Haymaking Festival in Trim, IrelandJohn M: Geograph

Make Gay Go Away
THE Church of Ireland has defended a decision to permit a conference taking place at one of its buildings which promotes a therapy claiming to help people "convert" from homosexuality.
Gay rights groups outraged by the event picketed the one-day conference on Tuesday organized by the Core Issues Trust and held in Belvoir Church of Ireland.
Core Issues claims people are not born gay and that they can change.
A number of speakers attending the conference, entitled “Interrogating the Pejoratives: Considering Therapeutic Approaches and Contexts for those Conflicted in Sexual Identity,” focused on reparative therapy which seeks to change sexual orientation.
The controversial therapy intends to help gay people "get rid of unwanted same-sex longings.”
Core Issues is a Northern Ireland-based group which, according to its website, is a non-profit Christian initiative "seeking to support men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change."
But the conference sparked anger among gay rights groups and unions who warn such therapy is "dangerous.”
Homosexual groups criticized the Church of Ireland for allowing the conference to go ahead.
But in a statement the church said that neither Belvoir rector, Canon Tom Keightley, nor Belvoir parish is involved with or running the event.
Canon Keightley said, "The church premises are used by a range of groups, not all linked to the parish itself and, from time to time, for one-off events.
"In agreeing to the request by this organization for its event on Tuesday I did so on the understanding that the organization seeks only to work with those who want its help, and that it is acceptable to allow the opportunity for open debate in this area of life in all its complexity."
Harry McAnulty, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representative for the union Unite, said, "This so-called conversion therapy is harmful to many LGB people.
"It has been proven that this type of practice has failed in the past. Many therapists provide 'false and prejudicial' information disguised as science to prospective clients in order to convince them they need treatment."
But Mike Davidson, co-director of Core Issues, defended the conference.
"We really need to have this debate and have it clearly out there without this continual point-scoring and this business of polarization," he said.
"It seems we have just got to accept this assumption that homosexuality is genetic and therefore innate and inborn, and if you deviate from that view you become a problem."
Belfast Telegraph

Costly Public Toilets
IT is costing Ennis Town Council almost ****70,000 annually to allow the public to use toilet facilities.
Ennis Town Council confirmed it only realized ****3,158 in income from operating its two “superloos” located in the Market and Abbey Street car park in 2010.
Councilor Brian Meaney questioned the value for money the council is getting from spending ****69,407 on providing two public toilets with only a paltry income return of ****3,158.
However, most of Meaney’s council colleagues argued that the town council is getting relatively good value for money when compared with the cost of paying staff to open and maintain the previous old public toilets, which were often a magnet for anti-social behavior.
Meaney proposed the council should increase the cost of using the toilet from 25 cents to ***1. He noted the figures suggested about 34 people on average use the two toilets on a daily basis.
“If a private company was operating these toilets it would make the toilets pay. If the council increased the levy, at least it would dramatically increase income from these toilets,” he said.
Councilor Peter Considine supported the retention of the two superloos despite the significant cost. In his view, it is important that public toilets are available in a county town that can be used by anyone day or night, instead of having a building that could be defiled and used for anti-social behavior.
Town manager Ger Dollard argued the superloos represent good value for money when compared to the cost and the difficulty of trying to maintain the old traditional public toilets, which don’t meet modern hygiene standards.
Clare Champion

Mom Misses Communion

A WOMAN who was jailed for 10 days last week will now miss her child's First Communion.
Catriona Bradley, 23, with addresses in Carlow and Tallaght, Co. Dublin, was charged with robbery at Hadden's car park on April 18, 2008 and with theft from the motor tax office of Carlow County Council on February 18, 2008.
She denied the robbery in Hadden's and elected for trial by judge and jury in Carlow Circuit Court.
Inspector Martin Walker said it was alleged that at 2:30 a.m. Anita Brady was in the car park with friends when they were approached by two females in a camper van. Bradley was driving the van and asked Brady and her friends for a cigarette.
Brady gave Bradley a cigarette and it was alleged that Bradley grabbed her by the arm and tried to steal her handbag.
Brady struggled as she tried to get her bag back and the camper van moved forward.  Brady held onto the window and put her feet on the step of the van. It was alleged she was struck in the head and face.
Inspector Walker said Brady was afraid to let go in case she fell. The van then came to a stop.
Bradley pleaded guilty to the theft from the tax office. The court heard that Bradley stole 70 blank tax discs from the office.
The court heard she had six previous convictions. Solicitor Peter Cody said Bradley hails from a traveler background and said she had two children, one aged eight and the other who was two and a half years.
He said the older child was making Communion in the coming days. He said Bradley took the discs and gave them to her child to draw on.
“She had no means of turning them into discs for cars. She treated them as waste paper. They were absolutely useless items of no value whatsoever,” he said.
Judge David Anderson sentenced her to 10 days imprisonment in respect of the theft which he backdated until May 21.
In respect of the robbery from Hadden's car park he remanded her in custody until June 15.
Carlow People

Sheep Stealers

SHEEP rustling is rampant throughout Donegal and has been rapidly escalating due to the current economic climate, the county’s proximity to the border and the growing bravado of brazen thieves.
The industry is worth *****30-40 million alone to the region, with Donegal accounting for 16% of the national flock last year. And according to the latest agricultural data available, of the 2.2 million breeding ewes in the country, the north west and predominately Donegal account for 18% of those ewes -- that’s 396,000 ewes.
“An increasing trend in the theft of sheep has been noticed in Donegal and the North West, especially over the last 12 to 18 months. Our suckler chairman had 40 lambs stolen in Cork, but while the numbers are smaller in Donegal, they are happening on a much more frequent basis than elsewhere, according to the evidence available to us,” Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) press officer Patrick Donohoe said.
In one case, it was only when Gardai (police) contacted a North Donegal sheep farmer about the switching of tags that he actually released that the sheep had been stolen. The industry is worth millions to the region and is causing huge distress in an industry already under huge pressure.
The proximity to the border is also being factored into the increasing number of thefts, and the farm thefts are not exclusive to sheep. Other items including fuel supplies, batteries from tractors, scrap metal, quad bikes, livestock and even tractors are being targeted by unscrupulous thieves.
ISCA President Gabriel Gilmartin, who is based in North Sligo, said that there had been three hits alone in the Sligo/south Donegal area over the last year. In one case 39 ewes were taken, 22 were stolen in another heist and a further 15 lambs were stolen in the third of the larger crimes.
In the majority of cases, none of the animals were recovered. He also revealed that 188 of his own fleeces were stolen in recent weeks from an outhouse.
“There is no question that this is becoming more organized and increasingly professional. These are organized criminals that are planning these thefts in advance, as you would need at a minimum, a sheepdog, jeep and a 16 foot trailer to deal with the figures we are speaking of here.”
Such is the worry amongst farmers that last week, the Donegal branch of the ICSA met Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, to discuss the growing and worrying trend of farm crime.
Donegal Democrat