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

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Seeking marriage help

A Roscommon farmer having trouble with his wife took a unique approach back in 1980 and wrote to the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charles Haughey for help.

According to the recently published state papers for 1980, the farmer was having problems with his wife of four years.

He told Haughey she hadn’t a penny when he married her, but she “has refused to have a child, cook, wash or clean the house. All she does is walk the roads and lie in bed all day. When I ask her what she intends doing, she tells me mind my own business, that she will do as she likes.”
He claimed that she left the house for four months the previous year “dossing around with old bachelor men.”

He explained that he had tried to prevent her return home, but she got into the house “in spite of me.”

“Could you please tell me is she entitled to equal share in my property, as I think she is entitled to none of it,” he asked Haughey. Haughey’s secretary said that only the man’s legal adviser could clarify his position in law.

Meanwhile, on November 1, 1980, contraceptives became legally available in Ireland for the first time in 45 years, but only on prescription from a doctor. These regulations enacted the Family Planning Act 1979, described by Haughey as an “Irish solution to an Irish problem.”

A group of women from Ballaghaderreen wrote to Haughey warning him of the “abhorrent inevitable consequences” of the bill, including that Ireland would “cease to be one of the last outposts of moral society.” 

Mary T. Geever, recalled former Fine Gael Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave as a “man of moral conscience.”

“Would you want the people of Ireland to remember you as the taoiseach who introduced contraception, facilitating sin among weak-willed teenagers?” she wrote, adding that the move would impose a financial burden on taxpayers who would have to finance the treatment of “veneral
(sic) disease.”
- Roscommon Herald

Over the counter morning after

The Irish College of General Practitioners says it has concerns about a move by pharmacy chain Boots to offer emergency contraception over the counter without a prescription for the first time.
Until now, women who wished to take the morning after pill had to visit their doctor first.

Dr. Mel Bates, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, said dispensing emergency contraception in this way raised issues about the quality and continuity of care given to patients.
He said that in a doctor setting, women could be offered advice about contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

Boots says it will offer the morning after pill in all its Irish pharmacies from Wednesday of this week.

It says it is able to do legally under a patient group direction. This allows its medical director to instruct non-doctors on following certain protocols.
- RTE News

Recession pressure

THE crippling collapse of the economy is putting huge additional pressures on Kerry families, and the recession is leading to a sharp increase in marriage breakups and difficulties meeting maintenance payments.


There has been a huge surge in demand for services offered by the Legal Aid Board center in Tralee, where an 11% rise in demand in 2010 was confirmed with a total of 88 applicants still awaiting an appointment at the end of the year.

Eileen Bowden, the board’s director of corporate services, confirmed that the Tralee center dealt with a total of 530 applicants in 2009, and up to November 2010 it had already dealt with a total of 550 applications.

"We are finding that there is more pressure. Because of the recession more people are qualifying for the service, and people are losing their jobs in the current economic climate," she stated.

"We would also see in Tralee that there has been an increase in people looking for advice in relation to debt cases. With debt we look at each case on an individual basis. We can give advice but we cannot always take on a case," she added.

Over the last 12 months the Legal Aid Board solicitors in Tralee have also observed a major increase in the number of people seeking help in relating to child care and child abduction cases.
- The Kingdom

Construction collapse

THE collapse in the construction sector has been starkly revealed in figures published by Mayo county manager Peter Hynes in his annual report.

Planning applications in the county fell last year to levels not seen since 1994, and are now less than a third of what they were during the heady days of the Celtic Tiger.

Mayo County Council had received a total of 1,172 applications up to the end of November 2010, a decline of 7.5% on the same period in 2009.

It now appears almost certain that 2010 will have been the worst year for construction in Mayo since 1994 when a total of 1,376 planning applications were lodged.

Last year’s figure is in sharp contrast to the mid-2000 numbers when more than 3,500 applications were lodged five years in a row, from 2002 to 2006.

Indeed, the county’s building boom reached its peak in 2006 when 3,954 applications were submitted to Mayo Co Council’s planning office.

Although the peak was reached in 2006, the building boom continued at a furious pace in 2007 when 3,411 applications were submitted.

The steep decline that commenced in 2008 (2,193 applications) now looks like it will bring the construction industry in Mayo back to levels not seen since the early 1990s.

Hynes notes in his report that there has been a virtual collapse in the area of housing developments comprising more than one house, with a mere 22 applications up to the end of October 2010. There has also been a substantial increase in the number of applicants seeking extensions of existing planning permits.

“This is also a consequence of the downturn in the economy as applicants require more time to secure finance to commence and complete developments,” says Hynes.
- Western People

Psychiatric patients drugged

Psychiatric patients are being sedated because of low staffing levels, Mental Health Minister John Moloney admitted.

Moloney also expressed concern about the long-term consequences of certain addictive drugs being given to patients and accepted they played an increasing role in poisoning deaths.



Asked if it was true that lack of staff had led to "troublesome" patients being sedated, Moloney indicated the staff recruitment moratorium was partly to blame. 



"Yeah... I read that... and I saw where maybe it had been offered, that the use of these drugs was by way of defective staffing levels being reduced. 

Yes there are difficulties by way of staffing levels and this would be by way of the moratorium," he told national broadcaster RTE.

Moloney said he was drawing up measures to tighten prescription rules regarding drugs like benzodiazepines. 



"I’m opposed to the whole notion of using them long term. I’ve been moving on protocols on how and when we should use them," he said. 



Moloney agreed the drugs had been cited as a factor in an increasing number of poisoning deaths. 

Alarm about the widespread use of sedatives in psychiatric hospitals has been raised by mental health experts, who called for an urgent review of the situation. 



The Inspector of Mental Health Services recorded that in some hospitals as many as 80% of long-term patients were being prescribed sedatives, also known as benzodiazepines. These are prescription drugs used to treat a range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures. 


Though thought to be safe for short-term use, the risk of overuse, abuse and dependence has been well documented in medical reviews. 

On the huge VHI price rises announced last week, Moloney denied the Government had taken its eye off the ball, but he admitted "shock" at the move.

The minister also admitted failings in providing services for vulnerable children, particularly those with mental health issues, but claimed the situation was improving. 

"There’s no point pretending all in the garden is rosy," he said.
- Irish Examiner
 

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