Gay Marriage Debate
THERE was a packed gallery at Athy Town Council’s monthly meeting last Wednesday evening as a debate on same-sex marriage got under way.
Never in the past 100 years has an issue divided the town of Athy so much, noted Town Council Cathaoirleach (chairman) Mark Wall.
Councilor Thomas Redmond called for the debate “that this council supports the equal access to civil marriage for all citizens of Athy regardless of race, religion or sexuality.”
Catholic Voice editor Anthony Murphy, along with supporters, were due to protest but that did not materialize. Lobby group Marriage Equality was in attendance.
Athy public representatives were under immense pressure from all corners, inundated with phones calls, text messages and social media campaigns the previous days.
“This motion should be ruled out of order. It is not relevant to the business of this council,” said Councilor Mark Dalton. He said it was a national civil rights issue and it should be dealt with by the Irish government and a subsequent referendum.
Councilors then sought legal advice from the officials. “The officials are in agreement that this issue is relevant to the business of Athy Town Council. My thinking is that in this local authority we are here to represent everyone,” clarified Wall.
“We should consider very carefully the motions that we as councilors bring to the council, that they are relevant and that they do not cause any undue publicity our upset in our community,” said Councilor O’Sullivan after the meeting.
The debate took another turn on local radio station later last week when Redmond called his fellow town councilors “bigots.” He subsequently retracted the statement.
Thieves Steal Teen’s Wheelchair
A LIMERICK student whose wheelchair was cruelly stolen from outside his home returned to school at St. Nessan’s after St. Gabriel’s School in Dooradoyle stepped in with a replacement.
A number of people wanted to loan or pay for a wheelchair for 16-year-old Thomondgate lad Shane Dundon, having read that he was housebound after a gang of youths smashed up his means of getting around town. Shane’s mother Teresa said the Dundons were grateful for all the generous offers.
St. Gabriel’s had heard about last Sunday’s theft and arrived with wheelchair on Tuesday, meaning Shane, who has cerebral palsy, had his independence back and only missed two days of school.
The theft occurred while the family was watching The X-Factor at home on Sunday night.
When the Dundons discovered the theft at around 10 p.m., Shane’s older sister Nicole immediately got on Facebook to appeal for its return.
“She got a reply back straightaway that these lads had been seen outside Freda’s chip shop on the Kileely Road, stopping traffic with it. Apparently they thought it was very funny. They had plenty of time to give it back because they knew Shane was looking for it. But they chose to bust it up instead, I’m told, because they wanted the wheels for a sulky whatever that is,” said Teresa.
She explained that Shane was an independent-minded teenager who liked to come and go as he pleased but had to leave his wheelchair outside the front door as there is no access ramp at their home in DeValera Park. He only brings the wheelchair in at night when it is time to lock up.
“What young fella of 16 should have to crawl in and out of his home on his hands and knees? We were promised by the council when we moved in three years ago that we would have wheelchair access. I told them I wasn’t going to move in until Shane could get in and they said not to worry that it would be sorted out in six months,” Teresa said.
She was only told this year to apply in writing for a grant but was informed in May that resources and the high number of applications didn’t allow for the works to be carried out this year.
The Dundons will soon take delivery of a custom-made wheelchair from the U.S. that will hopefully one day help the 16-year-old achieve his dream of representing Ireland at the Paralympics.
Bullied to Death
JUST four weeks ago the front page of the Leitrim Observer carried a picture of a smiling 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley from Dromahair engaging in one of the many pursuits that were a key part of her life as she participated in the Leitrim Sub-Aqua Club Swim, Fin and Snorkel from Jamestown to Drumsna.
Tragically Ciara was laid to rest in the new cemetery at Creevelea Abbey last Sunday, with vast crowds descending on the village for her removal on Saturday evening and again the following afternoon for her funeral.
In the days after Ciara’s tragic death on Wednesday, September 19, there has been strong condemnation of the online bullying that is widely believed to have led to Ciara taking her own life.
Questions have been asked in a stunned community and further afield about the merits of various websites, with one in particular website, ask.fm, coming in for a lot of criticism as a result of the bullying that Ciara was subjected to.
Ciara’s father Jonathan Pugsley appealed to young people to communicate with each other and their parents.
He said he wants young people to know that taking your own life “is not the right thing to do.”
“Just don’t do this, your family and your friends need you,” he added, saying that he wants Ciara’s unnecessary death to make young people and parents aware of cyber bullying.
He said he never thought his bubbly, chatty, confident daughter could be “vulnerable” to online bullying and he asked young friends to communicate “face to face” with each other.
Gardai (police) are investigating some of the last posts to Ciara on ask.fm. They are seeking to find the identities of some of the anonymous writers.
A friend of Ciara’s family, Eugene O’Neill, described the cyber-bullying as “dangerous” and “a lethal weapon.”
Speaking at Ciara’s funeral Mass, O’Neill stressed Ciara “did not want to die ... she was driven to it. She was driven to it by this appalling evil that has invaded our community. Internet bullying attacks our young most vulnerable people 24-7. They cannot get away from it.”
Cruel Dog Owner
A LETTERKENNY farmer has been banned from owning a dog for two years after he was convicted of “appalling” animal cruelty.
Leslie Stewart pled guilty to the cruelty of a dog at his farm on September 5, 2011.
ISPCA inspector Kevin McGinley told the court he was alerted to the health of the dog by a concerned member of the public and he attended the farm with dog warden Jackie Murphy.
They located the dog in a laneway dragging its back legs along the ground. The dog was unable to walk on all fours.
There was large open wounds on the animal’s legs with “an offensive smell” emanating from the sores.
McGinley contacted the owner who arrived at the site and told him the dog had been in that condition for “four to six months” after it was stood on by a horse.
When asked why he did not contact a vet the court heard he stated, “What’s the point?”
McGinley said he seized the dog which later had to be humanely put down because of the injuries.
The court heard Stewart has a previous conviction for a similar offense.
Solicitor Kieran O’Gorman said his 64-year-old client lived alone on his farm and didn’t want to put the dog down after it got injured but realizes it should have been.
Judge Paul Kelly viewed pictures of the injured dog and said it was “appalling.”
He fined Stewart €300 with €151.48 in costs and banned him from owning a dog for two years.
Crime Doesn’t Pay
THREE robbers were unable to enjoy the fruits of their crime as the proceeds of a West Clare aggravated burglary were used to pay for their getaway taxi.
Three criminals, who targeted an 82-year-old woman, her son and daughter in Kilmurry McMahon, made their way to the house in a taxi and called another cab to escape.
Their escapade ended, however, on the outskirts of Ennis when, after paying their €45 taxi fare – just €5 short of the proceeds of their crime, they were apprehended by Gardai.
The family was subjected to what Gardai described as “an awful ordeal” when three masked individuals set upon their house on a recent Friday evening.
The culprits smashed the family’s front window before conducting the robbery from outside of the house by threatening and demanding money from the “severely traumatized” family.
When one of the occupants attempted to come out the window he was struck on the head with an implement, but Gardai confirmed that he was not badly injured as a result.
A small amount of money, believed to have been €50, was handed over to the criminals, who left on foot before getting into a taxi. The male occupant of the house raised the alarm by going to a neighbor’s house and the Gardai were called.
A 19-year-old, 18-year-old and a juvenile aged 16 were arrested on foot of information received by witnesses.