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


Smokeout at Hospital
AN average of eight people a day were observed smoking in the grounds of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital after the practice was outlawed, according to statistics.

This compares to an average of 19 people a day before the ban was introduced on May 31.
Security staff at the Dooradoyle hospital were tasked by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to record the number of people smoking in a bid to establish whether there is a change of pattern.

Split into a regular 3 p.m. check on 10 sites in the grounds, and a random check on the same 10 sites, the security staff recorded a total of 558 instances of people lighting up from May 1 to 29, with the main entrance the most prevalent area.

The staff repeated the exercise for nine days in August, and discovered this figure had dropped to just 72 people.

The inspections were started during May, hospital services manager Jim Gallagher said, “because we wanted to see what the effect would be before and after the ban.”
He believes the statistics show the smoking ban has proven a success.

“We think it has been very successful, in terms of reducing the prevalence of smoking on the grounds.

When you consider this is a health-promoting care facility, smoking has no place on the grounds,” he stated.

The ban on smoking inside the hospital grounds -- something which is made clear through a loudspeaker when one enters the complex -- has forced more people smoking outside the gates.
In the run up to the ban, patients argued that they were throwing themselves in the line of danger if they chose to smoke outside.

Security guards have often found people smoking in forgotten corners of the campus. Rather than see this as a negative, Gallagher says this shows the message is becoming clearer. “Beforehand, people openly smoked on campus. Now, they seem to be getting the message,” he said.

Limerick Leader

Sick Aquarium Fish
A FAMILY who visited Lahinch Seaworld expressed concern at the health of some sea life in the aquarium.

Jillian Concannon, who visited the facility last month with her four children and her father, Jim Lyons, has written to Lahinch Seaworld outlining her concerns.

“As someone with a background and qualifications in aquaculture, I found the health of quite a number of your fish to be well below my expectations for a well-run aquarium,” Concannon said in her email.

“Quite a number had signs of fin wear and/or fungal rot, gill damage, lack of oxygen and sea lice on them. The sea bass were rubbing themselves on the sand due to the irritation from these sea lice. My father, who works in the aquaculture industry still, also commented that he felt the fish were under stress,” the email added.

Concannon has a certificate in aquaculture, a diploma in aquatic science and a degree in environmental science. She has also worked in the industry.

“The skate, turbot and ray were all showing signs of stress, with tail fins nipped and gills damaged. I have never seen fish in that state in any aquarium I’ve ever been to,” Lyons said.
Lahinch Seaworld general manager Ian Taylor emailed a detailed reply to Concannon.

“While some of our coalface pollock do have small cases of fin rot, they are being treated with Melafix and are recovering. We do have one turbot that had his gill operculum ripped many years ago.

“I can assure you we don’t have any issues with sea lice in this facility as all water is routinely tested, buffered and changed through sand filters and UV sterilization units to prevent lice from being an issue,” Taylor’s reply stated.
Concannon was also unhappy that painting was underway in the aquarium during the visit.

“The smell was overpowering and not pleasant and the wet paint on all the tanks/displays meant that my small kids couldn’t get near to any of the tanks to see the fish properly,” she said.

Taylor said Lahinch Seaworld could not avoid painting the aquarium that week.

“We hope the work being undertaken here this year will make a difference to the offering and customer experience will be much improved,” he added.

Clare Champion

Ex-Priest Weds
A PRIEST who stunned parishioners by quitting has married less than a year after leaving the priesthood.

Ian Kennedy wed Maria Cunningham in a civil ceremony at the four star Cromleach Lodge hotel near Castlebaldwin last month.  The happy couple were married before an intimate group of family and friends.

Kennedy, 42, quit his post as parish priest in Aughanagh last January after an announcement at Sunday Mass in Ballinafad that he was resigning for personal reasons and was starting a new chapter in his life.

The Sligo-born former priest, who grew up in Cartron, is living with his new bride, 41, at a housing estate in Ballinacarrow.

When asked about his marriage, Kennedy would not confirm any details and said that he was now a private citizen. At the time of his shock resignation he said he was happy with the decision which was made of his "own free will and choice."