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West Clare on red alert as plans in place for Leaving Cert results parties

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Communities in West Clare are on red alert after it emerged that “significant plans” are in place for Monday night when the Leaving Certificate results are released.

Up to nine people were arrested by Gardaí at the beginning of August following a mass gathering with up to 200 teenagers drinking and breaching COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing.

With nightclubs and pubs closed, arrangements are being put in place by teenagers to organise a gathering to celebrate the release of Leaving Certificate results which were marked by predictive grades for the first time. Family holiday homes and mobile homes in Kilkee, Lahinch and Spanish Point have been mentioned as locations identified for such gatherings.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) noted of the staycation period, “We were caught on the hop on a few occasions, I don’t think we expected the level of business we got”.

He issued a word of warning that the level of activity has not subsided. “It is not over yet, there are significant plans for parties in West of Ireland to celebrate Leaving Cert results next Monday. I hope Gardaí will be ready, forewarned is forearmed. The behaviour that happened before will not be tolerated. What we do won’t be wasted time,” the Kilkee representative stated.

Meetings have been held with Council officials and the Gardaí in Ennistymon to see how issues with regard to wild camping and underage drinking could be enforced. An increased Garda presence has been sought for Monday night.

“While we all empathise with the situation our young people find themselves in regarding COVID, it is entirely inappropriate to countenance their being packed off to places like Kilkee, Lahinch, Spanish Point etc in large numbers for what will inevitably be house parties and large gatherings in complete non adherence to health guidelines,” a statement from councillors Murphy, Shane Talty, Joe Killeen and Joe Garrihy outlined.

An assessment of the positive and negative impacts of the staycation period was sought by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF). The Tourism Taskforce is to carry out this review. “We’ve had a huge number of tourists, people in the industry were pleased with the advertising put in place by the Council. Tourism is different because of COVID, we’ve had huge crowds in Lahinch, people are looking for other areas and other experiences,” Killeen stated. He believed a critical appraisal was required to prepare the county for 2021.

His motion was seconded by Cllr Shane Talty (FF). “It is a topic we will be reflecting on for the next six months for next year. There is a broader multi-agency review required to see what lessons could be learned for the year ahead”.

Acting senior executive officer, John O’Malley noted that the tourist season has changed as people viewed a different side to the West of Ireland. “A whole new cohort of people have seen what the West of Ireland has to offer. We’re putting together a plan,” he confirmed.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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