Long-awaited sewerage schemes finally delivered for Broadford and Cooraclare

  • Minister O’Brien has confirmed funding for vital schemes
  • Both villages waiting decades for news


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed news that the long-awaited sewerage schemes for the villages of Broadford and Cooraclare have been confirmed.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien has confirmed this morning a €50 million rural wastewater collection and treatment scheme and has confirmed the inclusion of both Broadford and Cooraclare in the same.

“I am so pleased today to finally have received confirmation on the long-awaited sewerage schemes for these two villages,” said Deputy Crowe.

“When Fianna Fáil entered government in 2020, I was asked by party leadership what issues I wanted to see included in the Programme for Government.

“I said that the provision of rural sewerage schemes would be a redline issue for me and I am delighted that I have been able to pursue this issue in government and now secure the necessary funding from Minister Darragh O’Brien.

“Both villages have waited many decades for such infrastructure and local action groups in both areas have been frustrated at the length of time it took to achieve this.

“Rural villages have long been a priority of mine, as without a sewerage scheme, these villages can’t grow, housing cannot be provided and there’s also the ongoing environmental hazard of raw sewerage being discharged into drains and watercourses that has the potential of contaminating drinking waters.

“It’s regrettable that politicians and governments that served Co. Clare over the years didn’t deliver on this scheme heretofore.

“However, Minister O’Brien has been very proactively engaging with me on this issue and visited Broadford back in summer 2021 to see for himself how needed a scheme like this is.

“In recent weeks, he gave notice to Oireachtas representatives that he would be imminently signing off on the scheme – so I’ve been over and back in trying to pin down a date since then.

“I will be pushing to have this pilot scheme now made a multi-annual scheme – there are more villages in Clare that will need this level of investment.

“I want to also pay tribute to the Broadford Action Group led by PJ Mason and Cllr Bill Chambers and the late Brendan Daly in Cooraclare who have fought doggedly for this day – as well as the other elected representatives.”



Aer Lingus’ Shannon-Boston flights temporarily cancelled in lead-in to Christmas

  • Operations between Dec 11th & 17th impacted
  • Comes ahead of busy Christmas schedule


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is expressing disappointment at the cancellation of Aer Lingus’ Boston flights to and from Shannon Airport at one of the busiest times of the year.

The airline has confirmed that its flights between Boston Shannon are not operating between December 11th and 17th, with passengers booked onto various services being accommodated on flights in and out of Dublin instead.

There have also been some ongoing tactical cancellations in Dublin Airport.

“It’s very disappointing to see this happening,” said Deputy Crowe.

“We are building up to the Christmas season – a time of year when there’s usually an increase to air travel, as people fly home to Shannon to spend time with loved ones.

“For decades, Shannon Airport has beena famous gateway to expats and Irish immigrants in North America who yearn to be home at Christmas time and many Irish people have in recent years tried to squeeze in a visit to iconic US cities like New York in the build-up to December 25th.

“Whilst I appreciate that the technical difficulties that Aer Lingus are experiencing are unavoidable, it’s unfortunate that Shannon Airport has to lose out on one of the busiest weeks of the year.

“Transatlantic flights to and from Shannon are an integral part of Aer Lingus’s annual flight schedule.

“Passengers will be very discommoded by this move but Aer Lingus have assured me that they will accommodate them on alternative flights in and out of Ireland.

“I’ve been in contact with Aer Lingus on the matter but there’s very little change that can be politically affected here, as Aer Lingus trade as a commercial company and make all of their own decisions.

“I hope that 2024 will see Aer Lingus and other airlines, including Ryanair, commit heavily to Shannon Airport once again.

“Shannon has enjoyed a great resurgence since Ireland has emerged from the Covid pandemic but Shannon Airport management, and the many people in the Midwest region who are staunch advocates for the airport feel that it can grow even further.

“As my party’s Aviation Spokesperson and a TD for Clare I will continue to work to ensure Shannon’s future growth.”

Statement from Aer Lingus

“Aer Lingus has had to make a number of tactical cancellations to our US operations between 11th and 17th Dec due to aircraft availability in this period. Any impacted customers have been re-accommodated onto alternative flights and will reach their US destinations. We plan to operate flights over the Christmas period as scheduled. Flights in both directions are impacted and it’s only Boston for the relevant period. There have been ongoing tactical cancellations in Dublin also.”

Policy for approval of ASD classes must change 

  • Children having to travel huge distances to have needs met
  • Frustrating for schools and parents alike


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for an overhaul on the process by which ASD classes are approved for schools.

The existing policy means that a large number of schools are applying for classes and being turned down, because of an enrolment criteria – despite the need being clear for a class in these schools.

“Many schools across the county have been in contact with me saying that they’re having difficulty getting approval to open autism classes and this seems quite illogical at a time when diagnostics have improved significantly – and now far more children are being diagnosed with ASD,” said Deputy Crowe.

“When I began my teaching career in 2006, ASD classes were unheard of and children with additional needs generally had their needs met within a mainstream classroom, or a special school.

“Nowadays, many schools in our county have ASD classes where, in a fully tailored learning environment that can meet their sensory and learning needs, six children are taught by a teacher and supported by a Special Needs Assistant.

“A lot of schools in Clare have applied to have these classes on-site and so far many have been approved but in more recent times, the National Council for Special Education (NSCE) has insisted that an autism class must have a full enrolment of six pupils before a new autism class in a neighbouring school can be considered.

“I know of incidents in the county where there are four or five in an ASD class and for this reason, a school 20 minutes further away is having its application for a class disallowed.

“This policy is frustrating in the short-term but on a long-term basis will quickly become unworkable because, in order to fill a class, children and parents are being sent great distances from their home base each morning and once a class fills, local children – particularly those entering a school at Junior Infants – with a diagnoses of autism are unable to attend their local school because the ASD class there has already filled.

“The policy has led to a ridiculous scenario where children from Ennis are going 15km or more out to rural schools and children from Limerick are coming out to schools more than half an hour away from their home.

“Their needs are being superbly met but the insistence by the NCSE that a class of six must be filled before another can be considered is condemning so many people to unnecessary journeys each day.”


Memo to approve Broadford and Cooraclare sewerage schemes must be fast-tracked

  • Both communities still waiting on news
  • Memo imminent but must be expedited


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the government to expedite a memo through Cabinet, which will see sewerage schemes approved and funded for the villages of Broadford and Cooraclare.

It has been a lengthy wait for both communities, who continue to seek news on their long-awaited schemes.

“I am calling on colleagues in government to fast-track a memo through cabinet to have sewerage schemes for Broadford and Cooraclare approved and funded,” said Deputy Crowe.

“People in both communities have campaigned for more than 40 years to have this essential infrastructure built and in this day and age, it is absurd that raw sewerage is still being discharged into local water courses.

“Minister Darragh O’Brien has been very supportive of the concept of bringing sewerage schemes to both Broadford and Cooraclare and I have been meeting him on an ongoing basis to press the case for both villages.

“In August 2021, Minister O’Brien visited the county to discuss the merits of schemes for both villages with Clare County Council management and he also paid a visit to Broadford.

“Since then, hopes and expectations have been rising that schemes would be announced – but a lot of indicative dates have come and passed.

“I remain fully confident that Minister O’Brien will fulfil his promise to deliver one-off rural sewerage schemes throughout the country and I remain highly hopeful that Broadford and Cooraclare will be beneficiaries of the same.

“My understanding is that a memo from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will go before Cabinet and that agreement there will be required before the schemes can be finally approved.

“I met with Minister O’Brien again this week and have urged him to expedite this process.

“There have been far too many false dawns for both villages over the years and I don’t plan on being a politician that lets them down.

“When Fianna Fáil entered government in 2020, I dig my heels in and said that the provision of rural sewerage schemes should be amongst our red-line issues entering government.

“My demand has been positively supported by Minister O’Brien throughout his tenure as a cabinet minister and I am confident that he will deliver for Clare.

“It is essential that we also plan for this scheme to operate on a multi-annual basis – there are several more communities in Clare including Carrigaholt, Doolin and O’Brien’s Bridge that desperately require these schemes.

“A multi-annual fully funded scheme is the only way of ensuring the archaic practice of having sewerage effluent leaking into local rivers is ended.

“If Ireland doesn’t fully grasp that problem, we will face sanctions from the European Commission.”


Huge relief for Meelick parents with positive news on school bus route

  • Multiple meetings held to resolve issue
  • Light finally at end of tunnel


Meelick Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe has welcomed the confirmation that the resumption of the Meelick-Limerick City school bus route is imminent.

Pupils on this route have been without school transport since the beginning of the school term, which has put huge strain on their parents in trying to get them to and from school.

“I’m delighted first and foremost for my neighbours, the parents and pupils of Meelick, who have been in contact with me for months on this bus issue,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I’ve been in constant contact with Bus Éireann on this and all of the other routes that have been giving issues this school year and have had literally hundreds of parents emailing and phoning me and meeting me at clinics.

“In the last fortnight, I held five or six meetings both online and in person with senior management in Bus Éireann and the parents themselves to find a solution.

“It became clear in the course of these meetings that we were nearing a solution and I was delighted to be able to confirm to the parents that a contractor has been appointed.

“Some minor details are now being ironed out but I fully expect this route to be up and running very soon.

“It’s important that next year, the procurement process for getting drivers to fulfil routes begins earlier and I will be engaging with Minister Norma Foley on this.

“I’m again calling on Bus Éireann to revisit the rule whereby drivers over the age of 70 are not allowed to drive services to and from schools, but are allowed to fulfil other contracts during the working day.

“It is illogical that a driver can bring children to a hurling match of swimming lessons – but not to school because of a ridiculous and unworkable rule.”


Fast-tracking of proposals for shingles vaccine must be considered

  • NIAC has recommended an immunisation programme
  • Similar moves have been made in UK


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the government to approve funding for a national programme for immunisation against shingles.

It comes as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee has made a recommendation for a vaccination programme to be rolled out for over 50s and over 18s at higher risk.

“I am calling on the government to look at fast-tracking proposals for a national immunisation plan for shingles,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Many adults contract shingles each year, and it can be a very sore and debilitating illness lasting many weeks for older people in particular.

“A bad bout of shingles can keep a person bedbound and significantly reduce mobility.

“In Britain, the NHS provides free vaccinations against shingles for adults, and I would love to see a similar scheme rolled out here in Ireland.

“It’s estimated that the immunisation cost would be in the region of €500 per adult and this would give 10-year immunisation against the virus.

“I think that this represents good value for money and on the basis that it provides a decade of cover against the virus, works out at around €50 per annum, per adult.

“We have seen during the Covid pandemic how the state was able to quickly and significantly ramp up vaccination, and I think the capacity layers and indeed administration of vaccination that the state acquired in those years should not be lost.

“Potentially, immunisation against shingles could be part of a suite of vaccinations given annually to Ireland’s adult population.

“Any mitigation measure that keeps people out of the acute hospital system should be viewed in a very positive light.

“At the moment, the Health Technology Assessment is underway – and I’m hoping that this now gets approval in funding.”


Crowe pays tribute to Cllr Pat McMahon on his retirement from politics

“Pat is a great personal friend and running mate of mine and I can’t let the opportunity past without paying tribute to him for his stellar work over the years.

As many of you will know, Pat has had a lifelong passion for Shannon Airport and would frequently table motions at council meetings about it. When I contested the 2020 General Election, Pat was one of my close confidants and mentors along with former TDs for the county Tony Killeen and Brendan Daly.

Pat has always been a very proud Newmarket-on-Fergus man, following in the footsteps of his father who served before him. We would often co-host advice clinics in the community hall in Newmarket and it was evident on those days that he was very much loved by his community and they hugely value the decades of work he has put in for them.

His term of office will run up until next June and I have no doubt that he’ll continue his sterling work for his locality until then.”


Certainty needed on future of Ennis town bus service

  • NTA casts doubt over plans but Minister Chambers committed
  • Things remain positive but certainty required


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for certainty to be given as soon as possible on the advancement of an Ennis town bus service.

The service has been committed to already but the NTA has cast some doubt over the plans, pointing to funding difficulties.

Deputy Crowe arranged for Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers to meet with officials in Clare this morning to discuss the matter.

“I was extremely concerned yesterday afternoon when I received an email from the National Transport Authority, outlining what they called a funding uncertainty for 2024 which means that – in their view – they are somewhat inhibited from advancing the procurement phase of a new Ennis town bus service,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I immediately contacted my colleague, Minister Jack Chambers, on receipt of this email, as he happened to be in Co. Clare today, and asked him to attend an early morning meeting with officials and elected members from Clare County Council, which he agreed to.

“This took place this morning in the Park Inn Hotel in Shannon and those in attendance included Mayor of Ennis Pat Daly, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy, Cllr Mary Howard, Cllr Paul Murphy, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne and Senator Timmy Dooley.

“The council was represented by Carmel Kirby, director of services, and Eamon O’Dea.

“The Minister explained that in the recent Budget passed by the Dáil, there is a €10m fund allocated to his department for new bus routes and he will be meeting with the NTA in the next few weeks to discuss the spending of this sum.

“I am confident that this will lead to a good outcome for Ennis, but yet we need certainty on this as soon as possible.

“Ennis, with a population closing in on 30,000, is the largest town in Munster, with lofty ambitions to grow enterprise and retail in the town, underpinned by the motorway network between two major cities and a nearby international airport.

“The technological university campus also brings a lot of young people into the town.

“If we are to encourage more people to look to Ennis as a place to live and do business, and moreover to leave the car at home and opt for public transport, we will need a decent transport network here.

“Draft plans for the service include two routes – one travelling east-west and one going north-south, with both wrapping around the town centre.

“It is anticipated that the total initial cost would be in the region of €800,000 which breaks down as approximately €400,000 per route.

“I hope that Minister Chambers will have a successful outcome to his meeting with the NTA and that we very soon start hearing about where and how this €10m fund will be spent.

“I am hopeful that Ennis will be a major beneficiary of this fund and that we remain on course to deliver an Ennis town bus service by 2025.”


Shannon Airport report highlights what Midwest has felt for years

  • Dominance of Dublin Airport spelled out in black and white
  • Aviation policy needs radical overhaul


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling for an overhaul of Ireland’s aviation policy to be given serious consideration.

His comments come ahead of the launch of a report on the economic impact of Shannon Airport on the Irish economy and the wider Midwest region, which has concluded that Ireland’s aviation policy has to date failed to create a level playing field for airports outside of the capital to flourish.

Minister of State Jack Chambers will officially launch the report at Shannon Airport this morning.

“This report highlights what we’ve felt in the Midwest region for quite a long time,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Dublin Airport is enjoying excessive dominance in the market.

“This is typical in many European countries, where the capital airport does far better than the other airports in the country, but it’s felt all the more here as a small island nation.

“The argument for capping flights in and out of Dublin Airport and sharing that across other airports has added significance now, with Dublin reaching its own cap.

“The regional airports funding has been very generous to Shannon, Cork and Knock in recent years but it is determined by passenger threshold.

“This is currently being reviewed and I hope that the threshold can be lowered because Ireland has capacity within EU state aid rules to better fund its airports, but this can only happen if a more realistic passenger number threshold is used.

“Whilst Dublin welcomes more than 30 million passengers per year, Shannon and the other airports only receive a fraction of this and therefore these airports’ incomes are lower, and this is a major hurdle in trying to expand and pursue capital projects to increase passenger numbers.

“As my party’s aviation spokesperson, I’ve already held a series of public consultation events in the county, and I will be continuing this in the coming months – it’s key to hear directly from those on the ground who rely on Shannon.

“I’m delighted to have Minister Jack Chambers visit Shannon Airport today for the launch of this report.

“He’s a very proactive minister in the Department of Transport and really understands airports – I’ll be pressing the importance of the outcomes of this report to him and pursuing a change in Ireland’s aviation policy.”


Bus Éireann must revisit over 70s ban on school bus drivers

  • Major school transport crisis brewing in Clare
  • Driver shortage to blame


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for a reverse in the policy of Bus Éireann to stop anybody over 70 years of age driving on school bus routes.

It comes as six school transport routes in Co. Clare are now left without a bus, due to driver and vehicle issues, leaving children across the county with no way to school.

“I am calling on Bus Éireann to immediately reconsider their policy of having a cut-off point at 70 years of age for drivers operating school bus services,” said Deputy Crowe.

“At the moment, there is a crisis in terms of trying to provide enough drivers to fulfil all designated bus services throughout the country and in many instances, private coach operators who have contracted themselves to the Department of Education and Bus Éireann have highly competent drivers over the age of 70 who are unable to fulfil morning and afternoon school runs.

“Bizarrely, these same drivers are allowed during the day to bring children to and from school matches or swimming lessons – so long as it’s not a school drop-off or collection.

“It makes very little sense to me and has left so many communities strung out as we begin a new school year.

“The obvious change that needs to happen here is that Bus Éireann change their policy so that drivers over the age of 70 can continue to drive school buses, subject to regular medical check-ups.

“A change to this effect would immediately free up several hundred drivers who could readily slot into morning and afternoon school bus services.

“In my own constituency, there are now six bus routes without drivers fulfilling them which is hugely discommoding parents.

“Some are taking time off work or carpooling and most of these parents found out that there wouldn’t be a service on the last day of the school holidays – they had no lead-in time to make alternative plans, even if they could,

“This crisis will only be ended when there are more drivers available.

“A policy change, which could be taken by the board of Bus Éireann very quickly, would go a long way to resolving this crisis and ensuring that children have a seamless school journey without parents being inconvenienced.”