ON THE MARCH - A scene from the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade last Thursday, which was attended by more than 650,000 spectators.

Drunken St. Pat’s Arrests

FIFTEEN teenagers under the legal drinking age were arrested in just one area of south Dublin in a night of drunken St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

The figures reflect a worrying rise in under-age drinking flagged by leading mental health experts last week.

The teenagers -- all under 18 -- were arrested because they engaged in criminal offenses, and most had been drinking, according to sources.

The arrests took place in different parts of the south city over a 24-hour period. The final tally of arrested juveniles is likely to be far higher, once figures from other parts of the city become available.

In addition to those arrested, dozens of drunken teenagers were brought to Garda (police) stations across the city for their own safety and so their parents could be called to collect them.

The incidents reflect the graphic scenes of drunken youths pictured in newspapers and on the Internet in the wake of St. Patrick's Day. They included images of one young girl apparently naked from the waist down and of young girls collapsed in a heap on city center pavements.

Paul Gilligan, of St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin, warned parents last week that children as young as 12 were experimenting with alcohol. He urged parents to be "vigilant and aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol use by young people".

Gardai reported a generally positive atmosphere on St. Patrick's Day, but it was marred by violence.
Joseph Connolly, 48, died from head injuries on Friday after he was attacked in a random and drunken St. Patrick's Day assault by two young men outside a chip shop in Ballymun, Dublin, at around 9 p.m. on Thursday.

It is understood there had been an altercation minutes earlier in the take-away.

Emergency wards across the country reported the "usual" bank holiday stream of injuries due to drunken assaults and alcohol-related falls.

As usual there were hundreds of extra Gardai on duty throughout the country to deal with the public order problems.

Gardai in Dublin said there was a marked difference in behavior between young Irish people and young visitors in that the Irish were drunk and badly behaved.
Sunday Independent

Church Help for Victims

THE Catholic Church in Ireland has pledged an extra 10 million for a counseling and helpline service for child abuse survivors.

It is part of a number of initiatives to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics.

Church-goers are being given a pastoral response, “Towards Healing and Renewal,” while bishops are to set aside each first Friday as a day of fasting and prayer in reparation for the abuse.

All-Ireland Primate Cardinal Sean Brady said the moves were "tangible signs" the church was working to ensure all children were cared for.

"As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the church has been profoundly damaged. Many have expressed a hope that this damage can be addressed,” he said.

"In Towards Healing and Renewal we commit trained pastoral personnel to this delicate challenge of healing and renewal."

The 10 million for the Towards Healing counseling service over the next five years will be evenly split between dioceses and religious orders.

In his pastoral letter last year Pope Benedict XVI apologized to victims of abuse.

Evening Herald

Heating Oil Thefts Rise

CUSTOMS officers are cracking down on home heating oil smugglers who are purchasing oil in the North and bringing it across the border.  According to customs officials, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people who are buying home heating oil outside the state following the introduction of a carbon tax, which added 32 to the cost of 1,000 liters in Ireland.

So far this year customs officers have made seven seizures of northern kerosene, amounting to almost 10,000 liters. This compares with a total of 27,500 liters confiscated in 16 seizures during 2010.
The crackdown is being led by staff from the Revenue’s anti-evasion team. Officers hope to bring criminal prosecutions against a number of suspected smugglers, and files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The average cost of home-heating oil in the Republic is 840 per 1,000 liters, representing a rise of 40% in the past year. This compares with £530 (616) in the North.
Leitrim Observer

Ireland’s Cheapest Home

THE property sharks were well and truly swimming around West Limerick following the discovery of what is thought to be Ireland’s cheapest home -- a dilapidated shack in Carrigkerry which is on the market for just 10,000.

The two-room prefabricated house, which sits on one acre of land near Glensharrold, just outside the village on the Athea Road, has been the subject of a number of enquiries from potential bidders since it was discovered on property website Daft.ie.

The sale of the property, which has no toilet or septic tank, is being handled by Michael Liston of Liston Auctioneers in Newcastle West. He said that while the house itself may not be much to look at, a number of keen bargain hunters have already expressed an interest in the property.

“It’s one of those old pre-fab houses, probably dating back to the sixties.  But it isn’t much, and to be honest it’d probably have to be demolished by whoever bought it. But it has power and road access, and it comes with a nice bit of land which is probably the biggest draw,” Liston said.

The property was previously owned by a bachelor who recently moved into Carrigkerry village.
Limerick Leader

No Hot Water

A NORTHSIDE woman who suffers from advanced stages of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has to wash in her sister’s house where she’s carried up the stairs and lifted in and out of the bath because her own home has been without hot water for almost five months.

Fifty-three-year-old Joan Doran’s home in Shangan Crescent in Ballymun has been without running hot water since November. And despite countless complaints to the council, the problem has still not been resolved.

The situation forced Doran, who also suffers from epilepsy and walks with a frame, and her husband Tommy to go to her sister Deirdre Sproule’s house so that they can wash with hot water.

“I used to be able to lift Joan in and out of the bath myself until my own back started giving out,” Sproule said.

“Now I need her husband Tommy or my neighbor to help me.

“It’s an absolutely disgraceful situation to leave people in.

“Every time Joan comes around she keeps thanking me for helping her; sometimes she’s in tears. No one should have to give up their dignity like that. I’m just glad I can be there for her as her sister, and that I live just around the corner from her.”

In an effort to put pressure on the council to fix the problem, Doran withheld her rent of 140 a week at the start of the year in protest.

“We wanted to see if the council would make more of an effort to solve the problem,” Sproule explained.
“But they were quick enough to send an enforcement officer to demand the money. Joan had the money kept aside so she ended up paying what she owed but was still left without hot water.”
Dublin People

Teach Irish in North

NORTHERN Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has caused fury after claiming that every school pupil in Northern Ireland should be given the opportunity to learn the Irish language.

In an outspoken interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the controversial minister also claimed that she wanted the local schools system brought closer together with that in the Republic — which would mean the scrapping of GCSE and A-level exams.

Ruane also blamed the grammar system for the high level of Northern Ireland pupils leaving education without basic qualifications — remarks which are sure to poison the relationship between schools and the minister even further.

Ruane indicated that she would like to remain as education minister after the May election, and set out some of her priorities in a new Assembly term.

She said, “I would like to see the option to learn Irish. I do think we are moving to a situation in our society where more young people from the Protestant community will be learning Irish.”

Some controlled schools, which mainly serve the Protestant community, already offer Irish as part of the curriculum.

She continued, “Obviously I would like our system harmonized across the island because I think there are benefits for us and we should remove all obstacles through mobility.”

Although Ruane's reign as education minister has been controversial and provoked severe criticism at times, she has no regrets, makes no apologies and would relish the opportunity to continue in the post despite the major budgetary challenges facing education.

“I would love us (Sinn Fein) to choose education again, but that will be a discussion for our party and then among the various parties,” she said.
Belfast Telegraph