Dropping House Prices

HOUSE prices in Mayo continue to fall, with one property outside Castlebar losing 160,000 in value.

A report from property website daft.ie, covering the third quarter of 2009, says the average asking pricing in Mayo is now just under 210,000, down 22% from when the property market was at its peak.

The report showed that house prices in the west are already the lowest in the country -- typically ranging from 182,000 to 220,000 -- but they are still remaining unsold for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the latest figures issued by another property website, myhome.ie, show that the average asking price for a four-bedroom detached home in Mayo now stands at 345,000, down 15% from the market peak.

However, local auctioneers say that property prices in the county are far lower than these figures claim.

“House prices have fallen by at least 30% in the last two years,” said Swinford-based auctioneer and estate agent, Joe Mellett.

“The average price for a three-bedroom semi in the county is now in the region of 150,000.”

Mellett said that unless the banks start lending again, there is no sign of the market bottoming out. “Young couples are being put to the pin of their collar,” he said.

He said that the current trend among house buyers in the county is to purchase homes in the country on a few acres of land which need renovating.

“People can pick up absolute bargains for around 100,000 if they’re prepared to put the work into the property,” he said.

Castlebar-based estate agent Kevin Beirne says he has sold more houses in the last three weeks than for the whole of July and August.

“People were sitting on the fence but there’s a feeling interest rates are going to go up so we’re starting to see a bit of movement,” he said.

Beirne said a three-bedroom home in Castlebar now costs in the region of 185,000, while at the peak the same property would set you back 215,000.

He added that his company have a bungalow for sale in Belcarra for 190,000 when it was originally on the market for 350,000, a staggering price drop of 160,000.

Western People
Train Fare Robbery

A SOUTH Sligo family paid a whopping 176 to travel by train to Dublin for the All-Ireland football final last month -- more than 100 more than it would have cost for the same journey 24 hours earlier.

The family of two adults and four children were casualties of Iarnrod Eireann's policy of charging increased fares on the Sligo/Dublin line on Fridays and Sundays.

According to Councilor Margaret Gormley, who raised the matter at a meeting of Sligo County Council, if the family had traveled on the Saturday their tickets would have cost them only 73.50.

"If this is not a rip-off, I don't know what is," she stormed, arguing that the train fares should be the same every day of the week.

Speaking to a motion which she tabled calling on Iarnrod Eireann to discontinue the practice of charging increased fares on Fridays and Sundays, she pointed out that the policy had been introduced at a time when demand outstripped availability, but there were now eight trains every day on the Sligo/Dublin line so the argument for increased fares no longer existed.

Gormley revealed that similar fares on the Wexford line had been discontinued four years ago, and she asked why Sligo rail users should be discriminated against. She called on the government, which has invested huge money upgrading the Sligo/Dublin line, to chastise the rail company for this practice.

She was supported by Councilor Michael Fleming, who said the increased fares were "not fair play."

Gormley's motion seeking to have the increased Friday and Sunday fares abolished was unanimously adopted by the council.

The Sligo Champion

Abuser Walks Free

THE head of the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse center has harshly criticized the leniency of the sentence imposed on writer Desmond Hogan, who received a two-year suspended sentence for sexually assaulting a Kerry teen with special needs in 2006.

Vera O'Leary, who is also chairperson of the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, said she was "gravely concerned" that anyone who had committed such an offence would be released onto the streets.

"I'm as concerned as any member of the public that another convicted sex offender has been released. It highlights the leniency of sentencing for sexual offences," she said.

"Desmond Hogan was described as having a moderate to low risk of re-offending. Whether low or moderate there he is still a risk, and the bottom line is children have to be protected," said O'Leary. "He has been placed on the sexual offenders register. Being on the register is not enough to stop someone re-offending."

Hogan, an acclaimed writer, received a two-year suspended sentence from Judge Carroll Moran at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court for sexually assaulting the boy at his then home in Ballybunion in November 2006.

Moran called the case “complex” and said society would be better served if Hogan continued treatment rather than be sent to jail.

Hogan had pleaded guilty to the offense in July 2008, but sentencing in the case was adjourned at least five times to allow Hogan undergo assessment and treatment at the Granada Institute in Dublin.

Moran described Hogan as a person with a "complex make-up," and said that if he continues his underlying treatment society would be better served than by imposing a prison sentence.

He attached four conditions to the five-year suspension, which include that Hogan is never to be in unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18, that he does not stay in Kerry and that he cooperates with the Probation Services.

The victim's family left the chamber in tears as Moran explained his rationale for suspending the sentence.

The teenage boy, who is from Kerry and who cannot be named, was assaulted in Hogan's chalet. The victim's two friends left to go to the shop and the victim remained in Hogan's house.

The trial heard the assault ended when there was a knock on the window and the boy's friends confronted Hogan and demanded to know what had happened.

The Kerryman

TWO county Limerick churches have been subject to sickening attacks.

In the first, an intruder defecated in a confessional box in Caherconlsih on two separate occasions, with the culprit using the altar cloth to wipe their hands.

And in a separate incident at Glenbrohane church, a lit firework was thrown into the congregation at Mass, an incident described as a "sacrilegious assault on God's house."

Parishioners are saying nothing is sacred any more at in Caherconlish Church. Cameras are to be installed in an effort to prevent further outrages.

Meanwhile, the incident at Glenbrohane church has been described by Father Jon Ryan, who was celebrating the Mass at Glenbrohane, as a "despicable, violent attack" on God, the house of worship and the local community.

The quick reaction of one parishioner helped defuse what could have been a very serious incident.

Limerick Leader
Girls Get Vaccinated

THE majority of young girls at one Omagh school will go ahead and be vaccinated against the HPV.

The Tyrone Herald spoke to one local grammar school, where they are expecting a 98% take up of the vaccination program.

Some 360 schoolgirls at Loreto Grammar in years nine, 10 and 11 are eligible to have the vaccine administered over the next six months.

The roll out of the school based national program will see young girls vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which together with the cervical screening program will reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer.

Of the 12-14 year olds eligible at Loreto for the vaccine, 98% have said they will have the vaccine, according to school nurse Denise Harper, who acknowledged that she had received some queries from parents after the death of a 14-year-old English schoolgirl who had received the vaccine. It was later determined that the girl died from a malignant tumor in her chest.

"The situation in England was unfortunate but we only had four queries from parents," she told us.

The first dose of Cervarix will be administered to girls aged 12 and upwards at the school next week.

They will then receive a second dose in one month's time, and the third and final dose five months later.

Harper, whose 17-year-old daughter is due to have her third jab, said she understands the concerns of parents who have decided against having their child vaccinated.

"Having the vaccine is really a matter of parental choice and of course a decision by the children themselves whether or not to have the vaccine,” she said.

"The greatest concern expressed is that giving the vaccine at age 12 is much too early, but most parents have opted to go ahead."

Girls may avail of the vaccine at a later date if they wish to do so.

Health experts believe that in order to provide the most protection the vaccine must be given before sexual activity begins, which is why the program is being rolled out for 12 year olds.

Tyrone Herald