Good Friday Relief for Pubs

The successful court application by Limerick publicans allowing them to open on Good Friday, the day of the big Munster vs. Leinster rugby match, has been broadly welcomed, but publicans just outside the city area are frustrated that they are excluded.

City pubs can open from 6-11:30 p.m., Judge Tom O'Donnell ruled. Premises in Castletroy, Raheen, Dooradoyle, Corbally and Annacotty can also open their doors between these hours.

However, there was dismay elsewhere because publicans in Castleconnell, Boher, Caherconlish, Clonlara and Parteen, who had also been hoping to be included, will not be allowed to open.

"We're really disappointed," said Gareth Walpole of Charco's pub in Castleconnell. "For our customers more than anything it's disappointing. We thought we would be included in the exemption but they we found out we weren't."

At the nearby Black Swan in Annacotty there was celebration, with Michael Nicholas, who works at the pub, saying. "We're delighted. A lot of people don't have (sports channel) Setanta at home so we can cater for them. You'd feel sorry for the pubs that won't be allowed to open, but we're delighted."

The decision was greeted with considerable enthusiasm by city publicans, who had argued that the match could be worth as much as ***7.3 million to the city.

Chaplain with the Brothers of Charity Bawnmore, Father Joe Young, said that any protest outside Thomond Park where the match will be played would be "over the top" when there were more important issues to concern the religious and the city at large.

"We've enough of things to grieve about. I just buried an 18 year-old from suicide, and look at the heroin situation in the city,” he said.

“One of the landmarks in the city is Thomond Park. It lifts people's spirits and gets more young people involved in sport, so they won't be lost to the drug barons. That's the way I feel about it."  

The former Southill parish priest urged respect for the wishes of others, even if that includes drinking alcohol on Good Friday. "If we don't we're lacking tolerance, and that's not a society I believe in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Laura Ryan of the Limerick Coordination Office said she felt that Judge Tom O'Donnell had made a very fair decision after some time of deliberation.

"It was a common sense judgment. If you had 26,000 people inside Thomond Park allowed to drink and those outside not, it wouldn’t make sense," she said.

She said businesses in the city would be delighted. "You will have some people who were just going to drive to Limerick for the match and then drive home. Now many of these will stay over," she said.

No Money for Charity

A CAMPAIGN aimed at raising ***1 million for a Mayo-based charity by St. Patrick’s Day has managed to collect just over **2,000.

As millions of people throughout the world were celebrating their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, it would appear they were reluctant to help out those in poor circumstances who emigrated to the U.K. in the fifties and sixties.

The campaign for the forgotten Irish in Britain was launched six months ago by travel website, and set a deadline of St. Patrick’s Day to raise ***1 million for two charities which help the forgotten Irish. 

By St. Patrick’s Day, however, just over ***2,000 was donated to the online charity, despite the website receiving more than 3,000 hits each day.

The Safe-Home Project is based in St Brendan’s Village Center in Mulranny. It organizes the return of older Irish people to live out their lives in their assisted living center. It was hoped that this latest campaign would enable them to extend the center to cater for the demand from people using the facilities.

At present, the organization has 1,037 people on a waiting list to return home to Ireland.

Dr. Jerry Cowley of the SafeHome Project said that the current economic circumstances make it a challenging time for charities.

“I can understand why people are a little reluctant to give money. People don’t have as much as they once did and we have to accept that,” he said.

He added that the campaign to resettle Irish men and women who have fallen on hard times continues, as does its work in Irish communities in the U.K.
Western People

Kerry Jobless Worries

THE government has been accused of failing young people in Kerry as live register figures in the county edge ever closer to the 17,000 mark.

A total of 16,993 people were signing on in Kerry in February -- up by 75 on the previous month -- with figures at the center in Killarney alone rising by 66 to a total of 3,576.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office reveal that five of the Kerry live register centers registered an increase in the numbers signing on during February, with just Tralee and Kenmare seeing any reductions.

The continuing rise in the live register figures in Kerry have been slammed by Councilor Toiréasa Ferris, who has called for immediate government action to address the soaring levels of unemployment in Kerry.

She warned that the combination of soaring unemployment among under 25s and the slashing of their welfare entitlements is forcing many young people to emigrate. For those who cannot leave, the only option is to remain on the dole.

"These people want to work yet the government is content for them to sit at home," Ferris stated.

"Many of them have skills that can and should be used to rebuild the economy. Nobody wants a return to a situation where the best and the brightest are forced to leave yet by cutting dole payments for the under 25s, the government has ensured that this is exactly what will happen," she added.

Meanwhile, business organization ISME has revealed that 204 redundancies have been enforced in Kerry in the first three months of 2010, leaving families around the county struggling to cope.

ISME described figures as a worrying indication that the economy is still on the slide, with concerns that the situation will continue to deteriorate within the small business sector unless actions are taken to avoid further damage to the sector.

"The government has completely taken their eye off the ball with regard to the growing unemployment problem," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.

The Kingdom

Homelessness for Teen

AN 18-year-old Waterford girl in foster care has allegedly been told by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that she has one month to find a place to live.

The girl’s mother said she had received a letter in advance of her 18th birthday recently telling her she would no longer be entitled to care.
The girl has been in care since last summer after she ran away from home. She has since begun using heroin, and her mother maintains little has been done to help her.

“I was devastated for my daughter when I saw the letter. It would mean she would be homeless. It was very insensitive. It simply said her place would be closed on the day of her 18th birthday,” said the mother.

The case was first raised by the Irish Examiner last year after the girl was reported missing. At the time, the teen’s mother said she felt her daughter was falling under the influence of an older man known to Gardai (police) and who may be supplying her daughter with drugs.

“I feel the HSE has really let her down. She is now using heroin. The guards have been helpful, but it seems as though there is never anyone available in the HSE. They even started sending her post to her boyfriend’s house even though they know she should not be there,” the mother said.

A spokesperson for the HSE said, “While it is not appropriate to discuss individual cases, the HSE would like to point out that in situations where a person in its care is about to turn 18 years of age, a range of supports are made available and appropriate plans are put in place.”

Once a teenager turns 18, the State does not have to maintain care services. Section 45 of the Child Care Act states that the HSE may continue to provide aftercare.
Waterford News & Star

Train Resumes

The new Limerick to Galway rail line was officially launched on Monday, reopening the rail links between the two cities for the first time in 34 years.

However, some reservations have been expressed that the service does not include the populous areas of Moyross in Limerick and Oranmore in Galway.
The re-opening of the rail link comes after ***106m has been spent on upgrading the Ennis to Athenry line.

There will be five services each way starting at 6 a.m. from Limerick, with journey times varying from just under two hours to two and a half hours. An estimated 300,000 passengers a year are expected to use the service.

West on Track, which has campaigned heavily, for the new service said it was important to proceed to phases two and three to Tuam and Claremorris.
However, Irish Rail cannot say when these phases will be start given the current difficulties with the state finances.