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


AN unemployed wood worker who grew cannabis gave away supplies of the drug without looking for payment, Judge Gerard Haughton was told.

The case of 59-year-old James Redmond dated back to a Garda search of his home at Moneydurtlow in Ferns last February 10.  Officers were brought by the defendant to an outhouse that had been converted to allow cultivation of cannabis.

The building had been insulated and fitted out with strong lights and fans to grow seven plants. In another room, plants were being propagated and a quantity of cannabis herb was seized. The value of the mature plants was put at €1,200 and the herb was worth €500, the court was informed.

Haughton also took account of the fact that the accused had a previous conviction for cultivation of cannabis, dating back to 2008.

Defending solicitor John O’Leary said that his client could not have been more cooperative when the Gardai called. Redmond suffered from depression and found his home-grown remedy more effective than Prozac, said the solicitor.

He had given quantities of the drug to a man who was confined to a wheelchair to deal with pain, without charge. He also gave away some of his crop to a manic depressive.

O’Leary described his client as a deep reader and a very moral person. He offered the court an undertaking not to supply anyone else.

Haughton responded that it was not up to Redmond to decide which laws he would obey. He must expect to face the consequences of his illegal activity.

Redmond was given a nine-month jail sentence, suspended on his being bound to the peace for two years. An order for destruction of the seized drugs was also handed down.
- New Ross Standard

Gatherings for Men

Men need to talk more, and they need to start now more than ever before. Hence the idea behind what is known as the men’s shed movement.

Yes, a shed, a place so ordinary and yet a place apart, a place where men can enjoy escape and tranquility or where a few, or perhaps even a large group, can share a common interest. Or maybe just chat.

In an effort to replicate the benefits of such an idea, a move is underway in places throughout County Sligo to set up men's sheds. And the beauty of it all is that one does not necessarily need to have a shed; rather the "shed" is a metaphor for the coming together in one place of men with similar interests.

Two men helping to set up men's sheds are Jonathan May, a men's development worker with Sligo Leader Partnership Company, and Rodrigo Frade, a senior occupational therapist with Sligo Mental Health Services.

May agreed that the idea of sheds can initially be a bit misleading. He explained that in Australia, where the idea began, the shed was a place to which men might retreat, a kind of refuge, a place "to go and do your own thing."

"It started off in Australia and became a movement. In Australia, they found men weren't accessing services, particularly when it came to health. They also found a lot of men spent a lot of time in their sheds and it was felt what a pity this could not be used as a resource. And so the men's shed idea caught on as an alternative model of engaging men," May said.

Frade described men's sheds as "an excellent vehicle" to combat social isolation, so common in the west of Ireland, and said the initiative has had more impact in rural areas where it has already been set up.

May pointed out that a key ingredient of the idea is that men are in charge.

"A structured environment may not suit some people. The thing about men's sheds is that you are not required to fit in. It is open and free. You can come in and do nothing. You can just come in and a cup of tea and go off again," he said.

However, while every "shed" is separate and different, he said the men's shed movement had an ethos with certain key principles, prime among them being that sheds have to be inclusive, with no discrimination.

"If you are a man, you are eligible. It's as simple as that," said May.
- Sligo Champion