Tag Archives: joan freeman

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 1st June 2016

Minority Irish Government suffers its first defeat on workers rights Dáil vote

Labour and Sinn Féin in sharp exchanges over Dáil motion on workers’ rights


The minority Government has suffered its first Dáil defeat of this Dail.

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan: claimed Labour was guilty of ‘gross hypocrisy’’, given it failed to defend the rights of workers while in government.

Its amendment to a Labour motion on workers’ rights was defeated by 78 votes to 58 on Wednesday night. Fianna Fáil voted with Labour against the Government as did Sinn Féin, the Green Party, a number of Independents and the AAA-PBP.

Sinn Féin did not press on its amendment.

A number of Independents including Clare Daly, Thomas Pringle and Mick Wallace facilitated a vote for the AAA-PBP amendment as the group did not have the minimum 10 TDs required for a vote, but then abstained. The AAA-PBP motion was defeated by 104 votes to seven.

Labour’s motion on the protection of workers’ rights was accepted without a vote. It calls for the Government to introduce a legislative package to protect and enhance workers’ rights through a number of measures including ending the abuse of ‘if and when’ contracts, combating, bogus self-employment, ensuring freelance workers have the right to collective bargaining, promoting the living wage in public procurement and preventing unilateral pay reductions.

There were sharp exchanges between Sinn Féin and Labour during a resumed debate on the Labour motion.

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan claimed Labour was guilty of “gross hypocrisy’’ , given it failed to defend the rights of workers while in government.

He said the Labour motion called on the Dáil to stand up for working people and ensure employees secured a fair share of national prosperity.

“These are fine sentiments but this motion is sponsored by a party who was a partner in the most right-wing government since the foundation of the State,’’ Mr Quinlivan added.

“In government, Labour and Fine Gael went vulture-like after the incomes of ordinary working people and waged war on the living standards of the most vulnerable.’’

Labour TD Alan Kelly accused Sinn Féin of engaging in political point-scoring instead of looking meaningfully on the issue.

“While Labour in the Republic is trying to form a coalition of political thought and trade unions to tackle if and when contracts and zero hour contracts, Sinn Fein in government in Northern Ireland stands over one of the highest rates of the proliferation of zero hour contracts anywhere in the world,’’ he added.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire criticised the “practice of bogus self-employment and the ill-treatment of workers’’.

He said it had been a significant issue in the building industry and was now creeping into other forms of employment.

Mr O Laoghaire said bogus self-employment allowed a company to make an illegitimate saving on tax and employers PRSI, a figure which increased profit by roughly 11 percent at the exchequer’s expense.

“For the worker, this can mean no entitlement to holiday pay, sickness or maternity benefit, or even pension contributions,’’ he added.

“There is no redundancy, no notice of termination and no recourse when it comes to a case of unfair dismissal.’’

Labour TD Joan Burton said if there was a blot on the recent 1916 commemorations in O’Connell Street, it was “the spectre of Clerys famous building shrouded and dead, a death created by a series of clever corporate moves both on and offshore with hundreds of workers thrown out on the street’’.

‘I used to think I was curvaceous’ but now I’m obese’ (says new Minister) Marcella

*Corcoran Kennedy says people over use the word ‘bullying’, 

The new Minister of State for Health Promotion on the left: Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and in a Fine Gael group photo right.

A new junior health minister has revealed that she used think she was “curvaceous” but now realises that she is actually obese.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, who has responsibility for health promotion, also told the Dáil this evening of death threats she received during the General Election.

During a debate on the formation of a new strategy for the health service, the Offaly TD said people have to take “positive steps” to make sure they improve their own well-being.

She described it as a “sad fact” that one in four children are obese and more than half of adults are overweight.

And she revealed: “It’s something that I’m going to have to look into my heart about. I used to think I was curvaceous but now I’m told I’m actually obese so I better do something about it.”

As part of her new portfolio Ms Corcoran Kennedy said she will be encourage people eat better food and cut down on alcohol and tobacco.

The first-time minister then addressed a Dáil debate on mental and told about how she somethings feels down.

“We all experience anxiety. We all experience depression of one type of another. Some days you might be down and that’s normal enough. But if you can’t get back up that’s when you might be going into trouble,” she said.

And she warned that the word ‘bullying’ is losing its impact because some people are using it in a “facetious” way.

“The word ‘bully’ for me has very strong implications, whether it’s in the schoolyard or the workplace or whatever.

“But if that word is just thrown around and becomes something commonplace, then there isn’t the emphasis on it that there should be, and the recognition of how wrong it is and that there is action that needs to be taken,” she said.

Ms Corcoran Kennedy went on to describe how she finds social media “very, very challenging”.

“The level of negativity and vilification and viciousness that is tossed at public representatives as if we are figures of stone. As if we do not feel the same as everybody else. As if we don’t have a family the same as everybody else,” she said.

“During the election I gave up looking at it altogether. My life was actually threatened on social media.

“I don’t believe that the person who threatened me had any intention of carrying anything out but at the same time it wasn’t a very nice thing to think that there was a man somewhere in the country that thought the world would be a better place without me in it.

“And that he would be prepared to do time if I was removed from the world.”

She added: “That’s actually just a horrible thing to take in as a public representative and as a citizen of this country.

“It’s entirely wrong that that type of behavior from adults is tolerated because we wouldn’t tolerate it from children in the playground.”

Kian Egan and Jodi Albert love life by the sea in Strandhill Sligo


Kian Egan and Jodi Albert are fulfilling their dreams in Strandhill Co Sligo.

Former Westlife singer Kian Egan and his wife Jodi Albert say they’ve no regrets about turning their back on the celebrity circuit by opting for a quieter life by the sea in Strandhill in Co. Sligo.

The showbiz couple told Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday, that they have embraced living by the sea and the lifestyle it affords for themselves and their family as “it’s a so friendly and lovely place to live”.

The Voice of Ireland coach Egan said that touring the world with Westlife and living in London for many years highlighted “how special and amazing” Strandhill is, saying it was the perfect option for settling down with their growing family.

He told Tubs: “I suppose as the years went on and we got married and started having children and talked about the idea of where they would grow up and what type of lifestyle we wanted them to have, it just felt like no matter where we went in the world, Strandhill was the place for us.”

The couple, who have been together for 12 years and have two sons, 3-year-old Koa and new arrival Zekey.

Jodi agreed with the sentiment, adding: “Here it’s so friendly and lovely that everyone genuinely wants to say ‘Hi, how are you?’ and they mean it, they care, in London they don’t.

“As I got older and we had children I just really wanted to be part of a community and I want my children to feel like they’re part of a community because I travelled so much as a kid working that finding that place where you belong was a weird thing for me.

Kian Egan and Jodi Albert chat to Ryan Tubridy about living in Strandhill

“I don’t want that for my kids, I want them to belong somewhere, so if they travel the world they know where home is.”

However, the couple admitted that they still enjoy the glamorous side of city living, saying they love spending time in Dublin when Kian is filming The Voice.

Albert said: “We have our chill time during the week and then when he’s working we have a little weekend to ourselves and go eat in a nice restaurant and have a couple of cocktails!”

Newly appointed Senator to donate her salary to Pieta House

Joan Freeman will donate her €65,000 salary to suicide prevention centre that she founded in 2006.

NO FEE0483 Darkness Into Light 2016 copy     FB_IMG_1462605410191

Joan Freeman, the founder of the suicide prevention centre Pieta House, is to donate her Senator’s salary of € 65,000 to the service she set up in 2006.

Joan Freeman, the founder of the suicide prevention centre Pieta House, is to donate her Senator’s salary of €65,000 to the service she set up in 2006.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin appointed Ms Freeman to the Seanad last week.

In an agreement reached by Mr Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fianna Fáil were allowed to make three appointments to the Upper House.

Joan Freeman to give the whole salary that comes with her new Senator role back to the organisation she founded

Ms Freeman said it was “only right” that Pieta House benefitted from her appointment to the Seanad.

“I was appointed Senator because of Pieta House so it’s only right that Pieta House and the community benefit as a result of this,” she said.

“I’m only reflecting what the people of Ireland have done over the last ten years by giving so much. It costs Pieta House approximately €1,000 to provide a programme of therapy to one person from start to finish so this money will go towards helping people who need the service.”

In the decade since it was founded, Pieta House has helped over 20,000 people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm. More than 5000 poeple accessed the service in 2015.

Cystic Fibrosis drug Orkambi rejected by Irish Government as not cost effective

Price talks urged between Government and maker on cost pf €160,000 per patient medicine


Cystic Fibrosis Ireland said patients were dismayed by the recommendation against reimbursing the cost of a new drug,

A new €160,000 drug that cystic fibrosis (CF) campaigners have described as a “game-changer” has been rejected for Irish patients on cost effectiveness grounds.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland said patients were dismayed by the recommendation against reimbursing the cost of the drug, Orkambi.

The recommendation by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics recommends that Orkambi should not be funded “at submitted cost” though it recognises the health benefits provided by the drug.

Price negotiations needed?

CF Ireland said the recommendation opens the door to further price negotiations with the manufacturer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

It called on the Government to clarify if it will enter into further negotiations and called on Vertex to reduce significantly the price of Orkambi as part of these negotiations.

“We support a fairer deal for this drug, but it will be a travesty if this drug is not provided to our patients or if there is a significant delay in providing this drug,” said CF Ireland chief executive Philip Watt.

About 500 people with CF have the potential to benefit from Orkambi in Ireland.

Rare Arctic whale spotted for first time in Irish waters

Bowhead renowned for its singing prowess and repertoire of songs

Whale Moving    Today FM image

The rare Arctic bowhead whale normally frequents far cooler waters below polar ice.

An Arctic bowhead whale has been recorded for the first time in Irish waters, some 2,000 miles south of its natural habitat. The rare marine mammal, renowned for its repertoire of songs, normally frequents far cooler waters below polar ice. It was spotted by port pilots for Greenore and Warrenpoint at the mouth of Carlingford lough last Sunday.

The research yacht Celtic Mist, which was donated to the IWDG by the family of late taoiseach Charles J Haughey, is in the area and hopes to get further sightings of the mammal, which is estimated at just under seven metres (20ft) long.

IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley said he had received photos from Leo Cunningham of Carlingford Louth Pilots, adding that the mammal’s paired nostrils were the key identifying feature.

Dr Berrow said the size indicated it was a juvenile and may be the bowhead which was spotted hugging the coastline at Cornwall, southwest England, on May 15th.

In February 2015, a bowhead was recorded off the Scilly Islands. He said this latest report made for a “remarkable recent run of sightings of this very rare species at these latitudes”.

Another Arctic wanderer, a beluga whale, was sighted off Antrim in July, 2015. Humpback and minke whales are currently feeding off Cork; both humpbacks and blue whales are renowned for their musical prowess.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 10th May 2015

Ex-FF TD and sons among 126 repossession cases in Limerick

PTSB pursuing Noel O’Flynn and two sons in connection with Limerick buy-to-let property


Former Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn and his sons Gary and Kenneth O’Flynn have a mortgage debt of almost €117,000 on a buy-to- let property in Limerick, the court heard

Members of a well-known Cork political family were among the 126 repossession cases heard before the Limerick County Registrar’s Court yesterday.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn and his sons Gary and Kenneth O’Flynn have a total mortgage debt of almost €117,000 on a buy-to- let property in Limerick, the court heard.

Mr O’Flynn was a TD for the Cork North Central constituency from 1997 until 2011. Gary O’Flynn, a former Cork city councillor, was jailed last month for three years for soliciting someone to kill a garda, a Revenue official and an accountant. Kenneth O’Flynn was co-opted on toCork City Council in December 2008, and is the current deputy Lord Mayor of Cork.

A solicitor representing Permanent TSB told Limerick County Registrar’s Court the initiation of proceedings had been halted because the bank had difficulty serving notice on the parties.

She also claimed that “various games were being played” by the borrowers.

Solicitor Conn Barry told the court the defendants were from a “well-known family in Cork”.

Mr Barry, who was acting as agent for a Cork solicitors’ firm, said it was the first time the case had come before the court.

County registrar Pat Wallace was told the last repayment on the buy-to-let property was in July 2013. No member of the O’Flynn family was present in court and the case was adjourned by consent until July 3rd.

Eleven homes were repossessed at the sitting of the court, many of them primary residences.

Among the orders granted by the registrar included a mother who told the court she could not meet the full amount of her monthly payments after separating from her husband.

Single mother

She said she was able to afford only half the mortgage and she had just returned to health from a three-month illness.

The Lithuanian mother of one said she could not claim from her home insurance to repair dampness and mould that was causing her sickness because the insurance company required her ex-husband’s signature on documents.

In excess of €191,000 was owing on the mortgage, with more than €60,000 in payments in arrears.

Mr Wallace granted the repossession order but put a stay on the bank executing it for 12 months.

“No one will throw you out in the street yet,” he told the woman. “Given your predicament, this might not be a bad outcome.”

In two cases, orders for repossession were granted to Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB after the borrowers had failed to turn up for any court hearing or engage with their lenders.

In one case, the borrower owed more than €301,000 and had not made a payment in 51 months.

Thousands take part in Darkness into Light walks in Ireland & worldwide


12,000 people turned up at 4.15am in Phoenix Park to walk 5km for suicide prevention

The 5km Darkness into Light walk/run, which kicked off at 4.15am on Saturday, was held at 80 locations in Ireland and around the world, and is believed to have attracted an estimated 100,000 participants.

More than 12,000 early risers descended on Phoenix Park this morning to take part in the annual Pieta House Darkness into Light mental health awareness event.

The 5km walk/run, which kicked off at 4.15am on Saturday, was held at 80 locations in Ireland and around the world, and is believed to have attracted an estimated 100,000 participants.

The first Darkness into Light walk was held in 2009 with just 400 participants.

“Pieta House’s intention has always been to save lives and to change the social fabric and the conversation around suicide and self-harm,” said Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House, this morning in Phoenix Park. “It’s been nine years and we’ve come a long way towards reaching that goal. However, people are still afraid to face the reality that they may know someone who’s at risk of suicide or self-harm.

“You, the people, are the most important component of all in the fight against suicide.”

From Wicklow to Washington, Chicago to Perth, friends, families, children and pets turned out to walk together for suicide prevention. An estimated 4,000 people walked in Melbourne and Perth, which were among the first cities to kick the morning off, followed by almost 1,500 people walking in London, Manchester and Glasgow. The final walks of the day will take place in New York, Toronto and Chicago where 1,700 people are expected to turn up in support of Pieta House.

In celebration of the theme ‘connecting’ for this year’s Darkness into Light walk, Dublin Bus provided a free shuttle service connecting Heuston Station to the flagship walk in Phoenix Park in the early hours of Saturday morning. Elsewhere around Ireland, local businesses showed their support by opening early and providing weary walkers with complimentary teas, coffees and refreshments.

Jim Dollard, executive director of Electric Ireland which supported this year’s walks, congratulated all participants around the globe, thanking them for their support.

“This year has been the biggest year yet and there’s no doubt that it has captured the imagination of Irish people at home and abroad, including in Electric Ireland, where a large number of our staff walked with thousands of other people in venues across the country this morning.”

Pieta House is a suicide and self-harm crisis organisation and works with ten centres across the State. Pieta House is set to open its first overseas centre in Queens, New York this summer as it begins to reach out to members of the Irish diaspora who may be in need of support.

Europe’s Digital Single Market needs to foster tech startups and a global view


Europe has launched its strategy for a Digital Single Market throughout its member countries. The success of this strategy relies on the ability of European lawmakers and politicians removing barriers to digital trade and creating an environment to foster the growth in digital platforms and skills necessary to support a fast growing digital economy.

It is easy for others, especially the US, to see the Digital Single Market strategy as a pretext to regulate and restrict the popularity and pervasiveness of foreign companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix. Certainly, the European Commission will need to demonstrate that its focus is more on enabling rather than simply protecting a future industry.

However, one of the central “pillars” of the strategy is to remove barriers to international online trade. This means removing the practice of “geo-blocking” which restricts content to certain countries, or places extra costs on those accessing these services from outside those boundaries. Achieving this will require a levelling between countries of their different regimes of value added tax, laws for consumer protection and copyright, and a host of other legislative and commercial idiosyncrasies.

Setting aside the hurdles of the Digital Single Market outlined in the agenda document, the largest real challenge is in the fact that 54% of e-commerce traffic in Europe is with services based in the US whereas only 4% of traffic in one European country is for a service in another European country. Creating a Digital Single Market is all well and good but if it mainly benefits US companies it is going to be far less strategic for Europe.

In the light of the dominance of US services in Europe, the fear held by the US that Europe’s Digital Single Market will essentially try and restrict this dominance are possibly not unfounded. The simple fact is that those firms succeed because that is what European consumers want. Making it simpler for those services to operate in Europe still has advantages to the EU because it enables firms like Amazon and Apple to operate more seamlessly across all of Europe, helping to keep costs down.

To truly benefit from the efficiencies of opening up the digital markets in Europe, what actually needs to happen is to apply this strategy globally. All of the points made within the Digital Single Market strategy are valid steps to removing barriers to online trade. The limitation of the strategy is that it stops at Europe’s borders, when the Internet that underpins the online world recognises no such boundary.

For a global Digital Single Market to be successful, in addition to the goals outlined in Europe’s strategy, there would need to be agreement on tax avoidance schemes that US companies in particular are carrying out when doing business globally. Ironically, these practices operate in Europe by leveraging different transfer pricing schemes between parts of their company set up in different countries. Allowing foreign multi-nationals to dominate in a local market is one thing but it adds insult to injury that tax revenue from business carried out in one particular country could be lost to another, or not collected at all.

Of course, the main aim of the European Commission in proposing the Digital Single Market agenda is to provide a platform that is conducive to surfacing digital entrepreneurs and growing new companies based in Europe. The entire world outside of Silicon Valley wants to emulate the success of that area by creating innovation centers that foster startups and the next Google or Uber. The trouble is that despite cities around the world trying to do this, they have so-far largely failed to bring together the ingredients that exist in California. At the heart of this though, it may simply be a case of not enough money being invested in seeding startups. Startups in London, which is considered the most successful of European startup locations, still only attract 6% of the funding amounts that startups in Silicon Valley do.

In the normal tech company life-cycle, successful companies produce a large number of wealthy individuals who not only have a specific set of skills in creating tech startups but have the money to invest either in their own projects or others. The conditions for this were driven by the opportunities created by stock markets and the insatiable appetite for tech stocks. Reproducing this elsewhere, is going to take time, money, an appetite for risk and the acceptance of failure. Unfortunately, none of that is part of the European Digital Single Market strategy. Whilst the aims of their agenda may be a good start, even if successful, it is still a long way from actually seeing any benefits result from it.

Craft Butchers of Ireland ambassador to make world’s largest gluten free pancake


Chef Adrian Martin is pictured on the left with Ethne Reynolds, Stephen Schmidt and championships organiser Brid Torrades at the World Irish Stew Championship, St Angela’s College, Co Sligo.

Adrian Martin, Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland ambassador, plans to break a world-record in association with the Irish Coeliac Society by making the world’s largest gluten free potato pancake.

The ambassador of the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland, chef Adrian Martin, who has trained and worked under chef Neven Maguire for six years, is planning to make the world’s largest gluten-free potato pancake at an event held in Smithfield in Dublin on Monday, 11 May.

The event is being held to mark the beginning of Coeliac Awareness Week, organised by the Coeliac Society of Ireland.

Chef Adrian is planning to break a world record at the event at Smithfield, which is open to the public from 10.30 am on Monday morning.

Sonya Shiels from the Coeliac Society of Ireland said the pancake, if it is to break the world-record, will measure a metre and a half and will help raise the profile of the rest of the week’s events.

These events include a series of cookery demonstrations held in certified craft butchers in Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick and Galway where chef Adrian will cook gluten free recipes involving meat.

Adrian, 23, has been the Craft Butchers of Ireland ambassador for the past two years and said he is “hopeful” about breaking the world record on Monday.

“I’ve never baked one of that size before obviously, so I’m going to have a practice run on the Sunday in my own kitchen to see how it goes,” he said.

If the pancake is made to the specified world-record breaking requirements of five feet, Adrian says it will be able to feed between 150 and 200 mouths.

“So if you know anyone who wants to try a gluten-free potato pancake, send them down here on Monday,” he said.

Coeliac Awareness Week

Coeliac Awareness Week is being promoted by the Coeliac Society of Ireland nationwide from 11 to 17 May. In particular the society wishes to encourage anyone who thinks they may be affected by coeliac disease to contact their GP.

Commenting in advance of Coeliac Awareness Week, Gráinne Denning, CEO of the Coeliac Society of Ireland, said, “When people are diagnosed with coeliac disease, they may feel overwhelmed. We’re encouraging people with coeliac disease to come along to the events we have organised during Awareness Week to meet the wider gluten-free community, learn some new recipes, and enjoy healthy walks and delicious food.

“For anyone with coeliac disease, or with a family member or friend affected by the disease, we hope Awareness Week events will help them embrace and live their gluten-free life to the full.”

The auto-immune disease is estimated to affect 46,000 people in Ireland and it can manifest itself at any stage in a person’s lifetime. The only treatment for the disease is a gluten-free diet.

Spectacular Martian sunset in a blue-tinged sky recorded by Curiosity’s Mast Camera

  Watch The Sun Go Down On Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mascam (Mast Camera) to record the sun dipping to the horizon in a blue-tinged sky. The spectacular images, that were captured on 15 April, 2015, were sent home to Earth this week.

The photographs were taken between dust storms, but some dust was still floating high in the red planet’s atmosphere.

Scientists say the sunset observations help them assess the vertical distribution of dust in the atmosphere.

Mastcam sees colors very similarly to what our eyes do, although it is actually slightly less sensitive to blue than humans are.

Curiosity science team member, Mark Lemmon, of Texas A&M University, College Station, who planned the observations, said:

“The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently.”

“When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun.”

Martian sunset blue, daytime rusty

Just as with sunsets on Earth, when reddish colours are made more dramatic, on the red planet sunsets make the blue near the Sun’s part of the sky stand out much more, while normal daylight makes the dust’s rusty colour more prominent.

The Mars Curiosity Rover has been studying the planet’s ancient and modern environments since it landed inside the Gale Crater in August 2012.

Curiosity’s Mastcam was built and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, California. NASA”s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech (California Institute of Technology) in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

News Ireland as told by Donie

Wednesday 9th May

The Job Interview & How it Works  

10 Common Questions Asked at a Job Interview

Yes, you should always have a few questions ready during a job interview. Don’t be speechless when the tables are turned on you during a job interview.

Most of us prepare to answer questions when we go to an interview. We look up on the organization. We think through our resumes. We find books or Web sites with tips about frequently asked questions.

For Do’s and Dont’s  & Tips please click on this link:      https://donieconwayaddress.wordpress.com/stuff-how-it-works/       

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Increasing suicides numbers over the bullying of young Irish people & the big debts of 26-45 year olds


Cyber-bullying and peer pressure has led to a massive increase in the number of teenagers seeking help for suicidal tendencies or self-harm.

Some experts say that there is now particular concern about the growing number of young girls needing support.

“The women we see usually have attempted to take their own life previously; however women use less lethal methods than men, so they’re more likely to survive,” said Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House.

And mortgage worries have led to a worrying jump in the number of 26-44 year olds contacting Pieta House.

Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre, has today reported that it gave assistance to nearly twice as many teenagers last year as 2010.

The 93pc jump in under-18s seeking help was largely contributed by girls.

Statistics suggest that young males were at a much higher risk of suicide than females but that gap is now closing.

“The increase in the under-18 category is particularly worrying. We are seeing people because of family breakdown — particularly parents who can’t afford to separate and continue to live together — bullying, including cyber-bullying and peer pressure,” said Ms Freeman. “There is a gap in mental health services in the 16-18 year old age group and Pieta House is plugging this gap.”

There was also an 86pc increase in the 26-44 age-group in 2011, who make up nearly one third of those accessing Pieta House’s services.

“The recession is having a direct impact on the 26-44 age-group. This age group reflects a high proportion of mortgage holders and the people we’re seeing are finding it difficult to deal with their financial circumstances,” said Ms Freeman.

Pieta House’s annual fundraiser — the Darkness Into Light Walk — will take place on Friday night/Saturday morning, May 12, at 4am.

Following a record turnout in Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Clare and Kerry last year, the event will take place in 14 locations around the country.

For more information & help, see http://dil.pieta.ie.

Irish banks are looking at freezing Mortgages for hard pressed home owners

     Irish bank logos

The top banks in Ireland are looking at ways of freezing mortgages for thousands of struggling homeowners.

THE new plans for cash-strapped families would allow them put their home loan “on ice”.

The mortgage holders would pay off what they can and put the rest on hold until they are able to pay the balance.

Bank of Ireland and its subsidiary ICS are already looking at the proposal while AIB and EBS confirmed they too are examining ways of introducing “split-mortgages”.

Sources said that, in effect, distressed mortgages would be “frozen” under the plan.

Financial institutions said the plan works where part of the loan would be temporarily set aside so that it accrues no further interest and doesn’t require repayments.

This simple move would ease the financial burden on up to 53,000 homeowners who are in serious arrears.

Eamon Ó Cuív to remain within the Fianna Fáil party


Eamon Ó Cuív has announced he is staying in the party despite his muzzling by the the party leader Michael Martin.

The Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív has said he is to remain a member of the Fianna Fáil party.

Speaking to the media outside Leinster House this evening, the party’s former deputy leader said he was not quitting, despite his continued opposition to the EU fiscal treaty.

Deputy Ó Cuív, grandson of Fianna Fáil founder Eamon de Valera, said attaining the leadership of the party was not his aim, but he believed with “all his heart and mind” that the EU fiscal treaty referendum is a “mistake”.

“I believe that the only way to make a sustained impact in politics over a long period is as a member of a political party, particularly a party such as Fianna Fáil with a large membership around the country,” he said.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career.

“After careful consideration of the situation, I believe that the best contribution I can make is as a member of Fianna Fáil.”

The 61-year-old said he had been heavily influenced by the advice of supporters, who urged him to work for change from within Fianna Fáil.

He dismissed speculation that had any intention to join another political party, and said he would not be making any further media comment in relation to the upcoming referendum on the EU fiscal treaty.

“There has been some speculation in recent times as to whether I would ever join another party. I would like to make it clear once and for all that I see no other party other than Fianna Fáil that represents my political views,” he said.

The complete text of a letter from the Fianna Fáil whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl to Éamon Ó Cuív:  

May 4th, 2012.
Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D.
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

Dear Eamon

Thank you for the time you gave me yesterday to discuss the Referendum situation. Following our meeting, I met with the Leader and discussed your position. He agreed to your request that we write to you, with details of what is expected of you as a member of the parliamentary party for the duration of the referendum campaign. I fully accept your assurance that you want this to be constructive and I acknowledge the co-operation that you have given me throughout.

As the Leader has said to you at every stage, you are fully entitled to your personal opinions on policy issues, as is every member of the party. Unlike the position on any referendum for the past 50 years, Oireachtas party members had a say before our position was decided. Following the recent successful Ard Fheis any observer will have to admit that Fianna Fáil welcomes and encourages debate. It was there that you got full support for your policy positions on issues such as the registration of septic tanks. The value of your campaigning work on behalf of the Party across the country is recognised and acknowledged by all.

In relation to this referendum the parliamentary party reached a decision. Your views were expressed at the parliamentary party, have been expressed in public, and are now well known. Your right to express your personal view is respected, however, we are a party not just a collection of individuals.

Each of us signed a pledge when we accepted the Fianna Fáil nomination in the last election and we agreed to clear and long established parliamentary party rules about respecting party policy. It is not feasible for individual party members to campaign as they wish irrespective of the parliamentary party’s formally adopted position, and in our party’s history there is no example of the party agreeing to a member spending a lengthy period publicly campaigning against party policy. I accept that you have never indicated an intention to undertake “a campaign”, however, any media exposure advocating a No Vote between now and Referendum Day cannot be presumed to be anything other than “campaigning”.

There is nothing in the party’s rules or history which would allow a senior member to participate in campaigning against the party’s agreed policy. The party needs to be allowed to put its position to the people without being confronted at every turn by a challenge from within the party. While there are a handful of examples of TDs disagreeing with the party’s position on a referendum there is no example, that I can recall, of a TD doing so over an extended period and after their views were made public. You know that our membership requires us to be coherent.

As was shown on Tuesday night’s TV3 debate, the party’s position on Europe is a strong one and we can take the fight to the other side. What the members of our party want above all is for us to show the public that we are working together in as cohesive a way as possible.

Our position is in line with the policy established within the party for over 50 years, asserted under seven leaders and supported consistently at Árd Fheiseanna and every other level of the party. We all worked together to get the Lisbon treaty passed in October 2009.

As was seen yesterday at our party press conference, the continued participation of a senior member of the party in speaking against the agreed party position directly undermines the party’s ability to actually put its position. By some margin the majority of the questions and coverage of our stance has ignored our case and focused on your own position.

I think we need to put this controversy aside, respect the party’s rules and traditions and move on to the wider and more important challenge of showing how Fianna Fáil offers a credible alternative to this government. You have a very valuable role to play in this process.

Very best wishes
Yours sincerely,
Seán Ó Fearghaíl, T.D.   Fianna Fáil Whip

How healthy do you think your doctor is?


Dr Padraic Doherty in his surgery at Sallynoggin, Co Dublin: “Mindfulness has helped me to reduce my stress levels and this in turn has had a knock-on impact on my work with patients.

GPs often neglect their own health, but many can restore the balance through mindfulness, 

(GPs) in Ireland may be good at assessing the health of their patients, but when it comes to minding themselves, many fail to do so. Numerous studies have shown that GPs are among the worst offenders in terms of self-care, with high rates of addiction, as well as physical and mental health problems.

Moreover, when GPs do realise they have difficulties they often seek to treat themselves rather than turning to others. An Irish Medical Journal study published in 2007 revealed that 49 per cent of trainee GPs admitted to neglecting their own health, while 92 per cent had self-prescribed on at least one occasion.

A more recent study carried out by Prof Colin Bradley, from the Department of General Practice in University College Cork, and Dr Andrée Rochfort, director of the Irish College of General Practitioners’ Health in Practice programme, and published in Occupational Medicine last year, showed that selftreatment is strongly embedded within the culture of both physicians and medical students and seen as an accepted way to enhance and support work performance.

In an attempt to bolster better health among physicians, the ICGP’s Health in Practice programme is designed to help GPs help themselves. In addition to offering training in such areas as leadership skills and cognitive behavioural therapy, one of the increasingly popular programmes endorsed by the ICGP is an eight-week course focusing on stress reduction and mindfulness.

Based on the work of US physicians Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr Michael Krasner, who have been at the forefront of promoting mindful meditation in clinical settings, and with specific adaptations for doctors in general practice in Ireland, the course has been running since February 2010 and has been well received by GPs. Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to the present moment. It is a simple, practical skill which helps people find calm and stability in their relationships with themselves and others.

While it hails from Eastern spiritual traditions, mindfulness has in recent times been adapted into well-researched, secular programmes that are widely used in medical, mental health and wellness settings. The ICGP, the body responsible for

education and training of the State’s 18,000 GPs, is a supporter of the mindfulness programme, which it believes can go a long way to helping general practitioners take better care of themselves.“We know that doctors need specific targeted help to counteract the barriers that they have to their own healthcare.

“Their professional training shows them how to look after the health needs of others but does not teach them how to appropriately manage their own health. It is not in their psyche to behave as patients do,” says Rochfort. “The course is an additional activity which we would see as being of benefit to GPs and it would certainly seem to have made a positive contribution so far,” she adds.

Debbie Correll, a psychotherapist, accredited supervisor and trainer who operates the course, has herself been overwhelmed by its popularity. “What did take me aback a little bit was the receptivity from GPs from the beginning,” she says. “I wasn’t surprised the ICGP was so open to the idea of the course because the evidence surrounding mindfulness internationally is so prolific.

“But I did wonder how open GPs would be to it. In the end I experienced little or no resistance to me or to the programme, which I realise now is not as unexpected as you’d think because once doctors are told of the body of evidence surrounding mindfulness, they tend to be more open to it.”

According to Correll, the quantifiable learning outcomes collated since the programme began in February 2010 consistently indicate development in all areas of emotional intelligence (EI), including advanced empathy, resonance and relational competencies. She adds that participating GPs themselves said how much they valued their increased levels of awareness, not just because it allowed them to be more responsive to their own healthcare needs, but because it enabled them to be more attuned to the needs of their patients.

Padraic Doherty, who has a general practice in Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, and who recently participated in the course, says he would happily recommend the course to other GPs. “It exceeded my expectations overall. I knew I was stressed but didn’t know quite how stressed till I took part in the course. I found the course to be deeply life-changing as it helped me reconnect with my life again and the people on it.

“There’s a compassion fatigue or burnout in general practice whereby if you don’t care about your patients then you’re not involved, and yet by caring you are risking involving yourself too much, leaving yourself exhausted. “Mindfulness has helped me to reduce my stress levels and this in turn has had a knock-on impact on my work with patients.”

He adds: “GPs are activity-based and feel like they have to fix clients, give them medication, send them for tests, etc and sometimes we forget about the power of just being with them and listening to them. Mindfulness has reminded me of the importance of this and I think it has a very positive role to play in medicine generally.”

Son is charged over the death of his farmer dad


A 33-year-old mechanic John Biggins was charged in court with the shooting and death of his elderly father at the family farm in Glencorrib, Co Mayo.

THOMAS Biggins (71) died from shotgun wounds after being shot with his own legally registered firearm on Sunday.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead a few hours later.

His son, John Biggins, was arrested at the scene and was charged last night Monday.

He is expected to appear again before Ballina District Court next Friday.

A steady stream of friends, family and neighbours were yesterday seen visiting the family home near Glencorrib, Co Mayo.

Mr Biggin’s widow Kathleen and three other children were being consoled by loved ones.

His fifth child died in recent years following a long illness.

The victim’s brother-in-law, Jackie Hyland, said the family was “devastated”.