Clare Praises Obama

The victory of President Obama last week was welcomed in Clare.  The county’s mayor, Pat Daly, said it was the right result for Ireland. “I think it is because he promised to come back to Ireland again during his next term and hopefully he’ll use Shannon Airport and come to Clare,” Daly said.

He felt a Mitt Romney victory may have been bad for Ireland and noted that Obama is close to the Clintons, who have very strong ties to Ireland.

“If Romney had won, it might have posed threats to the advantage given by our corporate tax, there was a possibility of that,” Daly said.

“There are so many Irish people out there, I know several people who canvassed for Obama in New York. I think it’s a good thing for Ireland, particularly with the connection with the Clinton family because they have pushed for Ireland for many years.”

Fine Gael TD (member of Parliament) Pat Breen is one of a small band of Clare people to have met President Obama, and he also welcomed the outcome.

“At a critical time in the global economy, I welcome the certainty of the result, with the president winning both the electoral and popular vote. This conclusive victory gives President Obama a strong mandate to address the immense challenges he faces at home and abroad,” he said.

“President Obama has shown himself to be a friend of Ireland, stating during his visit here last year that this country inspires the biggest things and that Ireland punches above its weight.”

Breen said the Irish government would look to deepen Ireland’s ties with the U.S. “The Irish government will work closely with the new Congress across a wide range of issues, including the problem of undocumented Irish in the United States,” Breen said.

“There are strong economic and cultural links between the U.S. and the midwest region. Shannon Airport serves as a gateway between our countries.

“The decision by U.S. Airways and United Airlines to add routes from Philadelphia and Chicago to Shannon will enhance tourism and business ahead of The Gathering next year.

-The Clare Champion

Rock Bottom Prices

A Ballyclare bungalow worth 50 percent of its price four or five years ago failed to find a buyer at a property auction.

Underling the precipitous nature of the housing market and the lack of purchasing confidence from house buyers, the furnished two bed bungalow at 8 Abercorn Drive remains available despite going at a guide price of £75,000, down from approximately £150,000 in 2007.

The auction, held at the Balmoral Hotel in Belfast and organized by BRG Gibson Auctions, did not attract a buyer for the property despite hundreds of bargain hunters from across Northern Ireland attending.

Among the properties also unable to find a purchaser were two in Newtownabbey -- a three story terraced house on Glenview Park available for £115,000 and a three bed townhouse on Edenmore Court also priced £115,000.

Describing the dramatic fall in housing prices Roy Little, auctioneer at BRG Gibson, said typically housing was available at half-price compared to four or five years ago. 

“These properties are typically at prices 50 percent what they would've been a few years back," he said. "They really are quite cheap, particularly the Edenmore Court property which could be purchased for £125,000.

“That property was only built in 2005 or 2006, and it would've been on the market for about £250,000 in 2007."

The monthly property auctions in Belfast are an increasingly popular route into the housing market, said Little, because "it often takes 14-28 days for completion, rather than the two to three months it might take going through an agent.”

Other properties available for the more than 400 eager buyers who crammed into the auction room last week included a 21 bedroom Armagh mansion, Castle Dillon, which had a guide price of just £210,000 despite being worth up to £2 million at the height of the housing boom.  The highest bid it received at the auction was just £100,000. 

A terraced house in Ballymena valued at £75,000 five years ago was sold to a happy buyer for just £19,000.

-Ballyclare Gazette

Galway Prediction

Savage cuts to rural communities across Galway will result in massive migration over the next two decades, leaving country areas with just a skeleton population.

It will result in massive pub closures while half of the current number of hurling and football clubs across Galway will cease to exist.

The grim prediction has been made by a former government minister who says that the closures of rural banks and post offices, the closure of rural Garda (police) stations and the withdrawal of grants for rural schemes will have a devastating effect over the coming years.

These added to the forced amalgamations of rural schools, cuts to rural transport and huge reductions in community health services will conspire to drive people out of country areas into larger centers of population – or else emigrate altogether.

It paints a picture of thousands of dwellings and business premises across rural Galway being abandoned by their owners in the wake of ongoing cuts in services.

According to Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, he believes that there was a concerted campaign to downgrade country areas and says that in 20 years time the face of rural Galway would be irreparably changed.

“In 20 years time we will have half the number of GAA clubs in Galway because the people simply won’t be there to fill teams. Even the rural pub will become a thing of the past,” he predicted.

-Connacht Sentinel

Suing the State

A man has sued the state, alleging that when he was a nine-year-old orphan, he was "boarded out" to work as a farm boy in "quasi-servitude.”

The now 50-year-old man is also suing a religious order that ran the orphanage where he had lived from when he was a baby until he was boarded out.

He alleges he was sexually abused by other children in the orphanage.

The Health Service Executive (HSE), the minister for health and the religious order deny his claim and want the case struck out on grounds of delay. The case began 12 years ago. Suzanne Boylan, counsel for the man, said he initiated the High Court proceedings before a redress board claim.

While the board recently sanctioned an interim payment of €10,000 for him, it had reserved its position on compensation for his period of "boarding out" as a farm boy.

The man is unwell and not in a position to give immediate instructions, counsel added.

Boylan said she wanted an adjournment to take instructions but hoped the matter could be resolved through the redress board.

Gerard Clarke SC, for the minister, Ireland and the attorney general, said the man's claim related to a period from 1971 to 1981 when he was boarded out to a brother and sister in the west of Ireland.

He had attended a respected secondary school in Sligo and University College Galway and went on to obtain a professional qualification.

The brother and sister to whom he was boarded out had since died and there was no one else to give evidence as to his treatment, counsel said.

The state's ability to defend the case was therefore completely and totally prejudiced.

Justice Hogan noted the man's claim appeared to be that he was held in a position of quasi-servitude while boarded out.

If the redress board resolved the matter in his favor, legal costs would be the only outstanding matter, the judge said.

He "earnestly hoped" a decision could be made by the board before the case returned before him in five weeks, he added.

-Sligo Champion

Missing Body Mystery

Human remains found in a car discovered on the bed of the River Blackwater in Fermoy are to be tested to ascertain if they are those of a local man who has been missing for 22 years.

A Garda spokesman confirmed that the car found by members of the Blackwater Sub Aqua Search and Rescue was a Daihatsu Charade, the same make and model as that driven by local businessman and former Labor county councilor William Fennessy.

Fennessy, 54, who owned a pub, undertaker and auctioneers in Fermoy, mysteriously disappeared in March 1990 and his car was never found.

His wife Noreen and brother James waited by the riverside as dive teams made a number of trips out to the submerged car on the river bed.

Clutching a piece of paper with the registration number of his brother's car on it, James said he hoped the discovery would finally bring closure to the family.

"It would be an end. For the past 22-years we have been unable to say what happened," he said.

Garda superintendent Mick Comyns confirmed that human remains and other items were removed from the car.

"First indications would seem to suggest that this car was a Daihatsu similar to the one owned by Mr. Fennessy. However, it may take some time before we are able to make a positive ID on the recovered remains through either dental records or DNA," say Comyns.

- The Corkman

Never Too Late: Taoiseach Enda Kenny helped to launch the Age Friendly Program at Dublin City University last week, which aims to encourage and help older students to learn new skills.Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland