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Irish President Michael D. Higgins greets a former office holder, Mary Robinson, in Dublin on Monday at the opening day of a climate conference hosted by the Irish government and the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Ireland's Eye - A round up of top Irish news stories

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Irish President Michael D. Higgins greets a former office holder, Mary Robinson, in Dublin on Monday at the opening day of a climate conference hosted by the Irish government and the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Bad Friday for Alcohol
THE proprietor of a Tullamore restaurant has backed calls from the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) condemning the ban of alcohol sales in restaurants on Good Friday.

Paula Tahraoui of Sirocco’s said she agrees with the RAI that the current law is unacceptable.  “The law’s archaic,” Tahraoui said.

Chief executive of the RAI Adrian Cummins said the current law governing alcohol sales on Good Friday is not only affecting Ireland’s image abroad, but business internally as well.

“The restaurant sector is the biggest employer within the hospitality industry, employing over 64,000 people. This law affects more than just the diners who want a drink, it affects thousands of people on a busy weekend when restaurants simply won’t open,” he said.

Cummins said Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close restaurants and gastropubs. “Even the Vatican City doesn’t obey this ridiculous law,” he said.

“It hurts really badly,” Tahraoui agreed. “I’m a traditional girl as well, but we’re living in a multi-cultural society. It’s very, very outdated. Restaurants are at a loss for the day.”

Tahraoui agrees a push should be made to change the law, not just for businesses but for consumers as well. “People have the right to choose,” she said.

Offaly Independent

Doctor Goes Nuts
A PSYCHIATRIST who bit two Gardai (police) and assaulted a member of staff at Nancy Blake’s bar in Limerick last summer is “convinced his drink must have been spiked on the night,” Limerick District Court heard.

Dr. Seamus O Flaithbheartaigh, 51, with an address at Castlemara, Annacotty, pleaded guilty to the charges of assaulting two Garda officers and a member of staff at around 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, 2012.

The court earlier heard that the married father of three was observed to be in a highly irate and agitated state, and was being restrained by a number of males at the popular Denmark Street bar.
However, his barrister Michael Collins told Judge Aeneas McCarthy that he has no recollection of the incident, except waking up in a cell. He said the nature of the offenses were “an aberration” for

O Flaithbheartaigh, who has no previous convictions and is of “good character.”
He said his client was “very apologetic” for what had happened, and presented two testimonials of his good character and professionalism to the court.

O Flaithbheartaigh is employed by the Health Service Executive and is also an adjunct senior clinical lecturer attached to the University of Limerick’s graduate medical school. 

Collins added that the “significant coverage” of the case in the press has been a source of embarrassment to him and his family.

Sergeant Donal Cronin told the court that when Gardai approached O Flaithbheartaigh, he bit them both. He was charged with assaulting a male Garda attached to Mayorstone Garda station, assaulting a female Garda during the execution of her duties and assaulting a male staff member of the bar.

McCarthy said he was taking into account the early plea, his remorse, his good character, clean criminal record, and that he is a “highly educated and professional man.”

The judge said he accepted it was an aberration from normal behavior and that he cannot account for what happened on this particular night. He noted that he is also “making a valuable contribution to training medical school students in psychiatry in the University of Limerick.”

However, he noted this incident was “far from trivial for those involved,” but any conviction would have an impact on whether he might wish to return to the U.S. to work again, and also his ability to practice here.

He applied the Probation Act, dismissing the charges against him, and said compensation for the injured parties would be a matter for a civil court.

Limerick Leader

Living in Toilet
A CZECH homeless man has been living in a public toilet in Ennis and would be dead was it not for the church, a district court heard.

District Court Judge Patrick Durcan described the conditions that 58-year-old Josef Pavelka and his friend are living in as a “scandal.”

The details emerged as part of a probation welfare report prepared for Ennis District Court in relation to Pavelka, who appeared on public order matters.

The man’s solicitor, Daragh Hassett, said if it wasn’t for the church in Ennis, Pavelka “would be dead.”  He outlined that his client and his friend, a Polish national, have been living in a public toilet.

The same man had been living in a tent during sub-zero conditions in 2010, before being housed for a period at Laurel Lodge, a hostel for the homeless in Ennis, but it has been some time since he resided there.

This year he was driven to the shelter of a public toilet during the sub-zero temperatures.

Speaking about Pavelka’s situation, Hassett said his client has been living in these public facilities “during the really harsh weather, and apart from that he has been living rough.”

“He is a victim of the recession. He came here to work when there was work. He invested his time and the rest of his life in moving to Ireland as a permanent move and this disappeared overnight. He is an alcoholic and with time on his hands and with no work, lapsed back into bad habits.

“The prospect of going home is very grim because things are worse at home in the Czech Republic. 

“There’ll be a view that the likes of him shouldn’t be here, but you have homeless people living in Ennis and that’s a reality,” Hassett said.

Clare Champion

Shortage of Graves
THE tradition of burying people in their own parish or village may soon disappear with the introduction of a major restructuring of the cemeteries service by Meath County Council.

As cemeteries in local towns and villages continue to fill up, officials have warned it will not be possible in future for the council to provide replacement burial grounds throughout the county. Cemeteries may in future have to be provided on a “regional” basis.

However, although up to 10 percent of deceased people are cremated, the council has firmly ruled out the building of a crematorium in the county.

The cost of dying, already expensive, will also go up with the strong possibility that charges for graves will rise. At present, a single grave in Duleek cemetery is €600 for a single grave and €1,200 for a double. 

Officials hinted that a future cost in new burial grounds might be pitched at €900 for a single and €3,000 for a four-space plot.

Many cemeteries in the county operate an unwritten “locals only” burial policy to prevent cemeteries from filling up quickly, and the council also has hinted that some Dublin people have sought to bury relatives in Meath cemeteries because of high city burial costs.

Senior council officials Larry Whelan and Caroline Corrigan, in a briefing on the council’s proposed 30-year plan for cemeteries this week, said that economics would dictate that it would not be possible in future to provide a burial ground in every parish. It has also been made clear by the churches that they can be ruled out as providers of new cemeteries.

Meath Chronicle

Childhood Obesity

AN organization representing dieticians has called on the Department of Health to develop a national strategy for childhood obesity prevention.

The Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute said there are only three obesity programs for children in Ireland and that 73 percent of the country does not have access to such prevention courses.

The institute said approximately one in four or 30,000 primary school children are either overweight or obese.

The group has also called for the retail sector to withdraw their vending machines from schools.

The department said that tackling obesity was a priority for Minister James Reilly, who has set up a special action group to address the issue.

RTE.ie

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