Smoke Free Hospitals
MOVES to make the Mid-West Regional Hospital a smoke-free campus are likely to be met with resistance, patients said.

From last Friday, all acute hospitals in Limerick and the wider mid-west region are to be made smoke free, with the Health Service Executive (HSE) saying it will enforce a ban.

Smokers will be forced to stand outside the gates of all hospital campuses in the mid-west, with a blue line clearly marking out hospital grounds to stop smoking.

“The policy will apply to all staff, patients, visitors, contractors and anyone who enters the hospital buildings or grounds and will ensure a healthier, safer and cleaner environment for all and better health outcomes for patients and staff,” said a HSE spokesperson.

The Regional Hospital already has a policy prohibiting smoking at the front of the building and while loudspeaker announcements regularly remind patrons of this, the rules are widely flouted.

A smoking shelter outside the hospital was removed last week in the run-up to the ban.

One smoker, who only identified himself only as “Johnny” and whose wife is a long-term patient in the hospital, said the policy would be “degrading” to both staff and patients in the hospital.

“I think it is crazy,” he said.  “You take a patient here, they have to go out on the road to smoke. Are they covered by insurance once they leave the grounds to smoke?

“You would often see up to 40 patients at any one time smoking here. They are all in disagreement with this.

“I have seen people in drips and wheelchairs, every kind of patient. I have seen really bad patients, limb amputees. Where will they all go?

“The staff are affected now too, even the doctors, and patients. It is very degrading of them to have to go down to the front gate,” he added.

Another smoker, Kieran O’Connell, who was awaiting a kidney operation, said, “People will ignore it and smoke away. It will cause a lot of trouble.”

Exemptions to the ban will apply in limited cases - but consultants will have to give permission for patients to use a new outdoor smoking area.

Security staff will ask people to leave the grounds if caught smoking, but the HSE has acknowledged there are no legal penalties which can be imposed should patients or visitors ignore the policy.

Limerick Leader

Drunken Students
AN Athy councilor is calling for increased Garda (police) presence on the streets of the town on secondary school graduation nights.

Councilor Thomas Redmond’s comments come after a massive clean up had to be staged in Athy to deal with vandalism caused during graduation celebrations last week.

According to Redmond, both Emily Square and Edmund Rice Square were covered in broken pint glasses and bottles, while Tidy Towns flower installations were knocked over.

“I do understand Garda resources are under pressure but we need more coordination,” Redmond said.

“There needs to be more Garda presence on graduation nights and Leaving Cert nights in the town. It makes more sense.”

Tidy Towns chairman Ger Kelly said it was unacceptable behavior.

“This drink-fuelled vandalism is not acceptable and these students should know better. They should be able to know right from wrong,” he said.

He said the flower pots will be replaced in the coming weeks. “It’s unfortunate but this type of behavior does happen,” he added.

Leinster Leader

80 Years Overdue
THE upcoming Eucharistic Congress may have pricked the conscience of a borrower from Navan Library who finally returned a book this week -- 80 years late!

The book may be 80 years overdue, but the person who returned it won't have to pay 4,160 fine as the Meath Library Service has decided to waive it.

The book, titled The Pictorial Record of the 31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin, 1932, was borrowed from Navan Library shortly after it was first published in 1932 but was never returned.

However, the book was returned through the letterbox of Navan Library over the weekend.
Meath County librarian Ciaran Mangan said, "It is a very unusual occurrence and, of course, we are delighted that this book has been returned after all these years.

"We are certainly intrigued as to the identity of the borrower as we do not hold records of loans dating back to the 1930s.

"However, I can assure the borrower that we will not be charging overdues on this occasion," he said.
Asked to speculate on the identity of the person who returned the item, the county librarian said,

"Perhaps it is one of our existing 7,000 borrowers at Navan Library or maybe a lapsed borrower? But whoever it is, we are very grateful to them, and the book will now be on display at Navan Library during normal opening hours."

Meath Chronicle

No Help from Barack
MONEYGALL man Henry Healy will not be getting in touch with his powerful relative to secure a green card after being made redundant from his job in Ireland.
Just over a year ago Healy enjoyed a pint of Guinness with his eighth cousin, President Barack

Obama. However, just one week before the anniversary of the visit on May 23 Healy was made redundant.

"I don't think I'd take advantage of that," he laughed when questioned.  "I don't know if America would even suit me. I'd be too much of a home boy."

Healy finished working as a bookkeeper with a local plumbing company on May 16, after working with them since leaving college in 2006. The ever upbeat Healy said he's optimistic about the future, however.

"The way I look at it is it's the climate that we're in," he explained. "People are losing their jobs every day. I have to remain positive about it. The only way is up. If I get depressed and worry it'll be an even harder mountain to climb.

"I'm not the only one in the boat," he added, feeling anything but sorry for himself.

Healy also has another career option up his sleeve. Since March he has been studying for a professional diploma in education, with a view to eventually becoming a secondary school teacher. The course means he will qualify in 2014, but with teaching practice a part of the course he said he's restricted in the type of job he can take on until becoming qualified.

"It's going to be a balancing act," he said. "I suppose I'll sit down over the next couple of weeks and decide what's the best way forward."

Offaly Independent

Racist Bullying
THE mother of an underage Killarney footballer says that constant racist remarks on the field of play are pushing her autistic son to the point of suicide.

Ann Marcus told how 13-year-old Dion, who is of Irish and Egyptian descent, was even racially abused by an adult associated with an opposing team. She says she has kept quiet on the issue until a recent incident following which she drove to Killarney Garda Station to make a formal complaint.

"We've had a lot of incidents of racism from opposition players and I've reported those to the clubs but this is the first time it has involved an adult," she states.

"Dion was playing for Dr. Crokes under-14s and during the game one of his side's players went down injured. An adult associated with the opposing team came on the pitch and my son said, ‘What are you doing, it is not your player.’  He said, 'Shut up you twit, go back to where you came from, shut up you twit.’

"For an adult to do this is just unbelievable, and after this the player Dion was marking started punching and hitting him. Dion retaliated and he ended up getting a red card. He's been having this a lot.

"Afterwards he went missing for an hour-and-a-half and wouldn't answer the phone. When I found him he was distraught, so I drove straight to the Garda station."

Marcus explained that Dion has high functioning childhood autism which does not include behavioral problems and is noticeable only to the trained eye. A prominent underage player for Dr. Crokes, Dion also plays soccer for Killarney Celtic, has represented Kerry in the Kennedy Cup and is heavily involved in athletics.

Marcus states that Dion is increasingly aware of on-field racist abuse. "It's only since the age of 10 that he's been able to express the problems he's been having. He has been threatening self-harm and suicide. He's being racially abused and has been bullied and has been through a lot of counseling.

"He now wants to move back to England as there are more people of his color. He sees the Premiership moving ahead with racism issues and he's coming to me and saying, ‘Mum, why doesn't that happen to me?’”

The Kerryman

Pictured is Tyler O'Reilly with local children from Dublin 1 as they jump off Mayor Street Bridge in the Royal Canall in Dublin.Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland