Phone Operator Heroine
A local woman who works for eircom's 11811 directory enquiry service and overheard an armed robbery taking place when a woman called the service has been hailed a hero after she acted quickly calling the Gardai (police), who were on the scene within minutes.
Marlyn O'Rourke has been working for the 11811 service in Roslevin Lawns for the past 10 years, but on Valentine's Day this year she received a call that she will never forget when she heard a woman and her staff being held up at gunpoint.
"On Valentine's night I was working until 8 o'clock. At 7 p.m. a call came through from a lady looking for a florist.
" The next thing she dropped the phone but she didn't hang up and I could hear someone shouting, 'Give me the f***ing money or I'll blow your head off' and 'open the f***ing till,’” said O’Rourke.
“This went on for a few minutes and I could hear the employees shouting. I checked the number and rang the Gardai in Clontarf. It turned out it was Clontarf Florists that was being robbed and the Gardai went straight out.
"The lady, Bernie, came back on the phone and said they'd been robbed and I told her the guards were on the way."
O’Rourke said she was quite shaken by the incident and added, "I kept thinking please don't let the gun go off."
When she went home that evening she told her husband Jimmy about what had happened and she couldn't get Bernie and the employees out of her mind.
"I had taken her number down and I rang her when I got home and she didn't even remember that she'd been on the phone to me. I asked if everyone was all right and she said they were," explained O’Rourke.
She has learned since from the flower shop proprietor, Bernie, that the Gardai were on the scene in a couple of minutes and a Garda helicopter was overhead shortly after the incident.
O’Rourke thought about the incident for a short time after but had forgotten about it, when last week Joe Duffy, who is a customer of the Clontarf Florists shop, told the story on his radio show in a bid to track down O’Rourke as Bernie wanted to thank her for her help.
The Evening Herald then ran a story and on Thursday morning Bernie was interviewed on Ireland AM, but little did she know O’Rourke had been contacted in the meantime and the two had the opportunity to speak on the show.
Church, Cemetery Disrespected
The Bishop of Derry has appealed to local people to respect the sanctity of churches and cemeteries in the city.
Dr. Seamus Hegarty made the call following a break in at St. Columba’s Church last Wednesday night, and after it emerged that security guards are to be employed at the City Cemetery in a bid to stop underage drinking and anti-social behavior there.
At the Long Tower, thieves broke into the church before ransacking ornate candle boxes on the altar looking for money.
Both incidents sparked shock and anger in the local community.
In recent weeks, residents living close to the lower entrance to the City Cemetery on Lone Moor Road have said crowds of up to 100 young people have been gathering at the bottom of the graveyard on Friday and Saturday nights, drinking and leaving the area littered with bottles, cans and blue bags.
As a result, security guards will be in place in the area for the next two weekends in order to stop the young people from gathering.
Hegarty appealed for people to treat the cemetery with respect. “Respect for the dead and, in particular cemeteries, has long been a characteristic of our society.
“The City Cemetery is often a place of comfort for people who have been bereaved, where many visit and care for their family graves.
“I call on everyone to continue to show the respect that this important place deserves in our city,” he said.
A spokesperson for Derry City Council said it is currently reviewing security measures at the City Cemetery. “The council is committed to ensuring the cemetery is a place for reflection and is treated with respect,” said the spokesperson.
Local councilor Patricia Logue said, “As a society there are bigger questions to ask, such as why people think it is okay to climb into the confines of the cemetery on a Friday night with a carryout of alcohol.”
Better Late Than Never
It's a discovery that unites the generations. An old book unearthed by chance, long forgotten and gathering dust in a grandfather’s chest, left in some dark corner of the loft for decades.
You open it and read the faded library card still tucked inside after all those years. It tells you your grandfather took it out from the local library nearly 70 years ago, when Ireland was at the height of the emergency and all of Europe was at war.
Do you risk returning it and incurring a 70-year fine, or do the honest thing and brave the librarian’s wrath?
Honest Templemore man Paul Walsh decided to face the music and hand his grandfather’s copy of Flowers In House and Garden back to Templemore Library after 69 years. In accumulated fines, the penalty comes to €903.50, not adjusted for inflation.
Lucky for him, senior Templemore librarian Pat Bracken took pity on him and waived the enormous fine. Bracken said the book, written by Constance Spry in July 1937, with a foreword by Phyllis Moore, was originally issued to Walsh’s grandfather and namesake back in the winter of 1941.
“It was due back on the 15th of December, 1941,” said Bracken. “So it would have been issued about two weeks before that.”
The then library rules stipulated that “the book may be kept out for two weeks, it may be renewed if not required by another, and a fine of two pence will be charged for each week or portion it is kept.”
“We worked it out,” said Bracken. “Currently it’s 25 cent. If it was fined at today’s rate it would come to €903.50.”
The book was kept for all those years in a box of items belonging to John’s Walsh’s father, the late Paul Walsh, who was an author in his own right, having written a book called The History of Templemore.
Child Sex Law Challenged
The Supreme Court has been urged to overturn as unconstitutional the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" laws which allow the prosecution of teenage boys for having sex with teenage girls, but prevent prosecution of the girls.
The court is hearing an appeal arising from a 15-year-old boy being charged under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses) Act 2006 with having sex with a 14-year-old girl in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
The boy is also charged with buggery, and his trial is on hold pending the outcome of the appeal, which opened last Thursday and will resume on a future date.
Section 3 of the 2006 act created an offense of defilement of a child under 17 and provided for a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. Section 5 of the act stated a girl under 17 cannot be guilty of such an offense.
In the High Court in March 2010, Justice Elizabeth Dunne ruled that while the law did amount to gender discrimination, that discrimination was not invidious, capricious or disproportionate.
As the risk of pregnancy as a result of underage sex was borne by girls only, not boys, society was entitled to deter such activity and to place the burden of criminal sanction on those "who bear the least adverse consequences" of it, she said.
Outlining the boy’s appeal against that decision, solicitor John O’Kelly said the kernel of the appeal was that both parties involved in this sexual act were children in law aged under 17, with only about a year between the two of them.
The boy’s case was they engaged consensually in an act of sexual intercourse but under the act, one of them was liable to be convicted and possibly jailed for up to five years while the other was guilty of no criminal offense at all.
Justice Niall Fennelly noted the 2006 act is neutral as to whether the act of sexual intercourse is consensual or not and the court was not getting involved in that issue in the appeal.
John Finlay SC, for the state, opposed the appeal and argued the High Court decision should stand. The disputed provision was a proportionate measure on grounds of pregnancy, he submitted.