Wild First Dog

PRESIDENTIAL dog-in-waiting Bruno has been deemed too “ruff” for the presidential residence, Aras an Uachtarain.

The cute Bernese Mountain puppy, which was due to become President Michael D. Higgins' new pet, has been branded too "lively" for the presidential residence, it has emerged.

Valerie Hughes, a Galway-based Bernese breeder who took in Bruno after his owners had to emigrate to South Africa to find work, said the 13-month-old pup had nonetheless found a welcoming owner.

"Bruno is not going to the Aras after all, we did an assessment on him and after he settled in with the assessors, his personality came to the fore and he turned out to be quite a lively character," said Hughes, who belongs to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ireland.

"He liked to jump gates and take off and then he didn't want to come back so we had visions of him chasing around the Phoenix Park.

"He's not suitable for Michael D. I think he will need someone that has a firm hand and that can put the training and work in with him.

"Michael D. is looking for a more placid dog. When I explained the situation with Bruno to him, his main concern was that Bruno was going to find a good home.

"We have already found someone and Bruno has gone over to that person, so that's all fine."

However, another presidential puppy has been lined up. Hughes said one of her pedigree Bernese Mountain puppies would be moving to the prestigious Phoenix Park address in early 2012.

"Michael D. still wants a puppy. He will hold off and wait for one so we are hoping that we will have that for him in the spring," Hughes said.

Evening Herald

An Effin Problem

AN Effin, Co. Limerick woman has been forced to start an online campaign to get her native place recognized by Facebook.

However, she has already hit a stumbling block -- her first attempt, which contained the name of her homeplace, was branded “offensive” by the social networking site.

Ann Marie Kennedy who works at the University of Limerick, says that she, along with several more friends, have been attempting to insert the word “Effin” into the homeplace section of their Facebook sites for several months but to no avail.

She even tried to start a Facebook page entitled “Please get my hometown Effin recognized,” but it was blocked by the social networking site as well.

“It came back with an error message saying ‘offensive,’” Kennedy explained.

“I would like to be able to put Effin down on my own profile page and so would many other Effin people around the world to proudly say that they are from Effin, Co. Limerick but it won’t recognize that,” she said.

Kennedy, who was born and bred in Effin and can trace her ancestors in the area back as far as 1857, even took to the airwaves in her quest to get her home place recognized. She told the Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM about her dilemma, which prompted the presenter to make his own observations about Limerick place names.

“As it goes Limerick probably has the most odd names because there is Bruff, Meanus, Hospital, Oola, and Doon is there too,” he commented.

Limerick Leader

Heartless Thieves

A HEARTLESS thief who struck at a fundraiser in Kells has stolen vital funds from local children with Down syndrome.

The Louth-Meath branch of Down's Syndrome Ireland has been devastated by the theft of the funding in the run-up to Christmas, saying it cannot believe that someone would sink so low.

"That somebody would steal from children with Down syndrome defies belief. This is a major blow to our organization," said Alva Cullen, one of the organizers of the Glam Up for Downs event which took place in the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells and which was a fundraiser for the charity. The event raised 1,570 to help finance the branch's early intervention home teacher program in Meath and Louth.

However, an additional  400 to  600, which was raised on the night, was stolen by the cold-hearted thieves.

Cullen said they have been deeply upset by the theft. "I am particularly upset as I organized this event to help fund the home teacher service which my four-year-old daughter uses. This is a service solely funded by the Louth-Meath branch and is key to Sorcha's development," she said.

Cullen explained that the €1,570 raised is safe and will be put to good use by the organization.

However, she was handed a collection bucket towards the end of the night containing an additional estimated  400 to  600.

"I was distracted and put it down on the bar for a second, but as soon as I went to lift it again it had been moved a few feet down the bar and was empty," she said.

She isn't certain if the person who distracted her was part of a plot to carry out the theft, or if the person who stole the money just took the opportunity to take it when they got the chance.

The branch is assisting local Gardai (police) but, as there was nothing on CCTV images, they have nothing to go on. She is appealing to anyone who saw anything or anybody suspicious on the night to contact Gardai in Kells.

She also urged the culprits to do the right thing and return the money. 

Meath Chronicle


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Strapped Students

THERE has been a surge in the numbers of students at NUI Galway who are on the verge of dropping out of their courses because of financial hardship, student leaders have warned.

NUI Galway’s Students Union welfare officer, Brian Grant, said that more than 1,300 students at the third level institute have applied for additional financial assistance through the “last resort” Student Assistance Fund (SAF).

The numbers applying for SAF, which is a European Union hardship fund for students struggling to pay their food and other bills while in college, has more than doubled in three years, he said.

Grant said many of those applying are on the verge of pulling out of university because their incomes are too low to get by.

The emergency assistance amounts to €1,200 and is paid to struggling students in addition to any third level grants they receive.

NUIG Student Union president Emmet Connolly said roughly one in every 12 students who are studying full-time courses at the university is struggling financially and has been forced to apply for RAF.

“This is not people applying for money to buy video games -- this is people who are struggling with day-to-day expenses such as food,” said Connolly.

Grant agreed and said most of the cases are very real -- they are due to reductions in maintenance grants and a rise in fees following the last budget.

In 2011, registration fees rose by €500 to €2,000 per annum, and maintenance grants were cut to about €3,000 on average, which is roughly €90 per week. 

Connacht Sentinel

Barking Mad

PEOPLE in Derry are being driven barking mad by noisy pets, new figures reveal.

Derry City Council received a total of 159 complaints about noisy pets between April 2010 and March of this year -- that’s more than three complaints every week.

The figures, outlined in the Noise Complaint Statistics for Northern Ireland 2010-‘11, show noisy dogs were the most frequent cause of complaint for people living in the city.

Derry City Council received a total of 384 noise related complaints last year, during which the local authority served two prosecution services.

A total of 137 complaints were made because of loud music/television/parties, the second most common cause of noise related complaints.

Other noises which gave cause for complaint include pubs and clubs, noisy vehicles and construction work.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood says local councils should step up their efforts to drive down the level of noise nuisance. He says new legislation expected to come into force next year will help local authorities.

“We must not lose sight of the need to continually work together to reduce the levels of complaints down further,” he said.

“To this end I welcome the anticipated introduction of the Clean Neighborhood and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 in spring 2012.”

Derry Journal

Child Robs Elderly Lady

A 93-YEAR-OLD woman was left shaken after a woman and a small child entered her home demanding money in the middle of the day.

The burglary occurred on a recent Saturday between 3:55 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.  The elderly woman, who lives in Blackhill, Clonmore, was sitting in her kitchen when a heavy set woman in her thirties to forties entered the house.

She was accompanied by a small child who was approximately 10 years old.

The pair started rifling through presses looking for money despite the woman repeatedly telling them to leave. The woman and the child left the house having located a small quantity of cash.

Fortunately the elderly woman was not harmed during the robbery.
-Carlow People


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