News from Ireland - news from around the 32 counties


Ninety-two year old Julia O’Donnell, mother of Daniel and Margo and indeed an author in her own right, decided to knit the socks for the Pontiff when she had read about the harsh winters expected all over Europe this year. Of course she used only the very best Donegal wool for the job!

Speaking to the Donegal Democrat she said: “I just decided to knit a few pairs of socks for the Pope. It would be nice to think that he had a few pairs all the way from Donegal and to be honest I expected to hear no more about it.”

But early last week, Julia got a very pleasant surprise when the postman delivered a package to her which came all the way from the Vatican and included a pair of Rosary beads, a personal letter of thanks, a blessing and a signed memento by the pontiff.

“To be perfectly honest I just couldn’t believe it at first. I never thought that anybody would take the time to do such a thing. I am absolutely honored and you can rest assured that these gifts will have pride of place in my home,” said the formidable Julia.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)


Life on the farm isn't always sunny for Christa Bahner.

"You can't just grow the vegetables and expect to sell them. There's a lot of steps after that," she says in the greenhouse of her farm in Belmont.

But thanks to the Community Supported Agriculture Program, she's developed quite the following.

"It's a great way to get to know families in our area. It's a great way for us to know where a lot of our vegetables are going.


Customers pay a flat fee, then stop by once a week to pick up fresh vegetables that are in season.

The farm currently operates a 30 member CSA.

"It's really important for us to get that financial support because we only have cash income May to October.


Which is why the city of Belfast wants to increase the number of users. 

"You spend money on a local farmer, their local farmer, that local farmer will put it back right in his community and we want to support that," says City Manager Joe Slocum.

They've teamed up with the Maine Farmland Trust to create a savings account program specifically designed for CSA's.

"That was you don't have to come up with a one time payment of 100, 150 dollars, you can save for it, little by little.


The accounts will be available at four participating banks in Belfast.

Slocum says it's a chance to invest in the city's roots.

"Belfast recognizes that the agriculture community is not just a part of our history, it's one of the many important economies we have and whether their big economies or small economies we want to enhance them.


Spreading the wealth to support growth in Belfast.

The banks participating in the program are Bangor Savings Bank, Camden National Bank, Damariscotta Bank and Trust, and Key Bank.
(Source: WABI)


A doctor accused of ignoring frantic calls from a patient who underwent a gastric band operation was found guilty of professional misconduct.

Dr Laszlo Ruscsak (46) threatened to cut off the patient's aftercare when she complained about his aggressive and dismissive behaviour.

Mrs Lucia Dowd of Lucan, Co Dublin, complained the Dublin-based doctor provided no follow-up aftercare when she travelled to Hungary for the operation, which is intended to help patients lose weight.

At one point, Dr Ruscsak sent an email to Mrs Dowd which stated: "I can cancel your aftercare at any time. You have right to sue me at any time (I am not afraid of it LOL)". LOL means 'laugh out loud'.

Mrs Dowd, a relative of Liveline presenter Joe Duffy, described how the consultant anaesthetist ignored her anxious phone calls and provided no follow-up to her €7,000 operation, which was carried out by a different surgeon in Budapest in October 2009.

Dr Ruscsak, who did not attend the Irish Medical Council's hearing, was found guilty of professional misconduct on a number of counts, including that he disclosed Mrs Dowd's confidential medical and personal information to RTE's Liveline radio programme, and that he failed to provide adequate psychological counselling to Mrs Dowd, who was suffering from depression.

Dr Ruscsak worked out of the now defunct Haven Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Stillorgan, Dublin.
"He talked the talk, he was a good salesman," Mrs Dowd said of her first consultation.
(Source: The Evening Herald)


A contentious loyalist parade through a border village cost more than £70,000 to police, it has been revealed.

Over a dozen bands took part in the march through Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh earlier this summer, despite opposition from residents in the mainly nationalist area.

The July event passed off peacefully after a huge security operation was put in place.

Now it has emerged that the cost to the PSNI was £73,000.

It was part of a £5.7m bill for policing parades and public disorder during this year’s marching season.
The bill, which includes PSNI resources, investigation costs and damage to equipment, was detailed during a meeting of the Policing Board last week.