Suicide Prevention Needed
A NEW suicide intervention center is needed in Ennis to cope with the significant increase in the number of people expressing suicidal thoughts. That’s the case being made by the support group Pieta House Mid-West, which has been monitoring contacts in relation to suicide over the past three years.
The latest official figures reveals that 15,000 dialogue contacts were made with the Clare and Ennis branch of the Samaritans in 2009. This increased by about 16% to 17,383 in 2011. In 2010,
It is estimated that between 15% and 20% of all calls made to the Samaritans are from people who relay suicidal thoughts.
Further evidence of the surge in the number of people who are contemplating taking their own lives is also reflected in the number of referrals to Pieta House in Mungret, Limerick, which opened in 2010.
Tom McEvoy, organizer of the Ennis Darkness Into Light suicide awareness event on Saturday, May 12, has confirmed there is already a marked increase in the number of people using Pieta House this year compared to last. In total, 348 people used the center in 2011, 54 from Clare.
McEvoy says a new outreach centre is needed in Ennis to cope with the increasing numbers of people who are in the acute stage of suicidal distress.
He said that increased financial support is needed from the government to help Pieta House expand its service nationwide.
McEvoy stressed annual funding of €500,000 is needed to achieve the group’s aim of providing a center within 100 kilometers of all facilities.
“The cost of suicide to Ireland is estimated at between €850 million and €900 million annually. Pieta House fills an extremely important gap in our collective battle against suicide,” McEvoy said.
Pieta House is a suicide and self-harm crisis centre. It is the only organization in the country providing a professional, face-to-face, free therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of suicidal distress.
Spat Blood at Cop
A TEENAGER who spat blood and saliva at a Garda (police officer) will have to gather €2,000 for court, much of which Judge Seamus Hughes said will be given to the victim.
Gary Keena of Ballynacargey said he hadn’t meant to spit at the Garda, but Hughes disagreed, saying his behavior on August 27 was appalling.
Mullingar District Court heard how the 19-year-old had been in a row at 3:30 a.m. on Oliver Plunkett Street which was broken-up by Gardai.
All the young men left the scene as requested, except Keena, who was aggressive and spat blood on the shoulder and arm of Garda Sean Casey.
He refused to allow himself be handcuffed and lashed out at Gardai in the patrol car, where he tried to kick out the rear window.
One of seven children, Keena’s mother passed away and his father was in court with him.
Solicitor Louis Kiernan said his young client knew his behavior had been horrible, but he had been struck in the mouth earlier and lost a tooth.
He didn’t realize he was spitting at the garda as he cleared his mouth of blood and Keena, who is a talented soccer player who has tried out for Bohemians, said he would never spit at anyone.
But Inspector Dermot Drea said the spitting was very intentional and in line with Keena’s other behavior on the night.
He said being spat at is very traumatic, and Hughes expressed concern that spitting at Gardai means they have to immediately cease work and undergo medical tests because so many illnesses are carried in blood and saliva.
“Young people are perfectly entitled to enjoy themselves, but once Gardai come on the scene, people must immediately desist,” he said.
He said Gardai who leave their wives and young children every night put their lives at risk and expose themselves to injury for what he called “a very modest wage.”
As a judge, he wants to ensure that risk is not increased by the behavior of people on the streets, and to keep Keena out of jail would send out the wrong message.
Kiernan reiterated that his client is young and has no previous convictions, and the judge offered the alternative of €2,000 “as miserable compensation for the shock and horror” suffered by Casey.
He is to let the court know on April 26 how long it will take him to pay the money.
House My Babies
AN unemployed father of eight is demanding a bigger house from his local authority so he can have more children.
Jason Casey, who has been on a housing waiting list for 10 years, has staged a silent protest outside Limerick City Hall in Limerick for six weeks.
The 42-year-old, who lives in a three-bedroom home, said, "We have five girls in one room and two boys in the other room and we take the baby in with us.
"We manage, but we shouldn’t have to manage ... not when they (the council) has so many houses out there -- not when we have the regeneration, not when there’s Nama out there."
Casey said he doesn’t mind some people saying he shouldn’t have had eight children if he couldn’t afford to house them. "The truth is, I love having babies and my wife loves having babies. I’ll keep having babies,” he said.
Casey said he was looking for a larger house in Garryowen, where five of his children go to school, but that Limerick City Council said it doesn’t have a larger house to give him.
"Ten years on a housing list is long enough. The council is saying they don’t have a house for me.
I’ve given up ringing them up. They ask me my name and my address and how many kids I have and then I come out and I make another appointment,” he said.
Casey said he was promised a larger house by the council five years ago.
"I spoke to politicians about my case but nothing has happened. Enough is enough. Limerick City Council discriminates against large families.
"Our Constitution says that we, the people, are entitled to adequate housing, and that’s all I want,” Casey said.
He said he had tried to gain employment as a street hot dog vendor but was refused a license to trade in the city center.
"I did try to start up my own business. The council gave me a license to trade outside Thomond Park and then they banned us from trading there and moved us all down the road... we weren’t making a shilling there,” he said.
"I should be a poster campaign for the council — a man with eight kids, off the dole. I’m costing the state more by being on the dole."
A spokesman for Limerick City Council said it doesn’t comment on individual cases.
Shotgun Dad Punished
A MAN who produced his legally-held shotgun in his own home in an attempt to get a man off his premises was given a three-month suspended sentence when he was convicted at Portlaoise District Court of producing an article in the course of a dispute.
Eamon Murphy, 39, of Portlaoise, pleaded guilty to the offense, which occurred at his home on December 19, 2010.
Inspector Jarlath Folan told the court that two men, who had been uninvited, attended a house party that Murphy’s son was holding. Murphy had told the men to leave but one refused to do so and a struggle ensued.
Murphy struck the man in the face with the butt of his gun, causing a ten to 12 centimeter cut to his eyebrow and also breaking the man’s nose.
Defending solicitor Josephine Fitzpatrick said that her client was not pleading to an assault in this case.
She said Murphy’s son had six or seven friends in his house and they were celebrating his birthday.
She said two individuals who were not invited to the party turned up and were told they were not welcome and were asked to leave.
“The first the defendant knew about the matter was when he came across a young man in his kitchen and he asked him to leave. But he refused. He again instructed the young man to leave but he again refused,” said Fitzpatrick.
“At that point, he asked his son to bring the gun down that was safely locked away. He had intended just to scare the young lad into leaving. It was not loaded and it was broken. The young lad threw a punch and a bit of an altercation took place.
“We don’t believe that under this act that he committed a criminal act. He felt what he was doing was the only way to get this individual out of his house.”
Judge Catherine Staines said, “These are the kind of cases that end up in the Central Criminal Court.
Presumably, drink was taken on the night. I think the action taken was particularity out of proportion. He wasn’t in any danger.”
She convicted Murphy of the offense and imposed the three-month sentence, suspended for 12 months.