Suffer the Children
Children in deprived areas of Limerick are asking friends for food on Fridays because they know they won’t get fed over the weekend, a new book on social exclusion in the city claims.
A teacher who spoke to Dr. Niamh Hourigan, editor of Understanding Limerick, said that even in cases where children show obvious signs of being beaten, suspected cases of neglect are not being prioritized by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
“All I hear from the HSE is, ‘We don’t have the power to do anything,’ or ‘We don’t have the resources to do anything.’ What can they do? That’s what I’d like to know,” the teacher told Hourigan.
It takes so long for neglect cases to get to the relevant HSE committee that the children are beyond help.
A social commented, “You take a child involved in anti-social behavior who you think is at risk. Well, the only way to get action for that child is to submit a child protection notification. But only a very small proportion of all original referrals actually get approved by the Child Protection Notification Committee based on budgets, etc. It’s only at that stage that you can have a case conference and get some action, and the process of getting it approved takes for f***ing ever.”
Another senior social worker said, “By the time we get to the point of intervening in a seriously neglected or abused child’s life, it’s nearly always too late to make any real difference. It becomes a matter for the psychiatric services or the criminal justice system, or sometimes the undertakers.”
Hourigan says the blame does not lie with front-line workers in social services in Limerick or even local HSE management, but concludes that the Limerick Regeneration project will not work unless the “crisis” in child protection services is dealt with on a national level.
“I really feel it’s an issue that has to be addressed at national level and I’m not even having too much of a go at local management in the HSE who have to work within the structures and budgets that are there. This has to be part of the Regeneration story, you can’t have one without the other. The idea that Regeneration is ever going to be successful while we have this crisis going on in child protection is, I think, untenable.”

-Limerick Leader

Sexual Discrimination
MORE than a quarter of gay, lesbian and bi-sexual people working in the private sector across the North conceal their sexual orientation in the workplace, according to a new report.
Launched by the Derry-based Rainbow Project, the research is entitled “Through Our Eyes - Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People in the Workplace.”
The report also found that one in three lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) people working in the public sector believe their sexual orientation will have a negative impact on their chances of progressing in work, while 38.1% of respondents from the community, voluntary and non-governmental sector said the organization they work for does not have an anti-bullying procedure or policy, or that they are unsure if there is one.
Derry man John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said, “This report provides the evidence base for what it is like for LGB people in work in Northern Ireland.
“It also provides the business case for acting to make the situation better. Government, employers and the Rainbow Project have considerable work to do in that regard.”
The report was commissioned by the Department for Social Development and will be launched later by Minister for Social Development Alex Attwood.
“The Rainbow Project report is an important piece of research. It is the first in depth study of the experiences and perceptions of LGB people in the workplace in Northern Ireland,” said Attwood.
“This report will represent a baseline of understanding from which we can build. My department is committed to the progression of a shared future for all in Northern Ireland.”

-Derry Journal

Shocking Animal Cruelty
JAMES Curley from Culleens, Co. Sligo was remanded in custody until Thursday of this week by Judge Kevin Kilrane after one of the worst cases of animal cruelty seen by Sligo County Council officials in 20 years.
The judge said he was jailing Curley because the man seemed to be in total denial about his responsibilities to his animals.
Curley pleaded guilty to the offenses, but Kilrane said the farmer had told “blatant lies” on the witness stand.
When officials visited the defendant’s farm at Culleens on February 4, 2010 they found birds picking out the eyes of a donkey which had been dead for number of days.
When asked about the donkey’s death, the farmer said the animal may have fallen down.
A total of nine animals were found in various states of neglect, and these were subsequently taken away by the ISPCA and a donkey sanctuary.
Sligo County Council veterinary surgeon Dr. Colleary said the bones were sticking out of a six months old foal which was also suffering from hypothermia. Another animal was covered in sores.
There was no sign of any food or water for the animals that were exposed to the elements.
Three horses was also found in a pitiful condition, the court heard.  Some of the donkeys had been reduced to chewing the bark of the fence post.
Curley told the court he had been ill after an accident in 2007 and his son and wife were “looking after the animals.”
He said there was hay for the donkeys and horses at the “far end of the farm.”  His son had been feeding the animals.
The farmer said he had bought a number of foreign donkeys that were not as hardy as the native ones.
Inspector Sean MacGinty asked the defendant how he felt about putting the blame for the situation on his 16-year-old son?
Kilrane said the graphic photographs showed the animals were totally neglected.
“All they were getting was frost, snow and a bit of bark from a fence post,” he said.  “I am remanding him in custody so that he can reflect on what he has done.”

-Sligo Weekender

Mayo Prices Rise
MAYO was the only county in the country to record an increase in hotel prices in 2010.
A survey by popular website revealed that prices for accommodation in Mayo’s hotels rose by 3% last year, from
***78 to ***81 per room per night. They are now almost ****10 more than hotels in Dublin where prices continue to fall dramatically.
In Galway, prices dropped by 7% during the same period, from ***107 to ****100, while in Sligo prices fell marginally from ****86 to ****85. The figures are based on bookings made on the website.
However, the chairman of Mayo Hotels Federation, Fergal Ryan, who is the manager of the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, says Mayo is continuing to offer fantastic value for money.
“The 2009 prices were totally unsustainable and hotels were under pressure to cover their costs,” he said.
“The room rate had dropped to such an extent across the county that we just couldn’t continue to operate like that.   I see rates remaining at this level throughout 2011 because this is where the rate needs to be to cover the significant cost base we incur.”
Ryan also argued that the value for money in Mayo remains second to none.
“The cost per room is still significantly lower than many other counties. We have a very high quality product on offer in Mayo and I believe hotels here represent great value for money," he said.
Surprisingly, the survey showed that average prices in Dublin dropped from ***78 to ****73 in 2010, while in Cork accommodation charges fell from ****78 to ****77. But Ryan says these areas are enjoying an unfair advantage.
“A lot of people don’t realize this but hotels in the cities of Dublin and Cork, as well as in Dun Laoghaire, are not subject to the Joint Labor Commission system,” he said.
“This means that the minimum wage in hotels in these areas is ****7.65, compared to our minimum wage of ****9.09 per hour and time-and-a-third on Sundays.  It’s totally unfair that we don’t all have to follow the same rules.”
On a national level the rate at which hotel prices are falling is beginning to slow down, with prices down 4% year-on-year compared to a 21% year-on-year in 2009.
The average hotel price in Ireland is now ***79 per night and the Dublin prices are among the best value for any major city in the world.

-Western People

Neglected horses