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Members of the National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International Ireland marked World Press Freedom Day and laid a wreath at the Veronica Guerin memorial in Dublin Castle on Friday. Ashling Seely of Amnesty International is pictured at the memorial. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Ireland’s Eye – A round up of top Irish news stories

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Members of the National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International Ireland marked World Press Freedom Day and laid a wreath at the Veronica Guerin memorial in Dublin Castle on Friday. Ashling Seely of Amnesty International is pictured at the memorial. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Colorful Vault Problem
A REQUEST for a 90-year-old West Clare man to repaint his family vault has been condemned as a case of “bureaucracy gone mad.”

Clare County Council has given PJ Curtin three weeks to repaint his family vault in a nearby burial ground or else pay for any costs incurred by the council in doing so. However, Curtin hasn’t any intention of repainting the vault, which is currently bright yellow, the same color as his cottage, as he believes he hasn’t done anything wrong.

In a recent letter to Curtin, the council stated it had come to its attention that he was responsible for the painting of a family vault in Clohanes burial ground.

“Please note that this burial ground is a recorded monument and as such any works must be in keeping with surrounding vaults and burial plots,” the letter said.

“As such, you are requested to return the family vault to its natural stone within 21 days from the date of this letter. If you fail to do so, the council will arrange to have the work completed and you will be responsible for any costs incurred.”

Curtin’s late father Peter and his aunt Mary Ann are buried in one of the seven vaults in Clohanes. He painted the vault yellow about three years ago and repainted it the same color about 18 months ago. The rest of the vaults are grey or whitewashed.

Curtin said he was surprised to get the letter and can’t understand what issue the council has with his choice of color. He insists he hasn’t any intention of changing the color at this stage. He was hospitalized in Ennistymon Hospital for almost three weeks recently after a fall and didn’t get the letter until last week.

His nephew David Curtin claimed the council has no legal basis for sending the letter because the national guidelines for the care and conservation of graveyards make no reference to painting a vault or headstone any particular color.

Curtin pointed out the only reference to the document, which the council referred him to when he contacted them, was a requirement not to apply paint to gravestone inscriptions, which wasn’t done in this case.

He said it was very distressing for an elderly person to get a letter like this after coming out of hospital, and feels the council could have sent someone around to try and explain the situation if it was entitled to do so.

“This is a case of bureaucracy gone mad. PJ had no idea the council would have an issue with this color. Once he is finished painting his cottage, he uses any leftover paint to paint the family vault,” Curtin explained.

A council spokesman said it would have a response in the coming days.

Clare Champion

Prison Awaits
MAGILLIGAN Prison is being prepared as one of a number of institutions to provide extra holding cells in anticipation of mass protests at this summer's G8 summit.

The contingency measures are being put in place by the Prison Service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as the security operation ahead of June's meeting of the world's most powerful political leaders in Co. Fermanagh starts to ramp up.  The PSNI is also expanding custody provision at a number of stations across the country.

It is understood commanders are also assessing the potential of using other sites to detain unruly demonstrators, among them the former Lisanelly British Army base in Omagh.

Aware that numerous arrests may well result in many charged suspects coming before the courts, the Northern Ireland Prison Service has taken complementary steps to increase its capacity to hold remand prisoners.

Work is underway to make available extra cell capacity inside Maghaberry high security prison in Co. Antrim, as well as at Magilligan Prison in Co. Londonderry and Hydebank Wood Young Offenders' Center and women's prison in Belfast.

Limavady Chronicle
 
Homeless Elderly
“I WOULD rather die than leave here.”  Those are the heartbreaking words of 100-year-old Biddy Kauffman following the news that her home, Cloughreagh House in Bessbrook, is set to close and that she, despite her age, will have to find a new place to live.

It was announced last month that the Millvale Road facility was one of five homes in the Southern Trust area to close following Health Minister Edwin Poots' decision to reduce statutory residential care as part of the controversial Transforming Your Care reform program.

Residents have been left shocked by the news and will now have to start making plans to find a new place to live -- but not without a fight as some elderly residents have threatened to chain themselves to their beds before being forced out.

Biddy is the home's eldest resident.  She feels elderly people are no longer wanted or cared for.

“I'm 100. Where am I going to go? I'd rather die than have to leave here," she said.

“It's an awful let-down for older people that live here. They thought they were staying here for the rest of their lives; security, a roof over their head and knowing that someone is here for you at all times if needed, and that's all we want out of life.

“Everyone here is very happy, the staff are fantastic and I had hoped to be here until I died, and now that's changed completely. I'm over 100-years-old and now I have to find somewhere new to live. If you're old you're not wanted, that's how I feel."

Eddie Ruddy from Newry has no idea where he will end up.  The 87-year-old said, "I am disgusted.

Of course I'm sorry about the decision, but I'm more angry about it. So I don't know what's going to happen me, and at this stage I don't care. I don't care anymore.”

When asked what he would say to the people that took the decision to close the home, he said, "Get stuffed. I don't care about them because obviously they don't care about us. Money's more important than people."

Mary Boyle, 82, said she would chain herself to her bed if she is forced to leave. "This is like the end of the world for me. My worry is I don't know where I'm going to go. My life will end if I have to leave here. But I'll chain myself to my bed if they try to close this place down."

As well as the 21 residents at Cloughreagh House needing to find new homes, staff are also facing uncertain futures.

In a statement, the Southern Trust said a "detailed consultation process on the future provision of residential care in the area.”  The statement also said the Trust Board has decided to cease permanent admissions to all homes to minimize the number of residents who will be affected as the number of homes is reduced.

Newry Democrat

Accent Loses Quiz Show
IN the end it was the Fermanagh accent which cost a local father and son on BBC quiz show Pointless.

Richard and Christopher McGonigle, originally from Irvinestown, appeared on the popular show two weeks ago, but unfortunately they were to leave empty handed.

“The experience ended on a wee bit of a sour note unfortunately,” explained Richard. “I gave a correct answer, but because of my Fermanagh accent they misheard. The correct answer would have scored 22 instead of 100 and we would have made it through to the next round.”

Despite attempts to query the outcome, the producer stood by his decision and the McGonigles were eliminated.

The category was people in power in key British government positions since 1990.  Richard said John Bercow, the House of Commons speaker, but it was unfortunately lost in translation.

In spite of the disappointing end Richard and Christopher, regular quiz goers, thoroughly enjoyed their time.

“The whole experience though was excellent, they put us up for two nights and flew us back home.
Everything was great. It was a wee bit sour the way it ended because of the Fermanagh accent, but that’s life. It was just an unfortunate thing,” Richard said.

The two were called for an audition in Belfast around October and filming took place in March. After filming though, Chris admits it was an anxious wait to see how they came across on television.

Fermanagh Herald
 

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