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


Arnoldas Valinskas of Belgard Green in Tallaght was not charged with the death of four-year-old Peter Hennessy from Oldcastle on December 2 of last year, but he had no insurance, no license and no permission to drive the van he took from a friend.

The toddler’s mother is incredulous that Valinskas, who was serving a four year disqualification for drink driving when the accident happened, can walk free from court.

“It’s horrendous,” said a devastated Ann Hennessy. “I can’t believe on Peter’s anniversary he’s giving us this to deal with.”

During his appeal against a four-month sentence for each of those offenses, Mullingar Circuit Court was told Valinskas could not have avoided colliding with the four year old, his two-year-old brother and his father as they left their jack-knifed Jeep and trailer on the N4 outside Mullingar.

Noting that there was no charge against the 37-year-old for his driving, Judge Anthony Kennedy removed the four month jail term imposed by Judge Elizabeth McGrath on each of the offenses.

However, Hennessy vows that she will do everything she can to ensure the law is changed so that those who drive while disqualified receive tougher sanctions.

“My blood is boiling,” she said. “Peter is screaming to me from the grave. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he did not die in vain. This is so wrong.”

The Lithuanian’s barrister Shane Geraghty told the Circuit Court that Valinskas had had been stressed because of difficulties he and his wife experienced in conceiving a baby. They are now expecting their first child.

Hennessy believes Valinskas shouldn’t have been on the road at all because he was disqualified and was initially disappointed at what she felt was a lenient sentence imposed in the District Court -- “a month for each year of my son’s life”.

Valinskas told the court through his counsel that he deeply regretted what happened and wanted to apologize to the Hennessy family.

He had tried to avoid the jack-knifed jeep but “it was a really sudden situation.”  He is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident and has flashbacks.

For Hennessy the issue is black and white.

“He shouldn’t have been on the road. If he wasn’t, our lovely son would be alive,” she said.
- Mullingar Advertiser

Roscommon romance

There may be appeals to shop local this Christmas, but when it comes to looking for a spouse Roscommon people are looking outside of the county for a partner!

According to new statistics for 2007 from the Central Statistics Office, people in Roscommon are less likely to marry someone from the same county.

Only 64% of Roscommon grooms married brides living in the county, and less than 64% of Roscommon brides picked county men as their partners.

This is low in comparison to grooms in Louth where more than 90% of them find their brides within the county.

In Roscommon, the average age for a man to get married was 33.7 and 31.2 for women.

In 2007 nationally, the groom was older than the bride in 63% of marriages, the same age in a further 12% of marriages and in the remaining 24% of cases the bride was older than the groom.
However, in the case of grooms under 25, almost half married an older woman.

In 2007 there were 205 marriages in Roscommon, and 201 of these were Catholic ceremonies with two Church of Ireland weddings and two civil marriages.  

August was the most popular month for weddings, with 15% of marriages taking place in that month in 2007.

Marriages in June, July, August and September accounted for 54% of all marriages in the year.
The most popular days of the week for weddings were Friday and Saturday accounting for 72% of all marriages.
- Roscommon Herald