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Westmeath Topic - 15 February 2018

10 TOPIC •

10 TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, turns the sod on the site of the new Curraghmore National School with local public representatives and representatives from PJ McLoughlin. Minister Bruton pictured with the staff at Presentation Senior School, and Fr Padraig McMahon. EDUCATION MINISTER VISITS MULLINGAR SCHOOL SITES The Education and Skills Minister, Richard Bruton TD, visited Mullingar on Friday, 9 February, to be shown the sites and progress being made on the two new school locations in the town, at Ardmore Road, and at Lynn Road, turning the sod on the Ardmore Road site of Curraghmore’s new National School. The Minister did not comment on any other school issues during the visit in Mullingar, referring only to the local schools to be constructed, and complimenting the pupils and teachers in St. Brigid’s School, Harbour Road, and promising to take up issues raised with him by the teachers there. His press secretary indicated that he was not dealing with any other matters on Friday. Minister Richard Bruton sitting with students from St. Brigid’s Special School. €5m CURRAGHMORE N.S. The work is forging ahead on the new Curraghmore School building, which is expected to be finished in the autumn of his year. The new school will have 16 classrooms and will replace the existing school at Curraghmore, which now consists largely of prefab classrooms. Curraghmore School goes back to 1884, and now has in the region of 300 pupils, more than treble the numbers in the early 2000s. The cost of the new Curraghmore NS is expected to be €5,000,000 and Minister Bruton, in thanking the school principal and staff for the invitation, said the government is committed to sustainable regional development, and education was a key driver. The School Principal, Michael Molloy said the new school was an absolute necessity, and thanked the Minister for his words, and paid a tribute to the contracting firm of P.J. McLoughlin and Sons for their progress and thanked the school’s Board of Management also. LYNN ROAD SCHOOLS SITE At the Lynn Road, Mullingar, Minister Bruton visited the site of the former planned HQ for the Department of Education, when it was to be decentralised from Dublin to Mullingar, and which has been derelict since then. The site will now be the campus for two new local schools, the all-Irish Scoil Choillín presently situated on the Cullion GAA grounds a few miles west of Mullingar, and also for the new Saplings School, presently housed in a premises at Austin Friars Street, Mullingar. The new Saplings School, which caters for about 30 students at present, is expected to be able to increase the number to 36 when the new upgraded school is completed. This work, it is hoped, can be completed by the autumn of 2019, Topic was informed. The Minister met Pat Webb, Chairman of the Saplings School Parents Association, and Jude Lagan, Chairman of the School Board of Management. Mr. Lagan showed him the plans for the new school. This is to be built under the Department’s Rapid Build programme, and it expected to be ready for use by September of next year. ST. BRIGID’S SCHOOL When the Minister visited St. Brigid’s School on Friday morning, he met the school attendees and teachers in all the classrooms, with the School Principal, Bob Keating showing him around, and also pointing out the problems they face with the existing curriculum for such schools, because of the students’ special needs. PRESENTATION Another school visited by the Minister on Friday was Presentation Senior School, and he experienced something different, when he was welcomed in several different languages by the students of the school. The welcoming words were in Irish, English, Polish and Lithuanian and then he was treated to some refreshments, with a special cake of welcome baked for him, and with students giving him a guard of honour as he departed, after he was presented with a piece of Mullingar Pewter. The School Principal, Declan Fry, acted as facilitator, bringing him around the classrooms, including the autism unit, where the Minister discussed beekeeping with one of the students there. Specialist in weddings, family portraits, events commercial/industrial Book your studio Confirmation/Communion sitting now Get €20 OFF every €100 you spend by presenting this ad Viewing plans for the new Saplings School building were Deputy Peter Burke, Deputy Robert Troy, Minister Richard Bruton, Jude Lagan, Chairperson of the Board of Management, Cllr. Frank McDermott and Pat Webb, Chairperson of the Parents’ Association. Minister Bruton, Deputy Peter Burke, and Bob Keating, Principal of St. Brigid’s Special School. Principal of Curraghmore National School, Mick Molloy, Minister Richard Bruton and Deputy Peter Burke.

TOPIC • 15 February, 2018 NEWS 11 Local man’s surprise marriage proposal on Late Late Show! BY CLAIRE CORRIGAN A Mullingar man has proved that romance is well and truly alive after proposing to his girlfriend live on Friday’s Late Late Show Valentine special. James Hennessy, who is a social worker and parttime student, told his girlfriend, Siobhán Hiney, that the pair were taking part in a Mr. and Mrs style gameshow to see how well they knew each other, but the 28-year-old had a very different question in mind. Speaking to host Ryan Tubridy before popping the big question, James revealed that he and Siobhán, 23, who works as a beautician at Beautique Beauty Salon, have been together for nearly five years and met at Applegreen petrol station in Portlaoise, of all places. Siobhán was then ushered into an isolation booth, where she was unable to see or hear what was going on. Ryan began by asking James a series of questions, including ‘Who is Siobhán’s celebrity crush?’ and ‘What do you think Siobhan would say is your worst habit?’ However he soon dropped the ruse to reveal that the gameshow was just a cover to throw Siobhán off the scent. “This is all made up. She doesn’t have a clue what’s Tyrrellspass can be “a model village” - McDaniel A Westmeath village is bucking the trend of rural decline, and according to Fianna Fáil Councillor Liam McDaniel, remains one of the vibrant retails centres in the county. Cllr. McDaniel spoke highly of the positive impression made by Tyrrellspass, which has a very small vacancy rate among its business premises. The former Tidy towns national winner has faced its share of challenges, along with other rural areas but remains fortunate to have retained a busy centre. In fact, it could serve as a model for other villages, stressed Councillor McDaniel when speaking of Tyrrellspass’ success in keeping its business and retail vibrant. CREDIT TO TYRRELLSPASS Cllr. McDaniel highlighted the positives of the village when speaking on the draft retail strategy, which was presented to Westmeath County Council at the monthly meeting. The document contains draft measures for protecting and nurturing retail in Westmeath, which, if adopted by the Council, will inform policy until 2026. The meeting heard that retailers and business owners in Westmeath are facing pressures from rising rates, online shopping and rural decline. However, Cllr. McDaniel spoke highly of Tyrrellspass, with its low vacancy levels. “It is a credit to Tyrrellspass,” he said. MODEL FOR OTHER VIL- LAGES The village, situated along the M6 corridor, faced the big challenge presented by being bypassed. Along with other towns and villages on the route, Tyrrellspass had to reclaim its identity and find ways to keep businesses going. Today, there is little vacancy and dereliction in the village centre and in this, there has to be a lesson for other locations, according to Cllr. McDaniel. “To look at Tyrrellspass and see that nearly all premises are occupied, it should be a model for other villages,” he said. really going on. So what are you really here to do James?” Ryan smiled. “I’m going to propose,” replied James, to rapturous applause from the audience. Ryan then presented James with a a beautiful diamond ring provided by Paul Sheeran Jewellers for the occasion. Siobhán was then released from the booth to be told that she was not taking part in a gameshow at all before James got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. A shaking Siobhán quickly accepted and the pair shared a tender embrace to loud cheers from the audience. ‘I do!’ The couple got engaged on live television in front of thousands of viewers GOING FOR BROKE - two Westmeath drivers speak out on car insurance brokers BY CLAIRE CORRIGAN It will come as no shock to anyone with a license that car insurance rose by 70% between 2013 and 2016. What people may be wondering, however, is what has happened since the government published a report with a number of recommendations on what needed to be done to bring premiums down last year. The “action plan” contained a number of recommendations, including that insurers had to set out reasons for large increases in premiums to provide transparency to customers, establish a national claims database and establish an integrated insurance fraud database to detect patterns of fraud. Two Westmeath drivers spoke to Topic this week about the difficulties they experienced while renewing their car insurance. Paul Corcoran, who uses his van for both social and business purposes, insured his van for €650 three years Dave O’Shea took matters into his own hands when he received a quote that was €250 higher than the previous year ago. “It was fully comprehensive open drive, so it had everything I needed on it.” He said the price jumped to €800 the following year, with the quote standing at €938 for 2018. “What bothered me was that I rang a broker who quoted me €701 on the condition that I took the insurance straight away and paid a deposit, which is pretty much illegal as far as I know- a quote lasts for 30 days and you don’t have to pay for it. At the same time, I got a quote online with the same company, which came out at €1,850. It is like they are just plucking figures from the air.” Mr Corcoran revealed that he had since discovered that a number of people have had similar experiences. “I didn’t go ahead with it because I didn’t like their attitude, to be honest. I got back to my own broker and they brought it back to the €800 I had paid the previous year. They are from outside the country, Swedish, and had exactly the cover I needed.” Mr Corcoran said he did not believe the rising costs were a result of Ireland’s ‘compensation culture’ as claimed by car insurance companies. “They say their prices are going up because of the amount of claims in the country, which I don’t believe. There is something not right about it anyway.” Dave O’Shea said that when he received a letter from his car insurance provider, informing him that his quote had risen by €250, he decided to take matters into his own hands. “I got my renewal notice saying that they were pleased to inform me that it was €850, up from €600, and I said, ‘Are you having a laugh?’ I shopped around and got it for €600 from SupeValu plus €20 worth of vouchers and 1000 points as well. As far as I’m concerned, brokers are in the pockets of insurance companies. If an insurance broker, whose job it is to broker for you, cannot get a better price than me who literally just made two phone calls, there’s something wrong, so I would urge all people to forget about their brokers and let them go broke.” World renowned Martial Arts coach visits Mullingar BY CLAIRE CORRIGAN On Wednesday last, world renowned martial arts coach and head of SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh, visited Mullingar for a seminar in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. SBG Mullingar is an official affiliate of Straight Blast Gym Ireland and is one of the fastest growing sports clubs in the Midlands. At the seminar, Coach Kavanagh taught a BJJ masterclass and awarded several belt promotions to outstanding students. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a functional martial art and is perfect for anyone interested in learning effective self defence and in boosting their fitness. The club is located at Unit 20B, Zone C, Mullingar Business Park, and is very welcoming to beginners who want to start their journey in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts or in kickboxing with our partners, Relentless Muay Thai. Coach Ronan Moynihan revealed that the club has been running for the past 13 years. “The original coaches with the club trained with John Kavanagh in Dublin and then they started running their own club down here in Mullingar which was originally called Mullingar Grappling. It started to grow and then we became affiliated with SBG about two years ago through Tyrone Quinn, who is our head coach now and trained with John. Since then, we have moved around from a few different places until we got settled into here.” For more information contact SBG Mullingar via Facebook or on 089 440 1960. Daycare Centres Not Exempt from Planning BY CLAIRE CORRIGAN Daycare Centres are not exempt from planning permission it was discovered in recent days, after Cllr. Andrew Duncan sought clarity on the issue at last month’s Mullingar Municipal District meeting. Cllr. Duncan asked, “Can Mullingar Municipal District advise if it has guidelines relating to the change of use of residential houses to day care centres?”- to which the reply was that the standards associated with day centres are a matter for HIQA and HSE. Topic has found that what constitutes a ‘material change of use’ depends on the circumstances of each situation. Generally, any change of a substantial nature which has an impact or potential impact on neighbours or the local community will need planning permission, etc. The planning authority can advise on whether it considers that any particular change of use is of significance to be "material" for planning purposes. Uses which can take place without the need for planning permission include, the rent a room scheme or child minding of up to 5 children in your home as these are ancillary to the normal domestic use of a house. Cllr. Duncan said it had been assumed up until now that day centres were exempt from planning but it appears that that is not the case, “Some particular projects are exempt from planning permission but there is nothing that shows they are exempt. Therefore they must have planning. “Everyone is under the assumption that there is some exemption in place that allows them to do that, including the planning authorities, but they actually went through all of the items that are exempt and daycare centres do not feature on the list,” he pointed out.

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