Archive | May, 2007

Mother Demands Public Inquiry Into Sons Death

31 May

Mother Demands Public Inquiry Into Sons Death

By J. P. Anderson

A distraught mother has demanded a public inquiry into the death of her 14-year-old son who hanged himself in a privately-run secure unit.

Adam Rickwood became the youngest person to die in custody in Britain after he hanged himself with his shoelaces in his room at the Serco-run Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, in County Durham, in August 2004.

Following a month-long inquest at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court, a jury returned a verdict of suicide on the troubled teenager, but Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle called for a clearer understanding of what techniques can be used to restrain young inmates.

The inquest had heard that the teenager, of Burnley, in Lancashire, had written to his mother saying he would kill himself if he was not taken out of Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, a 42-bed unit 150 miles from his home.

The teenager had been sent to the centre, on remand, in July 2004 and died just over a month later despite repeatedly telling his mother of his fears.

The jury heard he suffered from emotional and behavioural problems, drink and drug abuse and had suicidal tendencies.

The youngster killed himself after a dispute with centre staff which saw him being forcibly carried to his room and restrained using a controversial "nose distraction technique" in which pressure is applied to the nose, the inquest was told.

At the centre of the issue was a legal dispute about the use of force against youngsters refusing to comply with staff, but Mr Tweddle ruled midway through the inquest that it was not his role to rule on the legalities regarding the use of force and did not give any guidance to the jury in summing up the hearing.

As the jury’s formal verdict was announced that Adam took his own life, his mother Carol Pounder fled the courtroom in tears.

After the hearing, the sobbing mother said: "I want the Government to set up a public inquiry into children that have been restrained for non-compliance. What gives the right for four grown up men to physically restrain my Adam, a 14-year-old boy? All Adam did was say no."

Madeleine’s Parents Visit Spain

31 May

Madeleine’s Parents Visit Spain

By J. P. Anderson

The parents of a four-year-old British girl who disappeared while on holiday in Portugal headed to Spain on Thursday to drum up help to find their missing daughter.

Kate and Gerry McCann travelled to Lisbon from the resort in Praia da Luz the southern province of Algarve, from where their daughter Madeleine vanished on May 3, to catch a flight to Madrid, a spokesman for the family said.

The couple are expected to meet the British ambassador to Spain in Madrid on Friday before taking part in a television show dedicated to missing children. They will also hold a press conference before returning to Portugal.

It is the couple’s second trip together outside of Portugal since their daughter went missing.

Kate and Gerry McCann on Wednesday had a meeting at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI, who said he would pray for their daughter’s return.

The pope spent several minutes talking with the couple, who are devout Roman Catholics, following his weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square.

The couple plan to visit other European cities in the coming days to keep their daughter’s profile in the public eye in the hopes of finding her.

Cigarettes: Ban On Ten-Packs

31 May

Ban On Ten-Pack Cigarettes In Effect

By J. P. Anderson

A ban on the sale of packs of ten cigarettes came into effect from midnight last night, although there will be a period of grace for retailers to get rid of stocks.

Confectioneries that resemble tobacco products are also banned.

The Office of Tobacco Control says it hopes the measure will discourage young people from smoking.

Research published last year showed that 76% of young people who smoke buy the pack of ten.

Up to 77% of these say they would be likely to quit if cigarette prices doubled.

One of the world’s leading experts on tobacco, who is speaking at a conference in

Dublin today about smoking habits, says cigarette manufacturers deliberately use the ten-pack to encourage younger people to smoke.

Professor Kenneth Warner says the Irish tobacco industry needs 50 children to start smoking every day to replace the numbers who quit smoking or die from smoking every year.

Any retailer who breaches the ban faces a fine of up to €3,000 or up to three months in prison.

A Million Reasons To Get It Right: Barnardos

31 May

A Million Reasons To Get It Right Barnardos

By J. P. Anderson

There are one million children in Ireland today, representing a quarter of our population. We recently launched our programme for Government – A Million Reasons to Get it Right: Barnardos’ Children’s Declaration – to give a voice to those citizens who could not vote in our general election but who deserve to be heard.

Speaking at the launch Barnardos Chief Executive, Fergus Finlay, said: “Those with the power to make the public policy decisions that shape childhoods need to really look at how children’s lives work when making policy, at the importance of early intervention and prevention in providing services and how a failure in one area of a child’s life can have an unintended disastrous domino effect on other areas.

As a new Government is being formed, Barnardos calls on political leaders to give consideration to the issues which impact on some of the most vulnerable members of our society and to prioritise child poverty, educational disadvantage, quality early childhood education and care, child protection and children who are homeless.

We also urge our new Government to call a referendum in the autumn to provide for the protection and rights of children under the law.

A child once told us in Barnardos that what he wanted for Christmas was a new life. This is the time to give it to him and thousands like him. And it is nothing more than giving every child in Ireland the right to a safe and nurtured childhood and the tools to reach their full potential.

Over 55s Get ‘Passport For Leisure’ But

30 May

Over 55s Get a ‘Passport for Leisure’

By J. P. Anderson

A new scheme offering discounted access to Dublin City Council amenities for the over 55s has been launched by Lord Mayor Vincent Jackson.

The Passport for Leisure scheme, which is the first of its kind, will also provide users free access to Dublin City Council leisure centres and swimming pools.

The council has also established a new Office for Ageing and Older People.

Officials will be appointed in all of the council’s district areas to oversee the scheme and other age-orientated programmes.

Part of the initiative will see Internet access provided at the council’s sheltered accommodation for older persons. Training for residents will also be provided.

The Lord Mayor said that he wants to see a Dublin which is inclusive and safe for older people, and a city which provides a good quality of life for the elderly.

Age Action in call over nursing homes

The standard of care provided at many Irish nursing homes is falling behind international standards, according to a report published today.

Age Action Ireland commissioned the report which found that nursing home costs will have to increase if international standards are met.

The group has called for minimum staffing standards to be set down.

Accounts and staffing rosters for 16 nursing homes, including two public units, were analysed for the study.

It found primarily that the standard of care in Irish homes falls short of international norms. The most effective way to address the shortfall is an increase in staff, according to its author.

Any increase in staffing would inevitably lead to an increase in nursing home fees.

The study recommends that nursing homes in rural areas providing a proper standard of care should be charging €994 per week and a similar home in an urban area should cost around €1,100 per week.

The Irish Nursing Homes Organisation says the report highlights the financial pressures faced by private nursing homes.

The author of the report on the deaths at Leas Cross Nursing Home has called for meaningful change in the care of the elderly.

Professor Des O’Neill told RTÉ that in the absence of such change, similar cases of what he called institutional abuse at Leas Cross could happen again.

He was speaking publicly for the first time about his findings on the deaths at the Co Dublin nursing home between 2002 and 2005.

On the question of accountability, Professor O’Neill said it was not his role to say who was at fault.

However, he urged the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health to accord the same level of scrutiny to all those involved in what he called a major system failure, and he called for the implementation of his recommendations as a matter of urgency.

Professor O’Neill said he expected to see some developments ahead of the 2007 Budget, but it remained to be seen whether the necessary funding would be allocated.

He also criticised the fact that there are no plans for specialist geriatric units in the building plans of the Mater Hospital, St Vincent’s and St James’s.

He said the provision of specialist services reduced the risk of an elderly person dying by 25%.

Professor O’Neill went on to call for a Constitutional amendment to ensure that older people get proper support and services.

The professor was speaking in Dublin at a conference on best practice in the management of the elderly in residential care.

On a positive note, he praised the medical card scheme for the elderly and the recent BUPA clarification on community rating positions.

However, he said the move from defined benefit to defined contribution pensions was a worrying development.

Dublin Docklands Maritime Festival 1 – 4 June

28 May

Dublin Docklands Maritime Festival

FREE ADMISSION

By J. P. Anderson

www.dublindocklands.ie

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Date: 01-06-2007 – 04-06-2007 Friday 1st June 12:00pm – 8:00pm Saturday 2nd June 10:00am – 8:00pm Sunday 3rd June 10:00am – 8:00pm Monday 4th June 10:00am – 6:00pm Venue: Liffey Quays, Docklands Tickets: FREE Admission

Majestic tall ships, lively street theatre, uplifting music and a colourful outdoor market – the Docklands Maritime Festival will have something for everybody this June Bank Holiday weekend. With over 55,000 visitors flocking to last year’s Festival, this year’s event offers even more for all the family. A spectacular fleet of tall ships; exciting maritime-related street theatre and musical entertainment performed by Waterford-based arts group Spraoi; Dublin’s largest outdoor market offering fine food, clothing, jewellery and plants; and boat trips along the river are just some of the delights awaiting visitors. So set sail for Docklands this June Bank Holiday!

The Tall Ships: Some of the most beautiful ships in Europe take up residence on the River Liffey alongside our own Jeanie Johnston. Climb on board the Prince William, Tenacious… for a chance to see what life on the high seas is like.

Summer Markets:
Probably the biggest (and best) outdoor summer market in the city, the Maritime Festival features over 100 colourful stalls offering a vast selection of gourmet goodies, & crafts from around Ireland and beyond.

Street Entertainment: Musical entertainment performed by a variety of artists including Waterford-based arts group Spraoi.

UK: Health Warning For All Alcohol

28 May

Health Warning For All Alcohol

Over Seven Million In UK Harmed By Alcohol

By J. P. Anderson

Labels on all alcoholic drinks are to carry health warnings by the end of next year, the government announced on today.

Under an agreement between the government and the drinks industry, the new labels will include details on how many alcoholic units each drink contains and the recommended safe drinking levels for men and women.

Binge drinking, consuming 10 or more units in one session for men and seven or more for women, is a major public health concern. More than 7.1 million people are hazardous or harmful drinkers, according to official figures.

"This landmark, voluntary agreement will help people calculate, at a glance, how much they are drinking and whether they are staying within sensible drinking guidelines," said Public Health Minister Caroline Flint.

"We want to make it as simple as possible for people to keep an eye on how much they are drinking and help them take the responsibility for lessening the impact excess alcohol can have on their health."

Although most people were aware of recommended daily guidelines, only 13 per cent kept a check on the number of units they drank, the government said. It said 75 per cent of the public backed the new labels.

The Department of Health said it also wanted the labelling to include recommendations for pregnant women. Last Friday, it issued new advice advising pregnant women and those trying to conceive to drink no alcohol at all.

Health departments recommend men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units daily and women 2-3 units daily.

A unit of alcohol is 10 ml of pure alcohol which means that a pint of ordinary strength lager or a 175 ml glass of red or white wine each contain two units of alcohol.

"This is yet another practical demonstration of retailers’ responsible attitude to selling alcohol," said British Retail Consortium Director General Kevin Hawkins.

"They have been actively involved in the development of this label and the concise and simple way it sets out information gives consumers an easy way to make informed decisions about how they enjoy alcohol."

(Authors Note: See previous articles regarding the effects of alcohol on this page).