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


Broke From Books
BALBRIGGAN Town Council is to write to the Department of Education appealing for help for hard-pressed parents crippled by the cost of schoolbooks.

The issue was raised by Councilor Monica Harford, who proposed a motion saying, “Balbriggan Town Council calls on the Department of Education to review the current method whereby people are faced with extremely high costs to provide schoolbooks for school-going children of all ages by introducing a system that will ease the burden somewhat.

Harford said that back to school costs were “crippling people,” and that the allowances already available for vulnerable families were “nowhere near what's needed.”

She also expressed frustration at constant changes to school books that made them impossible to hand down or sell on, a point that speaker of the town council, Larry Dunne, a teacher himself, agreed with. The town council agreed to send a letter to the Department of Education on the issue.

Fingal Independent

No Help for Disabled Man
A MALLOW man has claimed he was all but told he would have to develop cancer before he would qualify for an invalidity pension.

Liam Drew from Gortroe, Lombardstown already suffers from a heart condition, asthma, diabetes, partial blindness and deep vein thrombosis. He's been unable to work since 2008.

However, his application for an invalidity payment was turned down in 2008, and four years later he is still waiting for his appeal to be processed.

Drew, who is currently awaiting the results of a biopsy to see if he has skin cancer, said he was told by a social welfare official that a letter from his doctor confirming he had cancer would strengthen his case for an invalidity payment.

"To me that is an absolute disgrace," said Drew.

Drew, 54, suffers from a number of debilitating conditions, including blindness in his right eye (the result of a childhood accident), asthma, type 2 diabetes, deep vein thrombosis and myocardial infarction, which resulted in him suffering a heart attack in 2009.

A former construction worker, he has been unable to work since 2008. Since then he has been receiving his sick pay entitlement under certification, which currently stands at60 per week.

His 2008 application for an invalidity payment was initially refused and he said that his appeal to that decision is still under review.  Drew claimed he was given no reason for the initial refusal.

To make matters worse, Drew had to return to his doctor in recent weeks with lesions on his face and is currently awaiting the result of a biopsy to see if he has skin cancer.

Drew returned to the social welfare office to explain his situation and was given a form to apply for a disability payment of up to 188 per week, despite the fact that his earlier appeal for an invalidity payment was still under review.

He claimed he was then contacted by an official who said that if he could get a letter from his doctor saying he had skin cancer it would strengthen his case for getting an invalidity payment.

"It felt like I was being told the only way that I would get my entitlement was if I had cancer. What level of illness do I have to have before I am eligible for the invalidity payment that I am entitled to?" he asked.

"I paid my stamps for decades, and would love to be working. The reality is that I simply can't.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection would not comment on the case.

The Corkman

Anti-Social Behavior

RESIDENTS near Watery Hill steps, Donore Road, have reached their wit’s end with constant rubbish dumping, drug dealing and antisocial behavior including public sex that has become a constant feature of the steps.

David Campbell has been cleaning up the steps for the past year and a half, and says he is frustrated beyond measure at the lack of cooperation from Drogheda Borough Council, which he says has ignored several calls from residents and his local TD (member of Parliament) Fergus O'Dowd to improve the area.

“There is absolutely nothing being done to make this area any better, and I for one am completely fed up doing the work for them,” says Campbell, who has lived at the top of the steps all his 30 years.

“They come and pick up some litter every now and again, but this is not enough to make the steps clean and safe enough for the elderly, students or more importantly tourists who should be using them.”

As well as constant fly tipping, graffiti and littering, Campbell says young people are drinking and having sex on the steps after the nightclubs empty at the weekends, and he can see drug deals taking place after midnight most nights of the week.

“We were promised CCTV, and there is no sign of that, and a resident at the end of the steps was ordered by the council to erect a fence to prevent dumping, and that never happened either,” adds Campbell.