Vulnerable and pregnant teen remanded into State custody

A “VULNERABLE” young pregnant woman has been remanded in custody so she and her unborn child can receive necessary care and treatment, a court has heard.

The woman was the subject of an extensive two-day search by gardaí in Ennis earlier this month after serious concern was expressed for her and her unborn child at Ennis District Court after she missed a number of drug addiction appointments.

A bench warrant was issued for the arrest of the woman after she failed to appear in court. The 19-year-old appeared back in court in Ennis yesterday following an alleged breach of bail conditions. Inspector Tom Kennedy told the court that gardaí received no response when they called to the woman’s house following the issuing of the bench warrant.

Insp Kennedy told the court that such was his concern, he authorised gardaí to force open the door. The woman, who in the apartment, was then brought before Limerick District Court where bail was again approved on condition that she again comply with all directions of the Probation Services.

Insp Kennedy applied to have the woman, who has pleaded guilty to drugs charges, remanded in custody.

Insp Kennedy said the woman had failed to turn up for scheduled appointments and had “led each and every one of us on a merry dance” around the issue of her care. This application was resisted by defence solicitor Tara Godfrey who urged the court to allow her client to remain on bail to attend future appointments.

The court heard the woman started abusing drugs aged 14. Ms Godfrey told the court that people to whom her client owes money for drugs had recently kicked in the door of the 19 year old’s apartment and taken her keys. “She is particularly vulnerable and dependent on services,” Ms Godfrey added.

She told the court that a failure to attend meetings was not a strong enough reason for the State to deprive her client of her liberty.

Insp Kennedy said the remand in custody was necessary. “It’s incumbent on the State to ensure she gets the treatment she requires,” he added.

Insp Kennedy said no complaint related to alleged break-in at the woman’s apartment had been made to gardaí.

The woman told the court that she was unable to attend appointments because she does not drive and has no family support.

Judge Mary Larkin said she was “quite satisfied” the woman had been in breach of her bail conditions. She remanded her in custody to appear again at Limerick District Court tomorrow. Judge Larkin also ordered that the woman’s name not be reported.


RTÉ under fire for portraying Christian Brother as an abuser

THE South African man who claimed he was abused by a Christian Brother, who was later named as Clarecastle native Brother Gerard Dillon, has claimed he was “very badly used” by RTÉ in its controversial ‘Mission to Prey’ documentary.

Tyrone Selmon had told the documentary that was aired in 2011 that he was abused at the Christian Brothers College in Pretoria, but now two years later has blasted RTÉ over their decision to attribute that abuse to Brother Dillon.

“The interview I gave the Irish TV programme was never supposed to be a direct accusation but a first hand account of what I experienced,” he said.

“I have been very badly used and have had to endure countless strangers contacting me from numerous newspapers and TV programmes around the world expecting that they have a right to my life.

“I must make it very clear that I have never been shown the programme, have never seen how it was edited or what was said. I stand by my words, however find it horrid that names were used as it was my understanding that this would not be the case,” he added.

Brother Dillon’s family have vehe- mently denied that any abuse took place and as part of their defence of the Clarecastle born brother who died in 2005 they have assembled the testimony of 17 other men who were in the dormitory in the school at the same time as Mr Selmon.

“We had two meetings with RTÉ last year and we gave them a 96page document of testimonies from ex-students all supporting Br Gerard Dillon and pointed out that we could find not one person to back up these claims,” said Brother Dillon’s niece, Marian Dillon.

“They say they have people to back up the claims but when we asked them for the evidence they refused, saying they had journalist privilege.

“If Br Gerard was still alive they [RTÉ] would have to defend this in the High Court but we can’t even get basic information from them. We are left in limbo because of their unnamed sources,” she said.

“What they [RTÉ] did was one of the worst things you could do to a family. RTÉ have forgotten it. They have forgotten us and moved on but we can never move on. We are still banging on doors.

“On the family’s side, we will not stop. We want the truth. RTÉ dragged the entire family into this and we are still living with this atrocious untruth. However, the support we have received is unbelievable from all over Ireland and South Africa and we will continue,” she said.

“RTÉ has recently received correspondence on behalf of the family of Br Dillon and will be responding to them in due course. RTÉ’s position on the matter has not changed,” and RTÉ spokesperson said.


Festival to attract 500k pink euros

THE world’s first ever gay matchmaking festival is set to bring more than half a million pink euro flowing into North Clare this weekend.

The Outing, which begins in Lisdoonvarna on August 30, will kick start this year’s Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival and is expected to be a major financial boost for Lisdoonvarna and the surrounding towns.

Lisdoonvarna normally has a popu- lation of 1,000 people but during the five weeks of the matchmaking festival more than 60,000 people visit the village from all over Ireland and Europe. The entire festival generates an estimated € 3 million for the local area with The Outing itself expected to contribute more then € 500,000 to the local economy.

“Whilst there is no shortage of gold at the end of this rainbow, the main focus has always been on allowing all people a safe place to express who they are and not have to feel alone in being alone,” said a spokesperson for the Hydro Hotel – where many of the events will be staged.

“In a year that has been extremely topical for the gay community, Lisdoonvarna, a town filled with warmth and history, have decided to incorporate a gay weekend in order to allow the LGBT community to celebrate their pride and not have to defend it.

“The weekend promises to be explosive with entertainment ranging from well-known performers such as Niamh Kavanagh, Jonny Woo, Panti and Bunny, to tea dancing, a tease club with numerous well known DJs.”

Following The Outing, the remainder of the Matchmaking Festival will include the usual schedule of music and dancing. This year’s festival will also include a country weekend featuring the likes of Derek Ryan, Crystal Swing and Philomena Begley, while Louisiana soul star Buck Taylor, will join the festival team this year – performing every Saturday night throughout September.


Foster mother pleas with teens to ask for help

THE foster mother of a man found dead in Ennis last week has encouraged young people experiencing mental health difficulties to talk about their problems.

Tina Whelan, whose foster son Seamus Higgins went missing in Ennis earlier this month, says there needs to be a more open discussion on the issue of mental health among teenagers and young people.

Seamus was last seen jumping a wall at the rear of the Dun Na hInse housing estate on Saturday, August 10. His disappearance sparked a huge four-day search of rivers and other areas of Ennis. Seamus’ body was discovered by Civil Defence divers in the Claureen River on the afternoon of Thursday, August 15.

He had recently travelled from Southampton to Ennis for a holiday. Speaking yesterday, Ms Whelan said, “My plea to anyone who might be experiencing problems, would be to talk about it, just come out with the words ‘help me’. People don’t see the red flags until it’s too late. Young people just need to say the words help me. It’s only two words but it’s very powerful.”

Ms Whelan, who has been involved in fostering children for almost a decade, says there is a need in Ennis for a form of transitional housing for foster children when they turn 18.

She explained, “Kids end up in foster care through no fault of their own. They go through a stable fostering and then they have to go out on their own. Many of them go into apartments. They are vulnerable and they can’t really cope. I have seen it happen.

“Clarecare have an aftercare service and they do fantastic work. They really do. But I think there is a need for some sort of transitional housing. You have them in cities where they [kids] rent the rooms, pay for electricity, television. They have to budg- et. I think there are definitely places in Ennis that could be used. There is a project in Cork called Foyer that is really good.”

Tributes to the late Seamus Higgins have poured into a special Facebook page. Ms Whelan described him as a “beautiful true soul”.

She wrote, “I think this is the first day I’ve had time to think, I’m not sure where to start thanking people, but thank you to every single person who sent messages, cards, called to the house, made sandwiches, cooked food, sent flowers, stopped me on the street. I always knew I had the best family and friends and I will never be able to thank them enough.”


‘Landmark Lisdoon deserves credit’

LISDOONVARNA is set to become a “landmark” location in the ongoing struggle for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Irish people.

Days before the first “Outing” gay matchmaking festival comes to Lisdoonvarna, organiser Eddie McGuinness says that the people of North Clare deserve massive credit for the role they are playing in the social development of Ireland.

“This is a landmark event in the journey to full equality. You just have to look at what is happening in Russia right now [where homosexuality is illegal] to understand what a big event this is for the gay community in Ireland,” he told The Clare People .

“The people of Lisdoonvarna have really opened their arms to this festival. For such an ancient festival to welcome the LGBT community is a major event in a lot of people’s minds.

“I was down in Lisdoonvarna a few weeks ago and the reception I got was brilliant.

“I went around to all the local businesses were so enthusiastic about the whole thing.”

Eddie also confirmed that The Out- ing now looks like becoming an annual event in North Clare.

“We have been getting interested people from all over – just today we were getting bookings from Switzerland and America.

“There is a lot of Irish support this but we really have been surprised how far this is going internationally,” he continued.

“I feel in my gut that this will be a really big party in the years to come. This is something we plan to make into a yearly event and I think a lot of credit for this has to go to the people of Lisdoonvarna.”

The festival will also include a number of special community events such as a most glamorous shop-front competition and an official attempt to break the record for the largest number of dancing drag-queens dancing in a single line.

“London has the record at the moment with 156 people in drag dancing in a single line.

“So we want to go one better and bring this world record to Lisdoonvarna,” said Ed.

“We want everyone to take part – men and women. We want men wearing women’s cloths and women wearing men’s cloths.

“We are really hoping that the local community will get involved in this event which should be some fun around the town.”

The world record attempt is also a fundraiser for a number of charities including the Irish Cancer Society. For more information visit


Ennis composer scores movie soundtrack role

AN ENNIS postman turned film composer says he is delighted after scoring another big screen success.

Kerry Whitehouse has been asked to provide music for upcoming gangster movie ‘The Street’.

The film, which is slated for a 2014 release, is being produced by the Galway-based One Shot Productions. ‘The Street’ is due to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

The company asked Whitehouse to score the film after being impressed with his work on previous film and TV productions. The 38 year-old turned his hand to music after meeting the Oscar winning composer behind the ‘Lord of the Rings’ soundtrack, Howard Shore.

Whitehouse completed his first soundtrack in 2011 and has since worked on a string of Irish, American and English short films. Whitehouse’s scores are a blend of atmospheric horror and gothic electronica. He says he was delighted to be working on ‘The Street’.

“Yeah, its really been going great over the past 12 months. I’m enjoying it. I’ve got a few more jobs in the past few months and I’m really enjoying it. It’s going good now so hopefully it will take off,” adds Kerry.

He is currently working on music for the television series ‘Darker Days’. Kerry has also scored the Irish short film, ‘Banshee’, which is due to be shown on Irish television screens at Halloween.

Kerry is now listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the world’s leading online source of movie information and statistics. In October he will attend the Film Music Awards in Ghent, Belgium, the Oscars of the film score industry.

Music has been part of the former CBS student’s life since he first started playing with local bands aged 16. Whitehouse’s grandfather Christy McAllister is a founder member of the Ennis Brass Band. His other grandfather, Lloyd Whitehouse was a professional piano player in England. The Ennis-based postman is currently working on a number of film and tv projects.


Many Clare home owners under insured

CLARE families in mortgage difficulty could face a double blow should a a family member pass away unexpectedly. Spancilhill financial aid charity Dealing With Debt (DWD) says that hundreds of Clare families could face eviction from should a wage earning family member pass away – as the insurance will not cover the full cost of mortgages in arrears.

With more than 2,000 Clare families in arrears or in interest-only payment schemes, research from DWD indicated that the vast majority of these are under insured.

The insurance difficulty comes about when a mortgage goes into arrears as the life insurance cover associated with the mortgage is tied to the additional payment schedule.

Should a mortgage holder who is in arrears pass away, the insurer would only pay out the portion of the mortgage which is scheduled to be out- standing – according to the original mortgage timeline.

“If you had a € 400,000 mortgage lets say, and you run into financial difficulty and have to pay a reduced rate – maybe even interest only. After a while you would find yourself in a situation where you owe € 400,000 of a mortgage, but you only covered for € 300,000,” said Joe Corbett of Dealing With Debt.

“So you have situation of a family who is already struggling, gets hit with tragic death, and then they also face maybe € 100,000 in debt that they didn’t know they would have.

“We are seeing more and more of this. People are taking the risk that nothing will happen to them – and hopefully nothing will. People don’t take the insurance into account when they are in difficulty.

“When families are struggling to pay a mortgage then the insurance can be the last thing on their mind. It is a worrying situation and something that is becoming more and more common in Clare.”


Big ideas for a big screen for All-Ireland

AS THE countdown begins to the Clare hurlers’ date with destiny in Croke Park there are growing calls for the All-Ireland final to be shown on a big screen in Ennis.

Local authorities in Ennis are considering the suggestion to erect a big screen in the town centre, a proposal that could be done in conjunction with local businesses and Clare GAA.

Council officials met yesterday to discuss possible plans to mark Clare’s meeting with Cork in the All-Ireland final on September 8.

Abbey Street car park is the most likely venue for any pubic screening of the big match.

The area previously hosted celebrations to mark the ‘homecoming’ of sports legend Muhammad Ali to Ennis in 2009 and the recent Love Live music events.

Local community activist and member of the Disabled People of Clare support group Dermot Hayes proposed the big screen idea last week. He says the final is a great opportunity for communities across Clare to celebrate and come together.

He explains, “When Ennis hosted Muhammad Ali some years ago, a big screen was put up in the Abbey Street car park. It was just brilliant. I was there and still remember the buzz. In Limerick in 2006 when Munster played in the Heineken Cup, thousands came out on the streets of Limerick to enjoy the event. These memories are appreciated. So why not do it for the big match. Not everyone will be able to get a ticket and people who are living alone will want to share the joy of Clare playing in an All-Ireland final.”

Dermot is promoting the proposal as the ‘Big Idea’ through YouTube and Facebook.

Fine Gael councillor Johnny Flynn has called for Ennis Town Council and Clare County Council to “actively consider the installation, in partnership with others, of a large screen in Abbey Street car park, Ennis, or the All Ireland hurling final”.

Cllr Flynn says that subject to public demand, there may even be a need to site the screen in Cusack Park.

The Ennis councillor says the event would allow families unable to get tickets be part of the Banner County’s big day. Cllr Flynn added that a big public event would also be a good “tourism marketing opportunity” for the town.


Climber survives 25ft cliff fall

A ROCK climber cheated death in the Burren on Friday afternoon after falling almost 25 feet from a sheer cliff and landing on his back. The climber, who has not been identified, is recovering in hospital after miraculously surviving the fall at a popular climbing spot between Doolin and Fanore.

The man, who is in his thirties, sustained serious injuries to his lower spine and arms in the incident – which took place around 3.15pm at Ailladee, close to the famous Mirror Wall.

The man was wearing a climbing helmet and harness and was saved by his equipment, and by the quick thinking of his friends who immediately contacted the emergency services.

The Doolin Unit of the Irish Coast Guard responded to the incident and administered first aid. The Shannonbased coast guard helicopter arrived at the scene minutes later but was unable to find a secure landing space.

Instead, a paramedic was lowered from the helicopter and spinally immobilised the man and transported him, with the help of the Doolin Coast Guard, to a clear area where he was winched into the helicopter and transported to University College Hospital in Galway.

The extent of the mans’ injuries are unknown but he had complained of severe lower back pain and other injuries.

“We responded to a call and discovered a seriously injured 32-yearold man close to the Mirror Wall between Doolin and Fanore. The climber had fallen between six and seven metres and was was severely injured,” said Mattie Shannon of the Doolin Coast Guard. “He was wearing a climbing harness and a helmet, which probably saved him, but it appears that the ropes may have come away from the wall somehow. He was suffering from severe pain to his lower back and injuries to his shoulders and arms.”

The cliffs at Ailladee and Ballyreen, located on the coast road between Doolin and Fanore, are some of Ireland’s premier climbing cliffs. They are a popular destination for climbing groups and are also used for Irish Army training as well as training for the coast guard and other rescue services.

Earlier this year a man was struck by the falling stone while climbing in the area and was airlifted to hospital for treatment.


Report highlights pilot inexperience

PILOT inexperience has been identified as one of the possible causes of a plane crash which took place at Shannon Airport in 2011.

According to investigators at the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), excessive speed as well as pilot inexperience caused a major issue aboard an Aer Arann flight.

There were 21 passengers and four crew on board the Aer Arann Manchester to Shannon service when its nose wheel collapsed, controls jammed and it left the runway on July 17, 2011.

Nobody on board was seriously injured in the incident, which resulted in the plane scraping along the ground for 1,200 metres before coming to a stop on a grass verge.

According to one witnesses, smoke or steam could be seen billowing from the front of the 17-year-old aircraft while its left propeller crashed through and demolished a sign on the runway.

The aircraft was so badly damaged that it has been taken out of service and has not been repaired.

In its report, the AAIU states the plane approached the runway on two occasions in excess of the recommended speeds.

The then newly-promoted pilot was a “relatively inexperienced” captain according to the report, and had little experience handling the aircraft in difficult conditions.

Investigators said this inexperience was a contributory factor in the accident, along with inadequate information being provided to both her and her co-pilot about landing in crosswinds.

The likely cause of the incident was excessive speed and inadequate control of the aircraft during the blustery conditions, it was found.

The AAIU has ordered Aer Arann to review its training of pilots in landing aircraft in crosswinds as a result.