Inclusion of Clare in pyrite scheme a step in the right direction

  • Clare and Limerick added to expanded scheme
  • More work needed to bring matter to conclusion


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is welcoming the inclusion of Clare and Limerick in an expanded Defective Concrete Block Scheme by Cabinet today – but is warning that this is not the end of the road.

The government is today adding both counties to the initiative, at an estimated cost of €500 million.

At present, just counties Donegal and Mayo are covered which has been the source of extreme concern in Clare.

“I’m delighted that Clare and Limerick will today join other counties in being deemed eligible for redress for pyrite defective blocks,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Today’s decision by Cabinet to include our county is significant but by no means is it the end of the road.

“The campaign for redress for homeowners in Clare was instigated by Dr Martina Cleary, who founded the Clare Pyrite Action Group, and she and others who serve on that committee deserve huge credit for putting this issue high up on the political agenda – both in Clare and indeed nationally.

“The Cabinet sign-off indicates a follow through on a government commitment to provide redress for Clare homeowners but there are further stages ahead, including the preparation of legislation to give effect to redress.

“I know that many homeowners want to see the terms of redress improved and I think it’s important that every effort is made to consult with them to ensure that when the redress applications are live, that the best terms possible are offered.

“The homeowners who are impacted unwittingly built or bought homes that had a prevalence of pyrite within the blockwork and over the years, this has deteriorated in some instances to homes being near collapse.

“The impact of pyrite is very obvious on the structure of these homes, but it has also caused untold mental strain and hardship for the families concerned, as I’ve seen first-hand.

“In Clare it’s expected that over 600 houses may require redress and some of these will need minimal works, such as replacement of the outer leaf of blockwork, while others will need full demolition and rebuilding.

“Today’s announcement certainly builds momentum around redress but it’s now important that the terms and conditions of the redress application scheme and the particulars around how an individual can draw down funding is clarified and that we provide the best possible redress for homeowners.

“It’s also vital that the government continue to pursue the concrete block manufacturers that sold these defective blocks.

“A parallel legal process must get underway to ensure that these companies pay a significant penalty for the damage that their defective blocks have caused.”


€195,000 in funding for remote working initiatives in Clare

  • Funding will target five hubs around the county
  • Significant works to be carried out


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of €144,923 in funding to Clare County Council through the Connected Hubs 2022 Call – along with an additional €50,000 to promote remote working.

The funding is part of a series of initiatives being unveiled today by the Department of Rural and Community Development, to make remote working more accessible and attractive for thousands of people.

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, how we work and how business operates has undergone a major shift,” said Deputy Crowe.

“More and more companies now are looking at hybrid or blended work or, in some cases, fully remote.

“It’s a very positive change in how we work, particularly for a county like Clare which is rural based, as it means people who heretofore were confined to the country’s cities for professional development can actually look to coming back to their rural towns and villages to live and work.

“Clare County Council has been very proactive in creating its network of DigiHubs, which I’ve used myself in Miltown Malbay and Feakle.

“This injection of close to €145,000 in funding is going to help to bolster the current offering.

“It will be used to provide new modular workspaces and privacy pods along with CCTV, firewall, ICT infrastructure and additional access points, making them even more accessible for people.

“It’s also very positive to see an additional €50,000 allocated to Clare County Council under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme – and every local authority in the country – to fund marketing campaigns and promote the remote working opportunities.

“Minister Humphreys is also launching the Connected Hubs Voucher Scheme – which will give remote workers free use of their local digital hub.

“At least 10,000 hot desk spaces will be provided under the Scheme, which is aimed at both existing hub users, as well as those accessing hub facilities for the first time.

“I look forward to seeing the developments that are to come in terms of remote working in Clare and look forward to making use of the facilities around the county as I travel and work.”


New Shannon to Paris route a positive endorsement of Shannon Airport – Crowe

  • Vueling to travel route twice weekly from September
  • Brings to 27 the total routes at Shannon


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has welcomed today’s announcement from Shannon Group that a new route will be established between Shannon Airport and Paris.

Vueling, a low-cost Spanish airline, will commence flying between Shannon and Paris-Orly on Mondays and Fridays from September.

“This is a very positive endorsement of Shannon Airport and what we have to offer here in the Midwest region of Ireland,” said Deputy Crowe.

“There is massive scope in Shannon to expand the routes on offer and this latest announcement brings to 27 the total number of routes to and from the airport.

“These services cover a range of destinations in Europe, the UK and North America.

“Paris-Orly is just 13km from the centre of Paris city and will open up huge potential both in terms of tourism and business for Shannon Airport customers.

“Securing a link to Paris has long been a goal of mine and for Shannon Group, as it opens Shannon up to a major European city and hub.

“Paris-Orly is 34km from Charles de Gaulle Airport, meaning it can operate as a transitional hub to onward travel where necessary.

“I very much welcome today’s news and also want to take this opportunity to welcome Vueling to Shannon and I look forward to more positive announcements to come.”


Works to address noxious odours at Ballycannon Heights to proceed regardless of LNDR

  • 40-year-old infrastructure causing nauseous odours
  • Irish Water doubles down on 2022 timeline

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is insisting that works to put in place a proper wastewater treatment plant for Ballycannon Heights in Meelick be separated from the ongoing Limerick Northern Distributor Road project.

Temporary infrastructure was put in place back in the 1980s and 40 years on, still functions as the main wastewater treatment for the estate – despite no longer fulfilling its function and leading to dangerous, nauseous odours seeping out in fine weather.

There have been concerns locally that this project would be delayed due to the issues impacting on the LNDR construction but Deputy Crowe has received assurances that this is not the case.

“I’m from this locality and I know first-hand, having many times stood out on the road with residents and being knocked out by the nauseating gases, just how serious this issue is,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This was designed as a temporary solution in the 1980s but has become a permanent fixture in the estate and absolutely is not fit for purpose, 40 years on.

“On health and safety grounds, it’s essential that this project is uncoupled from the LNDR and proceeds in the quickest possible time.

“My fear is that this summer will be a repeat of every other summer of recent years, where we have these vomit-inducing smells emitting from the wastewater treatment plant.

“I’m in constant contact with Irish Water on this as I do not want to see this slip between the cracks at this critical juncture.

“I’m pleased to say that I’ve been informed that at present, Land Acquisition is underway, and a Compulsory Purchase Order is due to be published next month.

“Assuming there are no delays in the CPO process Irish Water expect construction to commence before the end of 2022.

“I will be keeping on top of this to ensure that this year does not pass without the completion of this project and I’m confident that this is the beginning of the end of this nightmare for Ballycannon residents.”


€30 million in funding for Post Office network over next three years

  • €10m per annum to be issued to Post Office network
  • Will help support 900 post offices nationwide


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement of €30 million for the Irish Post Office network but believes more needs to be clarified to support postmasters and mistresses nationwide.

The funding has been announced this afternoon by Ministers Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton, with a view to ensuring a more sustainable national postal service.

“Today’s funding announcement will come as a major, major relief to the postmasters and mistresses of Clare who have been pleading for more to be done to ensure their survival,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I’ve met with almost all of them and they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. We’ve seen the closure of a number of branches around the county in recent years and there has been significant concern that this trend would continue.

“The €30m announced today, which will be issued in €10m allocations over a period of three years, will help offset some of those concerns.

“However, it must be noted that it still falls short of the €12m sought by the post office network.

“I would also like to see further clarity in terms of what additional services and transactions will be issued to the post office network, as this is a sure-fire way of securing a viable future for the network.

“This afternoon, the Oireachtas Communications Committee will meet with Minister Naughton and I intend to pose these questions to her.

“Having spoken with postmasters and mistresses around the county, I know that they are grateful for the €30m that has been allocated to them but their concerns are not all gone and this is a campaign that has not yet come to an end.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


€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.”