Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod this week
News from around Ireland
Published Friday, July 6, 2012, 7:18 AM
Updated Friday, July 6, 2012, 10:29 AM
Condom Campaign Launched
A pro-life activist from Donegal has branded the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) new campaign encouraging young people to use condoms as being “very irresponsible.”
Last week the HSE launched its Think Contraception campaign which features the slogan “Relax - Johnny’s Got You Covered” and a packet of condoms.
The campaign involves TV sponsorships, on-street promotion, poster and digital advertising and social media to tell young people that “when it comes to risk of STIs or unplanned pregnancy, Johnny’s got you covered.”
Research commissioned by the HSE has shown that 20% of 18–25 year-olds did not report consistent use of contraception in the last year.
The HSE says its campaign will encourage young men and women, the vast majority of whom have had sexual intercourse by the time they reach 25, to plan for and consistently use condoms to protect against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Mary Stewart says that, in her view, the campaign is “very irresponsible.”
“Condoms are not 100% reliable and this is something that is glossed over by the HSE. Condoms fail a certain percentage of the time, resulting in pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,” she says.
“In addition, young people very often have drink taken when they decide to have sex on impulse and may be careless in their use of condoms. Some STDs can be passed on through skin contact as well. The HSE campaign doesn’t convey any of these important facts and, by not doing so, is doing a disservice to our young people.”
Roisin Kavanagh, chairperson of the Letterkenny Center disagrees.
“Donegal has very high rates for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, and the HSE campaign is aimed at addressing that. No contraceptive is 100% effective but the HSE certainly encourages young adults to be responsible and to think about prevention,” she says.
“It also puts responsibility on young men, which is to be welcomed.”
But Stewart is also concerned that the campaign reinforces the idea that sex and relationships are
something transient and casual.
“Our young people are being sold a pup. They’re being told, that relationships built on friendship, love and respect don’t matter any more. The idea is ‘date and dump’ when the thrill is gone. No wonder there are so many break-ups,” she said.
“At the end of the day, a condom can’t heal a broken heart.”
Protecting Traffic Cops
Waterford City Council has confirmed that it is in discussions with Gardai (police) on action to be taken to protect traffic wardens from injury and verbal threats from members of the public.
Safety measures are being put in place after one of the traffic wardens was threatened with a physical injury in recent weeks.
Niall Keane, a spokesman for the City Council’s Road Transportation department said, “This is not the first time this has happened, and in consultation with the Gardai we are investigating how best to adopt health and safety measures for our staff as they go about their duty on the city’s streets.”
Keane said they were looking at all possibilities from protective vests to personal devices, possibly including CCTV camera badges which would record the traffic warden’s interaction with members of the public.
The threat to the traffic warden, which has been reported to Waterford Garda Station, was not related to the issuing of a parking ticket and did not even occur near a vehicle.
Harassment and threats to wardens was described as commonplace not just in Waterford but all around the country and all are taken seriously by both the Gardai and the employer.
Keane said he would like to think that the most recent threat of physical injury was an idle one. However, he added, “People are willing to carry out violence on members of the public and that is why we are examining new health and safety measures.”
Slow Tourist Season
This year could be worse than 2011 for Clare hotels and guesthouses according to a prominent hotelier, as low consumer confidence keeps the “strapped” Irish at home.
Michael Vaughan, of Vaughan Lodge Hotel in Lahinch and the president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said the problem is felt throughout the west of Ireland.
“There are widespread concerns up and down the coast and particularly in the outlying areas. Kilkee, Lahinch, Ballyvaughan, Lisdoonvarna and even East Clare are experiencing it. Tourist numbers are not reaching the usual levels,” he said.
“Normally the tourist numbers in the summer are made up of Irish holidaymakers having a typical Irish holiday. Those people are now so strapped and lacking in consumer confidence they are simply not spending money.
“While we in the tourism business all thought 2011 would be the watershed in terms of how low the market could dip, it now looks like we will see it drop more in 2012 before we rise up again.”
According to the well-known businessman, the problem is not down to price.
“I don’t think it is a question of not offering value anymore. There is plenty of value in Clare and there is a good collaboration between accommodation providers and entertainment providers, so there are good packages available,” he said.
“Some 70% of the business nationally comes from the domestic market. So really it is this time of the year in particular that we depend on that. July and August are home holiday market times.”
It is not all bad, though, according to Vaughan.
“There are counter indicators there because, in general terms, the numbers coming into the country is starting to rise again. I was speaking to the chief executive of CIE Tours this week and he said they will bank one of their best years yet out of North American coach tours. That area is holding up well,” he concluded.
A lecturer at NUI Galway has revealed that up to up to one-third of the students attending her classes come in with hangovers, and expressed the belief that alcohol has become a serious problem in Irish colleges.
The issue of alcohol abuse among the city’s third level students came under scrutiny earlier this year as the drunken antics of local students during RAG week attracted national coverage.
Morwena Denis, who works at NUI Galway, revealed that up to one-third of students in her lecture hall on a Monday morning would be suffering from a hangover.
She revealed that students in her class turn up “bleary-eyed” and said that the problem is becoming increasingly worse.
Denis pointed out that many young people are coming from a drinking culture that associates alcohol with excessive consumption.
“I think it is part of the culture that they don’t understand that you can drink and have fun and that you don’t need to get drunk,” she said.
She believes that many students now associate college with excess as opposed to academic achievement.
“To my mind there seems to be a general attitude that you are in college, you are a student, and that you are there to have a good time,” Denis said.
Teen Threatens Cop
A teenager who threatened a garda that he would "burn him out of his home" and claimed he knew where the officer and his wife liked to drink has been ordered to save up so he can send the couple away for a weekend.
Leon Donnelly, 18, said he would kick the garda's "f***ing head in when you're off duty."
Judge Anthony Halpin ordered Donnelly to pay ***200 compensation to the garda and to complete 100 hours community service in lieu of two months in prison.
The defendant, of Finglas, admitted before Blanchardstown District Court a breach of the peace and failing to follow the directions of Gardai.
Garda Ciaran Geraghty said he observed a car being towed away at Ballygall Crescent on December 28. Geraghty said Donnelly approached and shouted at him, "You're not f***ing taking that car."
The garda said Donnelly and another man started smashing up the car, which belonged to the defendant.
The court heard that Donnelly told the garda, "I'll kick your f***ing head in when you're off duty." The defendant also told Garda Geraghty that he knew where he and his wife lived, and in which pub they drank.
Geraghty said he was forced to use his pepper spray to calm Donnelly down.
The court heard Donnelly had 40 previous convictions, mostly from when he was a juvenile.
Defense solicitor Fiona Brennan said Donnelly was a young man with a lot of problems who had struggled with drug addiction.
Brennan said her client was now clean from drugs, was working with Coolmine and had completed his Leaving Certificate.
In relation to the incident, Brennan said Donnelly was completely out of control with anger and he was very apologetic.
The court heard that he had not apologized to the garda.
Halpin adjourned the matter to a date in September to allow Donnelly bring €200 compensation to court, to allow the garda to take his partner away for a weekend.
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