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An Post wants everyone to put 55c stamps on their Santa letters this year. The company has been explaining that, while they normally take bags of post to the North Pole for free, the recessions effecting everyone equally. An Post has also pointed out they are competing with other online Santa services that all charge for delivery to the big man however they added that If your letter does not have a stamp, An Post will still deliver it. Photo by: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Ireland's Eye- A round up of top Irish news stories

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An Post wants everyone to put 55c stamps on their Santa letters this year. The company has been explaining that, while they normally take bags of post to the North Pole for free, the recessions effecting everyone equally. An Post has also pointed out they are competing with other online Santa services that all charge for delivery to the big man however they added that If your letter does not have a stamp, An Post will still deliver it. Photo by: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

U.S. Surgery Helps Child
A NINE-year-old Co. Limerick boy looks set to see his dream of kicking a ball with his friends become a reality after successfully undergoing pioneering surgery in the U,S.

Glen Wilkie from Foynes was born with cerebral palsy, a condition which had prevented him from being able to sit or walk unaided.

However, having undergone major surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, his mother Margaret said she is confident that her only son will take his first steps unaided within the next two years.

“It is a definite that he will walk, not straight away – within two years or less. They are saying two years, the physiotherapy is what is going to count,” said Margaret, who is currently with Glen at the Hampton Inn and Suites hotel in Missouri.

Although Glen underwent surgery lasting four hours the determined child was back in his wheelchair with four days, skating round on an ice rink, no less.

“Calpol is what he is taking for pain relief. He has come out of it very well. His age has a lot to do with it and his understanding,” Margaret noted.

The only person happier than Margaret about the surgery is Glen himself. “On the morning of his surgery, he was jumping around with excitement, telling everyone it was the best day of his life because he’d waited so long for his operation,” she said.

A few weeks ago, it looked like Glen’s operation was in jeopardy as Margaret said she feared she could not raise the 60,000 to cover travel and operation expenses.

The journey was made possible, however, thanks to the dogged determination of Margaret and her husband David to give Glen his best chance of independence – and by the generosity of the local community, of the wider community and of strangers.

Glen’s cerebral palsy has meant that he has never been able to walk on his own, but gets about using a frame or wheelchair. The hope is that the neurosurgery pioneered in St. Louis will change that.

“Glen basically couldn’t get his heels on the ground, his legs were pure stiff but straight away after the surgery, I was totally amazed at how loose his legs were,” said Margaret.
During the surgery, a small incision was made in Glen’s back to allow the surgeons to disconnect the nerve endings causing the stiffness in his legs.

“It’s major surgery but it is a very, very simple procedure to help children with Glen’s condition to walk,” said Margaret.

Glen is due to undergo further surgery on December 4 during which his hamstrings will be lengthened at the back of his knees, as well as his heel chords.

Limerick Leader

Return of the Duck
A HEADLINE-grabbing, globetrotting duck ornament that went missing from the bonnet of a car visiting Tullamore has been returned safe and sound.

Wicklow native Charlie von Metzradt has travelled some 2,500 miles over the past number of months, always with the light up yellow duck ornament on the bonnet of his car. The duck has visited, among other destinations, the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, Wales, London and places all over Ireland.

On November 10 von Metzradt visited Charleville Castle on the outskirts of Tullamore for a Burning Man decompression event, and it was at about 7 p.m. that evening the duck -- or lack of it -- was noticed.

Presuming it was a prank, von Metzradt let the matter lie. However, over a week on from the incident the bonnet of his red Ford Fiesta was still bare, even though he'd returned for a second visit to Charleville Castle.

Von Metzradt took to the Internet looking for the safe return of the unusual car ornament, and the story was also picked up as news locally. Eventually came the news everyone had been waiting for -- the duck had been returned.

Charleville Castle volunteer Ausra Jevelaygyte said she was taking rubbish out when she saw a car stopping by the castle gates and a man putting the duck ornament on a table at the gates. She said she didn't get to speak to the man before he left, but she immediately recovered the duck and brought it to the volunteers' kitchen in the castle.

"It looks ok," she said. "There's a little bit of dirt on it, but no damage."

"I'm very pleased," von Metzradt said on hearing the good news.

Offaly Independent

Empty Stores

LEITRIM has one of the highest rate of vacancies in commercial spaces around the country.
A recent survey by GeoDirectory pinpoints that 11 percent of commercial stock is vacant in Ireland, but the figure is higher in Leitrim, which along with Sligo has a 14 percent vacancy rate.

Counties such as Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Carlow are on 12 percent vacancy, while Longford is on 11 percent and Cavan has just nine percent.

Retail, a sector which has taken a particular hammering in the recession, dominates the empty space stakes.

Some consultants blame much of the surplus on the apartment building splurge which saw developers add ground floor retail to almost every single development, whether it was required or not.

And the forecast is that an economic recovery will not see empty shops taken up.

Around Leitrim, main streets have become hollow, with many once prominent buildings now boarded up. Some of the main sites on the regional town’s main streets were owned by banks, but these have been moving away and centralizing in bigger centers by using online and smartphone apps to service their customers.

The other reason given for the decline in business in provincial towns is the upgrading of motorways to bring shoppers locally to Dublin, Galway or even Belfast in less than two hours.

Leitrim Observer

Lack of Paramedics

A DISTRAUGHT mother had to drive her unconscious child to hospital while an ambulance man tended to him in the back seat of the car, TD (member of Parliament) Pearse Doherty said.

The TD for Donegal South West told Newstalk Radio that he had been contacted by health care staff after the incident which, he said, occurred last Tuesday.

“When a mother discovered her young son unconscious, she phoned the emergency services for an ambulance,” he said.

“An ambulance was sent out but there was only one paramedic on duty because the other had phoned in sick.

“When the paramedic saw that the child was unconscious, he called and asked for a second ambulance because he could not drive the ambulance and attend to the child.

“He was told that the nearest ambulance was 45 minutes away. He then asked the HSE [Health Service Executive] to contact paramedics living near the woman’s home to see if they would be able to assist him but the HSE refused,” Doherty continued.

“The paramedic had to make a judgment call. He asked the woman to drive to the hospital, so that he could tend to her child in the back seat, while the ambulance, with all its equipment, had to be left behind.

“That a parent should have to drive their unconscious child to a hospital after an ambulance has been called and arrived at the scene is unacceptable.

“The HSE has confirmed that there was only one paramedic on duty in the Letterkenny area last Tuesday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. That is also unacceptable. When the paramedic phoned in sick, another should have been called on duty or at the very least, paramedics living nearby should have been called to assist

“Thank God the child is okay but this could have been a terrible, terrible story.”

Donegal Democrat

Cold Is Coming
ARCTIC winds from the North will send temperatures plummeting to an icy -6C in Ireland this week.

The fall in temperature is expected to hit Ireland in the coming days as flooding and rain gives way to severe frost.

When the icy blast hits, AA Roadwatch are warning drivers to allow plenty of time to reach their destination and to de-ice their windscreen -- but not with hot water.

The AA's Arwen Foley told the Herald today that the key to good driving in icy

"The whole of this week will be cold, with temperatures dropping a degree or so each day," Met Eireann's John Eagleton .

"By Thursday, which will be the coldest day, there will only be about three or four degrees during the middle part of the day," he added.

Sub-zero night temperatures will cause severe frost, which will linger through the day.
 
Evening Herald

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