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Clare First County In Mid-West To Oppose Aer Lingus AIG Bid

Part of Tipperary's Lough Derg shore line. Counties Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary are three counties which, when joined together, make up the ‘Mid-West Region,’ latter which is also known the ‘Shannon Region,’ due to its close proximity and distinctive corridor carved out by the lower River Shannon and its basin.

At a specially convened meeting of Clare County Council this evening, the local authority’s 28 Elected Membership unanimously rejected any commitment from IAG that does not explicitly guarantee Aer Lingus’ long term commitment to services between Shannon Airport and London Heathrow.

This call follows IAG’s statement today that it will keep the Aer Lingus Heathrow slots for Irish routes for at least five years if the company’s proposed takeover is successful.

Clare County Council however, has warned that any guarantee that omits a specific reference to Shannon is “unacceptable” and that the Government should retain its 25.1% shareholding in the airline.

“If IAG chief executive Willie Walsh and his company were truly committed to maintaining and strengthening Aer Lingus then he would already have made clear moves towards appeasing the very real concerns of the people and businesses of the West of Ireland who have contributed to establishing the Shannon-Heathrow route as one of the airline’s flagship services,” said Cllr John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

Speaking following this evening’s meeting, Cllr. Crowe confirmed the Members of Clare County Council are now calling on the Taoiseach, Minister for Finance and the Government to “unilaterally oppose” the sale of Aer Lingus and retain its 25.1% shareholding.

Members are also requesting that Aer Lingus management increase connectivity and levels of service to Shannon Airport to “ensure balanced regional development and on commercial grounds to grow market share for Aer Lingus.”

Cllr Crowe said he will be formally writing to An Taoiseach to outline the Council’s concerns, as expressed at this evening’s meeting.

“There is a sense of déjà-vu amongst my colleagues that Aer Lingus, under the guise of IAG, could repeat the woeful decision of the airline to remove Shannon’s Heathrow slots in 2007. It didn’t make commercial sense then nor does it now, but it is clear that IAG are unwilling to guarantee these slots in the future hence our unanimous opposition to the sale of the airline,” stated Councillor Crowe.

“Underpinning the significant developments in improving infrastructure and expanding the tourism and business sectors in the West of Ireland in recent years is proper access to this region. The Shannon-Heathrow link is of absolute critical, strategic importance to maintaining existing development in the industry and tourism area and to position the wider region for further growth and investment into the future.”

“The growth of Shannon Airport since separation from the DAA demonstrates the capacity of management at the airport to achieve future growth. It is critical the airport can continue to operate in an environment which facilitates such growth into the future. Any reduction in connectivity consequent to a sale to IAG would have a serious negative impact,” said Councillor Crowe.

New Thurles Town Park – A Positive Step Into Our Future

Thurles-Town-Park

Construction begins on the new Thurles Town Park.

Perhaps it comes from that occasional light tap I received on the back of my head from a loving Grandmother as a young boy; her occasional reminder that I had failed to convey an appropriate “Thank You” at a required point in time.  Perhaps, maybe it is my own inquisitive nature in attempting to acquire true historical facts, or indeed maybe it’s both. Whichever, this week I found myself rummaging amongst the publicly accessible records, held currently behind the attractive red brick exterior of the Thurles Town Council office.

As many of our local readers will be well aware, an exciting new project, which has the backing of both Thurles residents and businesses; obtained through a process of full consultation, has now been initiated here in Thurles; the end positive result of which will be the emergence of a much needed Town Park amenity.

For the benefit of our many absent readers, latter formally natives of the town, but now for one reason or another are resident abroad; the construction of this soon to be realised Town Park is on property, formally farmland, owned by St Patricks College and positioned to the rear of The Source Complex, immediately east of the river Suir.

Chosen for the overseeing construction of this new park is SIAC Construction, a large multi-disciplined construction group with significant operations across Ireland and further afield, established and renowned for providing turnkey solutions to the Irish Building and Civil Engineering industry.

A Town Park For Thurles

From my research possibly the first public mention ever of a Town Park for Thurles, (according to notes examined), was back in 1910. The suggested site was, believe it or not, on hallowed turf known today as “Semple Stadium.” Back then different views and ideas were being tossed about as to whether the present Semple Stadium site should be used, not to build the second largest Stadium in Ireland, but for use as a Graveyard or as a Town Park. Lack of any real decision making, resulted in an umbrella group being formed by some residents of Thurles, latter seeking a ‘Sports Field,’ which same eventually and through personal private / donations was successfully purchased for a sum reported to be between £1,100 and £1,700.

However today’s now sanctioned Thurles Town Park project was initially the brainchild of visionary Mr Tomas (Tom) Barry, latter recently retired Chief Executive of Carlow Co Council, but who was Thurles Town Manager in 2002.

Following discussions with his Council Administrative Staff, Mr Barry decided to include a proposal to Thurles Councillors to increase the towns overall ‘Commercial Rate’ by 25%, in the upcoming 2003 Budget estimates, bringing it into line with other Irish towns of similar size.  His forward looking plan was that some 15% of this 25% increase would be ‘ring fenced,’ to meet local contributions required for a possible number of future Capital Projects within the town. It was anticipated back then that this 15% would yield some €200,000.00 per annum.

The Visionary Future For Thurles

Mr Barry in his five point visionary plan unveiled a possible, yet attainable dream for Thurles, details of which are listed hereunder:-
(1) A Leisure Centre.   (2) Regional Arts Centre.   (3) Thurles Town Centre Enhancement.   (4) Thurles Town Park / River Walk.   (5) Upgrading / Extension to Thurles Council Offices (Latter then grossly overcrowded and unfit for day to day business transactions.)

Mr Barry, in his report on this proposed budget, had stated to his elected Councillors that a Leisure Centre, Regional Arts Centre and a Town Park should be visualised for the future, as being all major practical additions to any town’s recreational facilities, while a Town Enhancement Scheme would dramatically augment an overall appearance of the Thurles town centre.
Having shared his vision with Town Councillors, Mr Barry’s proposals were considered at the 2003 Budget Meeting which was held on Thursday, December 19th 2002. This aforementioned Budget, which including this 25% Commercial Rate increase, was formally adopted by a 5 votes to 2 majority, with two other councillors unavoidably absent from that meeting.

Who Shared In Tom Barry’s Thurles Town Vision?

Those who shared Mr Tom Barry’s future vision, thus voting Forthe adoption of this proposed 2003 Budget increase were; Elected Councillors Mr John Kenehan (Now retired former Thurles Mayor), the Late Mr Paddy Durack (RIP), Mr John Kennedy (Now an outgoing Councillor), Mrs Mae Quin (Now retired), and Mr Martin Ryan (Now retired).

Those who voted ‘AgainstMr Tom Barry’s future vision for the town and thus against the adoption of this same 2003 Budget were; then elected Town Councillor Mr Paddy Barry (Now retired) and Mr Jim Ryan (Recently re-elected Co Councillor).

Those who ‘Abstained, through being unavoidably absent from this Budget meeting were; Elected Councillors M/s Frances Boyle (Now retired) and the Late M/s Ann Mernagh (RIP).

This new Budget, then formally adopted in December 2002, saw the immediate ring fencing of some 15% of annual town revenues generated, which in turn were wisely invested by an ever shrewd Town Clerk, Mr Michael Ryan, latter now presently Thurles District’s Administrator.  Mr Ryan’s superb money management, through selective investments, would later lead Councillor John Kenehan to be entered into the final Minute Book of Thurles Town Council, using wording to the effect. “I would like to thank in particular Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan, who kept Thurles Town Council always so strongly and clearly financially focused along a straight and narrow path .”

Work has now begun to put this long awaited amenity in place with great care being taken to preserve and restore all existing important historical architecture and stonework identified with this site, including the restoration of the arched entranced Victorian farm shed, once associated possibly with the storing of horse drawn machinery.

To all persons past and present, who through their vision and business acumen, or in any way, shape or form, contributed to this now, soon to be realised, Thurles Town Park, the people of Thurles say “Thank You” for your successful planning, management and overall foresight, as we watch this dream now become a reality.

Economic Local & Community Debate On Tipperary

Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God-damn mediocrity.” - Richard Yates.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” - Oscar Wilde, (Lady Windermere’s Fan.)

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” - Winston S. Churchill.

TipperaryMapDo YOU want ‘Your Say’ in the Future Economic, Local and Community Development of Thurles and County Tipperary?

If your answer is YES read on.

Meetings are being organised right across County Tipperary to get the opinions and views of local community and business sectors, about the priorities, projects and initiatives that they would like to see included in the Local Economic and Community Plan, (LECP).

The purpose of this plan is to set out the objectives and actions needed to promote and support future economic, local and community development within our county.
Full participation by community, social and economic interests will result in a strong plan that reflects the real need and priorities of the people of County Tipperary so make sure your views are heard early in the process, by attending the consultation meets at one of the following locations:-

Monday 26th January – The Carraig Hotel, Carrick-on-Suir.     Tuesday 27th January - Anner Hotel, Thurles.
Wednesday 28th January - Bru Boru, Cashel.     Monday 2nd February - Clonmel Park Hotel, Clonmel.
Tuesday 3rd February – Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh.

Funding coming to Co Tipperary for the purposes of Community Development, Rural Development, Social Inclusion or Economic Development will be spend on actions and priorities that have been included in this plan, therefore it is important that community groups, business interests and individuals attend these consultations, in order that they can put forward what they feel is a priority for their particular area.

This round of consultations is just one part of the consultation processes and there will be subsequent opportunities to feed into the process. Already a Socio-Economic Framework is in place. This was developed in conjunction with the state agencies for the purpose of ‘framing’ the consultation exercise that is taking place within the broader community. The framework document outlines high level objectives under which more specific priories will fit.

The Plan is being put in place by Tipperary County Council on behalf of the Local Community Development Committee which is made up of a number of different state agencies, as well as members of the Public Participation Network and Local Development Companies. The Local Economic and Community Plan will be finalised in 2015 and will be in place until 2021. The Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) will compliment the County Development Plan, which in turn deals with spatial planning of the County and will be undergoing its own review shortly.

Further information in relation to the LECP is available from the Community & Economic Development Section of Tipperary County Council’s website accessible by clicking HERE or by phone to the Community & Economic Development Section at Tel: 0761065000 or by Emailing lcdc@tipperarycoco.ie

Thurles Shopping Centre Offered For Sale

Five small provincial shopping centre are to be offered for sale on the instructions of the National Asset Management Agency, (NAMA).

Joint agents Bannon & Lisney are to seek in excess of €50 million for these grocery-led centres which includes  Thurles shopping centre, where Dunnes Stores are the major attraction. The other four centres are named as Mullingar, Navan, Dungarvan and Cashel, latter situated some 15 miles from Thurles and anchored by Tesco.

The combined Portfolio currently produces a  rent of €4.8 million which will give any future purchaser an initial yield of  slightly over 9%.

There are some 100 traders operating in all these five centres, which have an overall combined floor area of some 24,154sq metres (260,000sq ft) and a vacancy rate of 2,787 sq metres (30,000sq ft).

This portfolio also includes more than five acres of development land, much of which is expected to be further developed should any pick up in the Irish retail market transpire.

Thurles Shopping Centre has an overall retail area of 4,645 sq metres (50,000sq ft) not including the main supermarket which is owned by Dunnes Stores. The centre is producing a rental income of €1.15 million and with an average of 6.9 years still unexpired on the various leases the centre could well be valued at about €12 million.

Xmas Presentation By North Tipperary Vintage & Machinery Club

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One of Tipperary’s largest annual charity fund-raising organisations, the North Tipperary Vintage and Machinery Club, pictured here with members presenting a cheque for €5,000, to Ms Carol Mackenzie, latter representing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Ireland.

The club’s annual presentations are always donated prior to Christmas here in Corcoran’s Pub, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, in Co.Tipperary.

Mr John Dunne, the Club’s Chairman, spoke of the magnificent efforts again this year from all who had so generously & unselfishly supported their numerous fund-raising events over the past year, not just financially, but also by donating their much valued time to all fund-raising projects undertaken.

Ms Carol Mackenzie, in accepting the donation on behalf of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Ireland, explained in detail the work currently being undertaken by the organisation she represents.

All present later shared in finger food refreshments specially organised, which included a surprise birthday cake for Ms Josephine Stapleton, present at the event.

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