Angry Teen Thief
A THIEF who managed to give up heroin but not stealing, was sentenced to 20 months in by the District Court after the judge heard her plead guilty to a further 10 offences committed while under a suspended sentence.
Mary O’Neill, 19, with an address in Willow Park, Athlone, got somewhat agitated at sentencing when she put her attested-to education to work and began adding up what the judge was handing down.
“How long is that? That’s more than three years. Hey. But they can only give two years here,” she shouted, referring to the two years maximum which can be handed down in a District Court.
“There’s murderers and rapists gettin’ out and I’m gettin’ three years for shopliftin’ on heroin?”
Her solicitor, Mark Cooney, calmed the humor a bit by getting the judge to clarify his sentencing, and explain to O’Neill that she would have to serve 20 months.
O’Neill was before Judge David Anderson to face a total of 22 charges, but her solicitor argued she had pleaded guilty to 12 of those on February 10 when Judge Lindsey sentenced her to 12 months in jail, suspending it for two years, pending a Probation Report.
Anderson told Cooney he couldn’t see any evidence of a guilty plea on the 12 charge sheets from February 10, and adjourned a final decision on these back to Lindsey’s next appearance on February 3.
“Let’s move on to the new generation,” said the judge.
“I have about 10 more, judge,” said Inspector Aidan Minnock, for the state, including stealing clothing, groceries and cosmetics from a number of stores with a value of close to ****2,000.
Cooney continued to plead for the former ward of the state whom he referred to as a “very sorry case.”
“She has a reasonable standard of education, but unfortunately hasn’t taken steps to further this,” he said.
“She was involved with drugs but got off them on her own,” he said. The court heard later how she had been clear of them for five months.
“The Probation Service indicated they can be of no further help,” noted the judge before handing down the sentence. He gave her 10 months on each of the bench warrants and made them consecutive.
He also sentenced O’Neill to eight months consecutive on each of the stolen handbags, with a further consecutive four months for stolen curtains.
Chilean Miner for North
ONE of the 33 Chilean miners, rescued from half-a-mile beneath the surface in the miraculous recovery operation in October, will be visiting Craigavon Civic Center in Co. Armagh on Friday February 4.
Jose Henriquez, and his wife Blanca will also be the special guests of Shankill Parish Church in Lurgan. With the help of an interpreter, he will tell of his experiences as the miners waited a harrowing 69 days to be rescued.
Said Mayor Stephen Moutray, "It will be such a honor to have Jose and Blanca in the Civic Center. It is the annual SAMS (South American Mission Society) celebration, a spiritual event."
"Jose and Blanca are members of SAMS in Chile, which is run by the Rev Alf Cooper, our president there, and he is coming too. Alf is the son of a Chilean missionary and was born in Chile,” said SAMS chairman Denis Johnston.
Henriquez, 54, was the 24th of the 33 miners to make it to the surface in the slender cage that transported them from their underground prison in the San Jose gold mine. As a committed Christian, he helped keep up the spirits of the miners who were in surprisingly good condition after their ordeal.
Said Johnston, "They were due to be here a few days earlier. But they are guests of President Obama on the day before and will fly from America to Northern Ireland. They are attending a prayer breakfast in Washington, along with the President of Chile, and then coming to Craigavon. It's such an honor to have them here."
Don’t Come to Hospital
SLIGO General Hospital had to issue an appeal for patients not to attend its emergency department recently after a record number of patients were left waiting on trolleys.
The number of patients waiting on trolleys, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization's (INMO) "trolley watch,” jumped from just two on Monday, January 17 to 20 the following day.
And by Thursday there were 25 patients waiting on trolleys in the department, the highest number in Sligo General Hospital since INMO figures began.
The trolley crisis prompted an appeal from the Health Service Executive (HSE) North West.
"Sligo General Hospital's emergency department has been extremely busy during the week, with a high number of patients requiring admission," a spokesperson for the HSE said.
"It continues to be very busy today, with 28 patients waiting admission. As a result some elective admissions have been deferred.
"The presence of Norovirus (winter vomiting bug) in a number of wards has contributed further to bed pressures.
"We would encourage the public to contact their GP or GP out of hours service in the first instance and not to attend the emergency department unless absolutely necessary.”
The appeal had the desired effect, with patients forced to wait on trolleys falling to 12 on Friday, January 21 and following the clearance of a backlog of patients, just five yesterday on Monday the 24th.
However, in the last six months (from August 1 to January 24) the number of instances where more than 15 patients have been waiting on trolleys in Sligo General has grown significantly.
Home Help Slashed
AN 87-year-old Ramelton woman, who suffers from lung cancer and must attend hospital three days a week for kidney dialysis, has had her home help support hours cut.
"The HSE don't care if I get frostbitten and die on the front step of my house,” said Josephine Doherty.
The ailing octogenarian was only informed last week that her home help hours would be reduced from 45 minutes each day, Monday to Friday, to two half-hour periods on Mondays and Thursdays.
Her family has appealed the decision and faxed off a letter to the HSE headquarters in Manorhamilton. A review will now follow but, meanwhile, Doherty has been told that the original hours will not be reinstated during the process.
The Tipperary native, who will be 88 in October, was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2009 and has survived on one kidney since having the other removed back in 1981.
"My mother suffers from a range of other crippling illnesses and they aren't minor ailments, they're major ones. She need sticks to get around because she fell down the stairs and damaged discs in her back," said her daughter, Rosemary McCafferty.
"She can't carry a saucepan and can't light a fire. There's nine of us in the family but we're all working and we all have families of our own. It's impossible to be here all the time."
The home help worker has been assigned a number of tasks on the one hour weekly basis.
"I asked the assistant director of public health nursing if she could manage these tasks in such a time frame and she said she could. Well, I would regard myself as pretty fit and I know I couldn't do it," said McCafferty.
"My mother was very distressed when she learned that the home help hours had been cut. We're not asking for anything outrageous. We're doing our best not to be a burden on the system but we're getting no help."
The situation is currently under review and the family will be contacted by the HSE when the process is completed.
FINE Gael Deputy Joe Carey has described as both “shocking and frightening” the number of people from Clare being forced to emigrate because of the lack of employment opportunities.
He admitted the gravity of the problem was emerging on the campaign trail, and was also reinforced by a damning report from the ESRI, which predicted that as many as 60,000 people are set to leave the country this year.
“To put this in perspective, this number is higher than the 50,000 people who will leave full-time education in 2011. Clare will be hit worse than most counties by the expected rise in emigration and unemployment,” he warned.
“I have been canvassing over the past few weeks all over Clare and while the economy, public services, Shannon and other issues loom large, I was somewhat taken aback by the extent to which emigration is now affecting so many households throughout the county.
“It’s pretty clear to me that County Clare, where unemployment levels have remained above the national average for some time now, is losing a generation of our brightest and best young people. This fact is becoming a real and serious threat to future economic recovery.
“As anyone who had to leave Ireland in the 1980s can testify, forced emigration casts a dark shadow over a society.”