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


App for Vocations
A FORMER Coalisland priest is turning heads around the world by using the latest technology to increase vocations.
Father Paddy Rushe, now based in the Holy Redeemer Parish in Dundalk, has developed a new iPhone app, launched in a bid to attract new priests to the church.
The self-styled “gadget priest,” who is the national coordinator for vocations, said the church should be at the forefront of new technology.
“I am a bit of a techie and I am on Twitter and Facebook. The church needs to be there, accessible to all,” Rushe says.
“I thought that the app would be a novelty, something that would grab the attention, and it has turned out that way.”
His tech savvy approach has already brought God’s message to almost 3,000 people across the world, from Mexico to India.
“The app performs multiple functions. It acts as an information portal where people can find out information about diocesan priesthood in Ireland,” he said.
The app also includes a frequently asked questions section, covering areas from functions, salary and qualifications.
“It’s a list of questions we have built up over the years dealing with people who make these enquiries,” he said.
“It’s a good starting point because it allows you to delve deeper into some of these issues, and most importantly there’s contact information.
“It’s all about beginning a journey. I don’t think there is any substitute in vocation ministry for real-time contact.  That’s where the most important work is done.”
One of the most novel features of the app is the inclusion of a “vocations test” and “celibacy quiz,” with the option of publishing the results to Facebook.
The app is now available to download for free from iTunes app store.

Tyrone Times

Heroin Destruction
ATHLONE District Court Judge Seamus Hughes has warned of the serious damage being caused by heroin in this area and called for tough action to be taken against the drug lords who supply it.
"There is a trail of destruction being left behind by drug dealers," commented Hughes during a case involving an 18-year-old heroin addict at the district court.
"It is heartbreaking to see people like this young man in court. I fear dearly for the lives of these young people.
"The toughest possible action needs to be taken against the drug lords who are supplying heroin in this town. They should be hounded out of the place."
Garda (police) Inspector Aidan Minnock said he agreed fully with the judge's remarks.
Another recent case involved a 26-year-old woman who is on a methadone treatment program but is continuing to take heroin. During this case, the judge said he had noticed an increase in the number of females coming before him with serious drug problems.
"Regrettably, I'm seeing more girls coming in here to court. Physically, you deteriorate so much after taking heroin. You develop twitches and become emaciated -- and that's just one aspect of it. It has such an adverse physical impact on your body," he told the defendant.

Westmeath Independent



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Tourism Worries
THE loss of the Shannon stopover has seen a significant decline in U.S. visitor numbers to the mid-west, according to a report by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation.
According to the report, the mid-west “has predictably lost share of North American visitors in post-open skies era, with about one in every three North Americans now spending at least one night in the region, compared to one in every two a decade ago. The region attracts a 12% share of North American holiday nights.”
It also found that the west of Ireland is finding it hard to attract visitors from Europe.
“The western seaboard’s share of the expanding European markets has fallen sharply over the past decade, from a 70% share of bed  nights spent in the country in 1999 to an estimated 54% last year. This loss of share of the fastest growth market for Irish tourism over the past decade is especially worrying,” the report said.
“While a number of factors may have contributed to the loss of share, including shorter trips, the increasing appeal of Dublin and limited convenient direct air services to the west, reversing this trend from what is expected to be the future growth market for Ireland represents a particular challenge.
“The decline in share of North American bed nights spent in the western seaboard area has also been steep, in large part a result of the switch from Shannon to Dublin as the principal port of arrival for Americans coming to Ireland.”
The report found that seven in 10 overseas holidays visitors to the west arrive into the country via the east coast. These holidaymakers account for four-fifths of overseas holiday bed nights in the west of Ireland.
It found that those visitors to the west who arrive at Shannon are more valuable than those who come to the west via Dublin.
Michael Vaughan, president of the Shannon Region branch of the Irish Hotel’s Federation, said the report highlights failures in aviation policy.
“Really, what it shows is an abject failure in relation to aviation policy because principally, the tourist numbers migrated from arriving in Shannon to arriving in Dublin,” Vaughan commented, adding that road and rail infrastructure then improved between Dublin and Galway at a faster rate than between Dublin and the mid-west making travel to the west more attractive.
“The drop in European figures can be directly related to the loss of the European charters in Shannon, as can the American drop. The one drop that can’t be explained is the loss of the U.K., and worryingly this report cannot point to any remedy of that situation,” he added.