  Please note applicants are not to access sites or properties. Many properties are under final stages of construction, or refurbishment and not accessible or safe for viewing



Address: 5 Lakeview, Doonbeg, Co.Clare

Details: 3-bed, terraced
3 bedroomed terrace two storey; Kitchen/Dining area; Sitting Room; Heating – Solid fuel heating only; Shower in bath; Private entrance

N.B-  Please note applicants are not to access sites or properties. Many properties are under final stages of construction, or refurbishment and not accessible or safe for viewing

EU vaccine travel cert provides a road back to international travel

  • Hailed as lifeline to travel sector
  • Will take some time for benefits to be felt


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has welcomed the confirmation that an EU Covid travel certification plan is being progressed.

The European Union executives have stated that the ‘digital green certificate’ will cover documents from people who have been vaccinated, people who have not been vaccinated but have documents of a negative test result or recovery from Covid, as well as children with test or recovery documents.

“I’m so glad that European Union nations are starting to coordinate a plan for the resumption of international travel,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This can’t happen soon enough. The aviation and tourism sectors are both on their knees and there is no doubt that these two sectors are the ones most ravaged by Covid-19.

“Unfortunately, they are also likely to be the two sectors to encounter the slowest recovery.

“There is much cause for hope, though, as Ireland and other EU countries ramp up their vaccination plans.

“As countries like Ireland start to vaccinate large numbers of the adult population, we need to look strategically at a resumption of international travel and this is where this certificate’s importance becomes all the more evident.

“While it may not be to everyone’s liking, for the next number of months, I envisage that those who have been vaccinated should be shown more leeway in terms of boarding flights and travelling overseas.

“At a recent Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, I asked An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne to lead this dialogue at an EU level.

“Minister Byrne, I know, has since spoken to number of his counterparts in Europe, with a view to having a safe return to international air travel.

“Airports already have a lot of existing infrastructure to screen passengers as they filter through the concourse – there are multiple security and passport checkpoints and this will add another layer of verification; that being of Covid vaccination.

“There will be some who will say that this is an impediment on their civil rights to move freely throughout the EU but we do also need to consider that Covid has taken away all normal rights and any small measure that can see a restoration of these needs to be expedited urgently.

“I share some of the concerns being articulated by those in aviation and tourisms that these provisional new travel cert plan may take a number of months to agree and implement and I don’t think we can wait that long.

“Without some certainty for the summer season, we risk seeing more volatility in the sector and as Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation, I’ll be using my voice to champion for a rapid progression of these plans at all levels.”


Section of outdated piping serving Clare’s largest estate to be replaced

  • 1km of pipe to be replaced
  • Works will be carried out on phased basis


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed confirmation from Irish Water that 1km of pipe mains will be replaced this year from Athlunkard Bridge, serving the Parteen/Westbury area.

The works are now to advance to design and will be carried out on a phased basis as part of the utility’s 2021 mains rehab programme.

“This stretch of mains is continuously bursting, causing hundreds of homes at each occasion to be left without water, so this is a most welcome announcement” said Deputy Crowe.

“In the days that follow an outage, they continue to experience low water pressure and some residents have even complained to me that their dishwasher and washing machine motors have burned out because of the poor water supply.

“In 2019, households in this locality endured 15 different water outages in the calendar year and for what is a largely urbanised environment, it frustrated people hugely that they had to bring buckets and canisters to a number of local points to fill these from a Clare County Council water tankard for cooking and basic hygiene needs.

“This was archaic, and it harked back to people having to draw water from a well, despite the area being so developed.

“That in itself is an indictment of how bad the water system is in the area.

“This pipe network, which receives its feed from a reservoir in Castletroy in Limerick, is a mish mash of cast iron pipes, asbestos pipes and modern plastic pipes.

“As is standard practice when a leak is detected and fixed, Irish Water turn on valves to allow the network of pipes to refill.

“Very often, this re-pressurising process results in further leaks with other sections of the network rupturing and this problem would cease if all of the pipe network was replaced with plastic sections, where repressuring problems don’t generally arise as they can cater for the increased levels of pressure.

“I’m relieved that this design work is underway and I am going to continue to engage with Irish Water to ensure that this project is prioritised in terms of on-site works.”


Funding approved for new facilities at St Joseph’s Spanish Point

  • Funding approved under Additional Accommodation Scheme
  • Two new state-of-the-art classrooms


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement of funding for St Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2021.

Minister Norma Foley has signed off on a new science lab, to include a prep area, a new technical graphics/Design and Communication Graphics room and ancillary works.

“Today’s announcement will be very welcome news for students and staff alike at St Joseph’s, Spanish Point,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This school is known throughout West Clare as being a fantastic one that for many decades has offered a top-class education to the youth of the area.

“These state-of-the-art facilities will help in the modern delivery of science and DCG lessons.

“Since the government took office last summer, I’m glad to say there have been a number of school projects which had been in the doldrums for some time and are now moving along with speed – the biggest locally being the Ennistymon schools amalgamation, which is expected to go to construction in the coming weeks.

“As a teacher, now serving as a government backbencher, I will continue to use my political voice to champion for better educational facilities throughout the county.

“We are fortunate that in Norma Foley we have an Education Minister that is a former secondary school teacher and knows all too well what issues are at play.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Minister to progress developments in Clare.”


Housing Update – March 10th

Every Wednesday, I will update you here on the social houses that are available via Clare County Council.

As always, it is vital that you register with Clare County Council’s housing section for their Choice Based Letting site, where you are able to register your interest for a property. You can contact the housing section on (065) 6821616.


Address: 34 Kilnasoolagh Park, Newmarket on Fergus, Co.Clare

Details: 2-bed, terraced

Kitchen/Dining area; Sitting Room; Heating – Back Boiler Stove; Bathroom – shower only; Rear garden; Private entrance

N.B. –  Please note applicants are not to access sites or properties. Many properties are under final stages of construction, or refurbishment and not accessible or safe for viewing



Address: 16 Smith Gardens, Kilkee, Co.Clare

Details: 2-bed, terraced

Kitchen/Dining area; Sitting Room; Heating – Oil heating only; Bathroom – shower in bath; Rear garden; Private entrance

N.B. –  Please note applicants are not to access sites or properties. Many properties are under final stages of construction, or refurbishment and not accessible or safe for viewing

Inter-departmental group to examine post offices marks significant move

  • Group will report back by end of July
  • Will examine directing state services to PO network


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement that an inter-departmental group co-chaired has been established to examine the feasibility of directing more Government business to the post office network.

The group will comprise of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and will report back to the government by the end of July.

“I hope that the inter-departmental group will examine ways in which the nationwide network of more than 900 post offices can be sustained and protected,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I see the introduction of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) as being key to plugging the annual €17 million funding shortfall the network faces.

“Measures, including the establishment of a community banking system to be operated by An Post must also be considered as a means of bringing a regular income to post masters.

“As has been well documented now, the Kiwi Bank, operational in New Zealand’s post offices, has had a transformational impact.

“A community banking system differs from the agency banking being suggested by Bank of Ireland in post offices, in that it would ensure that profits would be channelled within the local community as opposed to bank shareholders.

“The sale of postage stamps alone won’t save or sustain post offices like Broadford.

“We need to grasp the issue of post office decline once and for all and I see the establishment of this inter-departmental group as being significant in terms of offering solutions but it must get to work quickly and implement revolutionary changes if this is to be a success.”


Local Link bus services for East Clare will play major role in rejuvenation

  • Additional routes part of €76m tourism investment
  • Will be beneficial to locals and visitors alike


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe says a planned investment in Local Link bus services in East Clare will play a major role in rejuvenating the entire east of the county.

Additional routes will be added as part of the Fáilte Ireland backed Shannon Tourism Masterplan for the Lower Shannon Region, which includes Lough Derg, Killaloe and many more communities along the east of Clare.

“There is huge untapped potential in terms of Lough Derg and East Clare’s tourism product,” said Deputy Crowe.”

“For many decades, the entire focus has been on developing the Cliffs of Moher and West Clare’s tourism offering and while this has been great, it has led to an imbalance of tourism development within our county and there has been a neglect of the Lough Derg-Lower Shannon area for too long.

“In recent years, it has been a focal point for Clare County Council with plans now well advanced to develop Inis Cealtra and attract visitors to the historic Lough Derg island and now, over €70m of public money being channelled into developing tourism products for the region.

“Senior Fáilte Ireland figures have told me that they intend to have an approved Local Link bus service in the area, which would enable both tourists and locals to travel on an orbital basis around Lough Derg, taking in Killaloe-Ballina and the fantastic communities of East Clare including Tuamgraney, Oggonnelloe, Scariff, Mountshannon and Whitegate.

“It also provides the opportunity to take in the eastern shore of Lough Derg in Tipperary, with northerly links to Portumna in south Galway.

“I think it goes without saying that this would be of immense benefit to those living in the region but also far easier on tourists descending into East Clare and the Lough Derg region to move freely between communities and stay in different areas.

“East Clare will be specifically targeting slow tourism which is cyclists, walkers and trekkers – public transport will be a major added bonus to those looking at East Clare for their trip.”



Moneypoint’s key role must be acknowledged in EirGrid consultations

  • Public consultation process underway on clean energy
  • Moneypoint Power Station must not be left to flounder


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on EirGrid to recognise the importance of West Clare’s Moneypoint Power Station to Ireland’s clean energy goals.

EirGrid is currently hosting a 14 week public consultation process regarding the ‘best way for Ireland to move from reliance on fossil fuels to cleaner energy’.

This is an opportunity, Deputy Crowe believes, to highlight the strategic value of Moneypoint.

“As Ireland continues its move from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy, there is a key role for Moneypoint to play in this,” said Deputy Crowe.

“In the late 1980s, two 400kv power lines were laid at Moneypoint, running right across Ireland to Leinster and the Greater Dublin Area.

“These are the highest spec of power lines in the country and are an integral part of the EirGrid infrastructure in terms of generating electricity – Moneypoint is capable of providing 25% of the nation’s electric output.

“I’ve been speaking with senior officials in EirGrid and saying that whilst Moneypoint is on a slow wind-down insofar as its coal burning operations, the power station and its high capacity power lines need to be urgently repurposed to carry renewable energy across the country.

“There is colossal offshore potential for wind energy generation along the Atlantic coastline and in recent weeks I’ve been speaking with a number of individuals in the wind energy sector about this untapped potential.

“The development of offshore wind along the Atlantic coast is definitely progressing but it’s anticipated that wind turbines will first be developed off of the southern and eastern coasts, where the water channel is more shallow and wind turbines can be anchored in seabed.

“The ones that would be ultimately developed off of the coasts of Clare, Galway and Mayo will most likely require floatation infrastructure to keep them upright.

“Whilst Ireland is ahead of many countries in terms of onshore wind energy, it lags behind the likes of the UK, Denmark and the Nordic states with offshore wind generation.

“It’s now believed offshore is up to three times more efficient than onshore and in Dáil Éireann we hope to pass new legislation which will make it far easier for offshore projects to be delivered.

“At present, they are limited by legislation dating back to the 1930s but this will shortly be overhauled paving way for 21st century, hi-tech projects to be delivered in coastal waters.

“It also goes without saying that offshore turbines are much less obtrusive than onshore ones and the recent high-profile contentious cases surrounding wind turbines in Clare shows public appetite to address this.

“Finally, the midland counties of Ireland already have their Just Transition Plan, which will help them realise new potential in post fossil fuel Ireland but we still don’t have effective plan for Moneypoint.

“Because of the really valuable 400kv lines that go from Moneypoint across the country, this component of national infrastructure cannot be ignored neglected and I believe it positions Moneypoint to be the most ideal setting in the country for processing offshore wind energy and transmitting it onto the national grid.

“The realisation of this would be a huge boost to west Clare and the whole western coast.”