Leaving Donegal

Fears of an exodus of Donegal’s young people will intensify in the New Year as many prepare to head overseas in search of work.

Among them are many well-educated graduates who say they have no alternative but to leave home.

Student Union president of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Marian Gibbons from Fanad, a graduate in law studies at the college, says like many of her friends, she is also being forced to emigrate in search of work.

The 26-year-old mother of two says that along with her fiancé and their two children, they have no choice but to leave the country when her current contract expires in June.

As a legal graduate she said her first choice would be to stay and complete her apprenticeship with a local legal firm, but with little prospect of that happening she and her family are set to head to New York where she can apply her qualifications in getting legal work after taking exams for the New York Bar.

"We are getting married on New Year's Day then myself, my husband and two kids are heading off. We have no option," Gibbons stated.

She said talk of heading overseas for work is prevalent among many of her friends and fellow graduates.

"I feel like I have no choice and so many of my friends are the same," she added.

"I personally feel it is such a waste of resources. The government ploughed so much money into getting people through education and we are going off now to benefit another country. Where's the logic in that?" she asked.

Gibbons said that when she qualifies in her bar exams she would expect to be able to start work immediately, but a stark warning to any prospective emigrants who may travel to U.S. without putting plans in place before they travel has been given by a veteran campaigner for the undocumented Irish in America.

Bundoran town councilor Michael McMahon said there has been a significant rise in the numbers of young Irish in cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but with the economic downturn in the U.S. many of them are struggling to survive abroad.

He said he would advise any young person to put basic contingencies in place, such as accommodation, before they even consider traveling.

McMahon said the announcement by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of a drop in unemployment recently figures only masked the fact that a certain percentage of those have already left for the U.S. in search of work.

"He should take a walk around Webster Avenue or Jerome Avenue or Queens to see Irish kids walking up and down the avenues looking for work. I was annoyed that he didn't take into account the amount of people that are leaving," McMahon said.

He added that since the downturn there had been a "swell" in the number of undocumented Irish flocking to America.
- Donegal Democrat

Honor for Shannon

Shannon has been named the best little airport in the world by Sunday Times readers, joining hubs in Singapore, Amsterdam and London in being honored.

The London Sunday Times Travel magazine is one of the English-speaking world's most influential and is read by seasoned and affluent travelers.

Readers are invited to nominate airports around the world, and Shannon has been selected as the magazine's "Little Hero" for 2010.

The edition went on sale across the U.K. and Ireland last week and, based on reader comments, the convenience of U.S. pre-clearance facilities for trans-Atlantic passengers may have swung the award in Shannon's favor.

British Airways this year commenced a deluxe service between London City Airport and New York’s Kennedy Airport, where passengers clear U.S. immigration and customs at Shannon as the plane refuels.

The newly-appointed director of Shannon Airport, Mary Considine, said the award was "something we are very proud of.”

"Since its foundation, Shannon Airport has had a very prominent place in international aviation, and this award shows that our stock is still incredibly high amongst the most discerning international travelers,” she said.

"Based on the commendation given, we have no doubt that our U.S. pre-clearance services had a big influence in Shannon being selected for the Little Hero award. Being the first airport in the world outside of North America with this level of pre-clearance facilities was a major coup for us, and clearly this is being recognized by travelers who have used the service," Considine stated.

Shannon Airport Authority chairman Brian O'Connell also welcomed the news.

"The award noted that Shannon is a friendly airport and also focused on the huge benefits of using U.S. pre-clearance at Shannon. Building on both of these core strengths is a key goal for Shannon over the next few years," he said.

Singapore's Changi was named by Sunday Times readers as their favorite airport, followed by Schipol and Heathrow's Terminal Five.
- Limerick Leader

Mom’s fury over sentence

The mother of a four-year-old boy killed when a disqualified driver ploughed into him on a Westmeath road says she is horrified his four-month prison sentence has been remitted.

Arnoldas Valinskas of Belgard Green in Tallaght was not charged with the death of four-year-old Peter Hennessy from Oldcastle on December 2 of last year, but he had no insurance, no license and no permission to drive the van he took from a friend.

The toddler’s mother is incredulous that Valinskas, who was serving a four year disqualification for drink driving when the accident happened, can walk free from court.

“It’s horrendous,” said a devastated Ann Hennessy. “I can’t believe on Peter’s anniversary he’s giving us this to deal with.”

During his appeal against a four-month sentence for each of those offenses, Mullingar Circuit Court was told Valinskas could not have avoided colliding with the four year old, his two-year-old brother and his father as they left their jack-knifed Jeep and trailer on the N4 outside Mullingar.

Noting that there was no charge against the 37-year-old for his driving, Judge Anthony Kennedy removed the four month jail term imposed by Judge Elizabeth McGrath on each of the offenses.

However, Hennessy vows that she will do everything she can to ensure the law is changed so that those who drive while disqualified receive tougher sanctions.

“My blood is boiling,” she said. “Peter is screaming to me from the grave. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he did not die in vain. This is so wrong.”

The Lithuanian’s barrister Shane Geraghty told the Circuit Court that Valinskas had had been stressed because of difficulties he and his wife experienced in conceiving a baby. They are now expecting their first child.

Hennessy believes Valinskas shouldn’t have been on the road at all because he was disqualified and was initially disappointed at what she felt was a lenient sentence imposed in the District Court -- “a month for each year of my son’s life”.

Valinskas told the court through his counsel that he deeply regretted what happened and wanted to apologize to the Hennessy family.

He had tried to avoid the jack-knifed jeep but “it was a really sudden situation.”  He is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident and has flashbacks.

For Hennessy the issue is black and white.

“He shouldn’t have been on the road. If he wasn’t, our lovely son would be alive,” she said.
- Mullingar Advertiser

Roscommon romance

There may be appeals to shop local this Christmas, but when it comes to looking for a spouse Roscommon people are looking outside of the county for a partner!

According to new statistics for 2007 from the Central Statistics Office, people in Roscommon are less likely to marry someone from the same county.

Only 64% of Roscommon grooms married brides living in the county, and less than 64% of Roscommon brides picked county men as their partners.

This is low in comparison to grooms in Louth where more than 90% of them find their brides within the county.

In Roscommon, the average age for a man to get married was 33.7 and 31.2 for women.

In 2007 nationally, the groom was older than the bride in 63% of marriages, the same age in a further 12% of marriages and in the remaining 24% of cases the bride was older than the groom.
However, in the case of grooms under 25, almost half married an older woman.

In 2007 there were 205 marriages in Roscommon, and 201 of these were Catholic ceremonies with two Church of Ireland weddings and two civil marriages.  

August was the most popular month for weddings, with 15% of marriages taking place in that month in 2007.

Marriages in June, July, August and September accounted for 54% of all marriages in the year.
The most popular days of the week for weddings were Friday and Saturday accounting for 72% of all marriages.
- Roscommon Herald