Teacher Terror
PARENTS who have kept their children out of a midlands national school since January 20 staged a protest last week.

The protesting parent of one of the school's pupils claimed a substitute teacher has a meter stick that she refers to as "the beating stick" in class.

Nine students from the teacher's class have been kept at home for more than two weeks as they are too terrified to go back, according to parents involved in the protest.

Parent protests have been taking place outside the school at both the beginning and end of each school day for the latter half of last week.

One parent said the protests are to give a voice to their children, who he claims have been subjected to a "culture of fear" in the teacher's classroom.

"We have children wetting themselves and begging their parents not to bring them into school," he said.

"They are too scared to go back until the teacher is removed from the school.  The school has had nearly two weeks already to act on this.

"We need our children to be heard. We as parents have the right for something to be done."

He said efforts have been made by some parents to enroll children in two other local schools, but after initially looking like possible options these efforts have been unsuccessful.

Since taking his child out of school on January 20 he said parents of the absent children have also sent a formal statement to the school's Board of Management.

However, he said he and fellow parents are not prepared for their children to go back to school while the situation is being investigated.

"As parents we're not going to subject our children to that," he said.

"So many children have been so happy up until this point coming to this school," he added.

“But now something has to be done. We're not going to force the children into an environment that they're completely terrified to go into."

The school's principal said the Board of Management is dealing with the situation as per procedures and the principal had no other comment to make.

Offaly Independent

Addiction Is Cheap
ALCOHOL is too cheap, and it is getting harder for people who are struggling with addiction problems to say no to 24 cans of beer for 24.

This is according to a Waterford City addiction counselor, Barry Grant, who said that for his clients who may be on the dole or unemployed, they can get two days drinking for just over 20.

“When they can get that much alcohol for so little, the slab of cans is probably cheaper than the bottles of fizzy water beside it, so unfortunately people tend to go for the alcohol,” Grant said.

Speaking about the new regulations that the government is considering, Grant said that the measures may help to reduce alcoholism, but it will take a lot more than cutting the number of adverts and selling it in a different place to combat the alcohol culture in Ireland.

In relation to advertising, he said that alcohol brands sponsoring big sporting events is a huge problem here.

“With things like the Heineken Cup, you have small children associating alcohol with positive healthy images of sports people achieving goals,” he said.

“Even the drink aware ads tell you to ‘enjoy’ alcohol responsibly, but if there were ads telling you to enjoy heroin responsibly, there would be uproar. The word enjoy shouldn’t be used. Why not say ‘use’ or ‘consume’ -- even in the health warning, there is a bit of a sales pitch.”

Grant said that people see the cheaply priced drink and they don’t see the full effects of what it could do to them.

He said, “I would deal with a lot of family members of alcoholics and their lives have been turned upside down.”

Grant said that the government could be trying to move towards the Swedish model of selling alcohol in one place only, but that doesn’t eradicate the alcohol problem.

He said that in Sweden the sale of alcohol is heavily restricted, but they still have a huge societal problem with alcohol addiction.

Grant said that as a country, Ireland has moved away from the culture of drinking in the pub to drinking wine at home in the evenings, and that people have become much more casual about their drinking.

He said, “People don’t take the unit limit seriously and they could be drinking two or three times the limit, without thinking that anything is wrong.”
Waterford News &Star

Hospital Smoke Out
THE sight of men and women in their pajamas smoking at the front of Our Lady of Lourdes hospital may well be a thing of the past if a new policy within the Louth Meath Hospital Group is adhered to.

From February 22, which also happens to be Ash Wednesday and National No Smoking Day, hospitals within the group will become tobacco free campuses.  This means smoking will not be permitted anywhere on the hospital grounds or campus.

The policy, which will apply to all staff, patients, visitors contractors and anyone who enters the hospital buildings/grounds, will ensure a healthier, safer and cleaner environment for all and better health outcomes for patients and staff.

“As a major provider of health care in the community, our mission is to create a healthy environment for our patients, visitors and employees,” Margaret Swords, group general manager of Louth Meath Hospital Group said.

All efforts are being made to inform patients of this new policy in advance of their admission to hospital. Patients who smoke will be referred to the hospital's free smoking cessation service and will be offered free nicotine replacement therapy during their hospital stay. 

Drogheda Independent

MEDICAL staff are refusing to visit patients in Erris because the roads leading to their homes are in such a horrendous condition.

Young babies and the elderly are no longer receiving medical treatment at home due to the state of the roads. And any hope of getting the roads repaired has been quenched now that Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) funding has been cut.

A total of 168 LIS roads in the Belmullet electoral area are awaiting repair, with potholes making some of them almost impassable, says Councilor Rose Conway-Walsh.

"You can't blame the medical staff and people are being asked to leave their homes to be seen. This is putting them at risk, especially in bad weather," she said.

It is understood that An Post is also having problems delivering mail to houses.

The roads haven't been taken over by the council and locals can't afford to keep them in good repair, but as little as 4,000 would bring some of them up to a good standard.

"We're not talking about a big amount of money in most cases," said Conway-Walsh. "There are 168 roads to be repaired and for each of those there might be 20 or more people affected by it.

"It is disgraceful that this government think they can get away with treating rural citizens in this way. It was bad enough the last government cut the LIS scheme from over 80,000 per councilor to 18,000 per councilor in the last couple of years. I cannot do my job as a councilor with both hands tied behind my back."

Western People

Triplet Calves
TWIN calf births in cows aren't especially rare, but triplet births are so rare that a cow in Ballymore has become something of a talking point, after she produced two healthy heifers and one bull calf last week.

"The scan had shown she was expecting twins, but we never guessed that she was going to have triplets," says former councilor Michael Ryan, on whose son Martin's farm at Mullaghchloe, the calves were born last Wednesday night.

Remarkably, all three calves are in top class form and healthy.

Teagasc, the Irish agriculture board, locally has confirmed that triplet births to bovine animals are highly unusual. "I don't think I've ever come across one in Westmeath," said local Teagasc official, Brendan Connolly.

Ryan himself, a farmer all his life, says that for him too, the event was a first. "I'm nearly 80 years farming, and I've seen twins alright a good few times, but I never saw triplets born."

The cow to which the calves were born is a Limousin X, around five or six years old, and the AI straw was from a Belgian Blue bull.

On hand as the calves were born on Wednesday night were local men Liam Gilligan and Tommy

McCormack. "They thought it was just twins -- but when they went back later to check on them, they found that a third calf was born," says Ryan.

Westmeath Examiner