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Irish Wheelchair Association's Angel Campaign. Thank Heavens for Little Angles! The Irish Wheelchair Association's (IWA) annual fundraising campaign 'Angle Day' was launched last week. Pictured is Niall Quinn with Lauren Faulkner (9) from Drogheda. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

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

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Irish Wheelchair Association's Angel Campaign. Thank Heavens for Little Angles! The Irish Wheelchair Association's (IWA) annual fundraising campaign 'Angle Day' was launched last week. Pictured is Niall Quinn with Lauren Faulkner (9) from Drogheda. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

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.

Clare Champion

Afraid of Robbers
THE owner of a family-run shop, robbed by a drug addict armed with a meat cleaver, has said that he has lived in fear since the attack and has now ceased trading.
Peter Nolan, 29, from Celbridge, Co. Kildare, was jailed for three years after robbing shops at knifepoint in Summerhill and Baconstown while on heroin in April of this year.
At Trim Circuit Court on Friday, the owner of Dargan's Gala in Baconstown, Matthew Dargan, told the court of the effect of the robbery.
As a result of that robbery and a number of others over the years, I have decided to cease trading from this weekend. Every customer that comes in, I'm nervous and watching. I've decided I can no longer do it. I am just waiting for another robbery."
Speaking after Nolan's conviction, Dargan said he had been burgled a few times already before the April 2010 robbery, but that now he had stepped aside from the family business of almost 60 years and three generations.
"We've had the shop since 1953," he said. "My grandfather, Matt, started the shop, which has been at Baconstown Cross since the 1960s.
"Then my father, Eamon, ran it up until his sudden death nine years ago this month. He himself was viciously robbed once, and struck in the head.
"We've been burgled a few times and this, being held up, is one of a few things which means I'm stepping aside from the business. I am looking at the bigger picture but you're living in total fear when you're thinking about it every time someone's going to walk in.
“It's also down to the slowdown but I'm going to leave it and get another job. But it was a vicious robbery and he took a lot of money," said Dargan.
"Living in fear, night and day, the cost of installing security cameras and most of the time on your own in the shop among other things, I just got tired of it."

Meath Chronicle

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Corrupt Cop
A FORMER garda (police officer) faces up to 10 years in prison for stealing thousands of euro from an 82-year-old woman, and also his colleagues in a Dublin station.
David Foran, 29, was nearly 500,000 in debt.
Foran took money from the elderly woman after responding to a burglary at her home and finding she had nearly 2,000 in her bedroom.
He also collected money from colleagues to organize events which he used to pay his debts.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Yvonne Murphy adjourned that matter until January but warned she is "making no promises."
She ordered a probation and psychiatric report be prepared on Foran and remanded him on continuing bail.
Foran, of Kinsale, Co. Cork, pleaded guilty to the theft of 1,950 from the woman in Phibsboro and further pleaded to four counts of stealing money collected from his colleagues.
Defense counsel, Ronan Munro said Foran made full admissions. He told police he owed nearly half a million, including a €370,000 mortgage and various debts to credit unions and tradesmen.
He said his father-in-law had told him at one point to "go away and kill himself" and he later attempted suicide.
Counsel said his marriage broke down in June 2010 and his home has been repossessed. He has since received treatment for depression.
Foran wept throughout the hearing. In a letter of apology he stated, "I will forever regret disgracing my unit and I'm forever sorry."

Evening Herald

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