First blood was drawn in the 2011 general election campaign in the Dublin South constituency last week after an enthusiastic candidate had to be hospitalized after she got a nasty surprise when she called to one resident’s doorstep.
People Before Profit member and United Left Alliance candidate Nicola Curry was leafleting for her launch meeting in Ballyogan when a dog took a chunk out of her middle finger as she was trying to put a leaflet through one letter box.
"It wasn't pleasant. I got quite a fright and one of my fingers is in quite a mess,” said Curry.
“I was well taken care of in Loughlinstown Hospital though. I even got the chance to pass around a few leaflets in there, so it wasn't all in vain!
“All joking aside though, this is a bit of a warning to canvassers to be very careful when leafleting. This dog didn't make a sound, so I got no warning.
“I'd hate to see anyone else get this kind of fright so I'd like to just alert candidates and their canvassing teams to be careful.”
Curry is a working mother from Ballyogan and has been active in local and national campaigns to protect the environment and defend the rights of ordinary working people.
Gardai (police) in south Meath are warning home owners of the increase in thefts of gold jewelry from houses, and believe that thieves may be selling stolen goods on to “cash for gold” stores.
They have also asked the cash for gold outlets to make sure they are aware of the origin of pieces that are being sold to them.
Garda authorities in Navan say they have already visited all the cash for gold outlets in the town and asked them to be conscious of the problem.
Superintendent Mick Devine said they had checked documentation and receipts in the stores and have warned the storekeepers they will be keeping a watchful eye on the situation.
In the Dunshaughlin area, Sergeant Paul Tennanty said there has been a noticeable increase in gold being stolen from houses. He says that other valuable items in homes are being left behind, and that the jewelry and gold are being specifically targeted.
The Garda warning comes in the wake of former Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern asking Gardai to investigate whether some businesses buying gold jewelry for cash are being run by organized crime gangs.
The move follows concerns that the exponential growth in cash for gold outlets, where gold is sold over the counter by people walking in off the streets, has made it easier for thieves to sell stolen property.
Ahern said it was clear there had been a “significant increase” in the number of cash-for-gold outlets across a large number of Irish towns and cities.
Senior Gardai expressed concern that the ease with which criminals can now sell gold jewelry and other items for high prices to legitimate businesses may be feeding the increase in burglaries taking place across the Republic.
While the informal sale or purchase of jewelry is not specifically regulated here, anybody who buys or sells items that they know to be stolen could be prosecuted, and on conviction would face up to 10 years in prison.
Lots of St. Patricks
Organizers of St. Patrick’s Day activities in Kilrush are hoping that the day’s festivities will be remembered for years to come.
In fact, if plans come to fruition, the town will earn a niche for itself in the Guinness World Records. Although the original St Patrick was at his peak in the fifth century, dozens of look-alikes are likely to swarm Kilrush on March 17.
Aspiring St. Patricks will have to make sure they are fairly fit, however, as they will be expected to run or walk five kilometers. Everyone who takes part will be issued with a costume. If sufficient people participate, they may help Kilrush to enter the record books.
All St. Patricks still standing after their exertions will be encouraged to take part in the parade, which will have Reeling back the Years as its theme.
New Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has banned breakfast fry-ups for his Fianna Fail team.
A new fatwa on frying pans has been introduced as the new leader ushers in a healthy eating regime.
The man who introduced the world's first smoking ban is calling time on smoky bacon, streaky rashers and sizzling sausages.
Staff at campaign headquarters have been gently advised that the comforting smell of the morning mixed grill is now politically incorrect -- henceforth, only political rivals may be grilled.
A senior party source disclosed the new pudding prohibition to the Evening Herald.
He indicated the stodgy stalwarts of the “full Irish” were being replaced with kiwi fruit. It's goodbye bangers, hello bananas as Breakfast Roll Man is banned.
A Fianna Fail staffer confirmed apples and oranges had replaced coffee and cigarettes as the fuel of choice for the new regime at the Grattan House campaign headquarters in Mount Street in Dublin.
A spokesman explained Martin was running a dynamic team which was operating seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
The spokesman said the new leader was "conscious of the need to keep staff working at the peak of their abilities for the duration of the campaign," and had "brought in a healthy food regime, ensuring that everyone working in the center has a balanced diet, rich in energy and protein.”
For breakfast each morning the staff can choose from fresh fruit, muesli, porridge and high-fiber brown bread. Lunch consists of various salad and fruit options, while the evening meal includes chicken or fish dishes combined with pasta or rice.
One campaign worker said, "The staff have already been spending day, evening and night at the center, but many are already feeling the boost provided from this new health food regime.
"The bet going around the campaign center is who is going to lose the most weight during the course of the campaign.”
Jail for Jean Theft
IT could cost almost £20,000 of public money to imprison a single mother who stole a £10 pair of jeans.
First-time offender Alison Hewitt broke down in tears last week in the dock at Londonderry Crown Court after she was sent to prison for three months for the offence.
The 27-year-old, who has a three-year-old daughter, was found guilty in December of stealing the jeans from the Supertramp store in Londonderry City Center in August 2009.
The Strabane woman turned up at court without an overnight bag or money because she expected to be ordered to complete community service.
Sentencing Hewitt, Judge Piers Grant, who said the young mother had every opportunity to admit her guilt but failed to do so, described the jeans theft as “mean, pre-meditated and brazen.”
It costs £77,831 a year to house a prisoner in Northern Ireland, so it might cost taxpayers £19,457.75 to jail Hewitt for three months.
In the midst of growing condemnation at the sentence, Hewitt’s jail term will be heard by the Court of Appeal. Her family, who did not know about her offense, described the sentence as “madness.”
The chair of the assembly’s justice committee, Lord Maurice Morrow, said there was no justification for Hewitt’s crime, but he was shocked at her punishment.
“There is no doubt that a three month prison sentence is a severe punishment for a relatively minor crime, particularly given how leniently much more serious crimes have been treated in the past,” he said.
Morrow has tabled assembly questions to Justice Minister David Ford to ask how many people have been sent to prison after stealing items of low value over the past five years.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said, “We need fairness, and therefore we need to establish if all those convicted of theft for items of less than £10 have received similar sentences.
Morrow said he was a “strong advocate” of jailing serious offenders, but added, “Even in a case where someone has chosen not to admit their guilt it does not justify handing out a particularly harsh sentence.”
Belfast News Letter