CHILDREN as young as nine and 10 of age are being subjected to bullying in local schools, a seminar on bullying held in Longford town heard.
Vicky McEnery, 22, from Co. Westmeath, spoke eloquently about how bullying made her secondary school years a misery. She told a story of consistent verbal harassment that sometimes veered into physical bullying.
She also outlined how the bullying had affected her personally and of how it continued even after she spoke out on national television. A second year student at university, McEnery now travels the length and breadth of the country to speak about her experience in the hope of helping others.
From the floor on the night, two local parents outlined how bullying had a serious effect on their children. In both cases, they felt that their children’s schools had not done enough to tackle the issue. In both cases, the expert panel said these were typical stories they are hearing all over the country.
One of the most disturbing contributions on the night was from a local youth worker who told the meeting that girls from fifth and sixth class (grade) in local schools are posting pictures of themselves in their underwear online.
This comment drew gasps of shock from the floor as the youth worker went on to explain how he tries to warn young people about this behavior and its implications, particularly in terms of attracting predators.
Monica Monaghan founded the Anti-Bullying Coalition as a response to her own experience at the hands of bullies as a young teacher.
She spoke at length about the role in schools in dealing with bullying. She told the audience that she felt the current guidelines in place for schools were “unsafe” as they were 20 years old, and she welcomed the fact that new guidelines are being introduced in schools for the coming school year.
“It is costing the country a fortune to mop up after this,” she said of the bullying problem, adding that there had been a “lack of joined-up thinking” on the issue.
Don’t Knock Marriage
LOVE is in the air, particularly around Knock, where the country’s oldest marriage introduction service facilitated 11 weddings last year.
Clearly Cupid remains smitten by the traditional-style service, which has increasingly attracted young professional women – including teachers, doctors and nurses – aged in their thirties.
Recently renamed Knock Marriage Introductions, the Catholic Church service was founded by the late Father Michael Keane in 1968, leading to 910 marriages over its 45-year history.
Figures just released from the service’s 45th annual report reveal that in 2012 they received 1,000 telephone inquiries and 580 written queries. The applicant breakdown by gender and age showed 69 men (aged 25-45), 29 men (46-75); 66 women (aged 25-45), 23 women (46-75).
Canon Joseph Cooney, director of the group, said the service’s “proven track record” ensured consistent levels of interest year-on-year.
“I believe that a significant part of our success is that our clients feel secure throughout the introduction procedure. After we process the questionnaires we try to match them based on age, location and educational level,” he said.
“We also look at height too. Certainly women don’t want to be with smaller men but we have to take into account the height of their heels!” He explained the process requires that a client must accept one of any three matches suggested, and mobile phone numbers are only exchanged when agreement is reached.
Cooney said that while he hoped all the applicants were practicing Catholics, clients are not asked a direct question about this.
Confirming the upsurge in thirty-something professional women signing up to the site, Cooney said the largest number of recent applicants were from Dublin, with Mayo, Galway, Cork and Waterford following.
New Dublin Mosque
DUBLIN City Council has given the green light for a massive €40 million development on the Northside which will see the construction of one of Europe’s largest mosques.
As well as a three-storey domed mosque, the development at Clongriffin will also include the construction of a primary and secondary school, a 600-seater conference center, mortuary, library and fitness center.
Permission for the development was approved subject to a number of conditions.
The mosque, a key element of the plans submitted by the Dublin Welfare Society, will cater for the growing number of Muslims living in Dublin.
The mosque element of the development will include a main prayer hall, prayer rooms, meeting rooms, general purpose room, crèche, bookshop, library and mortuary.
The two-story conference centre part of the development includes a reception foyer, 600-seat conference room, 130 seat-restaurant and 200-seat banquet hall.
A 16-classroom primary school and 12-classroom secondary school will also be built, as well as a fitness center with swimming pool, gym and 11 two-bedroom apartments.
Dublin Bay North TD (member of Parliament) Terence Flanagan said construction in Clongriffin has come to a halt and there were vacant sites in the area.
“This development will expand on the facilities available to local residents,” he said.
“I am confident that the condition included in the planning permission that the call to prayer is not audible outside the mosque area will be adhered to.”
Hef’s Galway Girl
A 21-YEAR-old Galway model has been invited to spend the summer in Los Angeles with Playboy boss Hugh Hefner.
Shahira Barry, who works with Assets Model Agency in Dublin, will travel to the U.S. in June and will spend weekends at the magazine publisher’s lavish mansion.
The Athenry model first visited his Californian headquarters in September following an invitation from Hefner, 86, who got married for the third time on New Year’s Eve. His new bride is 60 years his junior.
She said then she had a few misgivings initially about meeting the Playboy boss because she did not want “everybody thinking that is the route my career is going.”
“I know lots of girls dream of this [modeling for Playboy] but it has never been my dream,” said Barry, who holds a degree in primary school teaching.
But after visiting the mansion with her best friend, she said it was the highlight of her working holiday.
“We were nervous and intimidated going but the minute we arrived we felt right at home. Everyone from the staff to the other girls to Hugh Hefner’s friends and the man himself were all so welcoming and friendly,” Barry said.
“There was no sleaziness whatsoever as some may expect with Playboy. We lounged by the pool, danced in the grotto and had dinner with Hef.
“Hef was a gentleman, so nice and welcoming. He was just saying it was lovely to meet me and I’m very welcome any time. He didn’t mention Ireland but I told him how jet lagged I was from my long flight from Ireland and he was just sympathizing, making small talk about the flight. His mansion is amazing -- way better in person and the grounds are beautiful.”
Barry said she has not made a decision yet about posing for the magazine.
“As far as posing for Playboy I’d never say never, we’ll see how it all unfolds. But I’ve never been set on doing it and have a few other exciting things to work on too. However if anything, meeting Hef and going to the mansion made me more for it than I had been previously,” she said.
The Galway model, who has graced the daily newspapers on a regular basis and has been named as the face of an international company based in China, has no regrets about turning her back on a career as a primary teacher.