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


Suicide Prevention Needed
A NEW suicide intervention center is needed in Ennis to cope with the significant increase in the number of people expressing suicidal thoughts. That’s the case being made by the support group Pieta House Mid-West, which has been monitoring contacts in relation to suicide over the past three years.

The latest official figures reveals that 15,000 dialogue contacts were made with the Clare and Ennis branch of the Samaritans in 2009. This increased by about 16% to 17,383 in 2011. In 2010,

It is estimated that between 15% and 20% of all calls made to the Samaritans are from people who relay suicidal thoughts.

Further evidence of the surge in the number of people who are contemplating taking their own lives is also reflected in the number of referrals to Pieta House in Mungret, Limerick, which opened in 2010.

Tom McEvoy, organizer of the Ennis Darkness Into Light suicide awareness event on Saturday, May 12, has confirmed there is already a marked increase in the number of people using Pieta House this year compared to last. In total, 348 people used the center in 2011, 54 from Clare.

McEvoy says a new outreach centre is needed in Ennis to cope with the increasing numbers of people who are in the acute stage of suicidal distress.

He said that increased financial support is needed from the government to help Pieta House expand its service nationwide.

McEvoy stressed annual funding of €500,000 is needed to achieve the group’s aim of providing a center within 100 kilometers of all facilities.

“The cost of suicide to Ireland is estimated at between €850 million and €900 million annually. Pieta House fills an extremely important gap in our collective battle against suicide,” McEvoy said.

Pieta House is a suicide and self-harm crisis centre. It is the only organization in the country providing a professional, face-to-face, free therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of suicidal distress. 
Clare Champion

Spat Blood at Cop
A TEENAGER who spat blood and saliva at a Garda (police officer) will have to gather €2,000 for court, much of which Judge Seamus Hughes said will be given to the victim.

Gary Keena of Ballynacargey said he hadn’t meant to spit at the Garda, but Hughes disagreed, saying his behavior on August 27 was appalling.

Mullingar District Court heard how the 19-year-old had been in a row at 3:30 a.m. on Oliver Plunkett Street which was broken-up by Gardai.

All the young men left the scene as requested, except Keena, who was aggressive and spat blood on the shoulder and arm of Garda Sean Casey.

He refused to allow himself be handcuffed and lashed out at Gardai in the patrol car, where he tried to kick out the rear window.

One of seven children, Keena’s mother passed away and his father was in court with him.
Solicitor Louis Kiernan said his young client knew his behavior had been horrible, but he had been struck in the mouth earlier and lost a tooth.

He didn’t realize he was spitting at the garda as he cleared his mouth of blood and Keena, who is a talented soccer player who has tried out for Bohemians, said he would never spit at anyone.

But Inspector Dermot Drea said the spitting was very intentional and in line with Keena’s other behavior on the night.

He said being spat at is very traumatic, and Hughes expressed concern that spitting at Gardai means they have to immediately cease work and undergo medical tests because so many illnesses are carried in blood and saliva.

“Young people are perfectly entitled to enjoy themselves, but once Gardai come on the scene, people must immediately desist,” he said.

He said Gardai who leave their wives and young children every night put their lives at risk and expose themselves to injury for what he called “a very modest wage.”

As a judge, he wants to ensure that risk is not increased by the behavior of people on the streets, and to keep Keena out of jail would send out the wrong message.

Kiernan reiterated that his client is young and has no previous convictions, and the judge offered the alternative of €2,000 “as miserable compensation for the shock and horror” suffered by Casey.

He is to let the court know on April 26 how long it will take him to pay the money.

Mullingar Advertiser

House My Babies
AN unemployed father of eight is demanding a bigger house from his local authority so he can have more children.

Jason Casey, who has been on a housing waiting list for 10 years, has staged a silent protest outside Limerick City Hall in Limerick for six weeks.

The 42-year-old, who lives in a three-bedroom home, said, "We have five girls in one room and two boys in the other room and we take the baby in with us.

"We manage, but we shouldn’t have to manage ... not when they (the council) has so many houses out there -- not when we have the regeneration, not when there’s Nama out there."