Sperm donor wins access rights to son

A sperm donor won a landmark court battle to get access to his son who is being raised by a lesbian couple.

The Supreme Court ruled that, while the man was not entitled to guardianship, he has natural rights over the 3-year-old child.

Five judges unanimously found it was in the best interest of the boy’s welfare to remain in contact with his biological father.

The court previously heard that the man donated his sperm to the lesbian couple, who were his friends, so one of them could have a baby.

It was the couple’s preference that the child would have knowledge of his biological father while the donor -- a 41-year-old gay man -- would be like a “favorite uncle.”

But their friendship deteriorated and he started court action two years ago when the couple revealed they planned to move to Australia for a year with the boy. 

The Supreme Court overturned an earlier High Court decision that the man was not entitled to access to the child. In her judgment, Justice Susan Denham found that the sperm donor has rights as a natural father and added that he had formed a bond with the child when he was born.

“There is benefit to a child, in general, to have the society of his father,” she said. “I am satisfied that the learned High Court judge gave insufficient weight to this factor.

The judge urged the parties to agree to terms of access before the case is dealt with back in the High Court.

(The Irish Examiner)


Meath’s Job Losses

With up to 600 jobs lost in Meath's struggling retail sector alone this year, further job losses have been predicted as hundreds of shoppers leave the county each weekend to shop in Northern Ireland.

A survey carried out by the Meath Chronicle found 300 Meath-registered cars parked outside just two Northern Ireland supermarkets on a recent Saturday.

IBEC's Retail Ireland group warned that one job would be lost in the Republic for every 150 cross-border shoppers, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs this year.

Councilor Peadar Toibin claimed that 600 jobs had been lost in Meath's retail sector this year, and warned that many hundreds more will be in a precarious position in 2010.

The result of the survey has led to calls by Meath businesses for shoppers to think of local jobs when they leave the county to go shopping.

The speaker of Meath County Council, Councilor Bill Carey, has urged cross-border shoppers to hold back at least a portion of their spending for the local economy.

Meath County Council's economic development officer, Kevin Stewart, said that he was not surprised by the figures. He urged people to look at the total cost of going North to shop, including travel time and petrol costs, and to keep in mind that every euro spent in Meath is about local jobs.

He also said there was a responsibility on Meath businesses to make sure their prices are as competitive as possible.

"I would urge shoppers thinking of going to Northern Ireland to remember that it could be your or a neighbor's son or daughter's job that could be lost because of the cross border shopping," said Stewart.

Carey asked people who are going outside the state to shop to withhold at least 5% of what they intended to spend for their local towns and villages.

"It could mean the difference between shops staying in business and letting staff go," he said.

Toibin extrapolated figures from the Consumers Association of Ireland statistics for 2009, which indicated that Meath would have suffered 600 job losses in the retail sector this year.

"Shops, big and small, throughout the county are being hit by the double whammy of reduced disposable income and increasing exchange rate and tax differentials across the border," he said.

He said the only way to offer a fair chance to southern retailers was to get rid of the artificial differentials.

 (Meath Chronicle)

Mayor Insulted

The mayor of Sligo, Councilor Jim McGarry, has told how he felt "intimidated, threatened and abused" and had to abandon his role in the official switching on of the town's Christmas lights as the dispute over the reopening of O'Connell Street erupted into bitter public acrimony.

McGarry has accused some of the town's businessmen, members of the Chamber of Commerce, of "grossly insulting the office of mayor," claiming that he was "set up" and "ambushed" after being invited by the chamber to officially switch on the festive lights.

One of 11 borough councilors supporting the recent re-opening of the town's main street to vehicular traffic, McGarry alleged he had been insulted by a number of businessmen who were among a group of about 50 protesters who surrounded him when he turned up to switch on the Christmas lights.

"I have no problem with people protesting. It has been going on now for several weeks and people are fully entitled to make their point,” he said.

"But what happened on Sunday went away beyond what is acceptable behavior. For the mayor to be insulted by members of the organization which invited him to a function as their guest is unprecedented.

"I felt intimidated, threatened and abused and I had to get away. I could not stay to turn on the lights.

"It looks now as though I was set up, ambushed.”

McGarry said he was astounded at the aggressive behavior of the protesters.

"They tried to shout me down while I was doing a radio interview, and they even managed to silence a choir who had been singing in the street,” he said.

"We moved further down the street in an attempt to perform the switching on of the lights, but we were followed and I was completely surrounded by the protesters, who were quite aggressive at this stage.

"There were families with young children present who had come into town especially for a Christmas day out. I told the protesters it was a disgrace that they should behave in this manner in these circumstances, and one local businessman shouted at me that I was a disgrace.

"I was completely encircled at this stage, when another businessman shouted directly into my face, asking me who was I to be making decisions for his street. I told him I was an elected representative and the mayor of Sligo, and that his behavior was disgraceful.

"I was invited as a guest by the chamber, and yet some of their members made me feel most unwelcome. The office of mayor should be respected at all times, irrespective of what issues are involved.”

 Sligo Champion

Woman Bites Cop

When Gardai (police) arrived to arrest her brothers -- one of whom assaulted the other with a shovel -- a Kanturk woman bit one of the Gardai.

Lindsey Kelly was charged with assault causing harm on November 21, 2008.

However, Gardai did not get an opportunity to arrest Kelly, 24, for exactly a year after the incident. She was eventually arrested this past November 21 at Watergrasshill.

Garda Elaine Scannell, who was bitten by Kelly on the hand and had to wait six months for blood test results, gave evidence at Kanturk District Court.

Scannell was assaulted on the same evening that Kelly's brother, Malcolm, was charged with assaulting his brother, Thomas, using a shovel.

"There was a brawl going on with the Kelly family and I intervened. I put my hand up and Lindsey Kelly took a chunk out of the palm of my hand. There were no permanent marks, but she gouged my hand," said Scannell.

Defending solicitor Tom O'Sullivan said Kelly, who had no previous convictions, had lashed out because she was objecting to her brothers being arrested.

"She has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and has apologized to Garda Scannell for the awful incident," said O'Sullivan, adding that "she has never been in trouble before."

However, Judge Michael Pattwell strongly criticized Kelly's actions, and also noted that she had been 30 minutes late for the court sitting.

"This Garda had to wait six months to ensure that she was not infected with anything. To bite a person in this day and age and to draw blood is appalling,” he said.

"First of all Gardai had to chase her for a year and then she is late turning up for court. She has no regard for the court."

Sentencing her to two months prison, the judge said "I can tell you, Ms. Kelly, that you will not come in and bite any member of staff."

 The Corkman
Underwear Thief
A MAN who stole children's underwear from a neighbor's washing line has appeared at Derry Magistrate's Court.

John Callaghan, 33, of Newbuildings, was described by District Judge Barney McElholm, as exhibiting "concerning behavior."

Callaghan admitted stealing the underwear from his neighbor's garden. The court was told on July 4, 2009, police were alerted to an address in Newbuildings following reports a resident had seen a neighbor take a pair of pants from their washing line. He then “walked away.”

The court heard Callaghan had gone home, packed his bags and went to stay at his mother's caravan in Portrush. On July 31, police found the man and arrested him, the court was told.

During the interview, Callaghan told police he remembered being in the garden but didn't remember taking the underwear. But, he said, the item had been in his pocket and that he must have done it.

McElholm said, "I think we need a (pre-sentence) report. It is concerning behavior."

Callaghan will appear back in court on January 26.

 (Derry Journal)