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Save A+E Services in Loughlinstown Hospital protest. Paddy McKitterick (left in white coat) and Niall O'Leary (right in white coat) push Niamh Quigley (aged 9) in a hospital bed at a protest to save accident and emergency services in St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown today in Bray Co Wicklow. Photo by: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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

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Save A+E Services in Loughlinstown Hospital protest. Paddy McKitterick (left in white coat) and Niall O'Leary (right in white coat) push Niamh Quigley (aged 9) in a hospital bed at a protest to save accident and emergency services in St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown today in Bray Co Wicklow. Photo by: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Potato Problems
WITH almost 500 acres of Donegal’s potato harvest yet to be dug, one farmer told a meeting of Donegal IFA that in his life “it has never been as bad.”
Heavy early winter rains and flooding put many Donegal potato farmers in a precarious position, unable to gather spuds from soaked fields since before Christmas.
At a Donegal IFA’s meeting, Potato’s Commodity chairman Charlie Doherty from Bridgend said it is a “very poor” time for local potato growers.”
“There is still 480 acres to be dug. It’s very poor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as bad,” he told the meeting.
He said part of the problem was that much of the rest of the country enjoyed a good potato yield this year and did not face the same weather conditions as Donegal. This has led to a healthy supply which affects the price local growers can expect.
He said in some cases spuds gathered locally are now going straight for use as animal feed.
“It might have taken you 250 to grow and you’re only getting 25. It doesn’t take much to figure out the math,” he added.
Another problem they face is falling consumption in potatoes, losing out to pasta and rice.
He said a large part of the drop has to do with image that potatoes are fattening which he questioned, stating there is virtually no fat content in them.

Donegal Democrat

Teen Mom Shock
SHOCKING new statistics show that one 15-year-old girl in Ireland is already a mother of two children.
And five schoolgirls aged 15 or younger became mothers in the first six months of last year.
The Central Statistics Office figures show that although women are generally waiting longer to become mothers, at least 10 girls under the age of 16 are giving birth every month.
The figures underline that while the average age of women having babies continues to rise, a significant number of new mothers are in their early to mid-teens.
Five schoolgirls aged 15 or younger became mothers in the first six months of last year -- one of them for the second time, according to the figures.
Overall, 63 young girls under the age of 16, and under the legal age of consent, gave birth during that period.
The figure is slightly down on the previous year but still represents more than 10 young girls a month in this age group becoming mothers.
In contrast, the average age for first-time mothers throughout the country was 29.9 years, and there were 115 women aged 45 or older who also gave birth during the six months.
In general, mothers are older and the average mother giving birth now is almost 32 years of age. This compares with just under 29 years of age in 1980.
The figure began to climb in the 1990s and hit 30 for the first time in 1995 and 31 by 2005.
The Central Statistics bulletin shows that 18,381 births were registered in the second quarter of last year, which is a drop of 2.5 percent on the previous year but still 20 percent higher than in 2002.
Just over three in four babies were born to Irish mothers, and a further 10.16 percent were born to women from the 12 EU accession states of eastern and southern Europe.
One in three babies born in the second quarter of last year was born outside marriage, and Limerick city had the highest percentage of these births at 47 percent. 
Almost one fifth of the babies born outside marriage were born to parents who were living at the same address.

Evening Herald

Soldiers as Tourists

CLARE County Council is to target the U.S. military in Shannon as part of a tourism offensive.
According to a senior official in the local authority, discussions are ongoing to launch, through Clare Tourism Forum, a marketing campaign aimed at members of the U.S. army transiting the airport.
Director of services Ger Dollard confirmed, “Proposals are being discussed to include brochures and brochure stands in the departures area of the airport that will be filled with information/brochures on County Clare.”
He added that these would be aimed “primarily at military personnel.”
Dollard was responding to a motion tabled by Fianna Fail’s Pat McMahon at a county council meeting.
“Shannon Airport is to work with Clare tourism providers to ensure the full benefit is obtained from the opportunity to market County Clare of the US military personnel transiting through Shannon Airport,” Dollard said.
Dollard also claimed the use of the airport by American soldiers could open up a new tourism market for the county.
“There was a survey of the U.S. military personnel a few years ago. It showed that they see Shannon in a positive light. We should be piggybacking on that,” McMahon said. “I think there is an untapped market there.”
McMahon told the meeting there is currently “no-one handing out brochures” or pitching Clare to the American soldiers using the airport” and asserted that he knew people who would be willing to do this for free.
“This is a win-win situation. We cannot lose. There are people passing through the airport with a positive attitude but nothing is being done,” he went on.
Dollard stated the council “recognized that a marketing opportunity does exist in terms of the time period during which military personnel are located in the departures area.”

Clare Champion

Homophobic Slur
JUDGE Seamus Hughes has described a story by a young man as “very brave” when he explained how he had been walking home with his boyfriend when he was involved in an incident of homophobic abuse.
Shane Tone, of Graiguecullen in Carlow had been with his boyfriend when he “reacted strongly” to homophobic abuse, solicitor Louis Kiernan said, adding that his client was sorry for what happened.
On November 15 Garda (police officer) Neil Donnellan had been on patrol when he saw two men in a dispute at 1:25 a.m. on Oliver Plunkett Street in Mullingar. He saw Daniel Lee, 16 of Mullingar, hit Tone in the face with his hand.
When Lee was arrested, Tone, who has no previous convictions, ran up and hit him.
Lee has convictions for public order offences, handling stolen property and taking a bike.
Matt Shaw, solicitor for Lee, said he was putting his hands up in relation to the assault, and that he gave as good as he got.
When Hughes said Tone was brave in conservative Ireland to acknowledge his sexuality in open court, Kiernan agreed that “there are prejudices in modern Ireland.”
The judge said that Tone, who is “slightly built” had jumped in between two burly Gardai and wanted to know why.
“I know I should have walked away, but I just saw red. I won’t do it again,” said the second year journalism student.
He was given the benefit of the Probation Act.
Hoping that Lee’s comments were “a slip of the tongue,” the judge fined him 200.

Mullingar Advertiser

Shocking Rape
A 19-YEAR-old woman told the Central Criminal Court how her father, a 48-year-old Sligoman, smiled at her and told her she was no longer a virgin after he raped her five years ago, and that she continued to be raped by him even after becoming pregnant.
The man has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sexual assault and seven counts of rape at the family home between September 2005 and September 2007.
The alleged victim told prosecuting counsel Isobel Kennedy that her father sexually abused her once every two to three weeks from when she was 13. She said he would wake her up in her bed and, after cuddling her, would touch her intimately and then rape her. She said he took her virginity in March 2006.
She said that some of the alleged abuse took place in her father's bedroom when she would go there at night because she was afraid of ghosts. She said he would punch her and kick her out of the bed if she asked him to stop touching her.
"I would get into my dad's bed because he was my Dad and I felt safe. I was young," she told the court.
She added, "I was brainwashed by this man. He was my only parent. I had no mum. I had no one else to turn to. He was the only one looking after me. I did feel safe around my dad at some stage."
The woman also told the court that her father controlled her and that she wasn't allowed out of the house. When she became pregnant, she said she knew the child was her father's because she had not had sex with anyone else.
The woman agreed with defense counsel Hugh Hartnett that she withdrew a separate allegation of rape to Gardai relating to an incident in 2010 involving a former boyfriend before reentering the complaint.
The court also heard that while the woman was living with a foster family, she reported the foster mother to Gardai and to Childline for "emotional abuse."
The trial continues.

The Sligo Champion

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