Ireland's Eye – A roundup of top Irish news stories


Homeless Women
MOST homeless people in Clare are women, with domestic violence cited as the primary reason in the majority of cases in the county.

Figures outlined in the draft Clare Homelessness Action Plan highlight that in 2012, there were 304 people deemed homeless in Clare. Of this, 160 were women and 144 were men. The majority of homeless people, 122, fell in the age range of 20 to 29.

Clare was cited as county of origin by 212 of these people, with the next highest figure of 27 coming from Limerick. Twelve came from an accession state, 12 were non-EU, three from the EU and five from the U.K.

The report outlines the primary reasons given for people’s homelessness. Domestic violence was named in 83 cases. Among the figures showcasing where these people were placed, it emerged 107 were placed in a hostel or refuge, 80 lived with family or friends, 39 were in private rented accommodation, 34 returned home, 22 in a bed and breakfast and 15 were not placed.

The draft action plan was unveiled at a meeting of Ennis Town Council.  Councilor Mary Howard described the statistics as telling a “heartbreaking story,” while Councilor Mary Coote Ryan said “it makes for hard reading.”

Councilor Frankie Neylon commented that Ennis’ recent reputation in relation to homeless people has been damaged.

“This is not fair, this town has been looking after people from outside for over 50 years,” he said.
Neylon said there are currently 1,000 people on the local authority’s housing waiting list, and he commented that some people are homeless by choice.

“I don’t want to see anybody homeless. We have to work with people to ensure nobody sleeps on the streets in Ennis or County Clare,” he added.

Clare Champion

Angry Thief
A MAN who admitted falsely claiming over £140,000 in benefits with his wife shouted obscenities at a judge after his wife was jailed.

Derry Crown Court Judge Piers Grant adjourned the sentencing of Michael Cecil Harkin until this week after he was called a “f****** w*****” by the defendant.

Harkin, of Circular Road, falsely claimed a total of £67,292 between December 16, 1999 and August 3, 2009 by not declaring he was married and living with his wife.

His wife Donna McCool, 46, also of Circular Road, falsely claimed a total of £76,817 of Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance between September 26, 1990 and August 10, 2009.

During interview it was claimed by the couple their marriage lasted only two days and their six children were the “result of making up.”

Judge Piers Grant jailed McCool for five months. He said that it is “quite clear that every penny of government money is needed” and those who falsely claim benefits are “stealing from neighbors and other members of the public.”

Harkin was remanded in custody after his outburst to appear in court.

Derry Journal

Lonely Seniors
ACCORDING to a helpline operating in Naas, the impact of loneliness is taking an increasing toll on older people in society. Statistics from the Senior Help Line call center reveal that in the last quarter of 2012, 32 percent of calls related to loneliness, rural isolation and minimum social contact.

The service is confidential, but Senior Help Line have identified particular trends in the calls that they received in the last quarter of last year.

“Many callers to our Naas service are older people living alone. Some callers can go for days without contact from other people. That kind of isolation can be terribly cruel and can have a detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing. In November over half of calls to the center were because of loneliness,” according to Mary Nally, founder of voluntary organization Third Age which founded and manages Senior Help Line.

“A quarter of calls in the last quarter of 2012 were related to health concerns. This includes physical, mental wellbeing and stress. Older people are more prone to illness and they have concerns about health issues. Although we would never give advice on health matters, the very act of talking to someone can help ease the anxiety for callers.”

Leinster Leader

Repeat, Repeat Offender
A 31-YEAR-old man with 68 previous convictions who was out on temporary release from prison stole a car which was parked outside his house in a “spur of the moment” opportunity.

Mallow District court heard that Brian Lysaght was presently serving two years and five months in prison.

However, Inspector Tony O'Sullivan told the court that Lysaght, of Charleville, was out on temporary release when he took a car on May 18.

Solicitor Cathal Lombard said a car was parked outside Lysaght's home and there was a key left in the door. "It was opportunistic," said Lombard.

O'Sullivan said the 68 convictions consisted of assault, trespass, motoring offenses, burglary, obstruction, as well as four convictions for taking a car along with a 15 year driving ban.