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No permanent rift over Clare Island pub licence dispute

Opposing parties in Clare Island case look to the future

Edwin McGreal

In the wake of the decision taken last week in the High Court sitting in Roscommon to grant in principle an application for a seven-day publican’s license for the Clare Island Community Centre, both sides are looking to the future.
Businessman Carl O’Grady, a son of objector Chris O’Grady, did question elements of the court ruling, which will see the license granted if the members of the CICC give a sworn compliance to a number of undertakings but expressed the hope that the island community could move on together.
“Firstly, contrary to the perception created by this case, I would like to say that Clare Island is a very tight-knit community who in the whole pull together. As in many small communities we do have disagreements. However we will work through these and move on to more positive things.
“If the application for a full publican’s seven-day bar licence is ratified by the island community, then Clare Island is set to lose its Community Centre and all that it represents and gain a pub and all that that represents. It will also create an un-competitive environment for private enterprise. That is the ruling of the court.
“I would ask the Department of Enterprise to have discussions with the Department of Social Welfare in relation to the conditions attached to the funding of such facilities as the Clare Island Community Centre in the future to prevent such an event from happening again,” said Mr O’Grady.
He added that, regardless of the outcome of the sitting, the future was very bright for tourism on the island, including a project he was centrally involved in.
“We now look to the future for Clare Island Tourism and are very excited about what we see. We are set to launch the “Go Explore” brand to offer adventure and education-based budget packaged holidays for Clare Island. It is the intention to build on this brand to encompass other islands and areas in the future.
“As a family we are about to begin construction works on the new Clare Island Hostel, Island Bar/Restaurant and Praeger Education Centre (based on the archaeology, ecology, geology and heritage of Clare Island). When completed, we intend developing activities such as specialised walking tours, cycling, sea kayaking, diving and RIB adventures to name but a few. We also intend developing an annual adventure race, 10k run and triathlon to build on the regions ‘adventure capital’ status.”
He concluded by saying that their family will work with the Cox family - who also objected to the Community Centre license - and others in making Clare Island an attractive place to visit.
“Together with Jim Cox and his family in the proposed Clare Island Lodge and Outdoor Amphitheatre and all other tourism partners on the island, we will create a wonderful exciting tourism destination for all to visit. Clare Island will most certainly be open for business in summer 2012 and extends a warm welcome to all.”
Meanwhile in a statement through their solicitor, John Carlos of T Dillon-Leetch and Sons, the board of the Clare Island Community Centre Limited also looked to the future.
“My clients are delighted with the court decision; they feel it will be of huge benefit to the island community especially from the point of view of tourism. They wish to reiterate that they have no issues with with proposed developments of Mr O’Grady and Mr Cox and their success can only be for the good of the island.”

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