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


Suicide at the Cliffs
SUICIDE prevention is more difficult at the Cliffs of Moher than other locations because of the landmark’s emotional significance, according to the head of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds.
“Some people do go to the Cliffs to take their own lives. How to stop it, we just don’t know. If someone wants to take their own life, they will,” said Reynolds.
“The Cliffs of Moher have an emotional attachment to some people who want to end their lives. It is the beauty of the location, I suppose. It is very difficult to deter people at the Cliffs of Moher.
“There are other places in the world where authorities have used lighting to change the appearance of the color of water under bridges, for example, from blue to black or brown and that has dramatically reduced the level in that area. Obviously that is not possible at the Cliffs.”
Mattie Shannon, officer in charge of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard, commended the rangers at the Cliffs of Moher for their role in suicide prevention.

“The rangers are doing a job there. They have prevented a lot of deaths and they keep an eye on people,” he said.



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Reynolds praised the strength and commitment of the coast guard’s 85 staff and 1,000 volunteers.

“Emotionally this can be very difficult for people who have to go out, particularly if it is a difficult recovery. The guys we have doing this though are trained and some have been doing it for 30 years,” he noted.

Recovery missions, according to Reynolds, are part of the role of the coast guard.
“Our volunteers, this is what they do. They try to rescue people and recover bodies. They wouldn’t not do it,” he asserted.

Reynolds said he is “hopeful” that funding would be provided for a new coast guard station in Doolin but that he did not believe this would be forthcoming in the short term.

- The Clare Champion
Search for Missing Girl
A FRESH wave of searches for a missing Castlederg teenager who disappeared 17 years ago after a night out in Bundoran began last week in multiple locations around the Castlederg area.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told the family of Arlene Arkinson that they plan to carry out up to 40 new searches for the missing schoolgirl, many of them in the Castlederg area.
The 15-year-old went missing on August 14, 1994 after attending a disco in Bundoran. She was last spotted getting into a car driven by convicted killer, child abuser and rapist Robert Howard.
Howard was charged with her murder but was acquitted in 2005.
Kathleen Arkinson said her family still believed “120%” that Howard had murdered her sister. They have appealed to her sister’s suspected killer to tell them where he buried Arlene so she can be laid to rest.
Kathleen said that the whole family is “anxious and nervous” about the searches.
“It’s a terrible feeling not knowing what will happen -- thoughts are just going around and around in my head. We really hope that this time we can find Arlene so we can bury her and get some closure,” Arkinson said.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said Arlene’s family “had been in torment for 17 years” and that police wanted to do everything they possibly could to bring closure.
“Arlene’s sisters and brothers have suffered for too long. We owe it to Arlene and to her family to do our utmost to bring her home and to bring her killer to justice,” he said.
Murray added that although the police investigation had been extensive and there had been a court case, he did not rule out the possibility that there was “information in the local community which still has not been provided to detectives.”
“This may be for a variety of reasons -- people may not have had confidence in police all those years ago or they may have been frightened for other reasons,” he added.
“I want to assure anyone with information that they can talk to detectives who will engage with them sensitively and professionally.”
- Donegal Democrat
Loyalist Learns Irish
A RELATIVE of the former Loyalist leader David Ervine has revealed she has started to learn the Irish language.
Linda Ervine, whose husband Brian recently stepped down as leader of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)-aligned Progressive Unionist Party, began her studies through a cross-community project.
But while Irish has traditionally been associated with the Catholic community, the 49-year-old said she was struck by research that showed how her Protestant ancestors also spoke the tongue.
The East Belfast teacher said more Protestants were becoming aware of their community's historic links to the language and wanted to see it freed of its political baggage.
Her brother-in-law David Ervine, who died four years ago, was a former UVF prisoner who later came to international prominence through his support for the peace process and his efforts to develop a political voice for loyalism.
But Mrs. Ervine said her family history was an encouragement rather than a hindrance to taking up Irish.
"People may not be aware that David learned Irish while he was in prison. The first Irish I heard was from Brian, who knew it from place names, which always interested me. I suppose people might find it unusual, given my background, but there you go,” she said.
She said much of the Protestant community's link to Irish, including the role of Presbyterians in preserving and protecting the language centuries ago, had been forgotten.
"I think it's very sad people don't know that. That has been lost," she said.
"I feel that because the language has been politicized, sadly, it has been seen to belong to one community, which is nonsense. The language belongs to all the people of Northern Ireland."
- Derry Journal