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DANCING QUEENS - Irish dancers from McElhinney School of Dance in Holywood, Co. Down wait to go on stage at the Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo by: TradFest

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

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DANCING QUEENS - Irish dancers from McElhinney School of Dance in Holywood, Co. Down wait to go on stage at the Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo by: TradFest

Prostitutes Return

A gang of “aggressive” prostitutes has been driven from the streets of Limerick in recent days following another Garda (police) crackdown.

Following the recent impact of Operation Freewheel, which saw a number of men from Limerick charged with soliciting prostitutes, the vice trade had taken a hammering in the city.

But the last week saw a new and more overt group of prostitutes returning to the city’s streets, being more aggressive, “bolder and more forward” than ever before, according to business owners in the area.

Shop owner Shane Gleeson said, “There is definitely a group of them back.

“They reappeared in the last week, that is when they have been most visible. They seem to be a completely different gang and if anything, they are more aggressive than the previous crowd. They are hassling people.”

He added that the group of prostitutes, including one who was brazenly parading in bright orange boots, is “a completely different gang than before, bolder, noisier, more forward -- they are exceptionally forward.”

However, Gleeson, whose family have operated Gleeson’s Shop in the city for four generations, paid tribute to the quick actions of local Gardai, who he said “have been fantastic” in dealing with the problem.

Superintendent Frank O’Brien of Henry Street station recently said in the aftermath of Operation Freewheel that the issue of tackling prostitution in Limerick would remain an ongoing one and was a priority of Gardai, despite not having “the luxury” of a unit dedicated specifically to tackling it.
- Limerick Leader

Cork Pub Crisis

New figures have revealed the scale of the crisis facing rural pubs across the country, with Cork bearing the brunt of pub closures over the past four years.

The figures, compiled by the Revenue Commissioners, revealed that more than 800 pubs -- an average of one in 10 -- have closed their doors since the start of the recession, with rural businesses the worst affected.

Cork was the worst affected with 12% of its pubs closing over the four-year period. In 2011 Cork had the largest single number of pub licenses at 1,010, with 146 pubs having closed since 2007.

Changes to drunk driving laws are believed to be one of the largest single factors behind the closures, amid increasing concerns that the closure of country pubs is leading to more isolation among elderly people living in country areas.

Junior Minister for Sport and Tourism Michael Ring admitted that the situation has been exacerbated by recent changes to drunk driving legislation.

"There is no doubt but that it is a rural problem and that is shown in the figures. Recent drink driving regulations probably haven't helped the situation either," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has welcomed comments by coroners across the country regarding the link between rural isolation and suicide, and stricter drunk driving laws.

VFI president Gerry Mellett has led calls for a national debate on the issue, saying that many older men living alone in rural areas are being turned into "prisoners in their own homes."

"I am not saying the pub is the only social outlet, but for many it is a vital one. The impact of these drunk driving rules has been to rip the heart out of rural Ireland and as more pubs close every day, this will only get worse," said Mellett.

"We are not in favor of drunk driving and we feel this stricter legislation will only lead to fear and more rural isolation," he added.
- The Corkman

Shocking Dog Abuse

A dog found in Bray with its tongue ripped out and other severe wounds had to be put to sleep last week after being discovered in the town.

“Our inspector collected this dog in Bray and the animal was immediately brought to the vet,” said a spokesman for Wicklow SPCA, Sharpeshill.

“On veterinary inspection the dog had severe wounds and was without his tongue.  The poor dog was beyond help and he was relieved of his suffering.”

SPCA inspector TJ Myron said that the wounded animal had more than likely been attacked by another dog, but that this would never have happened if he had been properly looked after in the first place.
“He was probably a stray, he was pretty thin,” said Myron. “It doesn't take much to feed and look after a dog.”

The dog was found in the DART station area of Bray and staff helped the inspector to rescue him.  However, there was nothing that could be done to save the stricken dog.

“I can't believe what I am seeing,” said one local animal lover. “Who the hell could do this to a poor defenseless animal? Thank God this poor dog won't suffer any more. I just hope whoever did this is caught and pays for what they have done.”
- Bray People

Pot Grower Busted

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

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