Ireland's Eye

Bus Dumps Schoolgirl

A SHOCKED mother told the Kildare Nationalist her eight-year-old daughter was left “trembling” at the side of the road alone after being refused entry onto her school bus.

Áine Clarke’s eight-year-old daughter attends St. Conleth’s and Mary’s in Newbridge and travels to and from school on a local school bus run by Glen Whelan. On Tuesday, October 5, her daughter was dropped to the bus stop, by car, by her grandfather.

“He drove off when the bus arrived. There were two other kids getting the bus at the same bus stop. He was never thinking ‘God, this bus isn’t going to let her on,’” said Clarke.

“The bus driver asked my daughter if she had her envelope and when she told him no, he told her she could not get on the bus. My daughter started to cry and told him that both her parents were in work and her granddad was already gone. The response she got was that it was not his problem and he drove off and left her there,” alleged the shocked parent.

“My daughter is only eight and does not carry a mobile phone. A lady picked her up at the side of the road crying and made contact with the school which contacted me. Anything could have happened to my daughter that morning, and they knowingly left her alone with no way of contacting a responsible adult.” The family live in Rosebury Hill, and the school is located 20 minutes away.

“The woman who found my daughter alone Googled the number for the school. I am so glad it was such a nice woman. My daughter didn’t know this woman and she felt she had no choice. She really didn’t have any other choice but to go. She was so vulnerable,” said Clarke of her daughter.

Sheila O’Neill, principal of the school, confirmed she had been contacted by the woman who had found the young girl at the side of the road.

“It is very unusual,” she said. “But from our point of view the contract is between the parent and bus driver.”

Clarke said she had contacted the company but the person she spoke to “wasn’t a bit apologetic.” While payment for the bus service is due every Monday, Clarke did say that sometimes her payment was not made until Tuesday or Wednesday.

“My daughter has been on this bus since September 2009 and has never once missed a payment,” said Clarke.

Clarke said that when she registered with the company, she gave them her contact details but the driver or the company did not contact her about her daughter not being allowed onto the bus. She said her daughter had explained to the driver that she had nowhere to go.

Glen Whelan said he could not comment on the allegations. “It’s a private situation and any comment made by us will be made through our legal representative, who will be monitoring the situation,” he added.

Kildare Nationalist

Fleeced by Lenders

THOUSANDS of hard-pressed families are being fleeced by licensed money lenders because they cannot afford to pay for basic items such as food and utility bills.

The country’s largest licensed home collection money lender has acquired an additional 13,000 customers in just over a year, new figures have revealed.

Last summer, an Irish Examiner investigation on money lending found at least 150,000 people are borrowing from licensed money lenders.

At that time Provident, which employs about 500 agents who operate a door-to-door collection policy, had 75,000 customers. Now, it has 88,000, an increase of 13,000 in just over one year. It charges an APR of 187%.

The figures from Provident suggest the numbers forced to turn to money lenders could now be up to 200,000.

There are 50 licensed money lenders like Provident operating in the country, with rates which range from 35% to 188.45%, the highest rate being charged by Southside Finance Ltd. with an address in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin.

Labor TD (member of Parliament) Sean Sherlock said it was shocking the Financial Regulator could sanction and defend such huge interest rates.

St. Vincent de Paul vice president John Monaghan said although it was unpalatable that licensed money lenders could charge so much, they at least were transparent and did keep many out of the clutches of illegal lenders.

Monaghan said there was always a surge in activity for borrowing around back to school and Christmas time. He said people were borrowing money for basic things such as food and utility bills.

A spokesperson for Provident said it makes small, unsecured loans, normally of between ****50 and ****500.

Laws around money lending state they are required to disclose all the fees, costs and interest in a clear manner, and prominently indicate the high-cost nature of the loan on all loan documentation where the APR is 23% or higher.

Irish Examiner

Fighting the Bank

AN Easkey father and son vowed to continue their battle to keep the family farm from falling into the hands of Bank of Ireland.

John Devaney, 64, and his son Johnathan, 33, have been blocking entrances to their land to stop bailiffs, backed by Gardai (police), from seizing the property on behalf of the bank. John said he and his son were patrolling their land on a 24-hour basis.

“We take it in turns to keep an eye on the land by day and night, and there are big boulders blocking the entrances. But we are determined to hammer out a deal with the Bank of Ireland as soon as possible,” he said.

The Devaneys are believed to owe the bank ****260,000 for a 35 acre parcel of prime dairy land. The family has offered a separate parcel of land approximately 37 acres as payment for the debt.

John claimed that although the Bank of Ireland were claiming ****260,000 in repayment they had only received a figure in the region of ****80,000-****120,000 for the sale of the 35 acres. He also strongly denied that the parcel of land the family were offering as part exchange was mortgaged to another financial institution.

“This is very stressful for everyone and we want it to come to an end. But the only way the bank is dealing with us is through solicitors,” he said.

Sligo Weekender

Get Rid of Refugees

REFUGEES should be “brought to the airport” and not allowed to treat our country like “a soft touch,” according to Bagenalstown town councilor Paddy Kiely, who lashed out at refugees in Ireland “getting three square meals a day” while Irish people are left to languish in dire housing conditions.

“NAMA is advocating buying houses for refugees ... the only place I’d bring them is to the airport,” Kiely declared at a meeting of Bagenalstown Town Council.

Kiely’s comments sparked a furious reaction from the Minister for Equality, Integration and Human Rights Mary White, who called on Kiely to step down from the council.

“There is no room for racism in this country, either overt or covert, and any public representative who speaks in those terms should resign,” she stated.

At the meeting, Kiely spoke of his outrage at the fact “they’re in this country getting three square meals a day” while there are “seven to 10 people living in three-bedroom houses in this town and they’re not cribbing; they’re waiting on the housing list.”

In a move that is sure to spark accusations of racism, Kiely then proposed that the council send a letter to the minister to tighten refugee status.

“They get two or three months -- in or out,” Kiely added flatly.

Kiely pointed out that he was “not against any seed, creed or anyone. We need to simplify the whole thing and send out the message that Ireland is not a soft touch.”

Council Speaker Liam O’Brien jumped in to defuse the situation by citing “international and humanitarian obligations.”

Councilor Arthur McDonald then waded into the row, adding, “We need to get our priorities in order. The whole system has to be reformed. This bleeding heart thing has to stop. Let’s feed our own ... we’re all half-starving here.”

Carlow Nationalist

Too Much Zoning

ENOUGH land was zoned for residential development in Co. Roscommon in the past 10 years to provide more than 33,000 homes -- a whopping 30,000 in excess of what was required.

New figures have revealed that zoning trends throughout the country far exceeded what was necessary during the past decade.

The figures showed that nationally there was enough zoned land to provide for almost 1.5 million houses and apartments throughout the country, which was more than three times the 400,000 units that were needed up to 2016.

The figures also singled out Roscommon as the worst offender when it came to the “overzoning” of land for residential purposes in the past decade.

The figures indicated that Roscommon County Council zoned 12 times more land than necessary when councilors zoned 1,345 hectares of land for residential development when just 104 hectares of land was needed. Based on an average housing density of 25 units per hectare, this means that enough land was zoned to provide more than 33,000 units in Roscommon.

This compares to the estimated 2,600 units that were required during this period.

Roscommon Champion

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