€4.5 million for Clare Active Travel infrastructure

  • 28 projects county-wide to benefit
  • Funding targets walking and cycling infrastructure


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of €4.5 million in funding for Clare County Council, for the progression of Active Travel infrastructure around the county.

The funding has been announced today by the National Transport Authority and Minister Eamon Ryan, as part of a total national fund of €290m.

The grants will see new and improved walking and cycling infrastructure across the county progress.

“I’m delighted to see such a generous portion of funding allocated to Co. Clare,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I think one very important point to make today is that while walking and cycling infrastructure is very beneficial for the tourist trade – particularly in a county like Clare – it’s also essential that we maintain a good level of service to those living locally to allow them to walk and cycle where possible.

“I cycle from Heuston Station to Leinster House every day when I’m in Dublin so I see first-hand how vital it is to invest properly in this infrastructure.

“We, as a country and as a government, are working hard to reduce our emissions in transport by 50% by 2030 and I think investment in cycling is a key part of this.

“It’s very encouraging, also, to see such a wide spread of grants around the county.

“Ennis is benefitting enormously from this funding, with over €2.2m ringfenced for the county town.

“The main thoroughfares into the town will be targeted here; with Active Travel Schemes for the Lahinch, Gort and Limerick Roads all earmarked for funding, as well as a massive €1.8m for the Tulla Road Rapid Implementation Active Travel Scheme.

“Communities in Shannon, Sixmilebridge, Tulla, Ardnacrusha, Miltown Malbay, Spanish Point, Killaloe, and so many other areas will all receive grants too.

“As a former teacher in a rural school, I’m also pleased to see that six primary schools in the county will receive funding for Safe Routes to School projects – a programme designed to encourage as many pupils and students as possible to walk and cycle.”


€2.9m for Clare under Community Recognition Fund

  • Funding to support communities that have welcomed Ukrainians and other nationalities
  • Will benefit sports clubs, community organisations, transport infrastructure and local groups


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of over €2.9 million in funding for Clare County Council, under the Community Recognition Fund.

The initiative is aimed at communities that have, in recent times, welcomed people from Ukraine and other countries, to support them to cater for their new populations.

“It’s wonderful to see Clare get such a significant chunk of this €50 million national fund,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Communities across the county here have extended the warm hand of welcome to so many people from Ukraine, and indeed other countries, over the past 12 months and while everybody has put their shoulder to the wheel and helped to welcome and integrate them, local resources have of course been stretched.

“This €2.9m funding will be used for a number of projects including the refurbishment of local sports clubs and facilities; the upgrade of community facilities such as play areas, walkways, parks and community gardens; the purchase of equipment to benefit local clubs, festivals, music and arts organisations; the enhancement of school or parish facilities that are open to the wider community after hours or on weekends and transport infrastructure such as community vehicles and bus shelters.

“The significant investment in these projects will benefit all members of the community in each place that is successful in seeking funding.

“The funding will be drawn down over 2023 and 2024.

“Any community or voluntary group that feels it could benefit from this fund is encouraged to engage with Clare County Council directly over the coming weeks to ensure their fair share of funding.”


Must think outside the box to tackle hospital overcrowding

  • Meeting held between HSE and Oireachtas members
  • Number of measures must now be considered


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for outside-the-box thinking when it comes to tackling hospital overcrowding in the Midwest – up to and including the use of local hotels for short-term bed capacity.

It follows a meeting held this morning between Midwest Oireachtas members, the UL Hospitals Group and the HSE, attended by an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and chaired by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

“I think the current crisis demands a thinking outside-the-box approach and we saw how successful that worked during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Deputy Crowe.

“There was a time when using hotel bedrooms and larger communal rooms, such as function rooms, to provide public healthcare would have been unthinkable, indeed many would have scoffed at the idea but there is a trialled and tested precedent in recent years.

“Prior to Covid, management at the UHL Maternity Hospital procured rooms at Limerick’s Strand Hotel and during Covid countless sports halls, large public venues and hotels were swiftly converted into acute healthcare environments.

“It is widely anticipated that a further 96 bed block will be applied for UHL this year but the construction and fulfilment of that could take more than 2 years and I don’t think the mid-west region can wait that long.

“Management at Tallaght University Hospital acquired a vacant retail building, across the road from their main hospital building, to open the Reeves Day Surgery Centre in 2020; by the same token, I has suggested to the Taoiseach, Minister Stephen Donnelly and Professor Colette Cowan that the Limerick South Court Hotel, less than a kilometre from UHL, should be considered as an additional capacity building option on an interim basis.

“In terms of other pressure-alleviating measures are concerned, I am becoming increasingly confident that the HSE will enhance operations at Nenagh General Hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit so, like Ennis General Hospital, it will be able to receive ambulances and provide immediate care to patients who have been triaged and screened by paramedics.”


Ennis General Hospital’s potential must be realised to tackle Midwest health system issues

  • Medical Assessment and Local Injuries Units have major role to play
  • 2009 decision to close A&E was wrong


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the HSE and the government to ensure 24-hour intermediate care at Ennis General Hospital is prioritised, to tackle emergency department overcrowding in the Midwest.

It comes as a pilot project to bring patients directly to Ennis, as opposed to the region’s main hospital, gets underway as one of the measures to ease severe and consistent overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick.

“The movement of ambulance patients to the Medical Assessment Unit at Ennis General Hospital this week has been a positive step,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I am confident that this intervention will help alleviate the inordinate pressures felt at UHL’s emergency department.

“It makes so much sense for patients in Clare to be treated in Clare where possible, and whilst many people in the south of our county are geographically closer to UHL, this decision is a major boost for those living in the west and north of our county.

“When I meet with HSE and UHL senior management this week, I intend to make the case for this arrangement to become a more permanent one and I also think it’s time to start looking at having the MAU and local injuries unit at Ennis General open on a 24/7 basis.

“This Christmas period once again laid bare how pressurised the public health system is in the Midwest region and the most tragic manifestation of this was the death of Aoife Johnston.

“No action by hospital management or government can ease the pain felt by her loved ones.

“I have now served almost three years as a TD for Clare and it is more obvious than ever that the decision taken in 2009 when my own party was in government to close the 24-hour A&E in Ennis General Hospital was absolutely wrong.

“At the time, it was touted that the closure would help to develop a centre of excellence in Limerick but this has never happened and if anything, things have gotten a lot worse over the past decade.

“Since 2009, various governments have stripped back Ennis General Hospital to the point that now it would be an incredibly difficult challenge to reopen a 24-hour A&E there – however, we should aim to significantly bolster the MAU and local injuries unit there.”


Government must retain reduced tourism VAT rate

  • Rate subject to review by end of February
  • Current 9% reduction should stay in place


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism Cathal Crowe is calling on government to bring certainty to the tourism sector by retaining the lower VAT rate that the industry is subject to.

Following Budget 2023, it was announced that the reduced rate of 9% would be extended until the end of February, at which stage it would be reviewed.

“I am calling on the government to bring certainty to the VAT rate applicable for the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Deputy Crowe.

“At the moment, it’s subject to a reduced rate of 9% introduced in 2021 as a way of stimulating activity in these sectors and giving businesspeople in tourism and hospitality some much-needed financial breathing space.

“On Budget Day, it was announced that this VAT rate would be reviewed at the end of February and many people who work in this sector saw this as an early warning that the rate would climb back up to the normal 13.5%.

“Now that we have finally reached 2023, many commentators are predicting a slump for tourism and hospitality this year and these sectors very much remain in recovery mode following the Covid pandemic.

“In order to allow them to rebuild, we need to ensure that the VAT rate is kept as low as possible and it is my sincere hope that it remains at 9%.

“The input costs for those in tourism and hospitality have also risen exponentially in recent months and colossal utility bills have already put some out of business.

“Many of the rising costs are being passed onto the consumer and I fear that if we tinker around with the VAT rate next month, it could have the unintended consequence of making commodities in these sectors more expensive and thereby discourage consumers from spending.

“January is typically a month where families begin to plan their summer holidays and for this reason, among others, I think it’s important to nail down VAT rates and pricing for the months ahead.

“January is also a slim trading month for many bars and restaurants after a busy Christmas season.

“They too want some certainty sooner rather than waiting until the end of February.

“Tourism and hospitality are vital to the Irish economy and as a representative for Co. Clare I know all too well the positive impact it’s had for us here locally – with more than 12,500 people employed in the sector.

“It’s vital that we act now to protect it.”


Almost €800,000 in funding for community centres in Clare

  • Seven groups to benefit from grants for upgrade/development works
  • Funding available under three categories


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of almost €800,000 in funding for seven community centres across Co. Clare.

The funding, which has been unveiled today by Minister Heather Humphreys, will go towards upgrade and development works, with grants of up to €300,000 available.

“Today’s announcement is of massive benefit to Clare and the community centres here in our county,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I’m a regular user of these centres and halls for my monthly clinics and I’m always so impressed by the work that the groups carry out to keep their centres going – all of these people are volunteers and I think many of us take for granted the work that they do.

“Newmarket-on-Fergus will receive the largest grant in the county of €285,000, which will be used to renovate and repair the main hall, toilets and changing facilities, as well the installation of solar panels and LED lightning.

“This centre has already undergone an impressive transformation so Newmarket really will have one of the best of these facilities in the county.

“The 12th Clare Tulla Scout Group has also been granted an impressive €200,000, while Broadford Development Association has been allocated €194,625.

“All of these are in the top bracket – Category 3 – while there’s three more in Category 2.

“They are Ballynacally Development Association and Lissycasey Pastoral Council, both of which have been granted €25,000, and St Patrick’s Hall in Corofin which has been granted €57,400.

“The only Category 1 project in Clare is Kilfenora Community Centre, which has been given a grant of €6,800.

“In all cases, these grants are going to make a significant difference to the voluntary committees who put so much effort into securing such funding for their centres and I know that it’ll mean a major boost for each community.

“I very much look forward to my next round of clinics, to speak to each of these committees again and hear more about their plans.”


Almost €770,000 in funding for Clare under Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors

  • Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and Ballycuggaran all to benefit
  • Funding part of Ireland’s first National Outdoor Recreation Strategy


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement of €768,204 in funding for Clare, under the Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors initiative.

Minister Heather Humphreys has today launched the initiative, which is a five-year ambitious and transformational National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.

“Clare is a county with iconic nature and outdoor options on our doorstep,” said Deputy Crowe.

“We all know the value of the Cliffs of Moher to our local economy and the pull that has for tourists from around this island but also further afield.

“It’s vital that we protect and maintain them, while acknowledging the tourist footfall that they bring in.

“Today’s announcement has seen €500,000 allocated to the Cliffs of Moher North Coastal Walk – one that many of us will have traversed over the years and one that virtually every visitor to our county has walked.

“The Cliffs and the Burren geopark will also share €87,304 for upgrade works, while a sum of €180,900 has been allocated to Ballycuggaran/Two Mile Gate in the east of the county for the upgrade of facilities there.

“Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, I think we’ve all gained a newfound love and respect for the great outdoors, whether that be the coast or a forest walk or any of the other amenities dotted across Clare.

“The benefits to spending time outdoors are well documented and this, combined with the tourism and economic impact of having such fantastic amenities locally, means maintenance on these sites is key.

“I’m glad to see the government acknowledge the importance of the outdoors and I look forward to seeing this funding put to good use at some of our best-known places.”


ESB and Shannon Airport to target development of hydrogen plant

  • Memorandum of Understanding signed by companies today
  • Would make Shannon industry leader


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Aviation and Tourism Cathal Crowe has welcomed the ground-breaking news that Shannon Airport and the ESB are targeting the development of a cutting-edge hydrogen plant at the airport.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Mary Considine of Shannon Group and the ESB’s Jim Dollard this afternoon, paving the way for a significant move towards sustainable aviation being developed here in Co. Clare.

“This is a massive, massive announcement for Shannon Airport,” said Deputy Crowe.

“If all goes to plan, this would see the a sustainable green hydrogen plant explored for Shannon, to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in aviation, heavy goods transport and industry, and as a lighthouse model for the net zero integrated energy system of the future.

“Simply put, Shannon Airport and the Midwest region would be at the very centre of moves towards a sustainable model of aviation.

“The aviation sector is at a key juncture at present, with widespread moves towards net zero carbon emissions, and for our airport here at Shannon to be leading the way in Ireland is phenomenal.

“Decarbonising the transport industry is vital and hydrogen can play a major role in achieving this.

“This, along with the ESB’s Green Atlantic project at Moneypoint means the true potential of the Shannon Estuary in the move to sustainable energy is being realised.

“Today is the first step in getting the hydrogen lighthouse project up and running and the work is by no means done but I stand ready to work with Shannon Group and the ESB in any means possible to ensure that this comes to fruition.”


€301,325 in funding to help Clare community centres with rising bills

  • Part of €10m national fund
  • Large number of community organisations can apply


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement of more than €300,000 in funding to assist community organisations in Clare such as community centres and parish halls with the rising costs of energy bills.

Minister Heather Humphreys has issued the funding today, which can be applied for via the Clare Local Development Company, in light of the costs in the energy sector at present.

Funding will be available to support Parish Halls, Community Centres, Local Development Associations, Social Clubs, ICA Groups, Senior Citizen Groups, Men’s Sheds, Women’s Sheds and much more.

“The rising costs in energy bills has been extremely concerning for every household and business,” said Deputy Crowe.

“For community groups, such as community centres, parish halls, etc they rely on the work of volunteers but moreover, to keep the doors open, they rely on donations, fundraising and so on.

“With the rising cost of living, this stream of funding is already under strain but while income is precarious, bills are rising and the stress that this puts on voluntary groups is extreme.

“These community centres, parish halls, social clubs and so on are the lifeblood of rural Ireland and the importance of their existence in our small towns and villages cannot be understated.

“These grants will help support these groups with electricity bills, insurance costs or other overheads – but also groups can apply for funding to carry out small upgrade works and to purchase equipment to support their activities such as laptops, printers, lawnmowers, training equipment and so on.

“The grants in Clare will be administered via the Clare Local Development Company and those who want a share of this fund can contact them on 065-6866800 for further information.”


Commercial rates revaluation must be put on ice

  • Clare one of the local authorities earmarked for revaluation
  • Deferral will help keep businesses afloat


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the government to defer the planned revaluation of commercial rates in Clare, Donegal, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Galway, Kerry and Mayo in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

The revaluation process is taking place as part of Revaluation 2023 is a national programme aimed at ensuring that the rateable valuation of all commercial and industrial property in Ireland reflects the current business environment.

However, Deputy Crowe has requested that an Taoiseach put a stop to these plans in the interim, given the economic uncertainty facing many small businesses.

“The government must consider a deferral of the revaluation of commercial rates as a matter of urgency,” said Deputy Crowe.

“It’s been 160 years since the last valuation – the last one taking place in 1862 – so there’s no reason why this can’t be postponed now; a year or two will make no difference at this point.

“They’ve been well supported by government during Covid and in the recent Budget but this is a cliff-edge for them.

“They’re facing rates hikes of 33% and more and they’re looking for government to step in and do something.

“It could cancel out all of the benefits from recent actions taken by government.

“There’s legislative processes to follow here but a statutory instrument could defer this and I think it would be prudent when these small businesses such as coffee shops and retail outlets are facing an existential crisis.

“I’ve raised this matter with an Taoiseach, who will talk to the Minister for Finance about my proposal, and this is something I will be following up on.”