Anti-Theft Marking Machine Proposed for County Council
Local election candidate Seamus Ryan is calling on Clare County Council to follow the lead of the Local Authorities in Sligo & Monaghan and purchase a Telesis property stamping machine. It was announced in recent days that Clare has seen a 11% increase in theft & a 19% increase in burglary on 2018.
Ryan believes that the chance of an owners mark on equipment would make thieves think twice. “Sligo Local Authority has decided to purchase a machine to allow members of the public to stamp their Eircode or other relevant piece of information onto property that would be of value to criminals. It would follow on from the purchase of such a machine in Monaghan where the local community lobbied for its purchase. In the years 2015 – 2017 County Clare has seen 3,779 Robberies, Burglaries, Thefts & other related offences right across the county with 1,870 of those reported in Ennis Garda Station. Having a unique identifier like a townland or Eircode stamped on a piece of property would be a great way to further discourage criminals from making off with high value property belonging to people. “
In proposing making this piece of equipment available to members of the public Mr Ryan highlighted the amount of anecdotal stories he was hearing from people about having valuable equipment stolen from their homes or places of business. “Not a week goes by now without people talking about an expensive trailer, caravan, vehicle or piece of farm machinery that is going missing. People talk about leaving their homes for an hour or two and when they come back a specific, high value piece of equipment is gone. These are not crimes of opportunity, these are organised and planned crimes. It’s obvious that there has already been a scouting expedition made to this persons home or place of business and if it is possible to do something to discourage this kind of theft then the county council should buy this machine.”
Labours Ryan Supports the Nurses
The Labour Party candidate for Ennis in the Local Elections Seamus Ryan visited with the Nurses on strike at Ennis General Hospital and Bindon Street Clinic, Ennis on Thursday to show solidarity with their strike action.
“My sister is a nurse and I completely understand the frustrations being expressed by nurses up and down the country. Young nurses are leaving the country in droves due to the high pressure and poor conditions that they are being expected to work in. The poor conditions are no incentive to nurses like my sister who emigrated to Australia or Canada to come home when the quality of life in these places is so high. We are also seeing nurses move into administrative posts away from front-line nursing because of the emotional stress that they are dealing with every day. Nurses of my acquaintance have described literally sitting into their cars after a finishing their shift and bursting into tears from being emotionally drained after a days work, this sort of tragic situation needs to be addressed.
Ryan, who is himself involved in the trade union movement has a dim view of the government’s handling of the strike so far. “If the government cannot bring itself to engage on the wages issue then working on improving the working conditions for all nurses and the staffing ratios in wards and Emergency Departments needs to be addressed. But negotiation by press release as the government is engaging in right now won’t resolve any of the issues that exist.”
Leave Post Office Field Alone – Ryan
A candidate in the upcoming local elections Seamus Ryan wants to see Ennis’ Post Office Field set aside as a nature preserve in the heart of Ennis. He has come up with this proposal in frustration at hearing various, what he describes as pie-in-the-sky proposals, “Every 5 years we seem to hear Councillors coming up with the same ideas over and over again for the Post Office Field. Should it be it a multi-story carpark, a new library, an Irish music center or another expensive white elephant like the Market building has turned out to be. I believe it is time to take the Post Office Field firmly off the market by designating it specifically as parkland in the heart of Ennis town.”
At various times since Clare County Council bought the Post Office Field there have been numerous suggestions as to what would be done with it. These ideas were floated in the face of stern opposition from members of the public who came together firstly to support Clare County Council buying the field in 1998 under the “Aontas na Pairce” banner and again in 2006 when proposals to build a new, modern library on the site emerged. Ryan believes that this community spirit might be needed again “The ideas for the area just seem to get worse and worse with the latest and least being for it to be turned into a multi-storey carpark for the town & while ennis needs a propercarpark in conjunction with a proper pedestrianisation plan for the center of the town slapping a carpark there would change the nature of Bank Place and Bindon Street with some of the oldest architecture in the town and change the traffic-flow of that part of town, not a good move. Developing the field as a park, nature preserve & recognising it as the last floodplain in the center of the town can be of great benefit to the town and the wider community.
Seamus is not alone in recognising the value of the Post Office Field, the Ennis Tidy Towns committee in their Strategic 3 year plan, 2018 – 2021 highlight the Post Office Field as an area of high ecological value “There are wider groups that recognise the environmental importance of the Post Office Field and its proper management like Ennis Tidy Towns, they also have as one of their strategic actions being the development of a Dog Park in the town, something I would also like to see developed.”
Ryan fears Children’s Hospital overrun will put end to Limerick fixes.
Labours Seamus Ryan is worried that new reports that the National Children’s Hospital will cost over €2 Billion will setback improvement works to Limerick regional hospital by years. The National Children’s Hospital which was initially forecast to cost approximately €450 million has seen its estimated cost skyrocket in latest reports to potentially over €2 billion according to information released to the public accounts committee this week. Ryan believes that this extra money will come from desperately needs improvement projects to the University Hospital Limerick and it’s improved bed capacity.
“People in Clare desperately need a functioning hospital at Limerick particularly when Ennis does not have all the services and the capacity that it could have. Having spoken with my party colleagues Labour TDs Jan O’Sullivan and Alan Kelly it seems the spiralling costs will have a serious impact on the proposed 96 bed unit and the 60 bed modular unit planned for next year. In a situation where the costs seem to be spiralling on a daily basis the hospital with some of the highest wait times in the country seems to be left in the shade again. That this comes at a time when the HSE are advising people not to attend the Emergency Department there seems like a cruel joke.”
News of this significant overrun comes at the same time as unprecedented strikes by nurses across the country over terms,conditions and staffing levels, the continued turmoil from the Cervical Check program where long delays have caused some women to need a recheck and reports that the government is looking at ways to penalise nurses for taking strike action.
Ryan calls for greater Local Property Tax Transparency
Local Election Candidate Seamus Ryan is calling for the Council to make how Local Property Tax is spent more transparent. 2018 saw Clare householders pay €9.8 Million in property tax with a a 98.8% compliance rate. Across the country Clare has the 3rd highest compliance rate and Ryan believes that information on how this is spent should be more accessible to the public “Every year local Councillors set the local property tax rate for the county and since its introduction in 2013 Clare property owners have paid over €52 Million, people deserve to know know what that money is spent on. The same can be said for the rates bill that business pay every year.”
During the first 2 years of the tax being applied in Clare Councillors approved a 15% reduction for 2013 & 2014, however this reduction was not applied from 2015 onwards. “After the last local elections Councillors bumped up the property tax level across the county, this brought in approximately €1.5 Million more in income to the council each year since then and the extra monies used on projects across the county. I believe that people should get a simple statement of account as to how the LPT is spent in their area each year, particularly in terms of the community projects and other local initiatives that are supported.”
Since the increase in the rate of Local Property Tax each municipal district has received a share of this money for discretionary projects approved by County Councillors each year, this is however dwarfed by the rates set for business across the county, Seamus believes that all business should receive a statement showing the breakdown of where this money is going. “Letting people know that their money is being well spent on needed services can develop a greater buy-in from all involved and make help everyone understand what the council actually does, oftentimes people don’t know what services they get from central or local government, for instance many people will not realise that libraries are a part of the services that Clare County Council provides.”
Community Cycle Scheme
Labours candidate for the Ennis electoral area Seamus Ryan is calling for the Council to develop a community bike scheme. Ryan is calling for the development of such a scheme for the county based on the successful bike schemes in Limerick and Galway & the Clonakilty based West Cork Community Cycle Scheme. When asked why such a scheme should be pursued by the Council, Ryan had the following to say “There are lots of benefits to having a scheme like this running in Ennis and the rest of the county. As we see every year there is an increase in the number of tourists that want a green alternative to driving around to see the sights. Developing rental stations in the different towns and villages around the county where you can drop off and pick up a bike easily and conveniently will give Clare the opportunity to market itself more distinctly to this environmentally conscious tourist. This is especially relevant as Failte Ireland are aggressively marketing walking and cycling routes here in the county and promoting them as offshoots of the Wild Atlantic Way, we need to be finding more ways to boost the tourist spend in the County and attracting people to stay longer, with 1.5 Million tourists flocking to the Cliffs last year too many of them just get back on the bus or into the car and head away, making little to no impact on the wider Clare economy, this needs to change. Here in Ennis and in Shannon there is scope for people cycling to work or the shops instead of bringing the car, this sort of healthy activity is great exercise and allows people save money and time.”
While there is some concern that Ennis or Shannon by itself would not be a realistic target for a scheme like this due to population size Ryan disagrees with this notion “There is an idea out there that a scheme like this needs to be in a city to work but that’s not the case. A great example of this is the scheme running in Clonakilty which has a population of around 4,500 people and has been running for several years now. It has worked in conjunction with a few local businesses to find locations and storage for the bikes and has become a launch pad for further tourism in West Cork. There is no reason that a collaborative scheme like this cannot be gotten off the ground, all it needs is a central stakeholder & I believe that Clare County Council could fill that role. A community bike scheme like this would be viable in the Ennis area as there is a recognised demand for alternative forms of transport. A recent feasibility study shows that there is a desire for a community bus service in the Ennis/Clarecastle Area and a service like this would be a great addition to the town.
The Labour Party from 2011 to 2016 invested heavily in green transport initiatives across the county developing greenways and bike schemes. While here in Clare over €1.4 million was spent on developing sections of the West Clare Railway Greenway and cycle paths in Ennis; Seamus believes that there is more that can be done “Its disappointing that the work done on sections one and three of the West Clare Railway Greenway have not been linked up due to disagreements with landowners about the route, there are some more immediate concerns around the visibility of cycle lanes already in existence in the county and indeed the awareness that cycle lanes even exist in some places. I have met with people who have had narrow escapes cycling on designated cycle lanes, particularly between Ennis & Shannon with serious damage done to their bikes by drivers who didn’t know there was a cycle lane in operation, there needs to be better signage and awareness for all of our sakes.”