Crosses in the sky
A group of 14 people claim to have seen crosses in the sky and a statue of Our Lady move at the shrine in Kerrytown near Burtonport on Tuesday evening, September 29.
The group of locals went to the site where Our Lady is said to have appeared in 1939, in response to a prediction made by Dublin man Joe Coleman.
Coleman said he was "instructed" by Our Lady when he visited Medugorje in April, to notify people that she would appear at the Kerrytown site on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately I was unwell and wasn't able to go to Donegal. When I was in Donegal recently I handed out leaflets in Dungloe to let people know that Our Lady was going to appear at the shrine in Kerrytown,” he said.
"She said to me, ‘My child, I am going to appear in Kerrytown on Tuesday, 29 September, 2009.' Our Lady asked me to tell the priests of the church. She is calling for people to get back to praying the Rosary."
A number of those present on Tuesday night claim they saw crosses in the sky above the rock. Others are saying they saw the statue of Our Lady become life-like and turn in their direction.
"I haven't been able to speak to any of them yet," Coleman said.
The story was taken up the following day on Highland Radio's Shaun Doherty show which was contacted by several callers who claimed to have been present on Tuesday and witnessed first hand the crosses appearing in the sky and the statue turning life-like.
Nurse slaps patient
A staff nurse employed at Knockbracken Healthcare Park in Belfast has told a court he slapped a 72-year-old dementia sufferer five times in the face because he was “feeling under pressure.”
Harold Robert Moore, 51, appeared at Ards Magistrates Court where he admitted slapping a “frail” elderly woman called Mary Ryan on May 26 last year.
The court heard that a member of the public who was visiting her father at the time witnessed Moore carry out the assault in the care home’s TV room.
In her statement read out to the court, the witness Lyons said she witnessed Moore “toss” Ryan into a chair before he “slapped her across the face four or five times.”
The woman said she heard the elderly woman make noises as she was struck.
When Moore stopped slapping the 72-year-old, the witness said he “went bright red when he realized he was being watched”.
The court was told Moore was arrested by police and charged with aggravated assault on a female following the eyewitness complaint.
Under police interview Moore, who it was revealed has worked as a care worker at Knockbracken for over 20 years, said he slapped the elderly woman because he was feeling under pressure.
Moore, who pleaded guilty to the charge, told police, “I lifted her back in the chair and put my hand on her face, I wouldn’t call it a slap. Then I tapped her on the face lightly with my hand cupped about five times.”
When asked by police if this was an approved care method, Moore replied “no,” and admitted it was “inappropriate.”
Moore’s solicitor said his client had been suffering from depression and that the “stress of the job has eaten away at him for years.”
The solicitor said, “This lady had been making a lot of noise and an alarm went off when she got out of her chair, not in any way to excuse what he did. He wishes to apologize for his actions. It was the stress of his job.”
The court was told Moore was dismissed from his job and will never work in social care again.
Before sentencing Moore, District Judge Mark Hamill put it to him, “Some day in the future you may find yourself old, frail and vulnerable. Let’s hope you are never treated like this.”
Moore was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for three years and fined £300.
Almost 280 operations due to take place on patients in Tullamore Midland Regional Hospital in the first six months of this year have been cancelled, figures obtained by Fine Gael reveal.
A total of 153 planned day case admissions and 125 planned inpatients admissions were cancelled between January and June of this year -- a total of 278. The number of canceled operations in Tullamore are among the highest in the country, outside of Dublin and Cork.
In comparison, only 61 operations were cancelled in Mullingar and 70 in Portlaoise hospitals during that same time.
Chairman of Tullamore Town Council and a member of the Health Service Executive (HSE) forum for the area, Councilor Tommy McKeigue, was outraged at the figures.
"The health care system is slowly disintegrating," he said yesterday. "It's totally unacceptable. To go for an operation, no matter how small, people need to prepare themselves for it.
“It's not fair on the patient and it's not fair on the doctors and consultants who have to tell them it's cancelled. We're still at a loss as to what's going on."
However, the HSE has disputed the figures and said they are not an accurate reflection of the total experience of all patients.
"While the figures document the numbers of operations canceled, the figures do not reflect the associated reasons. The figures do not account for the number of DNAs (do not attend) or the number of people who are not deemed clinically suitable for a procedure on the day by the relevant clinician," said a spokesperson for HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster. "Operations are rescheduled as a priority on the first available date."
According to the spokesperson, the reason why there were a higher amount of cancellations in Tullamore compared to Mullingar and Portlaoise is because Tullamore is the regional center for ENT and orthopedics.
McKeigue pointed out that 15 beds, one theater and the orthopedic ward that were closed as part of summer cutbacks have not yet been reopened, even though the hospital is bound to get busy again with the winter months bringing flu bugs and other infections, making it traditionally the busiest time for hospital admissions.
The HSE spokesperson confirmed that there are "no current plans" to reopen the 15 beds, but the matter is being kept under "constant review."
Fine Gael's spokesperson on health Deputy James Reilly obtained the figures in response to a parliamentary question.
"This broken system is vastly inefficient and costly to the taxpayer and it is a vicious circle for the patients who are left to wait on all sides -- on trolleys in A&E, in acute beds after their acute phase of care has ended, and worst of all, in pain as their operations are cancelled," said Reilly.
Woman chooses prison
A young Athlone woman chose nearly a year in prison rather than deal with her addiction through the Welfare and Probation Service (WPS) after being convicted in the District Court of just €10 worth of shoplifting.
In front of Judge John Neilan was Natasha Ring, 22, who pleaded guilty to the theft of €10 of clothes from a shop in Irishtown on September 7.
When her previous convictions were made known to the court, it transpired Ring had a number for theft and had already served three months in prison earlier this year for stealing a prescription pad.
“How the businesses in Athlone can accommodate all the shoplifters is beyond me,” said the judge.
He sentenced her to 11 months in prison but adjourned its application until December 16 to allow her engage with the WPS in the interim.
The judge was explaining he was doing this to allow Ring a chance to get back on her feet, with the threat of a Christmas in prison hanging over her, but Ring declined this offer, saying she felt she got better treatment in prison.
The judge accommodated this and sent her down for 11 months.
“I recommend the defendant be treated for her heroin addiction in prison,” he ordered.
Poor Irish broadband
The quality of broadband connections in Ireland is inferior to that of less developed economies like Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania, according to an international survey of high-speed Internet connections in 66 countries.
The study ranks Ireland, which it brands "an innovation economy", in 37th place -- a drop of one position on a similar survey in 2008.
It also claims broadband services in the Republic are just about keeping pace with the needs of today’s computer applications. It ranked Dublin as 123rd out of 240 cities under the same scoring system.
Although Ireland has the 12th highest penetration rate of any country with 82 percent of Irish households able to access broadband, the results suggest the Republic is poorly placed to benefit from next-generation web applications and services because of poor fixed and mobile broadband quality.
The only other EU member states with inferior broadband services are Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg.
Overall, the survey’s research team found that broadband quality is linked to social and economic benefits, and that countries with high broadband quality had placed broadband high on their national agenda.