New Raheen Community Hospital unit to open by mid-2022

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has received confirmation from the HSE that the proposed new build ward extension at Raheen Community Hospital in East Clare will be fully operational during the second quarter of next year.

The Scariff-based TD said, “The first phase of the works commenced in March and involved the relocation of the existing plant and boiler house which was sited on the footprint of the new build. The HSE has informed me that these works have been completed and that work on the 420m2 extension to the new build is underway.”

“The project includes the provision of 7 long stay replacement beds as part of an extension which will reduce the density of beds in the long stay wards and address deficiencies identified by HIQA at the hospital,” added Deputy McNamara. “The equipping of the unit is currently being planned and the HSE estimates that the new unit will be equipped and operational by Quarter 2, 2022.

Deputy McNamara said the new unit “will be very much welcomed by the people of East Clare area.”

“When I was first elected as a TD in 2011, there was a proposal to close smaller community hospitals, such as Raheen. Upgrade works were undertaken during this period at Kilrush and Ennistymon community hospitals, but little progress was being made in Raheen. After a focus was brought to this vital community resource by the visit of the then junior ministers for health, Alex White and Kathleen Lynch, which I initiated, the HSE implemented substantial capital investment plans in the intervening years. I now look forward to the completion of the works currently underway,” explained Deputy McNamara.

New Chair of Shannon Group plc to be announced shortly

Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara says the appointment of a new Chair of Shannon Group plc has reached its final stages.

In response to Deputy McNamara’s Parliamentary Question on the role, which has remained unfilled since August 2020, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed that he and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton met with the candidates shortlisted via the Public Appointments Service (PAS) process last week.

“In line with normal arrangements for the appointment of Chairs to State Boards, the Chair designate will be required to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications before being formally appointed as Chair of Shannon Group,” added Minister Ryan.

Deputy McNamara has urged the Department to “proceed without delay” due to the significance of the role.

“It is critically important that the successful candidate be someone with the experience to provide strategic direction to Shannon Group plc’s aviation and property businesses, as well as the proposed transfer of Clare-based Shannon Heritage tourism assets to Clare County Council,” added Deputy McNamara.

McNamara Hails Significant Infrastructure Project For Scariff

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has described the proposed Scariff Regeneration Project as the “biggest infrastructure investment in the town in a generation”.

Clare County Council has lodged a Category 2 application with the Department of Rural and Community Development for funding under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund. If successful, the funding would enable the local authority to proceed with the design and planning stages of the project before submitting a Category 1 funding application to deliver the works.

Deputy McNamara this week wrote to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, TD, to pledge his support for the project which he said, “would have long lasting positive implications for the community and economy of the town and surrounding area.”

He stated, “I fully support Clare County Council in its efforts to secure funding for a series of significant infrastructure developments in the town, including a multi-service innovation and commercial space, improvements to the public realm in market square and the town centre, and the delivery of enhanced parking and ancillary facilities.

Deputy McNamara added, “As a lifelong resident of Scariff, I acknowledge the significance of this project for the town and the wider East Clare region. There was a very positive response from the local community to a public consultation process led by Clare County Council, which further underlines the desire locally for such an investment in the town.”

Deputy McNamara said the proposed project represents the first significant central government allocation for the town of Scariff since he was previously a TD from 2011 to 2016.

He continued, “The last significant funding allocation accommodated the delivery of new footpaths from the bridge in Scarriff to Market House. The proposed new regeneration project will deliver additional and significant streetscape improvements more widely through the town centre and square area of the town, which will greatly improve accessibility for all residents of and visitors to the town. The proposal to deliver extra parking capacity and ancillary facilities, including those for coaches, will help bring new tourism business to Scariff.”

Deputy McNamara said the proposed delivery of an enterprise hub in the town would facilitate local community and visitors to the East Clare area with short and long-term working space.

“Clare County Council, through the Information Systems Broadband and Digital section of the Rural Development Directorate, has developed a comprehensive network of Digital Hubs across the county in recent years,” explained Deputy McNamara. “The addition of a significant innovation and commercial space in Scariff would reap huge dividends for the town and wider area in terms of facilitating local enterprise, community organisations and remote working.”

“I look forward to the outcome of the Department’s review of Clare County Council’s Category 2 funding application, which represents the first of two stages in delivering this vitally important infrastructure project. A decision on the application is expected during November,” concluded Deputy McNamara.

McNamara questions Clare’s omission from tourism funding scheme

County Clare does not feature amongst the 16 counties, including Galway, Kerry and Limerick, which are set to receive funding under the €1.2 million scheme.

Deputy McNamara says Minister Heather Humphreys, who announced the funding on Friday, should publish the awarding criteria given that County Clare is the 7th most afforested county in Ireland.

“Given that Clare is one of the most afforested counties in Ireland, both in terms of the size of area under forestry and the proportion of the County that is afforested, it is deeply disappointing that it is not receiving funding under this scheme,” explained Deputy McNamara.

“Community groups and voluntary organisations, along with Clare County Council and others, have developed and maintained many woodland walks and trails throughout the county in recent years. I would have thought that sites such as Cratloe Woods, Moylussa, Ard Aoibhinn, Knocknageeha in Killanena, Dromore, Ballybeg, Lees Road and Mount Callan, amongst others, between them offered scope for development.”

“The exclusion of any County Clare site from this funding announcement, therefore, requires explanation,” concluded Deputy McNamara.

NEWSTALK – Irish healthcare system

With waiting lists increasing and positions remaining unfilled across our healthcare system, we need to be told what are the impediments to reform that led the Chairperson and Executive Director of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council to resign having concluded “that the requirements for implementing this unprecedented programme for change are seriously lacking”.