CARER OF THE YEAR

CARRICKMACROSS TALENTS AND SERVICES REWARDED

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

Over the past fortnight the achievements of Carrickmacross people, businesses and services have received recognition at national level. A local lady Leona Goodman was named as Carer of the Year by a home care company. A local dental team led by Dr Bernie Fee was in the finals for best dental practice in Ireland. University entrance awards and scholarships were presented to some local students. A local business Celtic Pure from Corcreagh founded by Pauric and Pauline McEneaney received another gold medal in London for its sparkling water. Each has a success story to tell and congratulations goes out to all of them.

LEONA GOODMAN NAMED AS CARER OF THE YEAR

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December

CAREROFYEAR.jpg

(L-R) Bríd Gould, MD Comfort Keepers, Carer of the Year Leona Goodman from Carrickmacross and Marty Morrissey, RTÉ, who presented the award.

When Marty Morrissey called Leona Goodman to the stage at the Croke Park conference centre in Dublin recently, she says she was left temporarily speechless. The Carrickmacross woman had been named as Carer of the Year in a national competition run by home care providers Comfort Keepers. She received the award in recognition of her work with older people in Monaghan, Cavan and North Meath. She was ranked highest among the 1500 carers employed by the company. At the same event Rosanna Martin from Ballybay was crowned the company’s Employee of the Year.

Leona told the Northern Standard the award came as a total shock. She was “very touched and overwhelmed” when her name was called out. The award was handed to her in the presence of her two daughters, Kelsey and Laura.

Leona lives in Magheraboy on the outskirts of Carrickmacross and is a former pupil of St Louis National School and Secondary School. Her husband Brendan hails from Killanny and is a carpenter working in England, who will return home shortly for Christmas. They were married in New York where they spent four years before returning to Ireland. For many years Leona worked in the Post Office when it was situated at Main Street in Carrickmacross.

She has been working as a carer for some fifteen years, the last two with Comfort Keepers, based in Ardee. She said she loves her job, which brings her into contact with between four and six clients daily within a fifteen miles radius of Carrick, including Corduff, Lisdoonan and Inniskeen.

There are seven other carers in the same team and Leona was anxious that they all got a mention: Charlie, Carla, Lola, Rosemary, Mary, Martina and Geraldine. All providing care to elderly people in the area that enables them to stay in their own homes. The carer is sometimes the person who enables these people (aged between 75 and over 90) to remain in touch with the local community and what’s happening in the outside world, according to Leona.

“Leona has won the hearts of the people she cares for and the colleagues she works with,” said Bríd Gould, Managing Director of Comfort Keepers. “She’s a woman who truly believes in the value of care and is a strong advocate within the caring industry. She doesn’t just believe that her clients need the best care she can provide, but she also believes in the value and knowledge her clients bring into her life.”

Since 2005, Comfort Keepers has been helping people in Ireland and has always sought to ensure that all of its work practices exceed the expectations of both the state and those cared for. It remains unique in being the only home care provider to have been awarded the Q Mark, ISO9001, and Healthmark accreditations for the quality of care and the systems used to support its delivery.

“This is the sixth time we have run these awards,” Bríd Gould continued. “The reason we keep doing it is that our people keep doing the extraordinary. So extraordinary that their colleagues, clients and managers just have to nominate them. So my personal congratulations to everyone who was nominated and to all of our regional winners”, she said.

All of Comfort Keepers’ carers are insured, monitored and are required to undergo Garda vetting. The firm provides ongoing support during their training and in their day-to-day roles.  Staff in the management team come from a nursing or social care background to ensure superior care is provided to customers.

 

 

 

 

 

TITLE FIGHT CANCELLED

TITLE FIGHT CANCELLED

Michael Fisher     Northern Standard  Thursday 1st December 2016

christina

Christina McMahon in Carrickmacross    Pic. Michael Fisher

‘Lightning’ Christina McMahon was due to be in the ring this Saturday in one of the toughest challenges in her career. But instead the professional boxer will be at home in Carrickmacross after the fight was cancelled. She told he supporters on her Facebook page she had received “unfortunate news that my opponent pulled out. No surprise in my world of professional boxing.” The boxer displayed her resilience saying that she wa snow fine, but had been “in a state of shock and annoyance” when the news reached her. Christina commented: “Its a tough cruel game and just too late to sort another opponent for the show, therefore the show is cancelled. Thank you for tremendous support and help. We won’t give up without a fight.”

The boxer thanked Frank Stacey of FS Promotions for trying to put the show on at the National Stadium in Dublin, the other boxers who had been willing to get in and box on the night and everyone who had already bought tickets to support her. 
Anyone who purchased a ticket (€40 for the gallery and €65 for ringside) was promised a refund via Paddy Kwan (087)9907876.

“This is not the end of the journey, just a frustrating situation that will look small in the years to come”, Christina said. She also expressed her appreciation to Shivana Inalsingh of the WBA and female boxing Advocate Eddie Montalvo for working hard with Frank Stacey on alternative options.

“Lightning” was due to face “Triple L” Linda Laura Lecca from Peru for the vacant World Boxing Association female flyweight title. 43 year-old McMahon controversially lost in Mexico to Zulina Muñoz in March and was afterwards promised a rematch. With the WBC continuing to stall on a return bout, her husband and coach Frick McMahon revealed in irishboxing.com a list of alleged indiscretions by the governing body, including glove irregularities, anti-doping procedural failings, and a failure to review the scorecards correctly. Christina was then informed by the WBC she had been suspended by that organization, but remains licensed by the Boxing Union of Ireland.

CHRISTMAS CRACKER FOR CARRICK

NEW CARRICKMACROSS LACE GALLERY GETS APPROVAL

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 1st December p.1

cyk0bagwgaezcbx

Current Carrickmacross Lace Gallery, Market House  Pic. Michael Fisher

The approval of funding for a new Lace Gallery in Carrickmacross could provide a major boost for tourism in the south Monaghan area and help to open up the town. That’s the view of Bill Cotter, chair of the South Monaghan Tourism Forum and honorary member of the Lace Co-op. The former Fine Gael TD said the tourism group had been working actively to promote Carrick and the grant was long overdue. The development of a lace centre in what used to be a branch library in Market Square would give the group confidence to continue their efforts to bring in visitors from different parts of the world, he said.

Mr Cotter was reacting to the announcement on Monday by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, that the sum of €100,000 had been approved to develop the Market House site for multipurpose use including a new Lace Gallery, and to develop enterprise sites. Clones is also to receive funding as a heritage centre under the €5.3 million REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zones) initiative. (see separate story). The programme aims to stimulate economic development in rural towns and their hinterlands. The money is being spent on 41 projects nationwide, with €1.9 million going to projects in the northern and western region.

CyjQrABWEAAW108.jpg

Elizabeth Daly, Chair, Carrickmacross Lace Gallery  Pic. Michael Fisher

The good news reached the Lace Gallery Co-op Chair Elizabeth Daly on Tuesday afternoon. She said the members of the group were absolutely delighted at the prospect of moving to an enlarged and far superior display area next year. It would help to put lace at the forefront of tourism in south Monaghan.

Looking at the visitor book in the small unit that the gallery currently occupies, the entries range from Ireland (Dublin, Sligo, Glenties), Hillsborough and Bangor in Co. Down, England (Cambridge and London), France (Carhaix), Australia and several from the USA. The Co-op continues to receive orders from visitors and online. An order for a long lace veil for a wedding was recently completed for a bride from Virginia in the USA. She collected the finished work (which took seven months to produce) just in time for her wedding in County Wicklow.

cykz9hzxgae49nd

                 Elizabeth Daly, Chair, Carrickmacross Lace Gallery Pic. Michael Fisher

Almost 3000 people have called into them this year. Moving across to the other side of the Market Square and with more space to display their craftwork and range of gifts could potentially treble the number of visitors annually, according to the gallery. At the moment, a coach tour of fifty people has to be split up into small groups of six or seven if they want to visit the display. The larger area will enable them to handle the larger groups and to enhance the display of Carrickmacross lace, with its five special characteristics such as loops.

The Co-op began in 1984 and the first share was purchased by a St Louis nun Sr Cronin who had been involved with the promotion of lace at the convent in Carrickmacross. “Your mission is to keep this skill alive”, she told them. Elizabeth Daly now teaches lace-making and has organised a series of workshops in recent years. The new location will hopefully provide room for the classes.

cyjqpjrwqae2-jv

Carrickmacross Market House  Pic. Michael Fisher

The Co-op was originally situated in the old Shirley tollhouse but moved to the opposite side of Main Street in 1990. The renovation of the Market House building which dates back to 1861 was approved by Monaghan County Council in June last year. The idea is that the square should become a central focus for tourism in the town, where more walking trails are being developed. The nine-bay central section has a large gabled carriage entrance which will be transformed into a foyer between two large units. The one of the right which used to house a branch library will become the new Lace Gallery. The unit on the other side is earmarked for a shop and studio. The public toilets will be re-arranged and windows and doors will be refurbished with the objective of securing the preservation of this site of architectural and historical interest.

The Cathaoirleach of Carrickmacross Castleblayney Municipal District Cllr Aidan Campbell said he was delighted that the money had come through for the project. He looked forward to seeing the development started in the New Year and said it was very timely. He pointed out that Castleblayney had benefited in the past year from the same scheme, which had enabled buildings to be painted and new signage erected.

Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said: “The REDZ scheme aims to improve links between rural towns and their hinterlands to stimulate activity at a local level. It is one of a number of schemes which my department has been rolling out to boost economic activity and improve living standards across rural Ireland.”

“This initiative encourages local authorities to work with local communities, Chambers of Commerce, business interests and other state bodies, to identify areas of greatest economic need which can make better use of their local assets to generate economic activity. This is all about the regeneration of rural towns and villages and empowering local communities to provide local residents with local opportunities”, she added.

Other initiatives recently introduced by the government as part of this programme include the new €10 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the approval of almost €7.5 million to support rural recreation infrastructure, the establishment of a national taskforce to identify practical measures which can be taken in the short-term to improve broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas, and the establishment of two regional broadband action groups to prepare for the roll-out of broadband under the National Broadband Plan.

Carrickmacross is well known for the attractive lace bearing its name. The lace is worked in an individual style, devised by Mrs Grey Porter, wife of the rector of Donaghmoyne, who introduced it in 1820. When she left the district the teaching of lacemaking was continued by Miss Reid of Rahans, but it was only after the 1846 famine, when a lace school was set up by the managers of the Bath and Shirley estates at Carrickmacross as a means of helping their tenants, that the lace became known and found sales.

In the last decade of the 19th century the Sisters of St Louis founded their own lace school to revive the craft, and this was quite profitable for several years. Although the outbreak of the 1914–18 war marked the virtual end of commercial production of hand-made lace in Europe, the lace school kept the technique alive throughout most of the 20th century. Carrickmacross lace also featured on the late Princess Diana’s wedding dress.

 

‘LIGHTNING’ STRUCK BY SUSPENSION

BOXER.jpg

Christina McMahon was given a warm reception in Carrickmacross last year after her WBC interim bantamweight title win  Pic. Michael Fisher

CHRISTINA MCMAHON SUSPENDED BY BOXING REGULATOR

Michael Fisher    Northern Standard  Thursday 25th August 2016 p.5

Carrickmacross boxer ‘Lightning’ Christina McMahon has been suspended by the World Boxing Council after she gave interviews about a number of concerns she had before, during and after her WBC super flyweight title challenge against Zulina Munoz in Mexico in March. She was controversially defeated by Munoz on points. Her husband and manager Frick recently revealed evidence of what he claims was glove tampering and improper anti-doping procedures in addition to dubious scorecards.

Christina McMahon still ranks as the WBC interim World Bantamweight Champion received a Facebook message yesterday (Wednesday) from the Chair of the WBC Female Championship Committee Malte Müller-Michaelis informing her of her suspension in the wake of revelations to a number of media outlets which cast serious doubt over the result of the fight in Juarez. She made her comments during the Olympic Games in Rio, when an Irish boxer Michael Conlan was judged to have been beaten by a Russian opponent.

MAINTAINING QUALITY BEEF

ABP CLONES: A VITAL PART OF BEEF INDUSTRY

Northern Standard reporter Michael Fisher was among a group from the Guild of Agricultural Journalists invited to tour the ABP meat plant at Clones last Thursday. The company organised a visit to a local beef farmer near Carrickmacross and sponsored a barbeque and dinner. The event was organised three months ago. NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 16th June 2016 p.14

IMG_1224.JPG

ABP Clones General Manager George Mullan with a group from the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. Photo courtesy of ABP.

QUALITY IRISH BEEF

Irish beef has begun to re-establish its first class reputation on the menus of leading restaurants and the shelves of supermarkets in Britain and Europe. The Bord Bia Origin Green scheme of which the ABP Group is a founder member emphasises sustainability and the reduction of environmental impact. So any development in the agri-sector that could affect the reputation of quality beef is potentially worrying.

The ABP Group owned by businessman Larry Goodman is the largest beef processor in Ireland and the UK. It is proud of its record in producing quality Irish beef mainly for export to the United Kingdom and Europe. Various measures are taken at processing plants such as Clones to ensure that high standards are maintained at all times.

Visits to the ABP factory in Clones are strictly regulated. Human hygiene is crucial, as in any meat or food plant. On entry to the plant, visitors must wear protective clothing and hairnets, as well as removing jewellery. Footwear must be replaced by wellington boots, which are scrubbed meticulously in a special walk-through unit before entry is permitted to the boning and other sections. Hands must be washed and disinfectant gels applied.

The boning plant has different sections and each part of the animal carcass is used up along the line, starting with the hide. By-products are sent to some of the company’s other units.

The top class steak cuts were skillfully removed and later packaged, labelled with ABP’s own brand. In the packing hall differently coloured boxes indicated the various countries the meat was destined for, such as the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

TRACEABILITY

Veterinary inspectors from the Department of Agriculture check the carcasses and stamp them before they are processed. Each carcass is given a tag with details of the farm it came from and where it was slaughtered. Photographs are taken of each individual carcass as it passes along the production line. New tags with barcodes are attached and after chilling they are sent to the boning hall. This is to ensure traceability of the meat to help reassure customers at the end of the food chain and to ensure quality can be maintained.

The tour of the plant then moves outside to the lairage facility where cattle arrive to be processed. The ABP Food Group say animal welfare is a cornerstone of their business, so they have invested heavily in ensuring that customers can be 100% secure in the integrity of their processes.

The company source farm-assured cattle from throughout Ireland (including Co. Monaghan) and the UK. Although the fields of Co. Fermanagh are just a stone’s throw away, the company processes only cattle from the Republic, within a 50 mile distance of the plant. This is because there are special regulations for processing cattle from the North and they could not be handled at the same time as animals from the Republic.

ABP worked closely with the bestselling author and world-renowned livestock-expert Dr Temple Grandin to design and plan their facilities and procedures. She approved every aspect of the holding pens (lairage), assisting the company’s goal to ensure cattle are relaxed and stress-free prior to slaughter. There is a special slat rubber system for the cattle to walk on. Not only does this give livestock the respect and integrity they deserve, but the lower pre-mortem glycogen levels and PH balance of stress-free animals make for a higher quality and tenderness of carcass, according to ABP.

Dr Grandin campaigned to reduce the prodding of cattle with electric goads by showing a humane approach makes much better quality meat. She designed the lairage with curved solid walls, baffled gate latches to cut down noise, and uniform colour and lighting to reduce stress on the cattle. The curved walls ensure each animal is prevented from seeing what lies ahead and just concentrates on the hind quarters of the animal in front of it.

IMG_1220.JPG

ABP Clones General Manager George Mullan (right) explaining the various stages of processing at the meat plant to Michael Fisher. Photo courtesy of ABP.

George Mullan, general manager of ABP Clones, who showed the visiting group around the plant, said since the lairage was opened three years ago he had noticed a huge difference in the behaviour of cattle at the plant. They’re happier animals and calmer at all times, he said. “Animal welfare is a very major concern of the consumer in this present day”, he added.

Mr Mullan explained how following slaughter the patented hanging process increased the natural breakdown of muscle fibres in each carcass while it hung and matured prior to de-boning. ABP Food Group has also created a method of sympathetically chilling the carcass to prevent cold shortening and guarantee absolute tenderness in the beef.

The Managing Director of ABP Beef (Ireland) Finbarr McDonnell outlined the group’s four divisions. ABP Food Group Ireland is Europe’s leading beef exporter, specialising in beef processing, de-boning and retail packing. It has a long tradition of working with farmers and customers, operating highly efficient factories supplying quality beef to European and worldwide retail markets.

The UK branch of ABP is a leading supplier of fresh and frozen meat and meat-free products. It continues to drive innovation in every aspect of business, including collaborative partnerships with customers, to industry leading practices in processing and product development. The ABP Ellesmere development near Liverpool is an example of embedding sustainability at the heart of the company’s operations. Over £20million has been invested to make this plant a carbon neutral operation.

ABP Pet Foods is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of private label pet food, producing 570,000 tonnes every year from seven facilities. C&D Foods with headquarters in Mullingar is headed by Philip Reynolds, whose father set up the original company. Philip sold a majority interest in the business to ABP in 2011.

The fourth arm of the group is Olleco, the largest collector of used cooking oil in these islands, employing 550 people. It helps many of the biggest restaurants and catering groups to maximise the environmentally sustainable treatment of waste food and oil products.

More than 30 years ago used cooking oil was collected and used in animal feed. When this was banned owing to tighter regulations, a huge amount of used cooking oil ended up in landfill or was illegally poured into drains. Olleco looked at other ways to recover the value from this resource. The company started to collect both used cooking oil and food waste and convert them into renewable energy instead of throwing it away.

With fourteen depots across the UK the company is one of the UK’s largest distributors of cooking oils to the catering trade. In 2013 a specialist biodiesel plant was constructed in Liverpool. Capable of producing 16 million litres of biodiesel it is the UK’s largest purpose built plant dedicated to producing biodiesel from used cooking oil. Two years later Olleco opened the first anaerobic digestion plant, providing the heat and power to operate the biodiesel plant. Tallow is collected at the Clones plant and is sent to England for processing.

Finbarr McDonnell joined ABP in 1973 and held a variety of positions with the company including Group Production Manager and Factory Manager at the Cahir plant. He was appointed Chief Executive of ABP Beef (Ireland) in January 2008. He predicted that with a market turning its back on Friesian types and a re-nationalisation of the French market, cattle prices could be hit in the latter half of 2016.

“It is unfortunate that sterling is where it is and unfortunate that live exports are dead in the water,” he told the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. He urged the country’s expanding dairy sector to prioritise cross-breeding with the traditional Irish Hereford and Angus breeds for which ABP were pushing an open door on export markets. He said the company was ‘concerned’ about how the Brexit referendum next Thursday might turn out.

Mr McDonnell said the market was now ten times more in favour of Hereford and Angus than Friesian beef, adding that he was “very worried” about the consequences for the progeny of dairy farms unless they adapted to breeding more for market requirements. ABP currently handled over a fifth of national output, equivalent to 125,000t per year. It planned to expand further on its 41 sites within the EU employing up to 9000 people. The company was optimistic of a successful outcome to its bid to buy 50pc of Slaney Foods within the coming weeks. The move would result in ABP controlling 28% of the national beef kill.

A year ago ABP Food Group completed a €50 million redevelopment of its facilities in Cahir, Co. Tipperary. It included an extension and upgrade of food processing facilities as well as the introduction of a new state-of-the-art gel bone production plant at its neighbouring by-products site. A report by Oxford Economics and KPMG found that the upgraded facilities employing over 600 people are expected to be worth over €200 million a year to the local economy in Tipperary and surrounding counties.

The plant in Clones employs around 300, with 60% of the staff coming from abroad, including Lithuania and Poland. Based on the Cahir study, this would indicate that the Teehill factory brings in a benefit of around €100 million a year to Co. Monaghan and the surrounding area. This is taking into account employment created by the factory in subsidiary areas like haulage and canteen supplies. ABP is one of the largest employers in the county. It also contributes to the local community through charitable activities such as sport.

THE SUPPLIERS

Freddie and Caroline Merrin farm land at Ballyloughan, Lough Fea, outside Carrickmacross. The Merrins operate a weanling to beef system and have received Bord Bia awards for their product. They are members of the 150-strong Monaghan Quality Cattle Producer Group that supplies cattle to ABP in Clones. Freddie is originally from Killanny and Caroline comes from Kells, Co. Meath.

The farm is 170 acres and there is a similar acreage on a long-term lease from the adjoining Lough Fea estate. The Merrins are helped by their three children, Emma, George, and Linda, a Leaving Certificate student at St Louis secondary school, Carrickmacross. Emma and George are both attend UCD, studying history and science respectively.

Weanlings are grazed and finished out of the shed as either bulls or steers the following winter. The sheds are multi-functional and there is a huge emphasis on grass utilisation. At the moment there are around 700 cattle on the farm. Freddie bought in 350 calves over a five-week period starting in mid-February. He would usually go to the mart in Bandon to buy them.

After a spell in the sheds the calves are out out to grass between mid-May and mid-June. Bull calves would usually be brought to be killed before 24 months and heifer calves before 20 months. When it came to sending them to the factory there could be no room for sentimentality, Freddie said.

ABP Group Livestock Manager Paul Mathews said the company was investing in genetics and had its own herd for research. He said they needed to build up a strong database about breeds and they were working alongside the Irish Aberdeen Angus Association. The Merrins enterprise was one of the best examples of a family farm amongst their suppliers, according to the company.

 

EIRGRID AGM

EIRGRID DEFENDS OVERHEAD INTERCONNECTOR IN ANNUAL REPORT

Michael Fisher  NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 2nd June 2016 p.14

The EirGrid Chief Executive Fintan Slye has said the proposed North/South electricity interconnector will secure energy supply across the island of Ireland. His comments are included in the company’s recently published annual report 2015 ‘Connecting Jobs and Prosperity’.

Mr Slye attended the oral hearing in Carrickmacross twice in the closing stages in May to observe the proceedings and to talk to the company’s representatives. But he made no comment on the hearing itself.

Chairman John O’Connor presented the EirGrid annual report to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White, following the company’s annual general meeting. Mr O’Connor said: “delivering the right electricity grid and operating it securely and efficiently for the entire island of Ireland, north and south, is what guides us in EirGrid Group.

Last year continued a trend of strong financial performance. Group revenue was €706.2m, making it €37.9m (5.7%) higher than 2014. Profit before tax was €40.7 million, with underlying profits at €16.9 million. Based on this strong performance, we are able to deliver a proposed dividend of €3.5 million to our shareholder (the exchequer).”

Mr O’Connor continued: “in the previous annual report 2014, I said that the EirGrid group of companies were on a constant mission to improve how we do things and that this requires us to embrace change. A year on, I can truthfully say that this commitment can be seen across all aspects of our business.”

“It is evident in the way we are planning for the future needs of the electricity transmission grid. It is evident in the way we are reaching out to and consulting with communities and individuals who are affected by, or have an interest in, our projects. It is evident in the way we are breaking new ground in accommodating an ever higher share of renewable generation on the grid. It is evident in the large investment in new wholesale electricity market systems to ensure we have the most competitive prices possible,” he added.

EirGrid Chief Executive Fintan Slye commented: “throughout 2015 we have worked closely with some of the biggest companies in the world to foster jobs and prosperity in communities across the island. Much of this work has focused on the development of data centres, for example, Apple in Athenry, Co. Galway, Facebook in Clonee, Co. Meath and Microsoft in Grangecastle, Co. Dublin. Large data centres are high energy users, so they will often connect directly to the electricity grid. Developments such as these bring construction jobs, long-term employment and increased rates to fund local council facilities.”

“Though electricity is just one element of the critical infrastructure that underpins these investments, we work hard to ensure that power quality, energy prices and security of supply bring such customers to the table. I would like to thank Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland, Jonathan Bell, for their positive engagement throughout the year”, the CEO added.

In the annual report Mr Slye said 2015 was a milestone year for the North/South Interconnector project, as the company submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in June. In the same month they also submitted the necessary paperwork to the Department of Environment in Belfast, thus completing the information required for recommencement of the public inquiry into the project in Northern Ireland. The North/South Interconnector will secure energy supply across the island of Ireland, Mr Slye said.

EirGrid Chair John O’Connor said the North/South interconnector was the single most important and most urgent infrastructure project on the island of Ireland. Designated a ‘Project of Common Interest’ by the European Commission, the interconnector was urgently needed to secure adequate electricity supply in Northern Ireland. It would facilitate the optimal operation of the all-island electricity market, for the benefit of people and businesses everywhere.

According to Mr O’Connor the interconnector also provides a local benefit to the people in the North East, by increasing the capacity of the electricity network in the region. In turn, this would help to attract inward investment and jobs. Subject to the planning process now underway, EirGrid were committed to delivering this project as soon as possible for the benefit of electricity consumers in both jurisdictions.

Rosemary Steen, EirGrid’s executive director of external affairs, said the launch of their draft grid development strategy, “Your Grid, Your Views, Your Tomorrow”, in March 2015 was another significant step forward for the group. This draft strategy was a response to feedback received from the public during consultations on major grid development projects. It also represented a key part of their efforts to encourage greater participation in the decision-making process.

Your Grid, Your Views, Your Tomorrow reflected an updated view of the economic context for developing the grid. The strategy further incorporated EirGrid’s growing experience of promising new transmission technologies. It included a new Regional Option for the Grid Link project and a hybrid option for the Grid West project. It also concluded that overhead lines were the best solution for the North/South interconnector.

Ms Steen said: “we continue to engage with local communities on this key project and have recently initiated a wide-ranging outreach and information campaign. This has resulted in meetings and dialogue with many community members on issues including undergrounding, environmental interests and health concerns. We are staffing community offices, holding regional discussion forums and are communicating more widely to better explain our plans. A key initiative has been the appointment of Agriculture and Community Liaison Officers across the island, as well as a public affairs lead in Northern Ireland. The development of a consultation handbook and toolkit, plus the adoption of “plain English” in our publications, further reflects our commitment to meaningful and accessible engagement.”

She added: “we seek to engage early with public representatives in Stormont and the Oireachtas, and across local government. This provides government feedback while also acting as an avenue to engage with local communities. Our Chief Executive appeared twice during the year (2015) at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. This was accompanied by outreach and walk-in sessions with Senators and TDs, which provided some valuable feedback. We also worked within the framework of the government’s new Regional Action Plan for Jobs. We were delighted when the North South Interconnector was identified as a key enabler of jobs and development through this forum.”

“In Northern Ireland, we carried out a significant body of political engagement, which included briefings with all tiers of elected representatives across each political party; from Councillors to MEPs. We were honoured when Minister Jonathan Bell opened our new SONI offices in June. We also briefed several of the new local government districts or ‘super-councils’, a programme which will continue throughout 2016.”

“As we look forward, engagement, consultation and outreach will continue to form a key part of our grid development strategy. While further consultation is not required as part of the planning process for the North/South interconnector, we are committed to continue informing and engaging with local communities.”

John Fitzgerald, executive director grid development and interconnection, explained how the company had been delivering the grid to meet future needs. In co-operation with NIE and ESB, they identified and submitted an application for planning approval for the North/South 400 kV interconnection development. The interconnector, he said, would increase the security and reliability of electricity supply to households and businesses throughout the island of Ireland. It would support growth and boost existing industry in the North East region and ensure a continuing reliability of electricity supply. It would enable the all-island wholesale electricity market to work efficiently, allowing for increased competition in electricity supply, thereby offering consumers choice and competitive prices.

SALARIES

The annual report also gives some details regarding remuneration. The Chairperson’s fees were equivalent to €21,600 per annum during the year (2014: €21,600). Directors’ fees were equivalent to €12,600 each per annum during the year (2014: €12,600). The only executive Board Member during the year was the Chief Executive, Fintan Slye.

The Chief Executive’s remuneration is set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The remuneration of the Chief Executive consists of basic salary, taxable benefits and certain retirement benefits. The retirement benefits of the Chief Executive are calculated on basic pay only and aim to provide in retirement a pension of one-eightieth and a gratuity of three-eightieths of salary for each year of service as Chief Executive.

The increases in accrued pension and accrued gratuity excluding inflation during the year to 30th September 2015 were €2,125 (2014: €2,125) and €6,375 (2014: €6,375) respectively. The total accrued pension at the end of the year was €16,170 (2014: €14,045) and the total accrued gratuity was €53,660 (2014: €47,285). The transfer value of the relevant increase was €28,541 (2014: €27,141).

The Chief Executive’s remuneration:

Basic salary €170,000 30/09/15 (€170k 2014)

Annual Bonus – –

Taxable benefits €18,000 (€18k 2014)

Pension contributions paid €29,000 (€26k 2014)

Director’s fees – –

TOTAL: €217,000  2015   (€214,000  2014)

EIRGRID AT ORAL HEARING

EIRGRID’S TEAM WAS WELL PREPARED FOR ORAL HEARING

 Michael Fisher  Northern Standard Thursday 2nd June p.14

Throughout the oral hearing in Carrickmacross into the proposed North/South electricity interconnector, EirGrid had a team of up to forty people lined up to address the inspectors. Each was not present every day for the thirty-five days of the proceedings and some were relied on more heavily than others to make the case for the 400kV overhead line and 300 pylons stretching from Meath to Tyrone, through Cavan and Monaghan. They included staff members and consultants and their contributions were led by a legal team.

EIRGRID TEAM:

 THE LAWYERS

JARLATH FITZSIMONS SC is a well-known barrister practising in the area of planning and environmental law. He is a former lecturer in Law at Trinity College, Dublin.

BRIAN MURRAY SC has been a Senior Counsel since 2002 and has a particular expertise in the area of constitutional law and company law. He has been involved in many high profile cases and has appeared in inspection, restriction and disqualification cases on behalf of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. Educated at Trinity College Dublin and Cambridge University, he previously lectured in company law at Trinity College Dublin.

STEPHEN DODD, Junior Counsel is a practising barrister. He has written widely on commercial, planning and other areas of law. He is the author of the Consolidated and Annotated Planning and Development Regulations 2001/2005 (Round Hall, 2005) and the Consolidated and Annotated Planning and Development Acts 2000/2007 (Round Hall, 2008).

DEIRDRE NAGLE, Senior Solicitor, EirGrid

A highly dedicated senior planning and environmental lawyer, with extensive experience in advising on legal matters within the energy industry. A member of the GC Powerlist: Ireland for 2015. As Senior Solicitor, she has ensured the provision of a legal services across the EirGrid Group, while managing a significant case load.

EIRGRID STAFF

DES COX, Senior Planning Consultant EirGrid. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin BA Mod geography and sociology and at UCD where he obtained a Master’s degree in regional and urban planning (MRUP). He worked for three years as a senior inspector with An Bord Pleanála and was Operational Director for RPS Planning Dublin before joining EirGrid in 2010 as Senior Co-Ordinator Public Planning and Consents.

SHANE BRENNAN, Project Engineer, EirGrid/SONI. A native of Co. Monaghan, he represented the company at the information office in Carrickmacross and has been involved with the Northern Ireland end of the project.

AIDAN GEOGHEGAN, Project Manager. He played a key role in explaining why the company had chosen an overhead line and had ruled out undergrounding.

WILLIAM MONGEY, Senior Engineer, Grid Development. Responsible for the co-ordination of wayleaves.

DR MAEVE FLYNN, Senior Ecologist. Lead Ecologist in the department of Grid Development and Interconnection at EirGrid. Her role is to provide ecological expertise and support to project teams within Grid Development and to promote best practice in ecological impact assessment for projects.

FERGAL McPARLAND, Senior Programme Manager, Transmission Asset Management. An experienced senior projects manager, principal engineer and team leader with a successful track record delivering national renewable and extra high voltage transmission infrastructure projects. Senior Project Manager for delivery of Transmission System Operator (TSO) commerical offers associated with Gate 3, the group renewable processing scheme for over 3000 MW of renewable generation established by the Commission for Energy Regulation. He was educated at UCD (MBA) and the University of Bath (MSc in electrical engineering).

DAVID MARTIN, Senior Communications Specialist. An expert in public relations, he is the senior lead communications specialist at EirGrid. Over the past five years, his role has involved the management of political and stakeholder relations, strategic corporate communications and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

MARK NORTON, Manager Transmission Network Planning.

PHILIP O’DONNELL, Manager Energy System Analysis.

CONSULTANTS

ESB INTERNATIONAL

ROBERT ARTHUR, Senior Consultant, Construction. He made a significant contribution to the EirGrid case, explaining the company’s expertise over more than thirty years of erecting pylons and overhead lines. He was asked to explain details of the proposed method of construction for the pylons. He outlined how they could be built in different terrain, including bogland and on sloping ground. Started his career in 2000 working in EMC testing & EMF Human Health surveys with Compliance Engineering Ireland Limited. Joined ESB International in 2004, dealing with HV Transmission Line Conflicts. Maintained specialist work in EMF field when taking up EMF Specialist role in 2006 within ESBI. Currently High Voltage Transmission Lines & Cables Maintenance Manager within ESBI’s Asset Management Services group. Responsible for a team of 22 staff dealing with overhead transmission line and HV cable maintenance. Educated at DIT and University of Bath (MSc electrical power systems).

JARLATH DOYLE, Senior Consultant, Construction. Project Director 400kV projects. Specialises in design and construction of transmission lines; project management; tower foundation design; material testing and specification; preparation of environmental impact statements. Educated at NUI Galway (BE) and University of Limerick (MBA).

KEVIN COFFEY, Line Routing Specialist.

BRENDAN ALLEN, Senior Planning Consultant.

DR PADDY KAVANAGH, Environmental Director.

EXPONENT:

DR BILL BAILEY, Principal Scientist.

DR GABOR MEZEI, Medical Doctor & Senior Managing Scientist.

RPS:

NEASA KANE-FINE, Senior Communications Specialist.

LEAH KENNY, Operations Director & Director of Planning.

TOBIN:

DAMIEN GREHAN, Director of Energy & Environment.

JOHN DILLON, Senior Environmental Engineer.

DAIREANN McDONNELL, Senior Ecologist.

TOM CANNON, Senior Traffic Engineer.

According to Tobin Consulting Engineers, there is no doubt about the significant benefits that the North/South 400kV interconnection development will bring to the people of Ireland, north and south. It will link the power distribution network in both parts of the island of Ireland, and it will improve competition by reducing the constraints that are restricting the efficient performance of the all-island Single Electricity Market. It will improve security of supply by providing a reliable high capacity link between the two parts of the all-island transmission system; it will support the development of renewable power generation by enhancing the flexible exchange of power flows over a large area of the island and it will specifically reinforce the security of the electricity supply in the North East.

TOBIN is a key member of the consultancy team on this nationally important strategic project. The company brought their GIS capability to route selection along the approximately 60km southern section of the proposed development, screening the entire study area under all constraints such as designated conservation areas, dwellings, surface water features, cultural heritage features, geology and landscape designations. This work enabled the identification of the route corridor options that minimised environmental impact as it ensured the avoidance of the most significant constraints. The Environmental Impact Statement for the Meath section of the indicative route was linked and coordinated with that for the Cavan-Monaghan section prepared by other colleagues. Planning for this development fell under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

TOBIN’s ornithological team undertook detailed ornithological surveys focusing on the Whooper Swan, over a number of years within Counties Meath, Cavan, Monaghan and Armagh for this project to determine the location of both feeding and roosting sites as well as regularly used flight lines between sites. As part of this study, they completed both field surveys and aerial surveys. TOBIN is the only consultancy to have such expertise within Ireland, possessing the most significant and up-to-date body of national research for this specific species.

The project has drawn its share of controversy, but the TOBIN approach, of presenting the fundamental facts, in a focussed, patient and calm manner, concentrating on the fundamental matters of concern, has been respectful and productive, according to the company. Their consultations have been, in many instances, one-to-one briefings.

AECOM:

AECOM is a large international company providing a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.

JOERG SCHULZE, Senior Landscape Architect. He played an important role during the hearing introducing photomontages of critical points along the interconnector route and commenting on the likely effects on the landscape, including sensitive area such as the Hill of Tara. He has over twelve years’ experience as a landscape architect. He has a comprehensive track record in managing the preparation of landscape and visual impact assessments for road schemes, transmission lines (overground and underground), wind farms, substations, quarries, light industrial developments, wave energy units and domestic housing developments throughout the island of Ireland as part of the EIA process. He is also involved on a broad range of projects including master planning and detail design of commercial, residential, tourism and civic developments throughout Ireland. He also manages the production of GIS mapping, photomontages and preparation of ZTV mapping. He has been an expert witness at oral hearings and public inquiries. He is experienced in working closely with other disciplines, stakeholder engagement, community consultations and has organised and participated in public workshops for a number of projects.

BARRY SHERIDAN, Acoustic Consultant. Environmental Engineering Project Manager with fifteen years’ experience in Noise and Vibration Specialism and Environmental Health and Safety.

KEN GLASS, Principal, Community, Tourism & Leisure, Environment & Planning, Ireland & Scotland.

ALISTAIR HENDERSON, Digital Visualiser.

INDIVIDUAL CONSULTANTS

DECLAN MOORE, Principal Archaeologist, Moore Group. He studied Archaeology and English at University College Galway, graduating in 1991. He obtained a certificate in Management Studies in 1994 and became a licence eligible archaeologist in 1999.  Since graduating he has gained over twenty years’ experience as a field archaeologist, site supervisor and consultant. He is a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and the European Association of Archaeologists. He founded Moore Group in 2001. His professional experience stems from a comprehensive knowledge of Irish field archaeology, historical research and Irish archaeological legislation. During the hearing he was asked to comment on several sensitive areas for the proposed interconnector such as Teltown and Brittas in Co. Meath and Lemgare and Lough Egish in Co. Monaghan.

CON CURTIN, Agricultural Consultant with almost thirty years’ experience. He has assessed the agronomy impacts on several major infrastructural projects.

TOM CORR, Chartered Valuation Surveyor & Agronomist. A native of Co.Monaghan he has over thirty years’ experience in the areas of property and agriculture and possesses a strong technical knowledge across both areas. He has a major focus on providing creative solutions and ideas to client issues and projects.

PROFESSOR CATHAL WALSH, Chair of Statistics, University of Limerick & member of Insight Statistical Solutions. His research interests include Bayesian modelling, evidence synthesis, disease and epidemic models, and biomedical statistics. He has published over 100 journal publications in these areas. Professor Walsh is also a HRB Research Leader in Health Decision Science. Specific areas in which he has used his expertise are in the modelling of heterogeneity using latent variable models and in combining evidence from multiple sources. He has held visiting appointments in Bayesian groups in Brisbane and in Boston. He contributes to the statistical societies in the UK and Ireland and is currently a member of the Council and theme Director for the Royal Statistical Society. He is an advisor to the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics on statistical methodology for Health Technology Assessment and on the Scientific Advisory group for HTA for the Health Information and Quality Authority.

MICHAEL SADLIER, Veterinary Surgeon specializing in Equine Management. He gave evidence about horses in the vicinity of power lines and drew up a report for EirGrid on equine psychology and behavior. The substantial body of research on both livestock and other animals did not indicate any adverse effects from transmission lines. There was therefore no scientific basis in the research literature to conclude that the presence of EMF from transmission lines would create conditions that would impair the health of horses or would precipitate abnormal behaviour.

DR PATRICK CRUSHELL, Director & Senior Environmental Consultant, Wetland Surveys Ireland. He gave evidence about the movements of whooper swans and other birds and wildlife. Dr Crushell established Wetland Surveys Ireland in 2007. He received an honours degree in Applied Ecology from UCC, a Masters degree in Environmental Resource Management from UCD and studied for a PhD (Environmental Sciences) at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. The focus of his PhD research was on soak systems of Clara bog, Co. Offaly. His research also took him to the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Argentina. The multidisciplinary approach to his research has given him a broad range of expertise including restoration ecology, eco-hydrology, hydrochemistry, vegetation science and aquatic macro-fauna ecology. He is a Full Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), adhering to their code of professional conduct. He has been working in the area of nature conservation and ecological assessment for the past 15 years. He has worked as a consultant ecologist in the preparation of Ecological Impact Assessments on over 300 different projects for a range of organisations including government agencies, engineering firms, local environmental groups and NGOs and has appeared as an expert witness on numerous occasions. Dr Crushell’s roles include project management, site surveying, GIS data management and mapping, report compilation and editing, hydrochemistry co-ordinator and data analysis.

DR MARTIN HOGAN, Medical Doctor & Occupational & Environmental Health Specialist. He was called to comment on the effects of power lines on children with autism. Dr Hogan graduated in 1987 at UCC and trained as a specialist in Occupational Health at the University of Manchester. He is the current national specialty Director in Occupational Medicine responsible for training specialist in Occupational Medicine.
Dr Hogan lectures in Occupational Medicine and is a specialist trainer and examiner for the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He sits on a number of expert committees in the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a consultant occupational health advisor to the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland.

RODNEY FEWINGS, Aviation consultant. Former senior research fellow at Cranfield University, England.

DR NORMAN MacLEOD, Technical Director HVDC, PB Power

THE OBSERVERS

Apart from specified bodies such as Monaghan and Meath and Cavan County Councils, and the public representatives, the main observers were represented by two voluntary groups.

NORTH EAST PYLON PRESSURE CAMPAIGN

DR PADRAIG O’REILLY

AIMEE TREACEY, Chair

DR COLIN ANDREW

Co. MONAGHAN ANTI-PYLON COMMITTEE

NIGEL HILLIS

MARY MARRON

MARGARET MARRON

ALLEN MCADAM

The Bord Pleanála Inspectors who will now report back to the Board after the eleven weeks hearing that began in March were:

BREDA GANNON

DEIRDRE MCGOWAN.