Ireland's Eye, a roundup of top Irish news stories, November 14th, 2013


-- Galway Advertiser

Break for Parents

PARENTS should find their back-to-school costs reduced next year as the book rental scheme has been extended to every primary school in the county.

One of the most popular decisions made by the government in last month’s budget, the move has been welcomed by Deputy Willie Penrose who says that it will ease the financial burden placed on local families.

“At present, the average costs to parents in Westmeath for primary school books is between €60 ($81) and €80 ($108). This figure could drop to as little as only €20 ($27)as a result of the decision in the budget to extend school-book rental schemes to every primary school in Ireland,” Penrose said.

“Back to school costs have been increasingly punitive for local families in recent years, with the problem of book and uniform costs being particularly acute. I am pleased the Labour Party has taken decisive action in budget 2014 to reduce the cost of school books by rolling out this scheme on a national basis, while we are also working on new proposals to give parents a say in the costs of school uniforms.

“Each year, €15 million ($20m) is provided to Irish schools to invest in school books. We believe that schools should use this funding to establish book rental schemes, and reduce the costs to parents. However, the latest figures show that 24 percent of primary schools in Ireland do not currently operate book rental schemes, despite the fact that such schemes can make a big difference to household budgets.”

-- Westmeath Examiner

Fear Over Burgalries

Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court heard that a couple in their 70s are living in constant fear, even taking turns to stay up at night to “keep watch,” after their home and bed and breakfast was broken into twice in one week.

In a victim-impact statement read out on behalf of Eddie and Maureen Lavelle of Burton Street House Bed and Breakfast in Ballina, the couple detailed their lives in the aftermath of the events of last July.

Eddie Lavelle, 75, said he and his wife were “shocked,” “traumatized” and nervous to leave their home since the burglaries. He said it was “terrible that young people would go out and target old people” and said the couple still find it difficult to sleep at night.

Matthew Lafferty pleaded guilty to burgled the Lavelles’ home on the night of July 22, 2013, leading into July 23, and again on July 28.  Lafferty and his accomplice gained access to an open upstairs window at the gable of the house and stole alcohol and €350 ($472). The couple were present in the house at the time.

On July 28, when the Lavelles’ son Eddie and his family were visiting, the court heard that Mrs. Lavelle came across the intruders in the dining room.  The court heard that Lafferty’s accomplice, who is “still at large,” pushed Mr. Lavelle who hit a wall and fell to the ground. Mr. Lavelle suffered lower back and arm injuries as a result.  An iPhone 5 belonging to the Lavelles’ son was taken but was recovered the following day.

Mrs. Lavelle compared the couple’s home now to Fort Knox as they equipped their home with security systems and lighting, but added that they are still unable to sleep at night.

Lafferty, a 21-year-old father of three, has 47 previous convictions, committing his first at the age of 16.

Defense barrister Eoin Garavan said Lafferty came from a dysfunctional family, had a “terrible childhood” and that drugs made him “indulge in criminal acts.”

Lafferty received a three-year prison sentence for the first charge and a five-year prison sentence for the second. The sentences will run concurrently.

-- Mayo News