LNDR cannot be left to flounder without ministerial support

  • Phase 2 of key road omitted from LSMATS
  • Oireachtas members briefed on plans today

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has expressed concern about the future of Phase 2 of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road.

It follows a briefing for Oireachtas and elected representatives today, in which it was revealed that Phase 2 is – at this point – not included in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy; a plan that extends from now until 2040.

“It’s very concerning that Minister Eamon Ryan has been given a ministerial directive that Phase 2 of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road be omitted from the LSMATS strategy,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This strategy will set out the infrastructural priorities for the south of Clare,  encompassing Shannon Airport and Shannon town all the way as far as Limerick City.

“The strategy will run until 2040 and for this reason it is so important that the politicians of today strategically think about the needs of both counties Clare and Limerick but also the wider region for the next two decades.

“To outrightly omit this project now, in 2022, could have very serious negative outcomes for the people who will live here for the next two decades and beyond.

“I’m particularly concerned, as a Meelick native, that Phase 2 of the LNDR has been entirely omitted by Minister Eamon Ryan.

“At the moment, Phase 1 of this road from Coonagh, Limerick as far as Meelick, Clare is under construction albeit at a current standstill due to the contractor Roadbridge Ltd going into receivership.

“The government is working flat out to re-tender this project and to ensure that a new contractor is in place to complete it.

“When the road is complete it will end with a roundabout at Knockalisheen, Meelick and therein lies the problem – if we leave it, it in effect will become the road to nowhere and it’s important that a strategy is in place to pick up from that the terminus point and ensure that there is onward connectivity.

“The LNDR aims to alleviate traffic congestion in South Clare and the north suburbs of Limerick city but my fear is that if it’s only partially built that the opposite of these aims will actually be the outcome.

“Some local people continue to have legitimate concerns about the road routing, and it would be right and proper that these concerns are dealt with in the design and planning stages of the road, but it is wrong for the Minister to outrightly guillotine the project at this point.”

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Annual South Clare Clean Up returns

  • 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 Clean Up will proceed once again this year.

Volunteers of all ages are being asked to come forward and make themselves available on Friday, April 15th, to pick up litter and generally make the area look cleaner, tidier and more attractive for the residents.

“This is my 17th consecutive year organising springs cleans in the South Clare area,” said Deputy Crowe.

“They have, thankfully, been hugely successful in previous years and we even managed to hold a socially distanced one at the height of the Covid pandemic last year.

“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.

“There’s a shortage of hi-vis vests this year too so if anybody has one to bring, please do.

“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.

“It’s awful to see some hazardous items like old appliances and even dead animals dumped haphazardly around the place and while the aim would be to ensure that these people are caught, that’s sadly not always possible.

“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.”

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Family links with New Jersey delegation a chance to promote Clare in US

  • US politicians visit Shannon Airport, Cliffs and Bunratty
  • Boost to promotion of Clare

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is expressing hope that his family’s link to politics on the east coast of the US will assist in forging stronger links between the Midwest region and the United States.

Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn and her fellow politicians from New Jersey have departed Clare after visiting a number of the county’s iconic sites and Shannon Airport.

“On Sunday, I was thrilled to welcome my cousin Vicky Flynn and her colleagues to Shannon Airport,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Vicky was part of a delegation of 37 New Jersey state politicians, including five senators and assembly members, who visited Shannon.

“Earlier that day, they visited the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle, where they experienced a banquet.

“Assemblywoman Flynn is married to my cousin Mike Naughton, whose family like mine originated from the Heathmount area of Cratloe.

“Ancestors of mine emigrated Ireland in the 1920s and they largely based themselves around New York and New Jersey, where many still reside.

“In 2019, during my mayoral term, I visited New York, where I attended a gathering of the New York County Clare Association, but also had a family reunion with Mike Naughton and other cousins.

“Our family here in Clare were bursting with pride to hear that Vicky was also taking the political plunge and she had a very successful election earlier this year.

“Vicky is a lawyer by profession, and she has already initiated a number of new laws in New Jersey.

“Vicky and I have had a number of chats about possible ways of further improving relations and linkages between her state and Ireland.

“One of the points I’ve keenly emphasised is the need for stronger air links between the United States and Shannon Airport.

“During their two-hour visit to the airport, Vicky and her colleagues were shown the new high-tech security systems at the baggage screening area and were very impressed with how quickly passengers were moving through the baggage screening in contrast with current delays at Dublin Airport.

“I hope to continue talks with Vicky and her colleagues and I really welcome the fact that just last month, a daily service between Shannon Airport and Newark, NJ recommenced.

“This service had ceased in October 2019 and I hope that it can now be considered on a year-round basis rather than on the seasonal basis it has operated on heretofore.

“Last Sunday was my first time meeting Vicky in person but we have and will continue to talk very regularly.

“We are very proud that members of our family now serve in political offices on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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Scaling back of small-scale turf sale in 2022 a step too far

  • Minister announces ban from September 1st on sale of turf
  • Damaging to rural counties like Clare

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has labelled the decision to ban the sale of turf from September as a step too far.

Minister for the Environment and Climate Action Eamon Ryan has disclosed that turf-selling will be banned from September 1st this year.

“As a west of Ireland TD, representing a very rural county, I fundamentally disagree with Minister Eamon Ryan’s proposals to further restrict turf sale,” said Deputy Crowe.

“In recent years, we have seen a huge scaling back of large-scale commercial turf cutting in the Midlands, but a continuance of small-scale turf harvesting has been permitted and bags of turf could be purchased in rural counties like Clare in shops and from local fuel merchants.

“This is a relatively small industry but an important one nonetheless in a county like Clare and with fuel poverty now very much on the increase, people should not have the option of burning turf sods taken from them this year.

“The majority of people I interact with understand climate change and the acute need to collectively, as a population, take mitigating measures to reduce their carbon output.

“People are already making huge sacrifices and I feel that Minister Ryan’s proposal, without any consultation with partners in government including Fianna Fáil is, for now, a step too far.

“We are now in the middle of April and temperatures have yet to pick up and many homes are still lighting fires at night to keep warm but the real worries for families lie in the autumn and winter months ahead when many will struggle to purchase fuels to heat their homes.

“The government has some very progressive plans to retrofit homes and improve insultation, but the surface is only being scratched here and the stark reality is hundreds of thousands of homes, particularly in the west of Ireland, will be without insulation and modern low-carbon heating systems for the next number of years.

“The move away from fossil fuels needs to be always considered in terms of where we’re at as a country in terms of developing renewal capacity and retrofitting homes.

“I’m of the firm belief that 2022 is not the time to start a further scaling back of turf cutting and I’m resolute in this opinion.”

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€582,690 for Clare under Local Improvement Scheme

  • Funding targets smaller roads not usually maintained
  • Will help clear significant backlog

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of €582,690 in funding to Clare County Council, under the Local Improvement Scheme.

This scheme focuses on improvement works on private and non-publicly maintained roads.

These roads can often lead to multiple homes, farmland and amenities such as lakes, rivers or beaches.

“For a county with as many rural communities as Clare, funding under the Local Improvement Scheme is crucial,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This scheme is already oversubscribed in Clare, as so many of the people living on these small little laneways have applied over the past couple of years, so to have an injection of funding is vital to begin clearing that backlog so that new applications can be considered.

“Having grown up in a rural area myself, I know all too well how important it is to address necessary works on these minor roads.

“Those of us who travel these roads daily or weekly have a good understanding of how to use them, where the potholes are, where we can pull in to let people past etc but for the more occasional user they’re treacherous.

“It’s so important that we ensure that road users in our county, be they residents or visitors, are able to safely travel around.

“I would encourage anybody whose local road could benefit under the LIS to make contact with the roads section of the county council quickly.

“Despite the backlog in applications, it’s better to be in with a shout than to not have an application in and if I can be of assistance, I will.”

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Shannon Airport can play role in assisting Dublin Airport during difficult time

  • Major security delays expected to last 10 weeks
  • Poses risk of putting people off of flying to Ireland

 

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling for Shannon Airport to be utilised to alleviate pressure on passenger both inbound and outbound to Ireland, via Dublin Airport.

Issues with security are at present leading to significant delays for those using Dublin Airport as a terminus for their travels.

“This afternoon, I joined my Oireachtas Transport Committee colleagues in meeting Dublin Airport Authority’s Chief Executive Dalton Philips and his management staff,” said Deputy Crowe.

“They are doing everything possible to recruit additional security staff but are finding that delays in the Garda vetting process and also enhanced screening measures to be a huge impediment in terms of having staff on the ground.

“I have suggested to the management that flights should be diverted to Shannon Airport, where there is plenty of additional capacity.

“I believe that Shannon could play a significant role in easing the problems that Dublin Airport is facing at this time.

“Shannon is a 30-minute domestic flight from Dublin Airport and a two-and-a-half-hour journey by car or bus.

“When someone arrives at the departure hall of Shannon Airport, they can expect to have gone through the entire security screening process, often in less than half an hour.

“At the moment, passengers arriving at Dublin are being advised to arrive three and a half hours before their flight time.

“Dublin Airport management today advised that it could take anything up to 10 weeks to achieve a full complement of security staff and this 10-week period, worryingly, will coincide with the Easter holiday break and the beginning of the peak summer season.

“Everyone in the tourism sector really looks forward to a recovery this summer but this can only happen if we’re getting visitors into our country.

“I think Shannon, and indeed other airports, can play a major role in that regard over the coming months.

“Dublin Airport management, in response to my proposal, emphasised that flight diversions would be a decision for individual airlines to determine and I know hope to take up the matter with the chief executives of Ryanair and Aer Lingus.”

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Additional supports vital for Clare’s Ukrainian school children

  • Translators essential to integration
  • Generosity of Clare people to be commended

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for increased supports to be put in place for Clare’s Ukrainian school population as a matter of priority.

Hundreds of displaced Ukrainians have taken up residence in the county, with more expected, and voluntary groups and donations from members of the public have been hugely forthcoming – but more help is needed.

“Over the past fortnight, I have visited most of the accommodation centres that are being used to house Ukrainian refugees in the county,” said Deputy Crowe.

“These people have come from very harrowing situations and are hugely appreciative of the warm welcome they’ve received from the people of Clare.

“It’s incredible to think that, on Census night 2022, 1.5% of Clare’s population – ordinarily 118,000 – are now Ukrainian nationals.

“In 100 years’ time, when people look back and study this period of our history, this will tell a lot about who we are as a people and how accommodating we were to our new Ukrainian friends.

“When I visited these accommodation centres, I took time to chat with the people there.

“Their stories were very similar and most spent days driving in their family car or taking public transport to flee eastwards through Lviv and across the Polish border.

“Most made this journey with just the shirt on their back and a small bag of belongings.

“In most of the accommodation centres in Clare, the Ukrainian people have been given clothing, both new and old, to wear but many have told me that they have a lack of quality footwear.

“This prompted me to go on social media asking people to consider donating shoes and runners for all ages, all sizes and all genders.

“I’m delighted to say that the response to this has been immense.

“Some have even donated football boots as a lot of the Ukrainian children want to partake in sport whilst they’re here in Ireland – others have donated cash vouchers for shops.

“I’ve also met with schools in the county who’ve been welcoming Ukrainian pupils and speaking directly to government on their behalf, in terms of trying to have additional supports sanctioned.

“Their main needs right now revolve around requirements of English as an Additional Language (EAL) teachers, translators and school transportation.

“Progress is being made but thus far translator posts haven’t been sanctioned.

“AS a former teacher, and as someone who has experience of teaching children from the direct provision system, I believe that a translation capacity is essential for all schools who have Ukrainian pupils.

“A translator could provide an invaluable home-school link and also provide much needed pastoral care for the children.”

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New Shannon Group chair must be present on day-to-day basis

  • Conal Henry takes over from Pádraig Ó Céidigh
  • To be formally appointed shortly

 

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has welcomed the swift appointment of Conal Henry as the new chair of Shannon Group – but is calling on Minister Eamon Ryan to change the terms of his appointment.

Mr Henry has held senior management positions including Founder and Chair of Fibrus Networks since 2018 and Chief Executive Officer of e|net (NBI) from 2006 to 2018.

He was also Commercial Director at Ryanair and served on the Board of Shannon Foynes Port Company.  He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and holds a law degree from Queen’s University Belfast.

“Whilst I welcome Mr Henry’s appointment, it concerns me that Pádraig Ó Céidigh’s tenure was a board chairperson so in effect his functions were limited to just being at the airport when the board was actually meeting but I believe in order to see a full recovery to pre-Covid levels, we need to see Mr Henry in an executive chairperson role.

“This would ensure that he’s in the airport on a more permanent basis – that is the only way that somebody can effectively oversee the running of Shannon Group and Shannon Airport.

“This is an issue I will be taking up with Minister Ryan.

“Today, I am writing to you him to ask that he change the terms of Mr Henry’s appointment so that we ensure a very hands-on chair is leading Shannon Group at this critical time.

“Now that we have transatlantic fights back at Shannon, we need to try to secure further routes into continental Europe.

“Whilst the Ryanair routes are hugely attractive and positive for the Midwest region, we do also need to see air connectivity to major European hubs that provide onward flights to Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

“Because of Mr Henry’s Ryanair background, he understands aviation but to really be a positive driving force for Shannon Group, he will need to be there on a day-to-day basis working in tandem with Mary Considine and her team.”

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Shannon Group chair resignation leaves questions

  • Pádraig Ó Céidigh has stepped down after six months
  • Leaves fresh uncertainty for Shannon Group

 

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling for representatives of Shannon Group and the Department of Transport to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to discuss the path forward for Shannon Group.

Last night, it was confirmed that Pádraig Ó Céidigh has resigned from his role as Chairman of the Shannon Group after just six months.

“I, like so many people in this region with high interest and concern for Shannon Airport, saw huge hope in Ó Céidigh’s appointment,” said Deputy Crowe.

“We need to know why he is no longer able to fulfil his role and also appoint a suitable replacement ASAP.

“Mr Ó Céidigh, who founded Aer Arann in 1970, took up the role in September after it had been left vacant for a period of 13 months.

“His decades of experience in aviation led to renewed hope for Shannon Airport – I had significant optimism for the airport’s future and had hoped we would see a return to the glory days of the 1990s.

“I’ve written to the chairperson of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, to suggest that we urgently summon Mr Ó Céidigh, Mary Considine and Fintan Towey, Assistant Secretary for Aviation in the Department of Transport, to appear before our committee to discuss the reasons behind this resignation and the pathway forward in terms of a replacement.

“Shannon Airport enjoyed bumper passenger numbers last weekend and overall is making good inroads in terms of recovery to pre-Covid levels of operation.

“A strong character, with an aviation background, is urgently needed to drive on this recovery and we need to strike while the iron is hot here.”

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Fast-tracked vetting needed for offers of accommodation for Ukrainians

  • Clare landlord exposed as exploiting Ukrainians
  • Undermines good intentions of vast majority

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has slammed a Clare landlord, who has reportedly offered accommodation to Ukrainian women in a sex-for-rent arrangement.

According to today’s Irish Examiner, the anonymous landlord has offered a room in his home to a “slim Ukrainian woman” with the expectation of sex in return.

It goes on to say that he requires a photo of the woman in advance before he will reveal the location of his home.

“This is disgusting, abhorrent and pathetic in every way possible,” said Deputy Crowe.

“It’s beyond belief that somebody would use such a devastating situation to exploit a person forced to flee their home country and arrive into the unknown.

“Unfortunately, the sex industry has always exploited vulnerable women and children and seized on opportunities like war, persecution and famine to enslave them.

“The disgusting individual referenced in this story thankfully is unrepresentative of the incredible generosity, solidarity and spirit of care that most Clare, and Irish people overall, are instinctively showing.

“I have written to Justice Minister Helen McEntee asking that her department look at a fast-track vetting regime for offers of accommodation.

“It’s desperately sad that this request is needed but sadly, there are people out there like this man who will take advantage at any given opportunity.

“You can be sure that the vast, vast majority of offers are genuine and instinctively caring but we, nonetheless, need to have stringent oversight to ensure that people fleeing here from war-torn Ukraine are being safely and appropriately accommodated.

“I believe this matter is of extreme urgency so that the genuine people out there who want to help can do so and more importantly, so that the Ukrainians arriving into our country at their most desperate hour of need experience our world-famous thousand welcomes – and don’t get met by pathetic individuals like this man.”

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