Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod


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.”

Evening Herald

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