WHILE the murder of Aoife Phelan cast a dark shadow over county Laois, November saw positivity with confirmation of Ratheniska as the venue for the 2013 National Ploughing Championships, while Liam O Neill became Leinster Exress Laois Person of the Year atat the Laois Community and Voluntary Awards.
Mrs Anna May McHugh, Managing Director of the NPA, announced that the Ploughing Championships will be returning to Laois from September 24 – 26. It will be the fifth time the O’Moore County hosts the prestigious event, with the previous occasion being 2002 in Ballacolla.
David Carter and his family will be the main landowner but at least 15 neighbouring farmers will provide ploughing and parking ground to meet the requirement of the 700 acres for the event.
Laois County Manager Peter Carey was thrilled with the news. “When you think of the massive investment and spin off – approximately 180,000 people coming to visit our county and an investment of somewhere in the region of €40 million – it is hugely significant and we are absolutely honoured to get this event for Laois.”
GAA President Liam O’Neill was awarded the Leinster Express ‘Laois Person of the Year’ award and Maura O’Gorman of Clonaslee CCDA received the ‘Unsung Hero’ award, at the Laois Community and Voluntary Awards at the Killeshin Hotel.
Mr O’Neill said that building a sense of Laois identity will lead to success. “If we can get a sense of Laoisness I think this county will be unstoppable. It is the only thing we lack. We have wonderful scenery, we are located in the best part of the country, we have wonderful people.”
Unsung Hero Maura O’Gorman received a standing ovation for her work with the Clonaslee Community Development Association, Tidy Towns and oher groups.
It was the first year that the Leinster Express supported the event hosted by Laois Forum and also supported by Laois County Council and Laois Sports Partnership.
“We are delighted to support the awards and recognise the work of groups and individuals across the county,” said Leinster Express Editor Pat Somers.
The teachers strike due to take place at Laois VEC schools and centres on Tuesday, November 6 was deferred after the Laois Branch of the TUI and Laois VEC entered into resolution talks. VEC Chairperson Cllr Mary Sweeney was relieved students weren’t going to be affected.
A 90-year-old patient – Mary ‘Minnie’ McCartney, Ballacolla – of Abbeyleix Community Nursing Unit won her legal fight with the HSE to become a full time resident. The case was resolved outside the High Court with the HSE accepting full legal costs.
Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee PRO Gary O’Keeffe expressed concern that more similar cases could follow. “The HSE tried to bully the family and it is a further indication that this has to be sorted out immediately. If it isn’t, it is going to happen again and again, forcing anguish and distress on families.”
Portlaoise Town Council heard it will cost €3,000 to repair the traffic lights at James Fintan Lalor Avenue which have not been working for some time thanks to an infestation of snails.
A proposal was put to HSE management which could see part of St Fintan’s hospital in Portlaoise close in a move that could maintain services at both Shaen and Abbeyleix hospitals. Under the plan tabled by the HSE’s mental health team, the St Fintan’s ward would close next July with the 27 patients being transferred to Shaen and Abbeyleix.
“It is hoped that this proposal if implemented will guarantee the continued provision of excellent care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s by one of the best teams in the country located at Shaen hospital,” said Paddy Buggy of the Shaen Hospital Action Group.
Laois first-year third level students were reported to be facing a cash crisis as SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) struggled to cope with processing grant applications.
10,000 Laois homeowners, 40% of those liable for the household charge, still haven’t paid up. The shortfall has resulted in a €66,000 cut to Laois County Council’s grant from the government, bringing total cuts this year to €475,000.