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A new council

Still hungry

But will it work? Indepth analysis page 16

John Galvin on injuries and 2013 hopes page 25

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Volume V, Issue I

www.limerickvoice.com

€20m hole in council coffers

Friday, December 7, 2012

SING OUT: Carols at St Mary’s Cathedral

• €17m due in commercial rates • €2.7m household charges due

Choir member Emily Howes (centre) in full voice at the Advent Carol Service at St Mary’s Cathedral. See page 3 for full story.

EXCLUSIVE Enda Dowling, Kate Doyle and Brian O’Connor

LIMERICK CITY and County Councils are facing a €20m hole in their finances as commercial rate payments collapse and onein-three homeowners have yet to pay the controversial household charge.

The figures are revealed in data provided by the finance departments of Limerick’s City and County Councils, as well as the National Household Charge Bureau in Dublin, to the

Limerick Voice. However the councils have stressed the financial headache won’t effect services to the public. Irene Griffin of Limerick City Council’s finance department said that “no service provided by the council is in jeopardy due to the shortfall in collection, and this is subject to review”. With less than 30 days left until the end of the year, Limerick City Council is owed €9.25m out of €30.5m in rates from city traders this year. Limerick County Council has yet to receive €7.12m out of a total €28.8m due to it in rates from businesses across the county for 2012. Organisations representing businesses have complained that the high

rates are unaffordable. In a further blow to both councils, funding from central government was cut in 2012, and may be cut again in 2013, according to Tom Enright, Director of Services for economic planning and development for the newly combined ‘super’ council for Limerick. Separately, more than 21,000 homeowners in Co Limerick have yet to pay the €100 household charge. In total more than €2.71m is due to both councils. The figures from the Bureau show that 21,062 houses out of 66,853 have yet to pay. Acting Head of Finance at Limerick City Council Pat Murnane said they had made provisions for bad debts.

“For the last three years, the council has included €5m a year for bad debts provision, which is written off as expenses the following year. “The shortfall won’t affect the merger of City and County councils,” he added. Meanwhile, the total number of staff for the new Limerick ‘super’ council may be reduced by up to 300 people over the next five years, according to the manager Conn Murray. Mr Murray confirmed that jobs would be reduced from approximately 1,150 down to 850 to 900 during the coming years, though there will be no compulsory redundancies. Jobs will be reduced through the non-renewal of contracts and natural wastage, he confirmed.

The household charge Have your say #limerickvoice

Related Murray interviewed Page 12 and 13 Hole in City rates Page 14 Analysis Page 17

HOW MUCH IS YOUR HOUSE REALLY WORTH? Full extent of Limerick’s home value slide revealed: Page 15


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

2 | News

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Vincent Browne

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On Limerick, government and journalism. Page 18

BUSINESS going well for Adare man after RTE make over

By Jane O’Faherty THE OWNER of a landmark business in Adare is optimistic about its future after featuring on the RTÉ television show At Your Service. The Seán Collins bar appeared on the show last February after celebrity hoteliers John and Francis Brennan visited to offer their expert advice. Seán and Bridie Collins run the bar and the Adare Village Inn with three members of staff after buying the businesses 15 years ago. The businesses have belonged to the Collins family for the past three generations. 700,000 people watched the Seán Collins Bar episode, and business has been improving ever

NEWS

Expenses rack up Six-figure sums for TDs Limerick’s 10 TDs cost Irish taxpayers more than €1.5 million in 2012 in salaries and expenses.

Page 5

Worry for Feale Rivers choked by weed Noxious weed Himalayan Balsam continues to thrive on the River Feale, but wider threats to fishing in the county remain, as salmon stocks dwindle.

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focused on improving the bar’s menu and hired local chef Rachel O’Connor. “It wasn’t hard to take advice, especially when you’re getting it from the likes of John and Francis,” said Seán. “[They] are leaders in their field, albeit at a higher level in the five-star hotel market.” When the brothers came to Adare, Seán and Bridie also owned The Pink Potato, a chipper beside the bar. However, they decided to close it last September as more and more people came to the bar for food. “At the end of the day, do you want to go into McDonald’s or do you want to come in here? We’re not a whole pile more expensive than your average McDonald’s,” added Seán.

INMO warn of New Year bed crisis

DIGEST

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since. “So far in 2012, we’ve had an increase of 45 percent, and accommodation has increased by 12.5 percent, so we’re lucky that way,” said Seán. Seán said he took the decision to contact RTÉ after business started slowing down. Generally, there were less people coming into the bar. To get the business up again we needed new ideas, and one of the best ideas was to get the programme to do us,” he said. Brothers Francis and John Brennan own the five-star Park Hotel Kenmare, Co. Kerry and have presented At Your Service since 2008. They have given business makeovers to B&Bs, guesthouses and small hotels all over the country. Together with the brothers, Seán and Bridie

10

Nursing union the INMO has warned that the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick will face a New Year beds crisis. Union representative Mary Fogarty has said the hospital is not equipped to deal with a potential surge in patient numbers.

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Page 4

Property prices slide

Communities fear Houses down 50% for Garda stations The imminent closures of singlemanned Garda stations across the county will leave local communities in Limerick reeling. While no decision on closures have been announced, a local Garda chief said the decision would have to be made on cost grounds.

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5

Close to €350m worth of homes have changed hands across Limerick City and County since January 2010, with five reaching more than €1m, but data reveals that house prices have dropped significantly, and the market has yet to bottom out.

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News | 3

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

John goes for gold in Durban sun

NEW DEAN OF ST MARY’S OUTLINES PLANS

Ballybrown man hopes to retain title at World Transplant Games in South Africa in July Fintan Walsh A 65-year-old Ballybrown man is hoping to retain his title for the World Transplant Games next summer. Athlete John Loftus, a kidney recipient, said while challenges are ahead, he is determined to participate in the games in Durban, South Africa, next July. The former Manager of Ballybrown Hurling Club said he injured his shoulder, which will require medical treatment, but it will not deter his chances in maintaining his gold medal status in the 100m and 200m races. “I will require surgery. I am going to be consulting with one of the finest specialists this week and will then book a date. I’m going to Australia in the next week or two as my son’s fiancée is having their first child. When I come back, I will go about the surgery. I have every intention to be in Durban,” he said. He is currently not doing any training, but will have sufficient time after the New Year to prepare for the games, as athletes are “required to put in a certain amount of training”. As well as facing the challenge of recuperating his injured shoulder, the multi-event sportsman said new opponents can have a major effect on athletes’ performances. “Every year you get new people in the category. They will have just turned 60 and I will be a year older. Somebody good could come out of nowhere. So, it all comes down to your health and how you perform on the day. At the end of the day, you are

running against yourself. Running 100m, you can only be at your best. If you get beaten, you get beaten by someone who is just faster than you.” Mr Loftus said people going through organ transplants should not let the past upset them and that life can still be enjoyable. “Yes, I take a lot of medication because, naturally, my body is going to try and reject my new kidney, but there is a life after it [the transplant] and we should get on with life and be a part of our new life.” John, a coach for Limerick City Special Olympics, won silver in sprinting in the 2007 World championships in Bangkok and has not lost a track competition since. Nicknamed “The Bullet”, he was recently featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide discussing the life of a donor. “Do not take your organs to Heaven with you. Heaven knows we need them here.” he said.

THE NEW Dean of Limerick and Ardfert at St Mary’s Cathedral, Very Rev Sandra Pragnell, with the Rt Rev Trevor Russell Williams, Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe (Above) will take part in a candle-lit choral procession at the Cathedral on Sunday night, December 3. Very Rev Sarah Pragnell, who previously ministered in Dundalk, took up her appointment as Dean of Limerick and Ardfert at St Mary’s Cathedral in November.

She said she finds her new role very rewarding. “People have been very warm and welcoming, they are really genuine and lovely people. “It’s a very steep learning curve but I’m delighted to be here and it’s a great privilege,” said Dean Pragnell. The Dean said she had a number of plans for her new appointment. “I’ll be talking to people in the grassroots in the parishes, and working with other churches, that’s very important,” she added.

A number of events are planned at St Mary’s for Christmas including a ‘Carols for the City’ service on Sunday, December 23. The ‘First Eucharist of Christmas’ will take place at 11pm on Christmas Eve while a Choral Eucharist will take place on Christmas day at 11:15am. St Mary’s, founded in 1168, is the city’s oldest church. Pictured below are Bishop Trevor Russell Williams (centre) with Dean Pragnell and a number of ministers at Sunday night’s carol service.

New ‘Twist’ soup kitchen on the way for Limerick Liam Gleeson

THE businessman who set up the ‘Twist’ soup kitchens in Galway City plans to open a service in Limerick. Ex-helicoptor pilot Oliver Williams said that he was looking to expand the soup kitchen service that he started in Galway earlier this year. The Athenry native said he thought the day would soon come when we would see soup kitchens in every large town in Ireland. Williams, who has opened kitchens in Galway and Athlone, has also identified Roscommon and Ennis as locations for such services. He confirmed that a decision has been made

on Roscommon and he expects to see it come on-line very soon and hopes that Ennis will follow soon after. The businessman also confirmed that he is researching other areas of the country. Williams opened his first soup kitchen in Galway City in June of this year where he has been providing free meals for anyone in need. “That’s the secret with Twist. It’s about key people really and key areas. “As long as I can build up good relationships with key people then it’s possible to put it anywhere” Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick City, Willie O’Dea welcomed the news.

“There is a certain amount of ‘working poor’ in the City, on low incomes. These people are below the internationally accepted poverty line, and are finding the going extremely tough. “Limerick is the unemployment black spot of the country. The rate of unemployment in the City is the highest according to the latest CSO figures,” he added. Fine Gael Councillor, Maria Byrne noted that there already was a mobile soup kitchen run voluntarily in the City along with many other services. She praised these services for catering for the City’s homeless and needy. However, she said she would

not hesitate to support any new facility if Williams was to go ahead with his plans. “People who, in the past were giving to charities are now the ones who are coming looking for help,” she said. Cllr Byrne also called on local businesses to get behind such an initiative if it goes ahead saying that it would be a very positive image to transmit. Twist in Galway is currently catering for around 85 people on a daily basis, and the Athlone kitchen for 55. Williams decided to open the facility after recalling how he fell on hard times in London. He ended up on the

streets and came across the services of Centrepoint in Soho. Twist does not receive any Government funding and is totally reliant on donations and the goodwill of local people and businesses. It not only caters just for homeless people, it also welcomes single parents and those who have lost their jobs, or anyone who is in need, hungry or just wants to have a chat with a friendly face. If people wish to donate to Twist they can do so through the ‘iDonate’ facility on their website www.twistsoupkitchen.com Oliver says he will welcome anyone in need to the Twist soup kitchen.


4 | News

CITY

New project to collect Limerick photos of old A NEW project collating photos of Limerick City, both old and new, is underway in what is planned to be the first eBook about the City. The ‘Limerick Book Project’ is the idea of three photography enthusiasts who met on a Facebook page, ‘Limerick Photos’. Ciaran Fitzgerald, Denis O’Donnell and Carl Clarke hope the project will bring the reader through past decades of life in Limerick City, right up to the here and now, using photos as well as stories and poems. Anyone wishing to contribute to the project can email limerickbookproject@gmail.com.

‘Think ahead’ asks people to plan for end-of life issues A CULTURE of silence surrounding issues of death, dying, bereavement and end of life in Ireland can cause difficulties for people later in life, according to Milford Care Centre’s Head of Education, Research and Professional Development, Padraig D’Arcy. This comes after the threemonth pilot phase of the Think Ahead initiative, which was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in October 2011, ended last week. The campaign, developed by the Forum on End-of-Life in Ireland, an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation, aims to get people thinking about and recording, their preferences in the event of an emergency, serious illness or death.

Nurses predict Christmas beds crisis

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Report says MWR hospital below hand hygiene targets Niamh Drohan News Editor

The Mid-Western Regional Hospital is facing a potential bed-shortage crisis this Christmas, nursing unions have warned. Mary Fogarty, Industrial Relations Officer for the Mid-Western Region of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) told the Limerick Voice that the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle is “not equipped” to deal with a potential surge in in-patients over the New Year period. Ms Fogarty warned there are not enough beds within the hospital to cope with a potential influx of patients during the New Year. “The Mid-Western hospital is not equipped to deal with an increase in patients – there simply aren’t enough beds, even internally this has been admitted.” Ms Fogarty said issues with rostering led to severe staff shortages during the New Year period at the beginning of the year and that she hoped “management would have ‘measures in place’ to ensure that there isn’t a repeat of last year”.

The hospital experienced a huge escalation in numbers last January which led to “huge pressure” being placed on hospital services, she said. Under current measures, patients can be transferred between St John’s hospital in the city, Ennis and Nenagh Regional Hospitals if the Mid-Western Regional is under pressure, and then only if there are beds available in the other locations. The hospital currently has 426 inpatient beds, with 86 beds allocated to day patients. “The issue is that there is a shortage of beds all year round, but this becomes particularly difficult in the New Year where we witness a huge influx because of people holding off and not going to the hospital over Christmas.” Statistics on ‘trolleywatch’, the INMO’s resource for checking the number of patients waiting for treatment on hospital trolleys, showed 10 patients waiting for beds by the time the Limerick Voice went to press. A spokesman for the HSE MidWest declined to comment when contacted. Meanwhile, the release of a recent report from the Health Surveillance

Unions have warned that the Mid-West Regional is facing a New Year beds crisis Protection Centre (HSPC) shows the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle is below annual Health Service Executive (HSE) targets in relation to their hand-hygiene practices. On November 13 the HSPC released the results of their annual audits carried out in June and July earlier this year. The inspections are carried out by measuring the number of hand-washing opportunities against the number of times hospital staff washed their hands. The Mid-Western hospital failed to meet the target set by the Health Service Executive (HSE) of an 85 per cent compliance rate, scoring

77.6 percent. Hospital staff availed of 163 handwashing opportunities out of a possible 210, placing the hospital in fifth place out of the ten hospitals inspected in the HSE West region. In addition to this, the hospital has also come under scrutiny for its hygiene practices online, with damning patient testimonies featured on ratemyhospital.ie, a forum for unverified comments in relation to public and private hospitals. The Limerick Voice sent a request to the HSE Mid-West to provide appropriate data in relation to hygiene inspections carried out internally in the hospital, however a spokesperson declined to comment.

City engineer calls for new electric car parking laws Liam Gleeson

An e-car parking bay at Bedford Row. Pic: Liam Gleeson

MOTORISTS in Limerick City who park in designated, electric car charging bays can take advantage of a loophole in parking legislation that allows them to legally park there without receiving a parking ticket, or penalty notice. Rory McDermott, a traffic enginneer with Limerick City Council, highlighted the problem to the Limerick Voice and said that city traffic wardens are powerless to serve a motorist with a ticket or penalty fine if they are displaying a valid parking ticket or disk inside their vehicle. “At present, the only onus on motorists is to comply with any local, parking disk regulations within bays. The Minister for transport is yet to put in place any legislation that makes it illegal to park a normal, me-

chanically propelled vehicle in these green bays,” he said. When we contacted the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar’s office for clarification on the matter, a spokesperson confirmed the problem existed nationwide. “There is currently no provision in law to allow them to reserve parking spaces for the charging of electric vehicles. This means that, where charging points are provided, the spaces must necessarily be regarded as normal parking spaces”. The special park-and-charge spaces for electric vehicles are situated at Merchant’s Quay, Bedford Row, Pery St, Pery Square and the Milk Market. The main problem according to Mr McDermott is that the City Councils do not have the powers to put such legislation in place and therefore

can’t enforce any laws on motorists. So until Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, creates such legislation to close the loophole, the green signs and road markings that are put in place by city or county councils can only be taken as advisory measures by drivers. The signs currently have no legal standing. The problem was also highlighted by ESB e-cars who maintain the charge points on a regular basis. A spokesperson for the company said that unfortunately there seemed to be no legislation in place, but they would endeavor to change this as soon as possible. Willie O’Dea, Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick City said that it was “ludicrous”. “Why is the City Council not enforcing the law on this? It’s not as though we do not have enough traffic wardens,” he added.


CITY

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

News | 5

Two TDs claim €1,200 a week in tax-free expenses in 2012 • Spring tops list with €62,000 • 10 Limerick TDs get €1.5m Derek Bowler

Chief Reporter @BowlerDerek derek.bowler@limerickvoice.com

LIMERICK’S 10 TDs earned more than €1.56m in salaries and tax free expenses, new figures reveal.

The four Fine Gael, two Fianna Fáil, two Labour and one Sinn Féin TDs across the three Limerick and Kerry constituencies that represent the county, trousered an average of €150,000 each in 2012. Fine Gael TDs Michael Noonan and Jimmy Deenihan each earned just more than €180,000, including a €169,000 salary each as cabinet ministers, including a TD’s salary of €92,000, a ministerial allowance of €76,600 and €1,000 a month in expense claims. However Labour’s North KerryWest Limerick TD Arthur Spring was the highest expense claimant, claiming more than €62,000 in travel, mileage and other costs for 2012. The TD who claimed least was Fine Gael’s Limerick city TD Kieran O’Donnell (pictured right). He claimed €48,700.

When contacted by the Limerick Voice Deputy Spring disputed the claim and said he would not see that money in “a million years”. “Describing me as the highest claiment would not do justice to me or the system,” he said. Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris, who shares the constituency with Deputy Spring, claimed expenses of just under €60,000 in the same period. In the Limerick constituency, Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins and Fine Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan also both claimed just under €60,000 each in expenses. Both TDs also earned a €92,000 salary. Deputy Dan Neville claimed just over €49,000 in expenses. However as a member of the Oireachtas Commission, he is also entitled to an extra €9,500 per annum taxed allowance. In Limerick city, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan claimed €20,000 in expenses. As a junior minister she also received a €37,368 ministerial allowance on top of her €92,000 TD’s salary. TDs’ expenses have been cut considerably in recent years. The expenses paid to Limerick’s TDs are for costs incurred in the course of their work including mileage costs travelling to the Oireachtas weekly. All Limerick TDs have strong attendance records at Dáil sittings, ac-

North Kerry West Limerick TD Arthur Spring takes part in a charity fashion show in Dublin recently. The Labour TD was the highest expenses claimant in 2012. cording to the records. The three Limerick ministers are no longer entitled to State cars or Garda drivers, except on official State business. Although Ministers are not entitled to claim the same overnight accommodation expenses as other TDs, they are entitled to make expenses claims for the cost of hotels, or a refund on any interest they pay on a loan for buying a second residence. They can claim for the actual vouched additional costs associated with maintaining a second residence

in a hotel, which is made to the Revenue Commissioners. Along with salaries, allowances and expenses, TDs also receive free access to a gym in the Dáil, free parking in Dublin, a subsidised bar, free postage, free ink toners and can claim for a free mobile phone every 18 months. A one-off €8,000 grant can be claimed to open a new constituency office.

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- The figures are based on official records released by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The period from November 2011 to October 2012 was used when compiling the expenses.

CASTLETROY New company startups out-number City landlord offers free office insolvencies four-to-one in county space for start-up company By Barbara Ross

Enda Dowling

LIMERICK businessman Gerry O’Mahony (pictured right) of O’Mahony Insurances, is offering a free office space within his business in Castletroy. He is offering a full service office to any Limerick entrepreneur who is looking to develop their business. “We will provide computer access and support as well as a live office environment.” The opportunity will be given on a lease of between three and nine months but can be negotiated. The office space is completely free of charge and includes computer services, telephone, fax, photocopying and canteen facilities. Mr O’Mahony will also offer advice when he can. “The staff here have different areas

SOME 470 new company startups in County Limerick were recorded by the Company Registration Office between January and the end of October this year, new figures reveal. Some 98 companies in County Limerick were declared insolvent during the same period. The figures were prepared for the Limerick Voice by financial records company Vision-net.ie. The high number of newly formed companies during the 10 month period means that Limerick has the fourth highest number of business start-ups in Ireland this year. Only counties Dublin, Cork and Kildare have had more company startups between January and October last. Taking into account the final two months of 2011, means that 543

of expertise and if we can, we will be happy to help with advice in any way we can. At the very least we can act as a sounding board.” The company is located in the Financial Services Centre, Castletroy.

businesses have started up across Limerick over the past 12 months. The positive figures are being attributed to a number of initiatives. Mike Cantwell of Limerick’s County Enterprise Board said a new micro-finance scheme for new enterprises, run by the board, was having a positive impact. “It’s for any business looking for funding, but has been refused a loan by the bank,” he said. Mr Cantwell also said that the close working relationship between the Enterprise Board and new businesses has made sure that suitable and affordable commercial premises can be found for new start-ups. Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea (pictured right) said that “the combination of Limerick City and County is a very good idea from a business point of view. Nevertheless I would

stress that the stepping up of the one stop shop which will now be under the agency of one combined local authority here is absolutely critical and should take place without any further delay”.


COUNTY

6 | News

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

West county trail expansion meets mixed reaction Amy O’ Connor

A €250,000 extension to a walking

trail which runs from West Limerick to North Kerry has been largely welcomed, despite the concerns of one Askeaton councillor. While a majority of councillors have expressed satisfaction with the plans to extend the Great Southern Trail from the Railway Bar at Abbeyfeale out to the Limerick county boundaries, Cllr Kevin Sheahan has objected to what he sees as the misuse of land which could potentially one day carry trains from Limerick

to Kerry. “It is still our hope and our vision to see trains on that railway track and not to turn it into a walkway,” said Cllr Sheehan at the latest meeting of Limerick County Council. Despite Cllr Sheahan’s concerns, there has been widespread support for the three kilometre extension of the trail from Abbeyfeale. “The work will continue in to next year and it will add to an outstanding amenity in Abbeyfeale and West Limerick,” said Cllr Liam Galvin. The new extension, which is suitable for both cyclists and those on foot, is expected

SWEET SUCCESS

Eileen celebrates Mr Finn’s first birthday

to attract “young and old people out to keep fit in a safe manner and also people interested in nature,” according to the Abbeyfeale councillor. “I am very hopeful and delighted to see that we are now extending the walkway,” he added. 36 kilometres of the trail already passes through Ardagh, Newcastle West and Barnagh. Cllr Galvin described the trail as “one of the best things to happen to West Limerick” and said that it is a “fantastic amenity” for people. Cllr James Collins supported Cllr Galvin’s comments, but called for the trail to be extend-

ed onwards to the city. “We should also look to facilitate people leaving the city and heading west as well as those in the county,” said Cllr Collins. It has also been proposed that the trail be continued over the county boundary into Kerry, but as of yet no plans have been made. The issue of the availability of funds to promote tourism for the new extension will be reviewed as the project progresses. The trail is based around the Tralee/Fenit railway line which opened in 1867. It is already seen as a vital asset to the west Limerick tourism industry.

Cllr Liam Galvin

Replacement of school in Kilmallock after planning granted KILMALLOCK Pamela Ryan

Deputy News Editor

THE BOARD of Management of

KILMALLOCK SWEET shop Mr Finn’s which is owned and run by Eileen Finn, pictured, celebrated its one year anniversary this month with a special in-store celebration. The past year has been a learning curve for the owner. “It was scary because I didn’t know what I was doing. I jumped in at the deep end but it was a

good way to start,” she said. “Hopefully next year will run smooth,” she added. She has spent time learning how to utilise social media for advertising. “It’s a happy place to work. Even if you come in, in a bad mood, you go out in a good one,” she concluded. - Pamela Ryan

Scoil Mocheallóg recently received planning permission for the construction of a new primary school in Kilmallock. The new 16 classroom primary school will be located on Glenfield Road, just south of the existing Kilmallock National School. The National School will be demolished once construction has been completed on the new school. The new primary school will educate between 520 and 530 pupils. Two teachers will be employed per class year to teach in the school, according to Councillor Mike Houlihan FG. The split-level building will be fully equipped with six special education tuition rooms, a general purpose hall, special needs units, a library and a resource room. Outside the building the pupils

Prize-winning Kilmallock butcher Denis brings home the bacon Pamela Ryan AWARD

Butcher Denis O’Sullivan with his prize-winning puddings.

WINNING butchers O’Sullivans butchers celebrated 102 years of trade in Kilmallock this year. Denis O’Sullivan (65) and his sons Barry and Rory won three awards from the Craft Butchers Association of Ireland this year for their sausages and puddings. The family business received a gold award for its black pudding and Guinness black pudding while its sausages received a silver award. The butchers were first established in 1910 by Mr O’Sullivan’s

Uncle Peter. O’Sullivans have the only privately-owned slaughter house left in the area and produce between 130 and 140 pounds of pudding every week. “There’s a high demand for them,” said Denis O’Sullivan. Mr O’Sullivan also said that they receive a high demand from the UK for their produce, while their hard salted bacon is also a particular favourite and cannot be purchased elsewhere in Ireland. “You can’t get it in Cork, and they think they have everything in Cork,” Mr O’Sullivan noted.

will be able to avail of the two ball courts and external play areas. Cllr Houlihan was enthusiastic to get the school started and hopes that the jobs created from the project will be filled locally. “Carers and SNAs can be filled locally alright,” said Cllr Houlihan before adding that some teachers may carry over from one school to the next. Provisions have been made for parking with 36 spaces to be made available, including one disabled parking space. Parents will be able to use the drop-off area to safely drop their children to school every morning and pick them up again in the afternoon. Proposals are also being made for a new affiliating secondary school, according to Cllr Houlihan. The school will have two new science labs and a full sized PE facility. Funding has already been granted for the school but is awaiting planning permission. It is hoped the school will open to

Kilmallock Cllr Mike Houlihan students in September 2014. A primary health care centre has also been proposed which will have doctors and dentists on site and available to the people of Kilmallock and the surrounding areas. “There have also been propositions for an ambulance service for the area,” Cllr Houlihan added. The primary health care centre will be privately run but leased out to the HSE, according to the councillor.

Playground planned Niamh Drohan SWINGS AND roundabouts are

on the way for Kilmallock as a planning application to build a new playground has received the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanála. Local Fine Gael Councillor William O’Donnell told the Limerick Voice that planning permission has just been granted for the playground and that funding for the project from Ballyhoura Development has been approved. Ballyhoura Development is a partnership of community and voluntary

sectors, social partners and public and elected representatives. It serves 54 communities in South and East Limerick, as well as North Cork. It administers funding to start-up and small businesses in the County Limerick area. “This has been on the boil for quite a while and as a local councillor and a member of the board of directors for Ballyhoura Development I’m pleased that this has become a reality,” Councillor O’Donnell said. It is estimated that the new playground will cost up to €120,000.


CITY

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

News | 7

Corbally site ‘dangerous’ Local councillor slams Council over failure to force owners to clean up an abandoned site described as a threat to public safety CORBALLY

Liam Corcoran Fintan Walsh

AN ABANDONED Corbally site

which acts as a haven for anti-social behaviour and is overrun with rats poses a safety risk to local children and the greater public, an East City councillor has claimed. Cllr Denis McCarthy (FG) says that he has repeatedly asked the City Council to act on cleaning up the privately-owned derelict site at Silverbrook, on the Mill Road in Corbally. Cllr McCarthy says that it is within the Council’s powers to force the owner, who is not believed to reside in Limerick City, to clear the 0.2 acre site of dangerous debris and litter, and to erect proper safety barriers around its perimeter. The site has been abandoned for the past 20 years and has changed hands on several occasions in that time. It is understood that a proposed development of two houses on the site fell through in more recent years. A local woman living nearby is adamant that she has seen numerous rats on the site before, as well as horses left to graze for days at a time. “The place has been full of rats and they have been in and out of our backyard previously. I’ve even seen one lad bring his horse out and let it graze out there during the day. This has been going on since 1991 and nothing’s

being done with it,” the Mill Road resident claimed. Cllr McCarthy has already tabled two motions on the matter at city council meetings. “The biggest problem and concern of the residents here on the Mill Road is the safety of their children and the safety of the general public. I don’t want to see a child get hurt. It’s also a complete eyesore in the area,” said Cllr McCarthy. Following complaints from local residents earlier this year, the site’s owner fenced off the area, but Cllr McCarthy and the locals say that this effort has not been enough. The fencing has already been broken down and the overgrown patch is now being widely used as a drinking spot and dumping ground. Cllr McCarthy wants the City Council to use enforcement powers to compel the site’s owner to take the necessary steps to clean it up. He claims that there is a precedent for the Council to act in this way, after they cleared a privately owned wall which had been knocked and was causing a dangerous public obstruction in the nearby Meadowbrook estate last year. When contacted, council authorities claimed to have no knowledge of the situation in Corbally. A spokesperson for the planning department said that nobody in their section was aware of Cllr McCarthy’s concerns.

Corbally councillor Denis McCarthy at the abandoned site on the Mill Road.

Action urged on private estates ROADS IN some Corbally estates are crumbling away because no one is willing to accept responsibility for their maintenance, a local councillor claims. Councillor Denis McCarthy says that the situation in private estates such as Meadowbrook and The Hermitage on the Mill Road in Corbally is deteriorating rapidly as the original developers claim that they are not responsible for their maintenance. The estates’ roads have been plagued by potholes for the past few months and various ‘patch-

work’ jobs have not stood the test of time and traffic, according to Cllr McCarthy. The councillor is calling for the City Council to use their authority to take the affected estates ‘in charge’ and make the necessary repairs to the roads themselves. “There is a lot of frustration from residents in this area regarding this issue. People have paid their household charge and were told that this fee would be put towards maintaining local services and they are extremely disappointed that this is the condition which they

continue to find their roads in,” said Cllr McCarthy. There have been calls for the ‘taken-in-charge’ process to be speeded up in Limerick City as confusion continues over where exactly the responsibility lies for the maintenance of essential infrastructure, including sewerage works. In some cases, potholes up to almost half a foot deep have appeared on busy Corbally estate roads. “I am calling for a speeding up of this process,” Cllr McCarthy added. - Liam Corcoran

2012 cost of Limerick City councillors revealed Johanna Wallin Fionnuala Corbett CITY

COUNCILLORS this week received two of their final payments for the year, bringing the total cost of the city’s political expenses and salaries for 2012 to almost €500,000. The final estimated cost to the taxpayer of funding the 16 city councillors and one mayor for this year amounts to somewhere in the region of €475,000. The number includes conference travel costs that so far have reached more than €71,000, salaries of approximately €284,000 before tax, and annual allowances. Also included are payments for the city’s five strategic policy committee chairs, which amount to €30,000 annually.

Council records indicate that the second installment of the chairs’ €6,000 fee was made to the concerned councillors on Monday. The five Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) meet throughout the year. The committees make recommendations in their area to the city council. Councillors get allowances for attending meetings and travelling to appointments around the county. How often they meet varies. Cllr Michael Hourigan, who chairs for the Cultural and Sporting strategic policy committee, says the committee work is time consuming. “It is an ongoing thing over 12 months of the year with management, it takes up all your time . . . (it’s) a very responsible job,” said Cllr Hourigan. Ger Fahy of the Transportation

and Infrastructual committee said his committee have met four or six times this year but that the work is “an ongoing process outside the meetings”. On top of the €475,000 in expenses this year, all councillors may also claim €20 per month for broadband and €600 per year for phone calls, which if fully used, brings the total amount to almost €500,000 or just over €490,000 for the 17 City Councillors. The five SPC chairs are Ger Fahy (Transport and Infrastructure), John Gilligan (Environment), Michael Hourigan (Culture and Sport), Diarmuid Scully (Economic Policy Development and Future Planning), and Tom Shortt (Social Policy and Housing). Overall, the City Council has been forced to make serious cuts to its

expenses budget since the recession hit in 2008. Annual allowances and funding for attending conferences abroad have taken some of the biggest hits since the economic crisis began according to budget figures seen by the Limerick Voice. Between 2007 and 2008 the annual allowances for local authority members increased substantially from €418,941 to €445,077 but this was significantly reduced once budget cuts took hold. Annual allowances for local authority members were slashed to €107,000 in 2009 and fell further to €90,763 this year. This represents an overall reduction of approximately 78 per cent. Meanwhile the budget for attending overseas conferences was also reduced from €35,000 to €10,000 in the course of the last four years.

THE FIGURES: Where the money goes

€71,000

in conference expenses.

€30,000 in committee chair payments.

€284,000 in salaries.


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8 | News

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

IN BRIEF Farmers complain about Plant emissions Scout leader RATHKEALE

SCOUTS

Group is looking for a new leader to get involved within the town’s branch. The Group is looking for a new, scout leader to help out with the more than 40 members. According to Group Leader of Rathkeale Scouts Mike Lowe, it takes two to three years’ training to become a qualified scout leader. The Rathkeale Scouts Group was established in 1973 by Rev Brian Snow and Tim Donovan, who is the local chemist and is still an associate member.

Planning due

A DECISION is due on De-

cember 4 on work to be carried out to Limerick City Adult Education Service. An application was made on October 10 to make “internal alterations” to the at Municipal Technical Institute and all ancillary site works on O Connell Avenue. The Municipal Technical Institute is a protected structure Ref rps 370 and is on the NIAH (National Inventory of Architectural Heritage) Schedule, ref no 21521042.

Foynes 50 years

FOYNES YACHT Club re-

cently celebrated their 50th anniversary and cemented their status as Limerick’s longest running sailing school. The Foynes based sailing club has been a part of Limerick’s sailing scene for the last half a century and has more than earned its reputation as a school of excellence and achievement. The celebrations took place at the club itself and hosted a live band for members of old and new to enjoy.

Aware group

A NEW voluntary organisation

that supports adults who suffer from depression was established in Limerick last week. Aware, which is affiliated to the Samaritans, began its support-group meetings on Wednesday, November 28. The organisation was set up in response to the hike in figures of people in Limerick struggling with depression. The support-group meetings take place every week in the Pastoral Centre on the grounds of St Michael’s Church, Denmark St. Aware Support Group Coordinator Kate Donnelly said: “The mistake people can often make is not seeking help and support around their depression.” Contact info@aware.ie.

ASKEATON

Jane O’Faherty A LIMERICK representative of the Socialist Party has welcomed an EU investigation into waste near an aluminium factory in Askeaton. Cian Prendiville was referring to the Aughinish Alumina plant, where the EU Commission is investigating ‘red waste ponds’ of harmful material. The plant has been embroiled in controversy since the 1990s, when local farmers claimed that pollution from the plant was killing their livestock and causing deformities in

cattle. Mr Prendiville described the investigation as “a victory for the local farmers and residents who have been campaigning on this issue for two decades.” Aughinish Alumina Limited has not yet commented on the investigation to the Limerick Voice. The investigation began last October, after Socialist MEP Paul Murphy raised the issue of the waste ponds in the European parliament. Mr Murphy said he feared an environmental disaster could take place. A 2007 EPA review of Aughinish Alumina Limited found that the red mud ponds, which contained bauxite residue from the plant, was nonhazardous.

700 protest over home help cuts Brian O’Connor MORE than 700 people took part in a protest against cuts to home help services and austerity in Limerick city. The protest set off from City Hall on Saturday last, December 1. Those marching were protesting against the HSE cuts to services and the introduction of the property tax. Trade Union Officials from SIPTU and many of their members who are employed as home-helps with the HSE made up a large part of the protesting group. They were joined by representatives from Sinn Féin, CAPTA Limerick (Campaign Against Property Tax and Austerity) and the Socialist Party as well as other concerned groups from the Mid-West region. Speakers at the event included Seónaidh Ní Shíomóin and the Mayor who welcomed US President Bill Clinton to Limerick Joe Harrington. The crowd chanted “not a penny

for Enda Kenny” as they made their way through O`Connell St. Home Help Patti Ahern of Mayorstone said she had her hours cut. “My hours have been cut by six and a half in one week. “As they`re not taking any more home-helps on and no-one is being assigned home help, I`m down a further ten hours a week as one client has entered a nursing home.” Former Mayor and Independent councillor John Gilligan criticised the cuts. “I am delighted to be here. – Delighted so many people turned up to protest, it`s not something we do unless the issue is very important.” Upon reaching the junction with William St up to 100 people sat down for almost five minutes which caused traffic in the city to grind to a halt. Protestor Mary O`Mara of Limerick City said she was struggling and could not afford cuts to home help services. “John, my husband has Parkinsons

However, many farmers from the area have rejected this. While campaigns relating to the issue have lessened in recent times, the EPA has received just two complaints since July 2011. The Aughinish Alumina plant is owned by RUSAL, the world’s biggest aluminium producer. The plant in Askeaton is Europe’s largest aluminium refinery and produces more than 1,890,000 tonnes of alumina every year. Worries over alumina pollution intensified in 2010 when a similar plant in Hungary caused an environmental disaster when waste product spilled out into the Danube. At the time, Aughinish Alumina stated that baux-

ite waste at the plant in Limerick is stored differently. Limerick IFA Chairman Eddie Scanlan said he was not aware of any major problems with pollution recently. “There were instances with things happening out of the normal a number of years ago, but it is not prevalent now,” he said. The IFA will take a stance on the issue if it was proved that the plant was polluting farms in the locality. “We are an exporting country of food,” he said. “Anything that could tarnish the reputation of Irish food any pollution that could affect cattle, beef or lamb – we certainly would not like to hear of that.”

Protesters during march Pic: Brian O’Connor disease. It takes half an hour to get him out of bed and another half an hour to get him washed and dressed. “ I`m looking at being cut an hour a week. It`ll end up costing them more to keep him in hospital because I won`t be able to keep looking after him,” she said. SIPTU Official Paul Gavin said that more than 1.1m home help hours have been cut from services this year so far.

“I know a 91-year-old lady with Alzheimer’s, who is partially blind and living alone, she has been told she will not have receive her Tuesday visit any more.” Another protestor Brian O`Donoghue strongly criticised the government, and the cuts. “It`s very unjust, the IMF will have to get their money from elsewhere.”

Youths wait for ‘second chance’ at education Niall Kelly SOME 113 young people are currently on a waiting list for second-chance education in Limerick. The early school leavers, aged between 15 and 20 are hoping to gain entry to Youthreach, a national programme which offers students the opportunity to identify and pursue viable options in adult life by means of full-time education and certification.

Youthreach operates three educational centres in Limerick, in Watch House Cross, Moyross on the Northside and Glentworth St and O’Connell Avenue in the city centre. The numbers waiting to access Youthreach are only slightly less than the 125 young people currently availing of the scheme in the Limerick centres. Of these, almost half, 47 per cent are from the Southside of the city, where there is no centre at present.

Proposals have been put forward however to expand the scheme in Limerick, according to Youthreach Regional Co-Ordinator for the Midwest Martin Cournane. “Because of large numbers, it was always our strategy to expand into the Northside, Southside and St. Mary’s,” Mr Cournane said. Speaking to the Limerick Voice, City Councillor Joe Leddin, Labour described Youthreach as “a fantastic model of education which caters

for young men and women who for whatever reason found mainstream post-primary education a struggle”. “I am very much in support of the plans to expand the scheme, which are a reflection of its huge success and the demand that is there,” Cllr Leddin said. Youthreach Co-ordinator Martin Cournane said that the educational scheme was also pivotal in creating and maintaining social cohesion among Limerick’s communities.


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limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

News | 9

Locals fear HURLING SAFE SAY MASTER MAKERS for rural stations

Many local communities express concern over the fate of local Garda stations Enda Dowling IN the lead up to this week’s budget, community representative groups in many of Limerick’s small rural towns and villages have expressed concern over the fate of their local Garda Stations. On October 20, Henry Street Garda’s Chief Superintendent David Sheahan outlined at a Joint Policing Committee Meeting that a number of Co Limerick’s Garda stations will have to close in an effort to cut costs. “We expect to lose more Gardaí moving forward and we’re also expecting to lose more Garda stations,” Chief Supt told councillors. Communities have responded angrily, with the chairman of Pallasgreen Crime Prevention Project David Thompson even saying that the current lack of resources has left “people going to bed at night, sleeping with hurleys, bats, weapons and guns close by in order to protect themselves”. “Do they expect us now to set up our own vigilante groups?” he asked. This leads in to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s request earlier this year for chief superintendents around the country to compile a list of smaller stations which could be closed. The decision on which stations will have to close appears to be imminent, yet Garda sources in Limerick are remaining tight lipped on the decisions likely to be made. For security reasons, the Garda Press Office refused to release the identity of single-manned Garda stations which could identify possible closures, but data gathered on the All-Ireland Research Observatory at NUI May-

nooth can pinpoint what Limerick stations would be considered vulnerable to closure based on activity and serving population size. Both Doon and Shanagolden Garda stations closed down in 2012 and AIRO data shows that the amount of crimes reported to these stations in 2011 were 35 and 33 respectively. AIRO data also shows that there are currently six different stations in the Limerick City and County regions where fewer crimes were reported in 2011, than in Doon and Shanagolden. Those stations are; Castletown Conyers with 28 reports, Glin (26), Kilmeedy (22), Galbally (16), Tournafulla (24) and Oola (14). The argument of using crime stats as a basis for a station’s worth is being strongly criticised by the people from these areas. They say that that more AIRO data which shows the large population served by each station is not being considered in these decisions and ignored by authorities and media outlets. Those six stations cover areas with an electoral population of over 11,000 people according to the AIRO information. David Thompson believes that the ‘crimes reported’ statistics are “absolutely rubbish”, and don’t reflect the true level of crime in rural areas. “The low figures are more related to the slow response from Garda stations in these places owing to previous cuts, so now people are less inclined to report the crimes” he said. “I know of instances where it’s taken two weeks for Gardaí to call out to reported crimes. Just recently I was talking to a business owner in Doon who had his windows smashed in by teenagers, yet didn’t feel it was

By Fintan Walsh A PALLASKENRY based hurley

maker says that there is no threat to Limerick hurling, despite the widespread ash dieback threat in Ireland. DJ Daly, who runs Daly Hurleys, said most ash used in hurleys is imported timber and is safe and not diseased. His company, which was set up by his father Paddy Daly in the worth reporting because he wouldn’t be given any Garda time unless he himself was physically attacked” said Mr Thompson. “Only one Garda car currently is available to patrol Pallasgreen, Murroe, Cappamore, Kilteely/Dromkeen, Oola and Doon, and it could be on its last legs too with mileage” he added. “Those brain dead fools in the Dáil haven’t a clue, closures will kill rural villages”. Galbally County Councillor Eddie Ryan is also firmly against any plans to permanently close down his local Garda Station. The Galbally Garda station has been without a full-time presence since January of this year, but has not officially been closed since a long-serving Garda who had worked in the community for many years retired. “If the Galbally station were to

1930s, currently imports timber from Europe. He said that in this industry “you have no choice but to buy foreign timber”. “We were bringing in timber from Poland but it wasn’t good enough. There is not enough Irish ash around and it is way too expensive.” Irish Guild of Ash Hurley Makers member Ed Shanahan said that the ash dieback is currently not a problem and that nothing is

certain about the disease in Ireland. Mr Shanahan said his main fear is if Irish hurley makers are forced to use home-grown ash, it may be too expensive for them to produce hurleys. “It’s not a problem at present. It has yet to be confirmed. It has not been officially diagnosed with the fully grown trees,” the Clarina man, who runs Shanahan Hurleys in Clarina, added.

close you would have a twenty mile corridor between Mitchelstown and Tipperary Town completely abandoned. Strategically it wouldn’t make sense given the two borders” said Cllr Ryan. “Identifying Galbally as a potential closure because of low reports isn’t

fair. Our crime rate was low because our old Garda had been working so well in the community for so long. He knew everything, and would have many situations nipped in the bud before ever they came near becoming crimes. We would feel very isolated ” said Cllr Ryan.

Total Offences Committed, 2011 Station

Offences Committed

Oola 14 Galbally 16 Kilmeady 22 Tournafulla 24 Glin 26 Castletown Conyers 28 Shanagolden 33 Doon 35 Athea 41 Cappamore 42 Pallaskenry 68

Distance to Mid-Western A&E a worry say Tipperary farmers Enda Dowling TIPPERARY farmers are becoming increasingly worried about the extra distance required to travel to receive emergency services in the Limerick Mid-Western Hospital, since Nenagh’s 24 hour A&E was cut. People from rural areas in Tipperary would have to travel up to 1hour and 20minutes to get to Limerick’s Mid-Western Regional Hospital, their nearest 24 hour A&E unit.

Patients with emergency cardiology or medical problems in North Tipperary are also no longer to be treated at Nenagh hospital, the HSE announced in late September. Tim Maher, Chairman of the North Tipperary Macra na Feirme has major reservations about the ability of farmers in some parts of Tipperary being able to receive vital services in time. “Our main concern is the significant extra time it takes to get to ad-

vanced care in cardiac cases where time is particularly important. Casualties of farm accidents will take longer to receive hospital treatment” said Maher. “The replacement of the A&E with a local injuries unit shows that this Government seems to have little concern for the lives of people in North Tipperary. It is a major worry at the moment” he said. The distance that patients would have to travel from Holycross in Tip-

perary to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, Limerick would be 85.92km. This works out as roughly a 1hr 20 minute drive. An ambulance called to an emergency scene in Holycross would have to travel double that. From Templemore in North Tipperary, the distance that would have to be travelled to reach the hospital is 87.69km, but it takes a shorter time of 61minutes owing to its proximity to the M7 motorway.


10 | News

COUNTY

IN BRIEF 2FM comes to Abbeyfeale

SUPERVALU and 2fm have joined forces with St Vincent de Paul for the Toy Appeal. Ruth Scott and Paddy McKenna will present their 2fm show live from SuperValu Abbeyfeale, this Saturday December 8. “We have had quite a few donations, and we would be hoping to get a lot more, closer to Christmas,” said Abbeyfeale SuperValu manager Ramune Zilande.

Kilmallock Carol Service tonight

The Kilmallock Carol Service will take place tonight (Thursday) at 8pm in St Peter & Paul’s Church. Choirs will include Scoil Mocheallog, Coláiste Íosaef and Kilmallock Church choir. Soloists will also include Fr Liam Enright, Fr Terry Louchran and Fr Tony Mullins among others. All proceeds will go to Scoil Mocheallg and a new bus for Coláiste Íosaef. Tickets cost €5 and are available in the schools, Deebert House Hotel, The Pastoral & Resource Centre, Centra and Flanagans Bar.

Bruff Christmas market

A Christmas Market will be held by Bruff Heritage Group on Saturday December 8 in the Old Courthouse from 10am until 1pm.Lots of goods will be available including bric-a-brac, books, CDs, knitwear, quilts and lots of Christmas baked goods.

Rathkeale group closes doors

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

ABBEYFEALE

Anglers battle to clear toxic river weed

Jane O’Faherty

ABBEYFEALE anglers are set

to do battle with an invasive Asian plant which is killing off native salmon in Limerick rivers. Himalayan Balsam is growing on the banks of the River Feale and has been competing aggressively with native species, causing havoc with the local ecosystem. Wilfull spreading of the plant, which has pink ornamental flowers and can grow up to six feet in height, is currently banned under Irish law. Secretary of the Abbeyfeale Anglers’ Association Denis Dennison said that he was concerned about the plant’s effect on the River Oolagh. The Oolagh is a tributary of the River Feale and an important spawning ground for sea trout and salmon. “It’s like walking through a jungle, even though it’s a flower,” he said. “It is choking the riverbanks.” Himalayan Balsam lives for just one year, but is capable of spreading rapidly. It grows seed pods, which explode and can send 2,500 new plants up to 25 yards away. In autumn the plant dies and leaves

the bank bare of vegetation and vulnerable to erosion and collapse. This can lead to damage of fish spawning grounds and fish population decreases. The plant also damages local flora by competing for pollinators like bumblebees, meaning that the seed set of other plants is reduced. “Whatever is in the nectar of the plant, bees don’t pollinate the native plants anymore. They are more attracted to the Himalayan Balsam,” explained Mr Dennison. Himalayan Balsam is believed to have arrived in Ireland as a garden plant, but has since spread into the wild. Abbeyfeale is one of the six to eight Limerick areas affected by the plant. Inland Fisheries Ireland has attempted to eradicate Himalayan Balsam alongside local volunteers. Earlier this year, it organised a ‘Balsam Bash’ to encourage people to remove the plant from the riverbank. Mr Dennison is part of a team of ten volunteers from the Abbeyfeale Anglers’ Association who are actively trying to stamp out the plants along the River Feale.

NEWCASTLE WEST Students All Shook Up for opening night musical show

Local nature book A BOOK documenting the wide

range of flora and fauna in Abbeyfeale Park is now available. Abbeyfeale Park: A Nature Guide was written by Anneke Vrieling (right), a qualified botanist from Holland. Anneke has lived in Abbeyfeale for the past eight years and has studied the animals and plantlife living in the town’s park. “We have a lot of people visiting the park. With this book I hope they will enjoy it even more.” Anneke hopes that her book

ROAD works traffic between

The cast of All Shook Up at Coláiste Mhuire agus Íde in Newcastle West earlier this week.

NEWCASTLE West students are

preparing to take to the stage in a show based on the songs of the King of Rock n’ Roll, writes Jane O’Faherty. Coláiste Mhuire agus Íde are presenting “All Shook Up”, a romantic musical told through Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. The cast comprises students from all years in the school who have been rehearsing for weeks. The West Limerick school has

a long history of musical productions, and would usually do a show every three years. However, this is the school’s first production in four years. The show kicked off in Coláiste Mhuire agus Íde yesterday and will run tonight (Thursday) and Saturday 7 December. Tickets are €10. Cast members (picured above) include students from a range of years at the school.

will be used in education and for school visits to the park. It is available from local shops and costs €10.

Traffic headaches in West Limerick over Christmas

Liam Corcoran

THE new Rathkeale Family

Support Project is preparing to close its doors as the holiday season approaches. After the organisation’s first month in operation, West Limerick Resources are confident that the new venture in Rathkeale will recommence at the beginning of the New Year. Theresa Shanahan of West Limerick Resources said because of the Christmas holidays approaching, the town’s support group will close near the middle of December. Ms Shanahan said that the progress has been slow, but said it was normal as Newcastle West’s support group was the same as when it began in 2011.

Angler Denis Dennison INSET: Himalayan Balsam

Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale are causing havoc locally and may damage the area’s businesses, a local councillor has claimed. Works in straightening out deadly bends at an accident black spot on the N21 at Barnagh started in early summer after local concern following a spate of tragic deaths in recent years. However, the company carrying out the works, BAM Construction, have recently had to enforce a stop-go system of traffic on the road, which Cllr Michael Collins (FF) says has proven disastrous locally. “Traffic has been backed up all the way into Newcastlewest on a few occasions recently and if you’re travelling from Limerick to Kerry or the other way you’re likely to be facing big delays,” said Cllr Collins. The Councillor has proposed a so-

lution which he says would go far to alleviate the current situation. “The old Barnagh road runs right beside the N21 but it’s closed off altogether with concrete barriers at its end. Myself and some of the locals have been trying to open up this road, but to no avail. Travelling around the country you do see these sort of roads opened as diversions on major works projects, but not here,” said Cllr Collins. Explaining that he had made representations to the contracters, Cllr Collins explained that he had been asking around for a while for someone to come up with a solution to the traffic problem. A query to BAM Construction’s regional office was not answered. The works are due to continue up until Christmas. Further works on traffic calming islands in the nearby village of Croagh, also on the N21, are also leading to extensive tailbacks, worsening the traffic problem in West Limerick.


CITY & COUNTY

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

City social housing numbers skyrocket Niamh Drohan A CITY Councillor has called on

Limerick City Council to take action in relation to the City’s growing social housing problem. Increasing demand for local authority housing in Limerick City has seen the Council’s waiting list soar by almost 1,000 people in the last year. Department of the Environment figures for 2011 show that over 2,600 people in Limerick City were awaiting housing. Current figures for this year for the city’s waiting list have not been made available to the Limerick Voice, however, Labour Councillor Joe Leddin estimates that there are currently up to 3,500 people on the list, an increase of almost 75 per cent on 2011. Cllr Leddin believes the increase is a result of the demolition of several hundred houses by the Regeneration Agency. “Social housing has been an on-going issue in Limerick City for a long number of years, we’ve been building social housing with the last 30 or 40 years. What’s caused the problem in the past few years is when the Regeneration Agency were brought in, there was a focus on the demolition of social housing, with very little being built to replace the houses,” said Cllr Leddin. Developments in Moyross, Cliona Park and Southill are due to get under way over the next few months, as

well as a number of units close to the Old Clothing Factory which could amount to over 160 new units of social housing available in the city. When asked by the Limerick Voice if Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan should invest in empty units to quell the increasing demand for social housing, Cllr Leddin replied that he has advocates pursual of the owners of vacant units by City Council

Social housing by numbers

2,669

2011 net need for social housing in Limerick City

3,500

estimated current figure

1,700

on the waiting list in the county “I would recommend that the City Council would use the available legislation to issue a compulsory purchase order to buy these units and utilise them,” Cllr Leddin said. A spokeperson for Limerick Co Co said that there are currently 1,700 people waiting for social housing in Co Limerick.

The taxi rank on William St in Limerick city centre.

Limerick taxi drivers ‘not being represented’

Enda Dowling

LACK of representation and poor communication are being touted as the reasons for the dismal turnout of Limerick drivers at last Monday’s taxi protest in Dublin. It is thought that not even five Limerick drivers attended the protest, which was organised by Tiomanai Tacsai na hEireann (TTnH). Speaking to the Limerick Voice, Chairperson of TTnH David McGuinness said in the lead up to the protest that he expected a large group Limerick taxi drivers to join a crowd of up to 1,800 protesting in opposition to any proposed change in

the fare structure and taxi branding. “They feel that they’re being ignored by the government as they have been in the past on these issues,” he said. Branding has been a very controversial issue for Limerick drivers over the last few months. Nearly 800 Limerick drivers put their signatures to a petition in early November opposing the new branding of taxis by the National Transport Authority, amidst fears it could target vehicles for vandalism. The Dublin protest attracted 500 people, with only the bare minimum from Limerick in attendance. Limerick taxi driver Pat Walsh

No end in sight for West Limerick boil water notice after month of no progress COUNTY

Niall O’Sullivan

OVER 200 households in the

Knockainey and Killballyowen area remain under a boil water notice after four weeks due to an apparent malfunction of the filtration system and contamination of the water supply. The contamination, which affects some 220 households, came to the attention of Limerick City Council a month ago and a boil water notice was issued by the HSE. A notice on the Limerick City

Council website advises that locals in the affected area should boil water for drinking, preparation of raw foods, brushing teeth and making ice cubes, and “water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling.” A spokesman for the water division of Limerick City Council stated that there was a problem with the system of filtration for removing harmful bacteria from the water supply in for the area. “There was a water quality issue due to the distillation system not performing the way the way it should

News | 11

and not filtering out the bacteria in the water,” he said. In explaining the process behind issuing a boil water notice, he added: “When water samples are taken at set intervals, if it breaches levels of contamination, the HSE is contacted and a boil water notice is issued.” Councillor Mike Houlihan (FG), expressed his concern for the people of the area. “It’s very awkward for the locals, especially families with young children. Everything has to be boiled in order to be used, and this is very dangerous where there’s a risk of contamination, especially for babies or small children.”

When asked whether he saw an immediate end in sight for the boil water notice, he said “we simply don’t know when it will end at this point.” According to official sources, the type of bacteria contaminating the water supply is coliforms. Coliforms occur because of either human waste, or more commonly animal or farmland waste, being dumped into the water supply. The bacteria are harmful and largely disease-causing and therefore very dangerous for areas with clusters of inhabitants such as Knockainey. If consumed, it can lead to severe illnesses such as dysentery.

staged a sit-in at the Department of Transport in 2010 protesting over what he claims is the unfair regulation of the taxi industry, He says the poor attendance is due to “there is no representation worth talking about in the (Limerick) city and county” after the break-up of the National Taxi Drivers Union in 2011. “To their credit, TTnH and other Unions can be very active, and there is never any real protest effort made outside of these Dublin based groups. It helps nobody unless we in Limerick start to represent ourselves and clear lines of communication are opened,” said Mr Walsh.

President to visit Hunt Niall Kelly PRESIDENT Higgins will to-

morrow (Friday) open the Limerick Art Society’s 70th anniversary exhibition in the city’s Hunt Museum, writes Niall Kelly. There will be over 100 works of art on display at the exhibition, which is titled ‘Limerick Visions’. “The Limerick Art Society has a long and vibrant tradition of promoting the work of Limerick Artists and it is fitting that President Higgins has agreed to officiate,” Vice Chairperson Barbara Hartigan told the Limerick Voice. The exhibition will run from December 7 to the 19.


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

12 | News

infocus

Treaty the new

It has been two years since the publication of the ‘Renewing Local Government in Limerick’ report, which proposed a complete overhaul of local government system in the county, including the merging of the two local authorities. Now due for completion by 2015, the plan brings with it many unanswered questions. Kate Doyle

Special Correspondent

@katemdoyle kate.doyle@limerickvoice.com

The Current Situation

A

crucial period of transition for local government in Limerick city and county has been entered. The appointment of joint City and County manager Conn Murray last August heralded the beginning of a new era for local administration in the Mid-West. With plans to eventually leapfrog Cork as Ireland’s second city in the pipeline, among others, several key areas will dictate the success of its implementation. Despite a request made earlier this year by the Limerick Reorganisation Implementation Group (LRIG) the number of elected members for the amalgamated council remain unknown. Similarly the new electorate boundaries will not be revealed

until 2013. Currently there is no legislation in place which allows for the merging of two authorities and so none of the proposed reforms can be officially adopted until legislation is introduced. It is expected that this legislation will be created parallel to the drawing of the new boundaries. The decision regarding these boundaries is in the hands of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee as appointed last month by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Neither the City nor the County council has any say in the establishment of these boundaries. This brings with it a concern amongst councillors regarding the areas they may be representing given the short timeframe between the announcement of the boundaries and the next local elections in 2014. “We could be standing for election in areas that we do not currently represent and people simply do not know who we are. It is a little unfair to both the voters and the candidates,” says City Councillor, Diarmuid Scully. Ireland currently has one of the highest ratios of citizens to councillors in Europe and Cllr Scully fears

that this situation will worsen with the reduction in representatives: “we’re getting away from the idea of local government being local.” There is also the added concern of fewer representatives and the effect this will have on canvassing during election time, according to City Councillor, Tom Shortt. “To get elected one will have to get a larger vote, so it clearly means people have to work harder, they are going to have to cover more ground, they are going to have to appeal maybe in areas they did not have to work in previously. “It is going to be a very challenging election, there is no doubt about that,” he said. In terms of employment, the merging of the councils will result in the unified authority becoming one of the largest employers in Limerick. However the plan for the merge does call for a reduction in staff as well as elected representatives. The reduction will be carried out through the public service recruitment embargo which was imposed in 2009, natural wastage and the non-renewal of contracts. According to Limerick City and County Manager, Conn Murray, the amalgamation will result in

approximately 1,100 to 1,150 staff employed by the unified council, reducing to between 850 and 900 over the next five years. The likely headquarters will be City Hall, with the county HQ used for administrative functions, though no decision has been made. While the new unified council will be one entity, there is already a sense that a divide may remain. “I would expect that we would be continuing with our meetings in the city and the county would continue with their meetings in the county,” says the Mayor of Limerick, Gerry McLoughlin.

The Issues Commercial Rates There are many obstacles to be overcome, none more pressing than commercial rates. There is a 27 per cent differential between the county and the city, meaning businesses surrounding hte city - though technically in the county area - are paying significantly less. If the city rate is lowered to that of the county, the united authority would lose out on more than €6.1m in rate income. Director of Economic Development and Planning for the amalgamated

authority, Tom Enright, says attempting to secure these savings poses a great challenge. “The local government fund was cut last year and it may well be cut again this year in the budget for 2013, so it is going to be very difficult to do that. Certainly an intention and a desire by the management here is that it will be done but we need some support from the central government to make it happen,” he said. Should the new authority be unable to secure this sum, the rates may have to meet in the middle. Another option suggested by Mr Enright would initially see two separate rates, whereby the city rate would be falling and the county rate would remain the same for a period of time before merging together. However, Mr Enright indicated that this would need to be incorporated into the upcoming legislation. Planning and development The building boom saw major redevelopment, but unfinished housing, eye-sore abandoned commercial developments and the stalled rejuvenation of the city have left a scarred landscape across much of the city and county.


News | 13

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Story continues Vincent Browne on Limerick. Page 18

[ABOVE LEFT}: Limerick’s St John’s Cathedral; and [ABOVE]: Thomond Bridge. Courtesy Jason Daly

We need to convince people that it is a worthwhile, valued proposition to be investing in the heart of Limerick

An economic and spatial plan for Limerick city and county is currently being developed and due to be completed by the end of this year. The plan, which is also known as the GVA plan, aims to identify employment and investment opportunities for Limerick in both national and international markets, as well as identifying key sites for redevelopment. According to Murray, it will be the

“blueprint” for the next 50 years of development. The new Economic Development We need to convince people that it is a worthwhile, valued proposition to be investing in the heart of Limerick and Planning office for the amalgamated authority is responsible for the plan and is one of the first visible signs of the merge. This single organisation puts a focus on the city centre rather than two

authorities with different concerns. The much-touted ‘doughnut’ effect, which saw the city centre hollowed out by out of town development (in the old county council area) should, in theory at least, stop. The redevelopment of the Opera Centre site is one of the centre pieces of the plan, which will identify the developments most suited to the site. Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, claims that although some of the buildings on the site are in good condition and will be kept, others will involve major demolition and reconstruction. There is already planning permission for a very large retail development for the site in place, but planning director Tom Enright believes is unsuitable. “There is a capacity for some retail but not the level of it that is in the planning permission,” says Mr Enright. Instead, he and others are hopeful the centre will contain office space, retail units and opportunities for some third level institutions in Limerick to expand to the city centre. The new development plan will be judged on how successful it is at rejuvenating the city centre, which Enright agrees is in trouble. “I think

the focus has to be on the city centre for the next few years because the city centre is in a bad place. It is not performing very well from a retail point of view.” Murray agrees. “We need to convince people that it is a worthwhile, valued proposition to be investing in the heart of Limerick,” says Murray. However, there are some plans proposed for the surrounding county such as new developments for the Shannon estuary including a new deeper port and renewable energy projects; and job creation and investment opportunities for large rural towns including Newcastle West and Kilmallock. A consequence of the merger would be a much larger city population of about 100,000, raising the prospect of Limerick passing out Cork as Ireland’s second city in time. “There is no reason why Limerick should not have the ambition to be whatever it chooses to be, if that is the second city, then that should be the ambition,” says Murray. Enright concurred. “We have all of the ingredients that are needed for a vibrant, modern city. If that potential is maximized there is no reason why Limerick could not be the second city in the country.”

Can it work? Disagree?

Have your say #limerickvoice

Follow the story online www.limerickvoice.com

Related stories Unpaid rates top €20m Page 14 This can’t continue Editorial page 16


14 | Business

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Independence day looms for Shannon Owen Hickey

Business Editor

BUSINESS EDITOR OWEN HICKEY business@limerickvoice.com twitter @hickey9219

BUSINESS

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary

SPECULATION is mounting that Ryanair will make a major reinvestment into their Shannon Airport operations. The Government announced this week that the Airport would become independent on December 31, and be combined with Shannon Development to form a new authority. Ryanair have refused to comment; however, they have welcomed the split.

Huge €10m hole in rate pot for city Brian O’Connor

Deputy Business Editor

LOCAL businesses across the city are struggling to pay rates with more than €10m outstanding, new figures reveal. The news comes as retailers demand a “sizable” reduction in 2013. Some €30.5m is due from city businesses in commercial rates in 2012; however, with less than a month to the end of the year, Limerick City Council have confirmed to the Limerick Voice that just €20.7m has been collected. Many local traders say they are struggling to pay rent and rates, and footfall in the Mid-Western capital continues to drop. The fact that 30 percent of the rates due in 2012 are yet to be paid leaves a major hole in the city’s coffers, along with the one in three homeowners who have yet to pay their household charge. A City Council spokesperson said they were aware that times were tough

for local businesses. “Trading conditions are difficult for all businesses; consumer confidence is low, and credit availability has lessened, along with the presence of competition from external markets. However, there is a legal obligation on all businesses to pay commercial rates. I would urge any business currently experiencing cash flow difficulties to contact the accounts receivable department to discuss and agree a payment plan,” said Irene Griffin of Limerick City Council. The Chamber of Commerce is calling on the new Limerick Authority manager Conn Murray to deliver a sizable rate reduction for 2013. “We fear that if a significant reduction is not delivered in 2013, the rates base will be further eroded into 2014 and beyond, ” said CEO Maria Kelly. Patrick Street retailer Tony Connolly echoed this call. “Rents have almost halved since 2007 and, in theory, rates should have halved – If doors

A spokesperson for Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary (pictured) told the Limerick Voice it “has always maintained that the best option for the future of Shannon Airport is for it to be sold to an independent third party that can run the entire operation free of any DAA or government interference”. “Monopoly airport ownership is a model the Irish Government took from the UK and now that that model has been proved to be bad for consumers and competition, and been broken-up, the same should happen

in Ireland with the sale of Shannon and Cork airports and introduction of competing terminals at Dublin Airport.” Government sources have suggested that they hope more than 3,000 jobs will be created over the next five years in aviation-related industry. The new Authority will begin life free from the €100m debt it had carried. However, cash cow Aer Rianta International (ARI) will leave Shannon and be transferred to to the DAA. The company operated at a profit of €35m last year.

Shoppers on William Street with [inset] Cllr Joe Leddin (Lab). continue to close they won`t have many more businesses left. For every single business that closes, the remaining ones face a bigger burden.” Roy Finucance, of TaxAssist Accountants said he is dealing with business owners in difficulty on a daily basis. “The value of paying rates is not obvious. When a business pays to advertise, the value is seen by an increase in footfall or sales enquiries. Because of this, when a business struggles, the owner will prioritise payment of staff wages, VAT and PRSI. I can understand the shortfall in rate collection. Traders must also bear in mind that paying rates is the law of the land and must factor in this cost before entering into business.”

Rates in the city are more than one quarter higher than the county, though almost all larger commercial units such as Dell, the University of Limerick and Analogue Devices - are in the County Council rates area. One in every six retail spaces in the city is vacant according to a study by real estate firm CBRE - the second highest in the country. Councillor Joe Leddin (Lab) said he was very concerned for local businesses. “I`m consistently aware that the rates of the city are relatively high compared to other cities. We have small to medium businesses or retailers with three to five employees and their backs are to the wall. We`ve got to do everything we can to support them,” he added.

Ford Focus tops list as car sales plummet across county Owen Hickey

Business Editor

Shiels Car Sales

CAR sales in Limerick continued to fall in 2012 following the collapse of the market after the end of the Government scrappage scheme last year. In the first 10 months to October 31, there were just over 2,700 cars registered in the county, with some 3,200 sold in 2011. It is unlikely the final figure for 2012 will be significantly higher as most sales at the end of the year are pre-orders for 2013. Sales for 2008 were 5,773 in Limerick, with more than 150,000 sold nationally. Many of the cars bought in 2008 can be associated with the Government’s switch to an emissions-based

tax regime, which faces restructuring in 2013. Aside from a brief reprieve in July and September – up 4 per cent and 2 percent respectively – sales were down in every other month this year, according to figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry. The biggest drop in newly registered vehicles was recorded in May: down 115 on the same period in 2011. March was also a particularly bad month for car dealers with just 610 registered sales this year, in comparison to 857 in 2011. Despite a drop in registrations, the Ford Focus – Ireland’s top seller continued to sell well in Limerick, up 9 per cent this year.

Nationally, registrations have also fallen significantly, down by nearly 11,600 to 78,286. Limerick’s main Opel dealer, Ennis Road Motors, in Caherdavin was the most notable casualty of the collapse when it closed in July. Sales rep for Sheils Mike Stokes explained why the Focus is so popular in Limerick. “It’s a brilliant secondhand car, we’ve never had a problem with any Focus that has come into the shop. The day we buy it is the day we sell it really, we only have 12 in stock at the moment,” he said. “They are a troublefree car; people buy it for the name really. There’s a reputation that goes with Ford in that they are an ‘old reliable’,” he added.


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

€350m house sales but prices well down on 2010

New data shows full extent of residential property price slide EXCLUSIVE

€350m

Taylor Burley PROPERTY prices continue to slide across Co Limerick, a comprehensive review of all sales for the last three years reveals. An exclusive analysis prepared for the Limerick Voice newspaper shows the year-on-year decline in apartments, starter, mid-sized and larger homes in every town and country area across Co Limerick, as well as the entire city, since January 2010. A total of 2,021 homes worth €348m were sold between January 1, 2010 and October 26 last. However, the average price paid for a house has declined significantly. In 2010, the average price for a house (based on all sales that year) was €190,000. The average price for the first 10 months of 2012 (based on all houses sold) was just €151,000. The data also shows that there is no sign of a bottoming out of house values in Limerick, five years after the property bubble burst. In 2010, some 752 houses were sold, but just 552 were sold in the first 10 months of this year. The vast majority of homes sold across Co Limerick were sold for less than their asking price - with a 10 percent discount on average. One home in 10 sold for less than €50,000, with a quarter selling for less than €100,000. Almost half sold for less than €150,000, with 70 per cent of all homes changing hands for less than €200,000. Just five homes sold for more than €1m. The most expensive house sold was Winterwood, in Adare Manor. It sold for €1.78m in May this year. The cheapest house sold for just €6,500 in Prospect in the city in July this year.

Total value of house sales in Limerick city and county 2010-2012

€150,000

An average three bedroom semi-detached home in a city suburb like Castletroy

€180,000 - €200,000

The average for a four-bedroomed detached house in Dooradoyle Four-bedroomed homes in rural towns sold for between €100,000 and €170,000. Apartment prices have plummeted, with apartments changing hands for as low as €26,500. Town houses and other smaller homes in country towns sold for as low as €40,000. The price of a one-off house on a half-acre in a country area is less easy to determine, as many factors influence house prices. However, most sold for between €200,000 and €250,000. All prices paid vary by up to €20,000, depending on exact location, house specification and condition. According to Limerick estate agent Des O’Malley, the number of houses being sold is falling simply

The data is based on official records released by the Residential Property Price Register. A small number of errors discovered in the data were corrected before the analysis took place. It is important to note that the ‘average price paid’ calculation is not a reliable indicator, and average bands such as house location, spec and size, are more accurate. Prices are indicative only. The entire data set is mapped and available to view online at www. limerickvoice.com. Original data is available at the PSRA website, http://www.propertypriceregister.ie.

because there are less people selling their properties than there were in 2010 or 2011. “The demand is still there. The supply is the problem. People still want to buy houses, it’s just that not as many people are selling them. They’re getting their houses valued and then taking them off the market because the value is too low,” he explains. No one wants to see that.

While there are still just as many people wanting to sell their properties as before, they aren’t willing to sell them at a lower price. “We will really start to see the figures change at the beginning of the new year,” O’Malley says. “It’s already started to happen in Limerick city.” The property market is to rise again in the next 12 to 18 months, he added.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees, American Golf to open stores Owen Hickey

Business Editor

MULTI-NATIONAL sports store American Golf could be set to open in the Parkway Shopping Centre in the coming weeks after it was granted planning permission by Limerick City Council. An applicant named ‘American Golf’ sought permission to change a vacant unit in the centre from restaurant to retail use. According to the application, “the work will involve alterations and shop fitting including formation of storage and staff areas.” Final planning permission on the application will be decided upon on December 10.

The planning is subject to eleven conditions, which the company must adhere to when carrying out construction. The retailer already has three stores in Ireland, with two in Dublin and one in Cork. American Golf specialises in golfing equipment, shoes and clothing, and has 91 stores across the UK and Ireland. Meanwhile, City business is also set for a boost with Gloria Jean’s Coffees (pictured left) due to open in the coming weeks. The international franchise offers gourmet coffees and teas. The Australian-owned brand has more than 1,000 stores worldwide in 39

countries. It will open at 59 Thomas Street. The city centre location is popular with diners, and already includes renowned bars such as Aubars, and top tier restaurants the Corn Store and Lebanese-themed Majana. Full and part-time positions are being advertised already for the coffee store jobs. Elsewhere, Parcel Motel services are also up and running in Limerick. The service allows customers to purchase goods online and have them stored overnight for €3.50. Chawke’s Service Station in Castletroy, and Topaz stations on the Dock Road and Ennis Road are currently offering the facility.

Business | 15 Start-ups hope for new international healthcare hub Alex Sheehan RECENT business startups are seeing Limerick quickly emerge as a hub for medical and healthcare companies. Nutritional supplement supplier Nualtra - which designs products for patients post-surgery - recently entered the market and is set to achieve annual potential savings of €10m to the Irish Government and tax-payer. The company, which currently employs six people in the National Technology Park in Castletroy, was set up earlier this year. “I set out to create a range of products that would taste great and be a welcome supplement for people who need to boost their nutrition, especially when this is critical to their recovery from illness, medical treatment or maintenance of health,” said founder Paul Gough. UL-based Nexus Innovation Centre (NIC), has provided a research centre which played a big part in attracting medical companies iMosphere and Doctot to set up in Limerick. iMosphere, established by FACE UK, specialises in the development of IT solutions for the health care sector and has based its international headquarters in the NIC. Co-founder Aidan Morris cited a highly-skilled workforce, the research base available at UL, and the support of IDA as factors which attracted him to Limerick. The NIC also houses Doctot, a health informatics company that creates software applications for medical professionals. One app created has the ability to prescribe the correct antibiotics, while another can assess stroke patients.

Firm bids to help companies reduce carbon footprint Alex Sheehan A NEW Limerick-based environmental company is helping companies reduce their carbon emissions. ManageCO2 – founded by three former Dell plant workers - helps organisations meet legislation on their carbon footprints. They currently employ eight people in The Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre in LIT, who they have credited as assisting them in getting started-up. “Companies are looking to software providers such as ourselves to help them out. “We help them make huge energy savings and then the other big tradeoff from this is the green marketing opportunities for them,” said marketing executive Alex Brereton. Co-founder Adrian Fleming described the green industry as a “sexy” one to be in at the moment, as the government estimate an additional 10,000 jobs could be created in Ireland by 2015.


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

16 | Opinion

limerickvoice Newsroom, University of Limerick Co Limerick. Tel: 061 20 2315 editor@limerickvoice.com w: www.limerickvoice.com

Council needs to act on commerical rates A sensible solution to Limerick’s spiralling commercial rate deficit will require both shop owners and the City Council to meet halfway. With little over two thirds of this year’s rates paid to date, amounting to over €9m of a shortfall, it is clear that the current structure is unsustainable. In particular, a more measured response is required by the council concerning shop owners simply unable to pay their way. Threatening legal action against proprietors already struggling to keep their doors open will do nothing but drive both sides further away from a reasonable solution. The large proportion of vacant lots, and general lack of consumer confidence in the city centre in comparison to Limerick County, all highlight just how unfair the 27 per cent difference in commercial rates is between the two. The last thing both the council and shop owners need is to go down the road of lengthy litigation over unpaid rates, similar to the situation in Cork City that saw a standoff between Cork City Council and Cork District Court Judge Olann Kelleher. Unlike Cork, Limerick is being afforded the perfect opportunity to tackle the issue head on with the forthcoming amalgamation of its City and County Councils. The onus therefore falls on the shoulders of City and County Manager, Conn Murray, to set a fair and sustainable rate that acknowledges both the horrendous economic strife many city-based businesses find themselves in and the stringent council budget. While current city rates may be unfair, one can sympathise with the council because it is in their best interest to have as many successful small and mediumsized businesses operating out of the city centre as possible. Limerick’s city centre has fast become a veritable ghost town of empty lots. The businesses that remain are barely hanging on, and while it would be naive to suggest that council commercial rates are the sole cause of this, a more reasonable rate would certainly ease the burden.

Editor Brian Anglim Deputy Editor Liam Corcoran News Editor Niamh Drohan Features Editor Róisín Healy Sports Editor Liam McDermott Business Editor Owen Hickey Online Editor Muireann Ní Chadhain Design Editor Caitríona Ní Chadhain Design Editor Seán Russell Photographic Editor Eugene Ryan Deputy News Editor Pamela Ryan Deputy Features Editor Emily Maree Deputy Sports Editor Fiachra McKermott Deputy Online Editor Barbara Ross Deputy Design Editor Michael Brophy Deputy Design Editor Mary Kirby Chief Sub Editor Mary Sweeney Chief Reporter Derek Bowler Social Media Editor Alex Sheehan Sub Editors: Liam Gleeson, Francis Dunne, Enda Dowling, Donal Halligan

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

Shannon’s new dawn must be fully seized OWEN HICKEY

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ew Year’s Eve will finally see autonomy arrive for Shannon Airport and with it will come a new-found freedom. Government proposals for full separation from the DAA and a merger with property manager Shannon Development by mid-2013 undoubtedly brings a degree of uncertainty to the region; questions remain as to how a successful business model can be put in place. The plan, based on an increase in passengers to 2.5 million within the next decade, is an optimistic one, given footfall at the airport currently stands at just over 1.6 million and has consistently fallen since 2009. From a Limerick perspective, a prosperous Shannon will have a positive knock-on effect for the region. A support structure has already been set in place by

Limerick Chamber of Commerce, with the aim of clawing back traffic lost in recent years. A route-support fund involving private investors has already been put in place, providing a stable footing on which Shannon can now build. Networking is being primed as a central element in the new business plan, functioning as a tool in driving the local economy, increasing connectivity and generating employment.

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etting the infrastructure in place is the first port of call. By doing so, missed opportunities - the 900 jobs created by Kerry Group last month being the prime example - will not be repeated. Minister Varadkar was frank when addressing the media following his announcement on Monday, describing Shannon as an airport in “serious decline”. This much is evident upon taking a trip through the once bustling passenger terminals, which now lie eerily quiet, in need of a fresh impetus. Privatisation is currently off the cards according to the government, though this may be the only viable option depending on how the situation plays out. Certainly, annual losses of €8 million are not sustainable in any economic climate, and addressing this aspect must be seen as a priority for the new board. Criticism of the separation has come from opposition parties, chiefly Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, believing the decision to split the airport and strip it of the safety net which is the DAA has put the

future of Shannon in jeopardy. Trade Union SIPTU has also weighed in on the debate, concerned their members’ rights will be put in danger by transferring to the new authority. Indeed, they have already issued a warning of possible industrial action, believing the security and quality of employment in the State’s international airports are under threat by separating Shannon Airport from the DAA. However, the fact remains that beginning life as an independent authority debtfree immediately makes the region a more attractive business venture for possible investors. We are already seeing the fruits of the process, with a commitment for up to 1,000 jobs already in place. However the transfer of Aer Rianta International – a hugely profitable company – to the DAA has sparked much debate. Given that it was founded and developed in Shannon, there is every reason to argue for its base to remain with the new authority and to act as a source of revenue. Admittedly, its operating profits of €35 million for the year just ended would have been a welcome addition to the new entity. For Shannon to survive, it is imperative we see an increase in traffic. Recent announcements of an increase in services from Aer Lingus and Delta Airlines bode well for the future. Speculation about Ryanair’s return is an exciting prospect, acting as a boost for passenger numbers. Some would say it is essential to the preservation of the airport.

- Owen Hickey is Business Editor


Features | 17

limerickvoice, Friday December 8, 2012

“I think Limerick, architecturally, improved greatly over the last 20 years” - Vincent Browne talks exclusively to the Limerick Voice. Page 18

FEATURES EDITOR RÓISÍN HEALY features@limerickvoice.com twitter @byRoisinHealy

Cleaning up shop A new initiative by Limerick FC chairman Pat O’Sullivan and Arsenal FC’s John Keyes aims to give Southill’s youth a new sense of purpose, writes Emily Maree

B

urnt-out houses, Gardaí patrolling the streets, the unmistakable air of negativity and camaraderie against the outside world– this is just a normal day in Southill. Regeneration has had its day in the sun and left a bitter taste in the mouths of the residents who were promised their area would be improved yet subsequently watched the regeneration become degeneration before their very eyes. Very little coverage of Southill in the media has been positive; people have certain views of the area and from a place where good news is no news and bad news is gold dust, the efforts of so many people go unnoticed as they try to help out in the community. However in the last year, the work in the Southill community of Limerick FC chairman Pat O’Sullivan and John Keyes from Arsenal FC has been no less than incredible. They, along with a team of helpers, have created a sense of morale and opportunity that is rarely seen these days especially in areas like Southill with their venture, ‘Project Reclaim’. The social inclusion project was born in 2011 as a pilot project to use sport as a way to deal with anti-social issues in Limerick. Ballylanders native Pat O’Sullivan and others in

the club felt that something needed to be done for people in the community, to empower them to make positive social change that would benefit their daily lives. “It gives the lads a sense of belonging they don’t have beforehand. We know we’re making a difference,” said O’Sullivan, who has invested millions into the project through sponsorship and tools to aid the young people of Southill. O’Sullivan won Limerick Person of the Month in November for his services to sport and social inclusion.

V

isiting areas in London like Hackney and Islington that are experiencing similar problems, led O’Sullivan and Limerick FC members to reach out to Arsenal FC’s Community Division and a particular outreach worker at the club, John Keyes. Keyes has been involved with a social inclusion project similar to ‘Project Reclaim’ in London, called ‘Kickz in the Community’. This involved bringing soccer training to estates across London and is measured by the level of anti-social behavior recorded by the police. The pilot project then began with collaboration between Limerick FC and Keyes in 2011 and an arrangement was negotiated with Arsenal Community Division to let John

fly over on alternative weeks for a minimum of one year to help out in the community. There was a trip to the Emirates stadium in 2011 for 15 boys from the Southill area with a soccer tournament run in Islington, as well as a three-day soccer tournament in Carew Park in Limerick run by Keyes himself. Project Reclaim truly started in 2012 during the summer months with Keyes suggesting improving the general area in Southill and in particular the refurbishment of the grotto. “The grotto had been totally vandalised and we wanted to start with something prominent in the community. Since it has been done, no-one has touched the grotto because the lads did all the work themselves,” said Keyes, who has focused on more community based projects in Southill and not just soccer. After the grotto had been completed, the people involved in the project moved onto hosing down and repainting burnt out houses in the area. The houses were a complete eyesore and the organisers feel the improvements have been a huge step in the right direction for the new-found respect shown to the community.

[ To Page 23

ROAD SAFETY: PAGE 22 | FARMING: PAGE 20 | ARTS: PAGE 24

Features

[TOP LEFT]: Overgrown grotto lies neglected; [TOP RIGHT]: Derelict houses targeted by vandals; [LEFT]: Grotto returned to former state; [ABOVE]: Local improvements to house facades.


18 | Features

IN PROFILE

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Just

Vincent

A man both feared and admired for his fiery tongue and sharp wit, Broadford native Vincent Browne is one of Ireland’s most respected journalists. Emily Maree profiles the most straight-talking man on Irish television about his career, Limerick and the state of Irish journalism.

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rrogant. Rude. A shit-stirrer. And a troublemaker. All qualities of a good journalist and Vincent Browne has them in spades. By any standards, Vincent Browne has made an unrivalled contribution to Irish journalism. The irony, however, is that he never really intended to be a journalist at all. “I went to UCD in the early 1960s intending to become a barrister. While there I wrote for the student newspaper at the time, ‘Awake’, and fell into journalism.” Now aged 68, Browne grew up in Broadford, though he finished his education in Castleknock College in Dublin and has a BA in Economics and Politics from UCD. He is one of a handful of Irish journalists who has worked for the ‘Indo’ (Irish Independent group) as well as for the Irish Press, where he was appointed Northern Correspondent in 1970, covering some of the worst violence of the Troubles, and The Irish Times, where he has a weekly column. He originally launched Magill in 1977, breaking probably his most famous ‘Berry Diaries’ story in 1980. He relaunched Magill in 1997, though it never quite reached the editorial successes of the 1980s. Limerick, his home, is a city weighed down with difficulties. Browne lays the blame squarely at those who represent the mid-west capital in politics. “I think Limerick, architecturally, improved greatly over the last 20 years, primarily by turning its facade to the Shannon. However it is very disappointing that there has been such poverty, disadvantage and hardship for so many in the city and so disappointing that the high profile politicians that represent the city over the years did so little about it, but then, their politics were part of the problem.” He founded the website Politico.ie – an Irish version of politico.com – with his nephew, UL graduate Malachy Browne, in 2009. A prolific writer, he uses it as a vehicle for his various polemics, particularly in regard to the country’s economic woes. Political without being party political, his columns display a clear leaning toward the left, in particular with regard to wealth distribution. “There has been no recovery. But it remains the case that Ireland is a very rich society,

about the 16th richest country in the world, on a per capita income basis. By far the greatest problem we have is not the bank debt or the recession; it is the scale of the inequality in the distribution of the wealth and income of the country,” he wrote recently. That ruthless pursuit of those in power is perhaps driven by his political – though not party political – leanings. Browne was, arguably, obsessed by Charlie Haughey’s finances, and that obsession continued with Bertie Ahern, leading to the now infamous confrontation with the former Taoiseach at a Fianna Fáil press conference on the eve of the 2007 general election. With hindsight, Browne has no regrets. Indeed he has been vindicated, and Ahern’s reputation lies in tatters. Many in Irish journalism were aware of Ahern’s various explanations for the house he bought in the runup to him becoming Fianna Fáil leader in 1992, and of the various ‘whip arounds’, yet nobody but Browne challenged him. Why? Browne is highly critical of his journalistic colleagues. “The only reflection I have is that it was a pity other journalists at that press conference did not follow through on the questions I had asked – that used to be the practice during the election campaigns of the early 1980s,” he recalls.

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he recent BAI findings into the RTE Frontline presidential programme treatment of Seán Gallagher irk him. Gallagher, he argues, deserved to be challenged. “Obviously, mistakes were made by RTÉ. But the central point is that Seán Gallagher misled the public about the scale of his involvement in Fianna Fáil and in particular, his involvement with the dubious practice of private dinners with the Taoiseach in return for a very large donation. “There were also serious questions to do with his business affairs, which he did not address adequately. Had he been upfront about all his doings, he would not have got into trouble and, maybe, he would never have been a credible candidate.” It is that dogged challenging of the political class that has made his ‘Tonight’ show on TV3 the success that it is.

But while he is more accustomed to criticising, he has been on the other end of it almost as often, including most recently when he described Israel as “the cancer in foreign affairs”, a comment that led to accusations of him being antiSemetic. He denied he was. But it was an unguarded comment regarding Enda Kenny, in which he suggested Kenny should go “into a dark room with a gun and a bottle of whiskey”, that he has been most criticised for. He accepts the criticisms. “I think journalists should be held to account also so I do not object to being held to account for remarks I make, for programmes I do or for what I write.” His own personal finances have also been the subject of controversy, particularly with regard to his investments in the various news magazines he has been involved with. On that issue, he is somewhat coy, responding only that he feels “very rich compared with a great many people”. His forthright comments regarding Denis O’Brien’s business affairs have led to threats of litigation from the billionaire. Last June, O’Brien wrote to Browne threatening to per-

sonally sue him, though Browne suggests he is not overly concerned about the threat of the writ. “I really don’t feel anything about it. For instance, I don’t feel threatened nor do I feel happy that he did that. But people react badly at times when they feel under attack - I have done at times! “The only sure thing about my own future is the same as everyone else: death! As for the programme, I assume it will continue until the end of my contract period, which is September 30, 2016.” At 72, many might consider it time to retire but one gets the feeling Vincent Browne is not a man to fade meekly from the public eye.


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

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t is not a drugs story you may be familiar with. A 57-year-old housewife hooked on common sedatives, a teen still living at home but heavily dependent on prescription pills and an alarming number of concerned Limerick families locking their own relatives into rooms for their own safety. That is the unpalatable face of modern prescription drug abuse in the city and county - one which won’t be making the nine o’clock news but is steadily gaining a grip on more and more Limerick people, from homeless shelters to comfortable Celtic Tiger pads it grows easier and easier to access these pills. In recent years, the severity of prescription drug abuse has risen substantially and Limerick now faces the challenge of dealing with the issue. Benzodiazepines, a family of sedative drugs used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures have risen in popularity in the Mid-West over the past few years as increasing numbers of people self-diagnose and selfmedicate. City Councillor Maurice Quinlivin, a member of the Mid-West Regional Drugs Task Force (MWRDF), believes “it is one of the biggest problems facing this city”. Cllr Quinlivin feels that the rise in the abuse of these drugs is because “there is far too much over-prescription”. The task force’s statistics for drug abuse in

Home highs

Features | 19

Drug culture is changing and users are taking dangerous cocktails of narcotics, alcohol and prescription drugs, writes Brendan Roche.

the region show that the problem is escalating, with lifetime use of sedatives and tranquilizers rising from 8.8 percent in 2007 to 12.5 percent last year.

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iagnosis worker, Wendy Eadie, has 20 years experience in the drug field and knows all too well the perils of prescription drug abuse. She describes Limerick’s prescription drug problem as an ‘epidemic’, with 85 percent of all her referrals coming from those looking for assistance with detoxing from the sedatives. She runs a community detox programme for prescription drug addiction in the city and believes that over-prescription is not really the problem, as prescription drugs are a “lot more accessible”. “Internet access has escalated the problem. You don’t hear of ‘benzo busts’ and you don’t hear of seizes for pharmaceutical drugs,” says Ms Eadie, who also believes that the economic downturn is playing a part in the increase in abuse of these drugs. “People are self-medicating. There is a lack of jobs and opportunities. People can’t see any future. We’ve had people locking family members in rooms, not knowing how to deal with it. This leaves the person at huge risk of overdosing.” The majority of cases Ms Eadie sees involve

poly-drug use. “The risk of overdosing is huge with poly-drug use,” she warns. Ms Eadie deals with individuals from very different backgrounds and circumstances. The oldest is a 57-year-old housewife who has been taking benzodiazepines for 28 years, and the youngest is an 18-year-old male college student who still lives at home with his parents. There have also been enquiries about the programme from people under 18 who are abusing benzodiazepines. “The age range and individuals’ circumstances in referrals received have varied enormously,” Ms Eadie explains.

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n a worrying trend, twenty percent of Ms Eadie’s referrals are from parents seeking treatment for themselves, while they are still caring for their children living at home. The symptoms somebody abusing benzodiazepines may display include lethargy and aggression. “Tolerance builds quickly; they’re going to be devoid of their own personality and empty of emotion,” says Ms Eadie, who explains that withdrawal is where the real danger lies. Like many hooked on more stereotypically ‘hard drugs’, somebody taking large amounts of these drugs cannot simply stop taking them all of a sudden one morning. They must gradually reduce their dosage over a period of time, as ‘cold-turkey’ is very likely

Wendie Eadie

Pic: Eugene Ryan

to lead to seizures. Nationally, the Department of Health is currently reviewing legislation around the trading of prescription drugs and it is hoped that tighter controls on those importing the pills will be introduced, helping to clamp down on street dealing. However, with waiting lists for treatment programmes lengthening and many still afraid to speak out, it seems as though there will be no easy solution to the problem.

Limerick’s students try staying strong despite cuts Fionnuala Corbett

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tudents are getting a rough time of it lately. Between grant delays, grant cuts, and registration fee hikes, it is clear that for many, the days of Mammy, Daddy and the local Council bankrolling a plush college lifestyle are gone. Reports in two separate newspapers recently showed how some third-level students are often forced to live on just €5 a day and therefore are not eating properly. Others are living in arctic conditions because heating is too much of a luxury. However, it appears that Limerick’s main third level institutions might be escaping the worst of the knock-on effects of the cuts so far, with increases being reported in the numbers of enrolments of full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students. Figures from the

Higher Education Authority with regard to enrolments of courses at the University of Limerick (UL), Mary Immaculate College and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) have shown a steady increase in recent years. Between the academic years of 2007/2008 and 2011/2012, the number of enrolments of fulltime undergraduate and postgraduate students at UL rose from 8,800 to 10,267. In LIT the numbers jumped from 3,260 to 4,724. Mary Immaculate meanwhile had an increase from 2,814 to 2,850. Malcolm Kelly of the Higher Education Authority said this reflects a national trend. “We have continued to see a demand for higher education in Ireland grow over the past two decades and what the institutions in Limerick are experiencing is no different to that of institutions right across the country,” he said. “Ireland continues to have one of the highest

participation rates in higher education in the world, in fact, 43 percent of those aged 20 to 39 in Ireland now have a third level qualification,” he added. Such figures are not what would be expected after the battering that the education system has received in recent budgets. However, Rhona McCormack from the Downtown Centre, which is a collaborative initiative between UL, Mary Immaculate, LIT and IT Tralee and which is aimed at adult learners says the increase could be mainly due to the recession. “I suppose one of the things you could say is that the economic downturn has been partly responsible for that increase in numbers,” she said. “We probably wouldn’t have seen such an increase if there weren’t so many who’d been made unemployed in recent years,” she added. AONTAS Director Berni Brady agrees.

“While the National Access Plan and the National Skills Strategy set some serious targets for third level participation, the recession and increasing unemployment levels have prompted many adults to take the opportunity to pursue a third level qualification.” However, the cuts continue to make a telling impact on student finances. Eimear Barrett, a third year Economics and Sociology mature student at UL, says because she doesn’t qualify for any financial aid, times are getting a little bit tougher. “Because I left work willingly I didn’t qualify for any kind of a social welfare payment. And then because my husband earns an income I don’t qualify for anything now. It’s becoming a struggle because when I first started there was still overtime in my husband’s employment but not so much now.”


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

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2015 will see the end of milk quotas and Limerick’s farmers are already gearing up for a new phase of professional and hopefully profitable farming. But a disastrous summer, a poor harvest, a wet winter and lower beef and lamb prices are putting more and more pressure on farmers. Despite this, Limerick’s young farmers are anticipating the change.

Pastures Conor O’Riordan Feature writer @conyoudiggit25 conor.oriordan@limerickvoice.com

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imerick’s lush green pastures have long been coveted by farmers across the country for their capacity to produce milk. However, the approach of one of the biggest changes to hit Irish dairy farming in years is obfuscating these tranquil scenes - the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. With an already strong dairy presence in County Limerick, and a return to the land increasingly being touted by many as a solution to other recession-related job woes, all eyes in the dairy sector have turned to this new dawn on the horizon and the opening up of the milk market for some serious inter-farm competition in just over two years’ time. The potential effect of quota abolition on the national economy has been well documented, with Teagasc Dairy Specialist Tom O’Dwyer predicting a boom of €850 million post-2015. Without the restrictions of quotas, farmers will be free to expand and increase their milk production. However, many questions have gone unanswered regarding the effect on the everyday life of the farmer. According to Mr O’Dwyer,

smaller farmers should exercise caution when it comes to expansion, but he feels that all are in a position to benefit from a restriction-free dairy market. Mr O’Dwyer sees the removal of milk quotas as an opportunity for all farmers to expand and increase profits. “A clear message we’re trying to send is that the first thing is efficiency. Farmers must look at the cost of production, how much grass and land they’ll need and the stocking rate and so on,” Mr O’Dwyer says. “Then they can look towards expansion. Farmers must improve their efficiency first but there is an opportunity for all farmers to expand,” he adds. Mr O’Dwyer is encouraging farmers to strive for more efficient business practices when adapting their farms for their post-2015 future. “Risk is always a big issue so what I would urge them to do is draw out a business plan to spot the risks to their business,” he advises. “Farmers need to look where they are currently and ask are they meeting efficiency standards. If they are, then they need to work out their targets. It’s not part of the culture to do this and that needs to change,” the advisor adds. He’s not the only one doling out such advice. Another huge name in Irish farming is also urging smart thinking. The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) say it is very important that farmers have a long think about how they treat their farm, how they structure it and how they deal with their income in preparation for the removal of quotas. Executive Secretary of the IFA National Dairy and Liquid Milk Committees, Catherine Lascurettes, says it’s impera-

tive that farmers ensure they apply effective business management processes to their farms. “Farmers will need a great deal of skill, like managing cash flow. It’s difficult to run a business when it is expanding,” she warns. “They need better budget skills and there ought to be emphasis on business management and business plans in this expansionary phase,” she adds. Dairygold Milk Supply Manager Noel Coughlan agrees that a new type of farmer is necessary and that, unless farmers begin thinking more analytically, expansion and development will be slow to come. “We may need a different structure and indeed a different type of farmer, one who is more educated technically and a better manager of his herd,” he says.

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he Limerick Voice spoke to a number of young farmers in the county about their concerns for their own futures and the future of Irish farming. Rathkeale farmer Pádraig Cahill is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a restrictionfree dairy market. He feels that the price he and farmers like him get for milk will go down while the prices of goods necessary for farm work, such as diesel and fertiliser, will continue to rise. “A lot of farmers would be against it. You’d probably need double the amount of cows to get the same money as you’re making now,” he says. It’s a worry simply that goes further than the loss of money. “There’s a chance that smaller fellas could be wiped out altogether,” says Pádraig.

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e’s not the only young Limerick farmer in this frame of mind. Abbeyfeale man Peter O’Connell harbors similar misgivings. According to Peter, the removal of milk quotas could hit his farm hard. “I don’t really think removing the milk quotas will help my business expand. I see it as a threat. It’ll help big farmers more and smaller farmers will be worse affected,” he reckons. Peter remains uncertain about the future of his farm. “Well to be honest, I’m only taking over the farm now and right now it’s more hope than expectation,” he explains. Limerick farmers feel that they don’t have enough information on what will happen, are not sure how it will affect dairy prices and, most importantly, are not sure how it will affect their own personal business. Kilmallock farmer Denis McCarthy, who is currently studying Equine Science at the University of Limerick, sits firmly on the fence. Denis is optimistic, but is not getting too carried away and isn’t quite sure how the removal of quotas will affect his own farm. “Yeah, I would welcome the removal of milk quotas. I think it will give young people more of a chance to get into dairy farming. There are problems too though, you wouldn’t know, the price might come down,” he says. “It mightn’t benefit my business really. The cost of farm goods might rise and then I’ll just have to try and keep up. But I do see it as an opportunity, I think, and maybe a chance to develop and expand,” Denis adds.


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limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Denis McCarthy on his Martinstown farm.

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A lot of farmers would be against it. You’d probably need double the amount of cows to get the same money as you’re making now.

his sense of confusion is hardly surprising. Another young Limerick farmer, Martin O’Neill from Kilgeely, is trepidant. “Costs could go up and you’ll be pushed to increase farm size and herd size,” he says, adding, “I do feel my business will grow though. It’ll give us room for expansion. I mean, you have to expand to maintain a good farm income.” A Department of Agriculture report on Irish farming in 2020 predicts that the Irish dairy sector is set to boom, and has targeted a 50 per cent increase in milk output. Increased production will allow for international expansion of the Irish dairy market and enable Irish farmers to exploit foreign markets like never before. “The removal of quotas would increase production and would give farmers the chance to avail of opportunities in the global dairy market,” Catherine Lascuerettes explains. There is clearly hope that 2015 could herald a new era in dairy farming but a sense of the unknown is dissuading certain farmers from outright optimism. The benefits this could have on the economy and there is potential for farmers to expand overtly, but more transparency is needed to assuage farmers’ apprehension. For now, there’s a definite sense of tentative anticipation about what the near future holds for young Limerick farmers. Reflecting on the changes coming over the hills, Martin O’Neill chooses to stay upbeat. “I am hopeful. I suppose cautiously optimistic is the best way of putting it. I have to be, you can’t be pessimistic. I am up for the challenge.”

Life on the farm Shannonside Macra member Colm Quain’s farm lies on the border between Cork and Limerick. He told the Limerick Voice that he is not in favour of milk quotas being abolished. “I would be worried that there would be too much milk flooding the market,” he said. “There still needs to be some quotalike system because if there is too much milk around, the price will go down for farmers,” he added. Colm and his father have been gradually enlarging their beef and dairy farm since he finished agricultural college in Pallaskenry in 2006. Though Colm concedes that quotas “are a bit restrictive”, he believes that in his case, expansion is just not feasible. “If we were to increase production by 50 per cent like they are predicting, we would have to go from 100 cows to 200 cows in our case, which is a physical improbability,” he said. “The land isn’t there, so I would have to buy more land, as well as more cows and build a bigger milking parlour,” he explained. According to Colm, other farmers in the county could be in the same position.

“It’s easy for those with a lot of good land to increase, but we don’t have that land in Limerick,” he said. Another issue Colm sees with the abolition of quotas is that the high costs associated with starting off in dairy production are prohibitive. “Milking is very expensive to start up in, so I don’t think farmers will move into this sector from beef or sheep.”


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limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

22 | Features

savers

Road deaths in Limerick were all too common, but recent Garda Traffic Corps enforcement measures are making an impact, writes Fionnuala Corbett drive, or drug drive.” Maintaining this level of education may prove problematic as Karen says a significant cut is expected to the Road Safety Education budget in 2013. “The Road Safety Education budget is funded from the Revenue Account of the County Council and at the moment it’s €13,500 for the County, and I think it’s a similar figure for the city. We’re going to have to take a ten per cent cut to that budget next year so we’re very limited in what we can do with such small funding. But we do pack a lot into that.” Despite the focus on education it seems the message may not be getting through to some drivers, as Limerick has had a relatively high level of penalty points across both city and county over the past number of years. At the end of 2010 the total number of penalty point offences in Limerick was 20,614 and at the same period in 2011 it was 25,650. The most recent data shows that in October of this year, the figure has risen to 27,089. Are Limerick drivers, as the advert says, getting the points and not the point?

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arda Tony Miniter from the Limerick Traffic Division Corps believes the increase is a positive sign: “Obviously if Limerick is high up, that, for me, is a good sign that the law is being strongly enforced in Limerick city and county. Ultimately the number of penalty points doesn’t really matter. What matters is the number of deaths and serious accidents on our roads and once they’re falling, that’s of benefit to everybody.” There could be cause to call for the system to be tightened up though, as a survey carried out by AA Ireland at the start of this year showed that a small number of drivers admitted to dodging or swapping penalty points. Garda Tony Miniter admits there are some loopholes but says the Gardaí have to work within the parameters of the system that’s in place. Meanwhile, Noel Brett from the RSA says the most important issue that needs to be looked at when it comes to the penalty points system is that of foreign drivers on Irish roads. “The most significant issue here is the inability to record penalty points on the licence of foreign drivers who are detected breaking road traffic laws that attract points and fines, in this country. We think that Ireland should seek and support harmonisation of penalty

Pictures: Eugene Ryan

The number of penalty points doesn’t really matter. What matters is the number of deaths and serious accidents on our roads and once they’re falling, that’s of benefit to everybody.

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reland’s relationship with the roads has always been, to put it mildly, quite troubled. A lack of adequate and consistent driver education from a young age combines poorly with roads that could be put to better use as obstacle courses. The phrase “taking your life in your hands” is never more appropriate than when you get behind the wheel of a car in Ireland. And we’ve had the statistics to prove it, as Road Safety Authority (RSA) figures show that more than 23,000 people have lost their lives on our roads since records started back in 1959. However, it must be said that, slowly but surely, Irish people are beginning to change their behaviour on the roads. Drink-driving, as well as being illegal, is no longer socially acceptable; speed cameras are dotted around accident black spots; and most importantly, the number of people being killed on the roads is consistently decreasing. So how does Limerick rank, compared to the rest of the country? Back in the mid to late noughties, Limerick city and county had a less than impressive record when it came to road fatalities. According to the RSA, there were 16 fatal casualties in 2006, while in 2009 this figure jumped to 22, giving Limerick the third highest fatality rate in the country for that year. However there’s been a dramatic decrease in these figures this year, as so far, four people have been fatally injured in road collisions. Road Safety Officer with Limerick County Council Karen Butler says that, in her opinion, driver attitudes have changed: “The statistics speak for themselves. The road deaths are down this year and there’s better driver awareness out there as well. The issue of drink driving has really been driven home – people just don’t drink and drive anymore. That was a huge factor in fatalities in recent years, along with speeding, especially among the 18-to-25 age group.” Karen says educating young drivers is vital and she gives the example of the ‘Lifesaver’ project which is an initiative led by An Garda Síochána in conjunction with Limerick county and Limerick city councils, the fire services of both city and county and the paramedic division of the HSE. It’s aimed at second and third-level students and Karen says it’s been a success. “It has a huge impact and if you interview any of the students afterwards they’ll all say it does make them think twice before they sit into a car and whether they speed, drink and

[ABOVE]: Sgt Richard Boyle, Gardas Peter O’Donnell, John Shanahan and Martin Tierney; BELOW LEFT]: Garda Martin Tierney; [BELOW RIGHT]: Garda Peter O’Donnell

point systems across the EU and should enact legislation to enable meaningful and effective cross border enforcement,” he claims. Meanwhile, as the countdown to Christmas continues, the question of road maintenance invariably arises. The festive season is one of the most dangerous times on the roads, exacerbated by shorter days, heavy rain and icy roads. Few of us will forget when, in 2010, the country came to a standstill because of arctic conditions and an inability to keep our infrastructure accessible. But Pat O’Neill, Senior Engineer for Transportation with Limerick County Council, says that even if the snow does fall this year, Limerick is better equipped to deal with it: “At the moment we are prepared for a very severe winter as we have over four thousand tonnes of salt in stock. So we are prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.” This Winter Service Plan doesn’t come cheap though, as Pat admits that treating the county’s 3,700 kilometres of roads could cost anywhere from €250,000 up to €700,000 if conditions deteriorate drastically, which is a significant chunk of his budget. Overall, the sharp drop in road fatality numbers over the past couple of years indicates that Limerick is doing well in keeping the downward trend on course. However, we will just have to hope that the much-feared budget cuts don’t have a detrimental effect on the county’s road safety record in the long term, and that financial cost is not and will never be considered ahead of human cost.


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limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

paying for

SEX

Limerick groups dealing with prostitution are campaigning for a change in the law to criminalise those who use the services of prostitutes, writes Róisín Healy

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s city dwellers head home at night, all too often they catch a glimpse of the trade that besets Limerick once darkness falls - prostitution. Though Limerick’s reputation has been tarred by the sex industry, which is second only to that of the nation’s capital, there are groups in the city making immense strides in the battle to tackle prostitution. Migrant organisation Doras Luimní and the Immigration Council of Ireland are just two of almost 60 organisations that, as part of the Turn off the Red Light (TORL) campaign group, are lobbying the government to change legislation surrounding prostitution, and are trying to help the women involved. Now TORL is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for their movement. The Government is preparing a review of the legislation, and the committee has invited interested groups to present their recommendations on Wednesday, December 12. According to anti-trafficking intern at Doras Luimní, Patricia Stapleton, one significant proposal, criminalising the purchase of sex, poses an effective deterrent that would revolutionise policing of the industry. “With regards the criminalisation of the customer, the demand for paid sex is a big factor in fuelling the sex industry, but it’s always been the prostitute or the organiser who’s been criminalised,” Patricia explained. “The law has a normalising effect, it sets standards, and the majority of people will obey

these laws. Sweden has experienced a substantial decrease in the sex trade and prostitution since they changed their laws,” she added. Executive Director at Rape Crisis Midwest, Miriam Duffy, echoes Patricia’s thoughts. “For a society to come out and say they see the purchase of sex as a criminal act, that’s huge,” Miriam said. “There is no woman in the sex trade for the money,” she added, emphasising that these women are victims. When these women experience violence from their pimps, their entire mental outlook shifts, according to John O’Reilly, former Limerick Garda Inspector and author of ‘Sex Slavery- The Way Back’. Women in organised prostitution or human trafficking are often sexually exploited or subjected to force, “because the trauma is too much, in order to cope they form a distorted view of the world,” John explained. “They are waiting for rescue but they are not rescued, they don’t matter, they lose their identity and their sense of self,” he added. According to John, when violence is involved, the women form a bond with their pimp or trafficker, and see their relationship with him as being inextricably linked to their own survival. John has devised an interview technique to help investigators get through to

Picture posed. these women. “If the victims could break their silence, the Gardaí would have more evidence to use against the suppliers, so establishing meaningful communication with the victims, using my interview technique, they would be able to assess their true situation.”

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ccording to Limerick’s Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, the successful sting operations in the city such as Operation Freewheel were the result of diligent efforts of the Gardaí. “We have been working tirelessly to deal with the issue in Limerick. We have operated on a number of fronts, from the user, to the trafficker or organiser,” Chief Supt Sheahan said. “We have a legislated position and we have to work within the parameters of that, and we would welcome any changes that would help us in that vein which is why we welcome the review and whatever comes out of it,” he explained. There are many obstacles to tackling Limerick’s sex trade. Mobile phones and the internet are replacing night-time drive-bys as the method of procurement. Instead of taking what

they can get on the street, customers can now select their escort of choice from an online menu, detailing hair colour, race and age. All of this, coupled with the use of the term ‘sex industry’ serves to legitimise the purchase of sex and exploitation of women, according to Ms Stapleton. “We live in a consumer society where we feel entitled to buy whatever we want, but these are people,” Patricia said. How are criminal organisations getting away with this easily accessible and lucrative advertisement of sexual services? “Advertising sex is illegal in Ireland under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, which makes illegal the advertisement of prostitution or brothel related commercial sexual services. “The way criminal organisations get around that is by using UK-hosted domain websites such as Escort-Ireland. These sites are worth approximately one million a year to those involved, and there is very little to be done about it in terms of policing,” she said. The review of prostitution legislation due in the New Year shall hopefully herald a new strategy that will help Limerick take back the night, and enable the women in prostitution to reclaim their lives.

Southill youths clean up their act with a little help from football heroes (From page 17)

Limerick FC’s Pat O’Sullivan

It also teaches the lads leadership, a quality Southhill Family Support worker Mike Crowe strongly believes all the members want and deserve. “Our jobs focus on hearts and minds, not bricks and mortar. We’re trying to get everyone involved and the whole community is behind the project,” said Crowe. He has been working alongside the lads, firmly believing that giving them the tools to fix up the area is far better than ignoring it’s antisocial problems. Approaching wintertime meant the end of physical labour, so the question of what the organisers could arrange for the group loomed ominously. Boredom is a big contributor to anti-social behaviour issues at night. “Some of the lads are doing a leadership course, and there is a ‘literacy through computers’ course being run by the VEC. We also try to get the parents involved. There

is a mechanic programme being run at the moment by one of the parents; it’s someone they can respect and talk to,” added Crowe. Pat O’Sullivan has also invested in a plasma screen TV to be put in the common area above the church in Southill that the members and their parents take care of together. The project has given welcome opportunities to young people in the area, such as Dylan Dore-Robinson. Sponsored by Pat O’Sullivan, Dylan, just out of Leaving Cert, has been given the chance of a lifetime to do the ‘Gap Year Internship’ run by Arsenal FC. This involves training as a community soccer coach, earning certain qualifications and then teaching in primary and secondary schools. Dore-Robinson will travel to Israel for three months in January to work in a soccer school, an opportunity that couldn’t have been possible before this project was created. Pat O’Sullivan and Limerick FC have been in talks with RTÉ about making a

film in relation to Project Reclaim, the first project of its kind in Ireland. It was felt that the positive impact the project had wasn’t getting enough recognition, so this film will highlight the work done in Southill and throughout the city of Limerick. When asked if the project would be rolled out to other parts of Limerick, both Pat O’Sullivan and John Keyes were optimistic that this project could be the start of something big. The positive response to the work done through Project Reclaim is palpable; from the Southill community, Limerick City Council and the people taking part in the project itself, everyone hugely grateful. Project Reclaim has paved the way for huge change and opportunity in Southill and given the members involved in the project a new-found respect for their community. It has encouraged the young people of Southill to continue in education and have pride in their area and in themselves and will continue to do so long into the future.


24 | Features

ARTS

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Hunt Christmas Fair THE HUNT Museum will be holding a family Christmas fair this festive season which will bring together up to 40 craftspeople displaying their work. The fair aims to demonstrate creativity and give small businesses a chance to showcase their talent. It will take place on Saturday and Sunday, December 15 and 16. A wide array of locally made Christmas produce and gifts will be on show, along with children’s entertainment which will include arts and crafts activities, facepainting, balloon art and free storytelling sessions. Local artist Sinéad Hutchison will be running ‘Elves Christmas Workshops’ which will allow children to explore glass painting, clay, card-making and découpage. Booking ahead is advised for these two-hour-long workshops and the cost for each child is €5. Children will be able to get their faces painted in typical festive style and balloon artists will be providing entertainment at the Kids’ Stall. Storytellers will be giving live performances at 2pm

GOING OUT

on both days in The Captains’ Room. For adults, mulled wine and hot dinners will be available from the newly renovated DuCartes Restaurant, accompanied by live music. Owner of Inisross Woodcraft in Newcastlewest, Pat Broderick, is one of the craftspeople participating in the fair. He has high hopes for the occasion. “I think it’s a fantastic event,” he said. “It’s brilliantly organised and they’re making a great effort.” Director of the Hunt Museum, Dr Hugh Maguire believes that the Christmas fair will be a good remedy for those weary with Christmas commercialism. “Christmas fairs are becoming increasingly popular, due no doubt to the festive atmosphere they evoke,” he said. “If you’re tired of commercialism taking over Christmas, then this event will be a pleasure for all the family.” Both the museum and the gift shop will also be open for the weekend and admission to the museum itself will be free.

Croagh market

A CHRISTMAS market takes place at the D&M garden centre and restaurant in Ballycannon, Croagh on Saturday and Sunday, December 15 and 16. A full range of Christmas fare will be available including trees, wreaths, table displays, gifts and personalised hampers. Festivities start at 9am each day. A number of other events are planned during December. For further information contact (069) 64 084.

Charity chef

Sisters Eva and Leah Cormac at the Hunt. PIC: Keith Wiseman

- Brendan Roche

IDEAS showcase at Friars Gate theatre

LIMERICK Youth Dance Theatre, Integrated Drama, Education and Arts Society (IDEAS) and Footsteps Youth Theatre will be performing a collaborative showcase of their work this Christmas. The performance will take place on Wednesday, December 19 at 8pm in Friars Gate Theatre, Kilmallock, with tickets costing €5 each. Youth Dance Theatre is based in Croom and aims to offer young people aged 12 to 18 the opportunity to discover dance through an imaginative and creative programme. Professional dance artist Lisa Cahill, a teacher at Youth

Dance Theatre and IDEAS, has been training her pupils weekly since September for their performance. “There’s an awareness in the community that it’s an alternative to those who wouldn’t be sport inclined. It’s something artistic,” said the Croom native. Their performance will be based on their experiences of working with young people with physical disabilities. It will explore the ability of movement and overcoming obstacles and presumptions. IDEAS are a group of adults with intellectual disabilities, involved in dance. Based at Friars Gate Theatre, they will be

‘Forty Four Sycamore’ in Kilmallock FRIARS Gate Theatre & Arts will play host to Bernard Farrell’s Forty Four Sycamore at 8pm from Thursday December 6 until Sunday December 9. The comedy, about a middle class couple trying to impress their more established neighbours is directed by John Sheehy. “We have a fantastic cast and a fantastic play so it should be great fun,” said Mr Sheehy. Tickets cost €10-12. On Thursday December 6 the theatre will also stage the Centrestage Theatre Company’s Santa’s Sooty Christmas, a heart warming children’s show. Tickets cost €8. - Pamela Ryan

performing a creative dance piece related to the concept of transformation, showing how a pearl in an oyster is formed. Footsteps Youth Theatre is a youth group who are also based at Friars Gate Theatre. They will be performing a short drama. Ms Cahill added students were “incredibly excited” and can’t wait for their big night. Youth Dance Theatre is funded under the NYCI Artist in Youth Work Residency and Development Scheme, and both IDEAS and Footsteps Youth Theatre are funded through the VEC. - Brendan Roche

Mike Denver at Greenhills

COUNTRY music legend Mike Denver will headline a special night of Christmas songs at the Greenhills Hotel, Ennis Road, on Thursday December 6. The Galway native, who celebrates 10 years on the road next month, recently released his latest DVD ‘Lets Dance’ and was named ‘Vocalist of the Year’ at the Irish Country Music Entertainment Awards. Tickets for his Limerick show cost €25 each, however a four course dinner, bed and breakfast and entry to dancing is €150 per couple. For full details contact (061) 453 033.

AWARD winning celebrity chef and restaurateur Neven Maguire will host a cookery demonstration in aid of third world charity Bóthar in the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel on Thursday, December 13 at 8pm. Neven will whip up a range of wonderful Christmas recipes, focusing very much on Irish produced ingredients. Tickets are €20 and can be purchased by phone (061) 414 142 or email alli@bothar.ie.

Xmas lights

A CHRISTMAS Fantasy video lightshow will take place at the facade of the Red Door Gallery in the Square, Newcastle West on Friday and Saturday night next, December 7 and 8, at 7pm each evening. ‘Christmas Fantasy’ is a visual spectacle in the form of highly luminous projections. The shows are run in conjunction with Winterfest, a programme of festive themed activities that are taking place in Newcastle West from December 3 right up to Christmas. Admission is free. For details call (087) 6780456.

Lawton’s song

ANGELIC voiced singing cleric Fr Liam Lawton will headline a special concert at St Michael’s Church, Ballyagran on Friday next, December 7 at 8pm. Tickets are priced at €20 and can be bought at various outlets including Dolan’s Shop Ballyagran, Dick’s Supervalu Charleville, and Watson’s Service station Dromcollogher. Contact Mairi on (087) 135 1047 or Celia on (086) 941 3637 for full details. Proceeds in aid of Ballyagran Camogie Club.

Liam Lawton


Interview

Sport | 25

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Heineken Cup

Rob Penney on the big game. Page 31

Murray ready for Saracens challenge Liam McDermott

Sports Editor

@liammcd1990 liam.mcdermott@limerickvoice.com

S

omewhat lacklustre in the Rabo ProDirect League, Munster have struggled to adapt to the expansive style that Rob Penney has brought from the Southern hemisphere into the traditional tight Munster play. One of the players who will be responsible for how the Munster back-line operate will be Patrickswell man, Conor Murray. The scrum half has been on the rise ever since gaining Ireland’s number nine jersey on the eve of the 2011 Rugby World Cup and is now one of Munster’s key operators. The Limerick native acknowledged the challenge that he and his team mates face but he remains confident that Munster are up to the task. “It is going to be two huge weeks of Heineken Cup rugby and we are hugely focused on it. We have done a lot of analysis on our opposition and we are hoping to give it our best shot,” he says. Some Munster purists have complained about the team’s ability to execute the expansive game plan employed by the new Kiwi boss Penney. But Murray is confident that Munster can adapt whatever the weather on Saturday. “You obviously have to play the weather

conditions on the day. You plan on playing the way you would like to play but if you come out and it’s pouring rain then you have to change your tactics slightly. We are happy with our gameplan, I’ve been away with the national camp for the last month but I’ve seen the lads playing and the game plan seems to be working.” Adapting to the weather conditions will be the least of Munster’s worries when the English side arrive in Limerick. Saracens will be bolstered by the form of Owen Farrell and Chris Ashton, who both turned in stellar performances at the weekend when England thumped the All-Blacks. Farrell, in particular, justified his appearance on the IRB Player of the Year shortlist with six successful kicks at goal. “They are an extremely dangerous team, they play quite an expansive game and they can attack from anywhere. We have started taking a serious look and see where their threats come from. But everyone is aware of the likes of Ashton and Farrell and Brits. You could go on for ages about all the players they have. I’m sure no stone will be left unturned in our analysis over the next two weeks and we can try and cancel out their threats on the day.” Munster have been hit and miss in Europe this year. They limped through a defeat against Racing Metro in the first round of the Heineken Cup on a day blighted by mistakes and poor performances. Yet, they put Edinburgh to the sword on their next outing, running in four tries against the Scots in a 33-0 win. The erratic form could be blamed on the introduction of Penney’s more open Southern hemisphere style of rugby. Murrray remains

Liam Murray Courtesy Sportsfile

Conor Murray in action. Courtesy Sportsfile confident in the expansive style that Penney and his deputy Simon Mannix, have brought with them and believes that attaining a healthy blend between this new style and the tight play of the past is key. “There have been signs of the gameplan working in a lot of the early Rabo games throughout the year. It was just us not being clinical enough in the wide areas and putting away chances. “Rob has obviously brought in a bit of a different style but we have combined that with traditional Munster. We used our maul effectively the last day in the Heineken Cup and we played a good bit of wide rugby, so we are just getting the balance right now. Hopefully, we can kick on from where we left it the last day and keep trying the game plan,” says Murray, somewhat tense, the physical strains of nearly a month of national duty obvious. “Transition” is a word that has been heard around Thomond Park for the last few years. There was the move into the new stadium and the hope that Munster could retain the fear “Fortress Munster” instilled into teams.

T

hen, after Declan Kidney took over the vacant international job, Munster hoped to carry on without the orchestrator of their success. Now, there is the transition into a new generation of Munster players with Dave Kilcoyne and JJ Hanranhan all stepping into the senior squad. Rob Penney has introduced his style of play but a lot of players will not be around long enough to see it fully implemented. There are a number of players on the wrong side of 30, who inevitably have to stop at some stage.

Follow the story online www.limerickvoice.com

“There are a few older players with only a few seasons left. Obviously, you don’t want to name them but that is a reality. But there are a lot of players getting older, they already have Heineken Cup medals under their belt and they have fewer chances of winning Heineken Cups for themselves. “We’re very confident in the way we are playing, the players we have and the depth we have in this squad. There is a good mixture of youth and experience and a lot of the younger players are stepping up. It’s exciting and we are definitely confident.” Munster excited at the weekend against a poor Scottish opposition. A bonus point win can be considered nothing but good preparation for what will be the most important game of the year. Saracens will be more receptive to the inevitable breakdowns that will occur in Munster’s play. But with the right man at the base of the scrum and breakdown, Munster will be well equipped to make as few of those mistakes as possible.

Related AIL clubs struggle Money troubles page 30 Poaching targeted New school rules page 30


limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

26 | Sport

Last of the high-flying midfielders 13 years after he made his inter-county debut, Limerick’s John Galvin still wants that elusive Munster title GAELIC FOOTBALL Cillian Fitzgerald

GAA Correspondent

FOOTBALL in the Treaty County has been given a huge boost, as midfield dynamo John Galvin pledges to be back by March. The Croom clubman has played very little football in the last 18 months having suffered two cruciate knee ligament injuries, which ended his season in both 2011 and 2012. But after 13 hard years of senior county games and training, the 32-year-old midfielder is not prepared to call it a day just yet. He is determined to go through the agonising journey to get back up to the level needed for inter-county football. “I never thought about giving it up to tell you the truth. I have played with Limerick all the way up. I don’t know any other way of life to be honest. It is embedded in me,” Galvin said. Two season-ending knee injuries have tested his resolve immensely in recent years. He first injured his cruciate back in May 2011 and he put the operation off until September, as he waited for the farming season to finish up. The first time he suffered the injury was the hardest to take.

After a decade of playing football for Limerick, this was the first time he would be forced to miss senior intercounty football. Galvin had completed all the preseason training and was up to championship pace when the unfortunate injury first occurred. “It was my first serious injury that forced me to miss the championship. I suppose it was one of the hardest things to take since I started playing the sport,” the midfielder said. Issues with his cruciate came up again this year back in April and he knew straight away that the knee was gone again. Although it was a bit easier to take the second time around, he still had doubts in his own mind about about whether he fully got over his first injury. “Coming back from injury, you always have that doubt if it is alright or if it will ever be fully right again. I always had those doubts in my mind, and when it went I knew the game was up.” The cruciate knee injury has been something of a by-word for retirement in GAA circles in the past. At the moment, Galvin is well into the rehabilitation stage of his comeback.

He is doing the same rehabilitation routine as the first time around but at a much slower pace. It still amazes him how they never managed to topple either of the sides over the years when the game was in the melting pot and often when Limerick had the ball in their court. “The game against Kerry (Munster Final 2010) when we were down seven points and within five minutes we had brought it back level, and then we didn’t score again after that. It always bewilders me how we can score 1-4 in five minutes but you can’t get that point to go ahead,” said Galvin. He rues many similar games over the years against the sides, Cork in

the qualifiers in the Gaelic Grounds and Kerry in the 2004 Munster Final, are two more that he often questions as to why they could not get over the line. “I would love to know if we had beaten Kerry back in 2004; would we have pushed on? Would we have got that mental block out of us? Would we have won another one or two?” said the Croom star. He admits that he doesn’t like how the modern game is developing out around the middle of the field. “It was great to be going out against players like Darragh. He was trying to outfield me and I was trying to outfield him. It is disappointing these days that a lot of midfielders

are being taught to break the ball to a half-back which I think takes from the game.” “This craic of a fella going up to catch it and a gang of fellas swarming around him must be taken out of the game,” said Galvin. He is eager to get back into a Limerick jersey and will call it a day on his own terms. “I know I am coming to the end of my tether. I always said I would like to finish on my own terms. I want at the end of my last game to know that it is my last and to walk off, not be carried off over a fella’s shoulder.”

Should Galvin retire?

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Money woes continue for Limerick’s women footballers LADIES FOOTBALL Rebecca Maher

Olivia Giltenane in action for Limerick. Courtesy Sportsfile

THE FUTURE of Limerick ladies’ football could be in jeopardy unless further facilities and funding are provided to the County Board. Treasurer of the Limerick Ladies’ Football County Board, Finbarr Cremin, insists ladies football has no hope unless changes to its funding structure are made. The threat to the future of ladies’ football comes from a lack of funding available to the County Board. Membership for the year amounts to €50. According to Cremin, “€5 goes to Limerick ladies football, €4 goes

to Munster and the balance goes to Croke Park.” He goes on to say that with this €5 they are expected to run the County Board, which also includes the player’s injury fund, medals and competitions. The €50 subscription includes a full year’s activities including training, home matches and out of county ‘away’ games. “If you are playing U-12’s you can play up to 16 matches and if you are playing a lot of football it is very good value,” he says. On average the Limerick ladies football team play four home National League games. It costs €150 to pay for the referee and around €100 to pay for the use of the pitch.

“We lose money every time we play a National League match,” Cremin says. While they lose money during the National League they “try to make up for it in the Championship”. Admission of €5 is charged for a Championship final. “Our gate receipts are small, but they are a significant chunk of our income,” says Cremin. He adds that people are not aware how expensive it is to run a county team. He says it can cost, on average, up to €20,000 per year. “You’re talking €8,000 for the League itself, €2,500 for maintenance, a couple of hundred for the referee and a couple of hundred for the use of a pitch.”

The lack of sponsorship and funding available for the ladies’ football team is down to a number of reasons, according to Cremin. He believes that schools need to encourage ladies’ football more, and promotion of ladies’ football is vital for its survival, both here in Limerick and in all other counties. “Soccer plays second fiddle to hurling and football and ladies football plays second fiddle to that,” he says. “Equality between the sexes doesn’t exist in school sports but it should. Schools should have to give equal weighting to boys and girls. I think it would bring more awareness and sponsorship to ladies football,” he added.


Sport | 27

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

O’Mahony focused Consistency the key to on successful year success for for Treaty County boss Horan Cillian Fitzgerald

HURLING

GAA Correspondent

Michael Griffin

John Galvin escapes Waterford’s Shane Ahearne. Courtesy Sportsfile

FACTFILE Name: John Galvin Club: Croom Age: 32 All-Star nominations: 2004, 2009, 2010 Munster finals: 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010 Railway Cup appearance 2008 Silverware: Munster U-21 2000

GPA Team of the Year 2010

FOLLOWING his success in the county final, Killmallock club man Gavin O’Mahony says the possibility of a place on the Limerick Senior hurling team is now the aim of all club players in the county. Speaking to the Limerick Voice, O’Mahony said the prospect of playing in an All-Ireland final with their county is what continues to motivate the boys on the Limerick panel. “Yeah it’s our main goal this year. We hadn’t won a county title with Killmallock up until two years ago, but the Liam McCarthy Cup is the one that we’ve all been chasing.” In recent years, Limerick has been plagued with under-achievement. The golden generation that brought the county three U-21, All-Irelands in a row has come and gone without a single senior title materialising. However, O’Mahony feels that the under-achiever tag is a fair one. “Is it fair to say we haven’t played to our potential? Yeah I’d say so. We’ve fallen short too many times and at this stage we owe it to the fans because we’ve given them too many bad days at this stage.” The former underage star made his senior debut in 2009 but only played consistently for the first time this year. He is already well established in the senior step up alongside county stalwarts like Niall Moran and David Breen. Despite the fact that there are a lot of established players with plenty of miles all ready on the clock there, he recognises that Limerick hurling is in a very healthy position with the number of talented young players they

Gavin O’Mahony Courtesy Sportsfile

have coming through. “There’s a real breath of fresh air coming into the squad with 10 new guys coming in, and to be honest I’m looking forward to what they’ll bring to the team dynamic, it can only bode well for us as it keeps everyone pushing on, we need the competitive edge they bring.” According to O’Mahony, players have to turn a negative into a positive. In the last 12 months, Limerick has been blessed with emerging underage talent, Shane Dowling, Declan Hannon and Kevin Downes all made the senior break through this year. Dowling, in particular, was in flying form this year after winning his first county title last year with Na Piarsaigh. O’Mahony said that Michael Reidy had a good year with neighbouring club, Athlaca, and that he was looking forward to seeing young guys like him.“I hope to see them all pushing for places early on in the season”, he added.

O’Carroll facing year out HANDBALL Michael Griffin

Seamus O’Carroll. Courtesy Sportsfile

A TORN shoulder muscle could see Limerick dual-star, Seamus O’Carroll, unable to compete in the World Handball Championships in Calgary, 2014. The handball and Limerick football player, who had trouble with the injury over the last few years, aggravated it again during this year’s hanball championship held in City West, Dublin in October. “It’s a torn muscle in my right shoulder. Depending on the results of my scan, I may have to take a year out from the sport to fully recover for the championships in 2014.” The Cappagh clubman claimed the Young Male Player of the Year award

in 2010 but was beaten in this year’s doubles, semi-finals and in the quarter-final stages of the under-23 singles. He admits that he was still carrying the injury during these games. However, the dual star is adamant that the injury will not impact on his football career with Limerick. “I can still play football as the injury only really affects my handball. The football lads are already back training in the gym, but I am just doing some core training work so that I can get my shoulder right again.” With one wall handball being considered for inclusion at the Olympics in Rio, 2016, O’Carroll says that it would be worth trying for the team if it gets the go-ahead. “I would definitely give it a go. It’s every amateur athlete’s dream to represent their country at the Olympics.”

LIMERICK senior football manager Maurice Horan sees promotion from Division Four of the National Football League, and more consistent performances as the key to success for the Treaty County. The Mayo native was disappointed with his side’s poor performances and lack of consistency in the league last year and has prioritised winning promotion as his primary goal for the coming season. “If you have young fellas coming through, the best learning curve for them is out on the field against Division Two or Division One teams,” said Horan. Galvin sees promotion to Division Three as a big factor in increasing interest around the team. “Instead of having 200 or 300 people at the matches in the Gaelic Grounds, you could have 2,000 or 3,000 people there and generate a bit of excitement. It would give football followers an opportunity to see the top players playing in Limerick,” said Horan. He also feels the exposure of the big championship days and the positive vibes it creates are needed to boost football in the county. “If you are winning regularly, playing in Croke Park regularly and on TV regularly then more fellas will want to play – and that is what you are aiming for”. Limerick’s record in the qualifiers has improved dramatically in the last two years, having won four games which equalled the total for the previous 10 years. The manager is keen to point out that their championship form was quite good last year after a poor first-half performance against Clare in the Munster Championship. “We didn’t get promoted out of Division Four but we still beat Division Three champions Longford and we nearly beat the Division Two champions Kildare,” said Horan. The former Ballinrobe and Monaleen player feels a win over Kerry or Cork in a Munster Final would see Limerick football make the breakthrough they have long been waiting for. “There has only been one team who has won it outside of Kerry and Cork in the last 75 years. The odds are stacked against a team making a break-through but that is the challenge. When it does happen for Limerick it is going to be a real occasion and I think that’s when football will really take off in the county.”


28 | Sport

header

In Touch

Liam McDermott

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

New LFC boss has big boots to fill ACCORDING TO Limerick FC star Joe Gamble, the players of the club were left completely out of the loop in regards to Pat Scully’s departure from the manager’s position. Pat had been the man behind the club’s ascension into the Premier Division. He had done so on a meagre budget and by best utilising the talent that was available to him. He was also a keen promoter of underage talent with many of the club’s players promoted from within their own ranks. Pat O’Sullivan, chairman of the club, has said that money is tight and that whoever takes over the squad will have little or no money available to them when they take charge. It makes you question the reasons behind Scully’s departure. To everyone outside the club, he appeared to have done an excellent job with limited resources. The club were already set to struggle in the Premier Division but with this sort of upheaval, the new manager is going to have a difficult task trying to get the team focused. A number of high profile managers have been attached to the vacancy. Former English Premier League managers Peter Taylor and Phil Brown have both interviewed for the job. High profile Irish names have also been linked to the role with former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr,

who promptly removed himself from contention, and former internationals Jason McAteer and Kenny Cunningham, but surely both would have wage demands beyond the club’s means. If Twitter is to be believed Phil Brown and Peter Taylor are thought to be the pair fighting it out for the job. Both would bring a huge amount of experience with them. Brown led Hull to the Premier League for the first time in 2008. Taylor was the first man to give David Beckham the English captaincy but more recently was at the helm of the Bahrain international team, after previous stints at Leicester and Gillingham. Either would be a good choice but Taylor has far more experience and would be the obvious pick as the front runner. The new manager will have a tough act to follow but it has not been all bad news for the club. The fact that they will be playing their home games at Thomond Park is a massive boost for the team. With a far greater capacity than anything they would have been able to dream of building themselves, they now have an outlet to put themselves in a far healthier financial position, provided they can attract fans through the gates. Hopefully, ’37 can avail of the Thomond Park factor that Munster has developed.

Joe Gamble in action against Manchester City in August. Courtesy Sportsfile.

Players “kept in dark” over Pat Scully departure says Gamble SOCCER

Fiachra McKermott Deputy Sports Editor

VETERN midfielder Joe Gamble claims that Limerick FC squad were kept in the dark over the surprise departure of manager Pat Scully. Gamble, a member of the Airtricity League of Ireland Division One champions, thought that Pat Scully was a success and that the squad were not involved in his departure. The former Irish international claims that none of the playing staff is aware of the reasons behind the departure of their Division One winning manager. “It’s a hard one to say because nobody knows what happened. You’re guess is as good as mine.” The former Cork City, Reading and Hartlepool man has been involved in football for 12 years now and believes that while the decision

to remove Scully was strange, it was not a surprise for him. “It doesn’t shock me at all, nothing shocks me in football anymore. I’ve been around the block and nothing surprises me.” Several names have been mentioned in connection with the post but the Cork native believes that most of those are unfounded rumours. “I’ve heard of numerous old ex-internationals who’ve apparently been linked with the job.” One of those names is that of former England Caretaker Manager, Peter Taylor. “I’ve heard that Peter Taylor had an interview about the job but we’ll see how it goes. I would definitely welcome him if it happens. He’s done everything in football, why wouldn’t we want him here?” Gamble, 30, believes that the future is bright, regardless of the identity of the new manager. “It’s going to be strange moving to Thomand Park, but we just can’t

wait to get started. The manager will have a very positive squad that’s for sure, whoever it is. The whole squad are really looking forward to playing there, we can’t wait. It’s such a step up from last season to be playing there and the place has so much history.” One part of the club’s history which Gamble hopes will not be repeated, is the incident of racism that occured when Limerick hosted Manchester City in a friendly game in August. “It was disgusting. Those people are just idiots. So what if a lad comes to play football here and he’s a different colour? We’re all the same. I was disgusted. City could have made more of it and it’s not a true reflection of Irish football at all. It’s my first time experiencing racism first-hand either here or in England. It could be a major problem and we can’t let it slide if it keeps happening.”

Golf membership in steep decline GOLF Rebecca Maher

Golf clubs are struggling for membership Courtesy Limerick Golf Club

LOCAL golf clubs in County Limerick have seen a steady decrease in the number of people taking up membership with their clubs in the last year. The majority of Limerick golf clubs have seen their membership rates fall over the last 12 months, with some clubs reporting a 15 percent drop in membership. Newcastle West Golf Club has seen the most significant drop in membership and the club’s manager John Whelan expects further decreases in 2013. “We have approximately 900

members. When one considers the full members, referred to above, membership is down approximately 15 percent. I expect a decrease in the New Year,” he said. Castletroy Golf Club situated just outside Limerick city has also been affected by a drop in numbers. “During 2012, our membership has gone down by about 5 percent,” said club secretary Louis Keegan. Average membership to the club is €1,000 and it currently offers four different types of membership including senior, junior, intermediate and senior over-75s. The club has more than 1,000 members. “We are constantly looking for new members and trying to maintain

our numbers,” said Keegan. Similarly, Rathbane Golf Club has also seen a fall in their membership, but to counter the falling number the club has taken action. It offers four different types of membership, regardless of gender, including full seven days membership, MondayThursday membership, student membership and over-65s. Limerick Golf Club and Adare Manor Golf Club are hoping the New Year will attract new members. Simone McKie, of Limerick Golf Club, believes the economic downturn is to blame for diminishing numbers. “It’s due to the times that we’re in. Hopefully, after the new year, we will draw in new members,” she added.


Sport | 29

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Clubs help youths stay right side of the ropes

Limerick boxing clubs are playing their part in training the next generation of fighters and medal winners BOXING Fiachra McKermott Deputy Sports Editor

A FORMER Ireland boxing coach is helping re-shape boxing in the county. Limerick City and County IABA Chairman Jim Walsh has claimed the sport’s importance cannot be underestimated in the lives of many innercity youths. The former Ireland Olympic boxing coach, who was an integral part of the Beijing 2008 coaching team, spoke of the essential role that boxing takes in the lives of the youth of Limerick. “The clubs in Limerick are doing very good work. Who knows what the kids could get up to if they didn’t have boxing? It’s great to have a place for them to go to socialise and exercise without any trouble.” One of those clubs, Southill Boxing Club, recently opened its doors to members in the city. Jim is involved with the club as City Secretary and had good things to say about the prospects of Limerick’s newest ABC. “I am always in touch with the lads down there, offering advice and giv-

ing them help where I can but there is an awful lot of experience down there. Southill is a high-performance boxing outlet. It’s enormous, it’s almost too big. They have two rings in the place and they looked like wheelbarrows.” With so many other distractions in teenagers’ lives these days, the former Irish coach highlighted the importance of the discipline of boxing in Limerick. “Boxing plays its part, definitely. It’s difficult to say if they would do something else,” he said. Walsh added that the sport in Limerick has lost many boxers to other interests. “It’s a shame, we lost some great boxers to an alternative life away from the ring.” In a city with limited entertainment for youth, Jim took the time to highlight the social achievements of another club in the city. “Corpus Christi is a fantastic facility and they are doing some great work there. It is of tremendous benefit to the area of Roxboro and to the city in general.” London 2012 was a massive success for Irish boxing, particularly in the women’s discipline, following the success of Katie Taylor. Limerick boxing clubs have experienced an influx of interest from

Young boxers in the ring. Fiachra McKermott young females who watched Taylor’s successes with fighting aspirations of their own. “Young girls are really into the game now, it’s fantastic”. Walsh highlighted the dangers that face the careers of young female boxers in particular. “There is a problem with a lot of young females, especially when they get a boyfriend. We don’t really see much trouble with drugs but a lot of girls are doing great until they get a boyfriend and then they start to go backwards.” Limerick woman Níamh Ball will be a future star of the women’s game, he added.

Jim Walsh with boxer Niamh Ball. Fiachra McKermott

Excitement builds as Olympics return to Limerick SPECIAL OLYMPICS Rebecca Maher

CEO Special Olympics Ireland Matt English. Courtesy Sportsfile

SPECIAL Olympics Ireland has said it has high hopes and expectations for Limerick City as it prepares to host the Games for the second consecutive time in 2014. The games will be held in the mid -west capital for the second time following the success of 2010. The CEO of the Special Olympics Ireland, Matt English, said there was a number of reasons why Limerick was chosen again. “The event was such a success in 2010 and the formula worked very well here. The volunteers and the fa-

cilities were outstanding and the city really got behind the Games from a financial point of view as well,” said English. The strength of the sporting facilities in the city was a huge incentive in renaming Limerick as the host of the Games. English is confident that the city has the best facilities to offer each and every one of the athletes. “First and foremost we are a sports organisation. The strength of facilities in Limerick is incredible. Our athletes deserve to compete in the best facilities and Limerick has that on offer,” he said. The University of Limerick played an important part in the 2010 Games, hosting eight out of fifteen events and

providing accommodation for the athletes. They will play a similar role in the 2014 Games. “UL went beyond the call of duty for us. The student accommodation there is excellent. It is close to the sports centre and we were able to use UL as a hub,” said English. Limerick fought off competition from other cities interested in hosting the games including Dublin, Cork and Belfast. “Limerick has expressed the willingness to help us before and that has assured us ahead of the 2014 Games. Some other cities would have been disappointed but the experience was so good in Limerick. It was easier to hold the games here again.

“The welcome from the city was huge in 2010. Limerick has so many positive things going on. I couldn’t be more positive about the people here. Everyone is a winner. Limerick is a winner and Special Olympics is definitely a winner,” added English. 19-year-old Aoife O’Reilly volunteered at the Games in Limerick in 2010. She worked as a housing assistant and says it was interesting to see how other people worked and interacted with the athletes. Aoife says she would definitely recommend the experience to anyone thinking of volunteering for the upcoming Games. “Looking back it was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone,” she added.


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Coaches say new rule hurts schools rugby talent James O’Nolan A NEW rule which bans Schools

rugby players who have transferred between schools from competing for twelve months has been branded ‘unfair’ by coaches. The rule, brought in by the Munster Age Grade Committee in August, prevents players who move from one institution to another from playing Schools senior cup rugby for a year after enrolling. Chairman of the Munster Schools Committee, Tony Smith, says the rule inhibits the growth of many young players. “I’m completely against the idea. It’s preventing young players from progressing in the game and competing at a higher level,” he said. The motion was proposed by Castletroy College, who won the Munster Senior Schools Cup in 2008, at an AGM in May before being passed to the committee for a vote. It will come into effect in September 2013. It is understood that the rule will prevent a decline in the youth club game as well as stopping one school from having a monopoly on the best young talent. “I am a coach at Rockwell College and we are a boarding school. We rely heavily on our boarders to play rugby. In the current economic climate some parents can only afford to send their children to boarding school for 5th and 6th year, so this will have an awful affect on our playing pool,” said Smith. His sentiments were echoed by TG4 rugby pundit and St Munchins coach John Broderick. “When Donnacha Ryan arrived here in Munchin’s from Nenagh, he wasn’t sure if he would be swinging a hurley or playing rugby. He got an opportunity to play a decent level of rugby because he changed schools.” Broderick believes there is a hypocritical stance being taken by other schools concerning the new rule and he had this to say to our reporter: “We (St Munchins) have lost five hurlers to Ard Scoil Ris, who are actively recruiting hurlers to play on their Harty Cup team. Yet they are against rugby players moving schools to play rugby. “There are only two under 19 teams currently able to field a team in Limerick city. Where do they think players are going to be able to play at a competitive level?” he added.

limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

AIL clubs struggle to meet costs of teams AIL RUGBY Continued from back page - “It’s going to cost you €700 or €800 for an away game and then you have to feed the players and you have to get them there. Then, you have four or five away matches in a year. That’s just for the first-team,” said Barry. Shannon RFC honorary treasurer Gerry O’Neill said that the decrease in fundraising and sponsorship has left a big hole in the clubs coffers. “We do have memberships in the club, but that doesn’t cover much. The recession has affected us greatly in terms of significantly decreased sponsorship and fundraising. “It costs roughly about €300,000 a year to run a club like Shannon RFC. This means we have to chase people down for money. I’m sure this affects young players coming to join the club,” he explained. Economic hardship breeds more than just financial difficulties. Olivia O’Sullivan, Young Munster public relations officer, explains that emigration is now also a problem for the club.

“College graduates are left unemployed here and go not only to Australia and America, but to Dublin, where there are far more jobs,” she said. O’Sullivan also highlighted the importance of local businesses in sustaining the club. “Besides the fact that we have our main sponsors, we rely on a lot of local businesses. When they have less money, we have less money. Simple things like showers and lighting after training all build up. “Sponsorship is everything. If the club has money, the team seems to do better on the pitch. We have the longest standing sponsorship in the AIL with Bus Éireann. This leaves us in a better position than most other clubs,” she added. UL Bohemian’s Public Relations officer Kieran Gibbons also stressed the importance of sponsorship in club maintenance. “We’ve been lucky that we have three main sponsors who keep us going. But who knows how long that will last. We are trying to tie in smaller sponsors at the moment,” he said. In the past Boh’s have benefited from being able to use Thomond

Pearse anticipates exciting future for Irish ladies rugby LADIES RUGBY Jason Franz UP AND COMING female rugby star Chloe Pearse has her sights firmly set on national glory. The Shannon club-member currently occupies the Munster under19s outhalf position and is geared up for an interprovincial tournament which will be held this weekend. The Limerick woman, who impressed throughout the last season, helped the provincial side to convincing wins over Connacht and Leinster. This season she is preparing for a tougher challenge. “Both teams will be coming with a vengeance. I don’t think it’ll be easy pickings but we’re prepared for a dogfight if needs be. Hopefully with the talented and experienced players we possess, it will be enough to take us through the games and bring us two wins out of two,” said Pearse. Female rugby is developing in the Shannon region, with Limerick teams Bruff and St Mary’s two new

additions to the league, along with Clare club St Senan’s. The growth of female rugby across the world has been emphasised by the recent announcement that it is now seen as an official Olympic sport. For a young player such as Pearse, the Olympics are just another challenge. “Rio 2016 is now a physical dream for me, as well as the World Cup in 2015. The Six Nations is always a close competition between England and France with Ireland just behind. To knock them off their pedestals and be part of a team that’s a real powerhouse in women’s rugby would mean a great deal. “But at the moment it’s just enough to play week-in week-out with club, province or college and give 110 per cent on the pitch,” explained Pearse. For now, the senior Munster squad is an attainable goal for the moment, she said. She is aiming to make the Irish squad for the 2015 World Cup and subsequently the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

AIL teams like Garryowen and Shannon are struggling from falling revenue. Courtesy Sportsfile

Park as a venue for some senior AIL games, but Gibbons explains that this is not providing the financial windfall it once did. “We have a monthly draw called ‘Club 400’. If people aren’t entering that then we know things aren’t going well. We use it as a barometer – a measurement of sorts to judge the tide.” Even in the face of such economic difficulties, Garryowen’s Christy

Barry feels that grassroots rugby in Limerick is too big to fail. “Club rugby will always be there regardless of what economic or infrastructural changes take place in society because it is the heart beat of any community. “The more obstacles that are put in front of a club, the harder club members will fight and group together to actually put teams on the pitch,” he added.

McCloskey looking forward to World Cup challenge RUGBY LEAGUE

Jason Franz LIMERICK’S representation on the Irish squad for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup lies on the broad shoulders of Aaron McCloskey. The Limerick giant is optimistic about his chances of being named on the World Cup squad. “My chances are good. The squad is going to take five domestic players including myself. Obviously playing abroad should help my chances, but of course hard work will play a big part. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said McCloskey. Ireland faces a tough campaign, against two of the top teams in the world, England and Australia, in what is being labeled the ‘Group of Death’. “It’s going to be tough. England and Australia are in the top three in the world. They are the best. But we can only learn from playing these guys and the exposure will be massive as well,” he commented.

Ireland will face Australia in Thomond Park, a match which is expected to have more than 20 million television viewers. “It’s superb to have games like these coming to Limerick. It puts a different rugby light into Thomond Park,” said McCloskey. This comes following the Limerick native’s rapid rise up the Rugby League ladder. He received a number of caps for the Irish national team, against the likes of the England Knights and France, the latter played in Thomond Park. He has just returned from Ireland’s victory over Scotland at Edinburgh’s Meggetland ground. It was rugby league heavyweights, Saint Helens, who signed McCloskey as a youngster. After a spell with Montpellier Red Dragons in France, he returned to St Helens for a number of months before his contract ran out. At present, the lock is back playing for Garryowen in the Ulster Bank League and enjoying the early success of a good season for the Limerick club.


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limerickvoice, Friday December 7, 2012

Stander stands out in Munster victory

Emphatic performance over Glasgow provides Penney with a selection headache ahead of next weekend’s Heineken Cup tie against Saracens From back page Discipline and concentration are key to beating Saracens this weekend, according to Penney. The New Zealander was quick to outline how impressed he was with his side’s defensive stats from Saturday’s game. “Our unforced errors were not as high as they had been, which was pleasing and our penalty count was certainly down. I’ll state it publically that it’s a goal of ours to make our discipline more positive than it has been.” Munster claimed the bonus point against the Scottish side but needed a second-half penalty try to secure it. First half tries from Tommy O’Donnell and a brace from South African import CJ Stander put Munster on their way but the second period was dominated by a litany of unforced errors. The new Kiwi boss spoke of his frustration watching the errors unfold from the line but acknowledged that it is part of a process. “Without a doubt, it was a little frustrating. We were probably our own worst enemies in the majority of those situations. We just either had a whoopsie at the set-piece or we might have pushed a pass or didn’t push a pass when we needed to.” “But I thought that although it was a little frustrating we were still building opportunities of pressure. We have talked amongst ourselves about a little lack of ruthlessness when we get teams by the throat that we are not suffocating them completely.” The former All-Black singled out his flankers for special praise and acknowledged the contribution of Thomond Park debutant CJ Stander. “Tommy (O’Donnell) has been good for us all year. I thought he had a blinder against Cardiff, he took a bit of a knock there and so, he had a week off but he started this week like he finished in Cardiff.CJ’s first start, he exploded a few times and ripped them up,” added Penney. After returning from the Ireland set-up, second-row Donnacha Ryan noted how impressive the opposition have been, so far. “Saracens are doing brilliant over in the Premiership and obviously, they have had a fantastic start in the Heineken Cup. We are certainly going to be up against it, so we are going to have to try and up our standards an awful lot” he added.

Munster flanker CJ Stander in action against Glasgow. Courtesy Sportsfile

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In the lead up to this weekend’s crunch game we get the view of three of Munster’s most prominent past players Follow the story online www.limerickvoice.com

Alan Quinlan Player to watch Chris Ashton- “He can score from anywhere and he poses a real threat.” Where will the game be won or lost? “Saracens are a very physical team that try to dominate you up front so the pack will be vital to a win.” Do you expect it to be a high scoring game? “I’d expect games like this to be a real arm wrestle so I wouldn’t think this will be a high scoring game.” Verdict? Munster- “The home advantage should get Munster over the line.”

Barry Murphy Killian Keane Player to watch Owen Farrell- “Owen is coming off the back of a good international run so you would expect him to be flying.”

Player to watch Owen Farrell- ”How could you not say that really after this weekend.”

Where will the game be won or lost? Where will the game be won or “Whoever controls the set pieces lost? will go a long way to taking the “A lot of pundits will say set pieces game.��� or breakdown time, but I believe the game has moved on from that in a way. Against Saracens our Do you expect it to be a high kicking game will be essential to scoring game? “It definitely has the potential to a win.” be. But I don’t expect a circus or anything.” Do you expect it to be a high scoring game? “No, this is completely dependent Verdict? Munster- “I have to say that don’t on the weather though.” I? But you would expect home advantage to kick Saracens to touch Verdict? Munster- “The Thomond Park fac- and the kick-off time is significant tor will get us home.” in that it will draw the crowd.”


“Nothing shocks me in football” Joe Gamble on Pat Scully’s departure. Page 27

SPORT

CRUNCH TIME

Conor Murray on the big game: Page 25

FOOTBALL: PAGE 26 | HURLING: PAGE 27 | BOXING: PAGE 29 Limerick clubs in crisis?

Have your say #limerickvoice

Falling revenues hit club rugby

Munster Head Coach Rob Penney.

TITANS CLASH Courtesy Sportsfile

Saracens game will make or break Munster’s season

Liam McDernott Sports Editor

VICTORY over Saracens in Thomond Park this Saturday is the only option for Rob Penney’s Munster as they look to reassert themselves at the top table of European rugby. A bonus point win over high flying Glasgow in the Rabo Pro-12 was the perfect preparation for this weekend’s crunch clash.

Speaking after the win on Saturday night, Penney outlined how impressed he was with his side’s performance. “It was a good confidence booster going into an important week and if you had said the scoreline was going to be that before the game I would have been really blown away given the quality of Glasgow.” Munster’s expansive style under Penney has been criticised by some,

but the New Zealander is very confident in his sides ability to adapt. “It is our intent to play. I’m really proud of the boys’ endeavour to carry out the things that we are trying to do on the field,” he said. After a poor defeat in the first round to Racing Metro, Munster are looking to build on their win over Edinburgh in the last round.

[ Full Story: Page 31

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A Promising Future Ahead Chloe Pearse page 30 Rugby League in Limerick Aaron McCloskey page 30

Jason Franz

Rugby Correspondent

LIMERICK’S rugby clubs are struggling to cope with mounting financial demands as they try to stay competitive. Limerick is the home of Munster rugby but increasing costs, emigration and falling match attendances are threatening some of the county’s most prestigious and successful clubs. Garryowen is currently at the top of the Ulster Bank league. But this on-field success comes at a price according to the clubs treasurer, Christy Barry. He explained that the club’s costs amount to roughly €6,000 a week.

[ More Page 30

GOLF CLUBS STRUGGLE TO RETAIN MEMBERS Numbers falls as recession bites across county. Page 28


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