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Westmeath Topic- 27 August.pdf


4 TOPIC • 27 August, 2015 NEWS SCHOOL FINDS OUT ITS BUILDINGS ARE ILLEGAL - JUST DAYS BEFORE TERM STARTS RONAN CASEY Just days before the new school term starts, a local school has found that its premises are in breach of Council planning rules. But parents fearful that the school year at Gaelscoil An Choillín (located at the Cullion GAA Club in Cullionmore) will not go ahead, have been assured by the school’s chairman that the school year will proceed as planned, despite the Council ruling against them for permission to retain their temporary classroom buildings. The Council has refused the Cullion GAA Club permission for the retention of the classrooms as well as a proposed upgrade of its waste water treatment plant. Chairman of the school board, Liam Mac Aodha, said the decision came as something of a shock to the board, teaching and admin staff and particularly to the parents of the 100 students, but it in no way will affect the school year ahead. He hopes that a positive will come from the negative, in that it will help their efforts in securing permanent accommodation. “At this stage, the only thing we can say is that as a board, we have to sit down and consider the implications of the Council decision,” Mr Mac Aodha told Topic. “We are getting together this week, as we have a teacher appointment to make and ratify as well before we open on Tuesday, but I want to assure parents that this will in no way affect the reopening of the school for the new term. We have to assess what our next step will be after that.” TENTH YEAR Gaelscoil An Choillín is going into its tenth year at their temporary home at the Cullion GAA grounds. Parents who spoke to Topic this week say they love the school and want to see it get a permanent building. “We heard it is a six figure sum to rent those portakabins and they are in poor condition,” one mother, who did not wish to be identified, told us. “The school is great and deserves a permanent building, and we hope the school, the County Council and the Department (of Education) can work together to get one. It Ciara Moran's battle with leukaemia before Leaving Cert Last week, we wrote about the major additional difficulties faced by two courageous Westmeath 2015 Leaving Cert students, from St. Joseph's Rochfortbridge and Moate Community College, Lisa Cully and Ciara Moran and we told Lisa Cully's story. This week, we relate how 17-year-old Ciara Moran succeeded in battling against leukaemia over the past two years and gained six A1s in the Leaving Certificate. For the parents of the two Westmeath girls, seeing them sit for the examinations was something special, and for Ciara’s parents, Joe and Breda Moran from Walderstown, the last two years and more have been very tough, facing a major health issue, and while so happy at the exam results, they are even happier that Ciara has recovered so well from leukaemia. Ciara Moran sat for her exams last June and got the maximum 6 A1s, 625 points in six subjects, with an A2 in English - an extraordinary result for a girl who had battled against leukaemia since her Transition Year. The Principal of Moate Community School, Tom Lowry, described Lisa’s exam results as “incredible” and told Topic it was “a real privilege to be handing her over the results.” “She is the most unassuming young lady you could meet, and was so brave throughout her illness and demanded no special attention.” Daughter of Joe and Mrs. Breda Moran from Dorrington, Walderstown, Ciara spent a good while during Transition Year in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, and in Mullingar Regional Hospital. She underwent treatment during her fifth and sixth years every second week. "STAY POSITIVE" Ciara courageously urged young people with cancer to stay positive following diagnosis, and she inspired people to raise tens of thousands of euro for Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. A tractor run with 253 tractors, through South Westmeath in the middle of a busy February lambing and calving season, raised a huge €50,000 for the fund, trying to raise €4m for better cancer and cardiac facilities. Remarked Tom Lowry: “Every teacher adored Ciara for the person she is, not cocky and so inspiring. And the 625 points she got were just so well deserved. In 6th year, she was chosen as Student of the Year." Ciara's parents are very proud of her achievements, and especially that she has been accepted to study for Veterinary Science in UCD, and she is looking forward to becoming a qualified vet. The Moran family are very well known in farming circles in Ballymore and the south Westmeath area. “It’s so important when you are in and out of hospital and see how positive they all are, to send out that message to others,” said Ciara, talking about the sick children she met. “If you let it get you down, you feel a lot worse. Keep in touch with all your friends." When Ciara first got a swelling on her neck, her mother Breda was concerned, and took her to a doctor. “Go with a mother’s instinct is the one message,” her father Joe remarked at the time. Ciara was transferred to specialist, Dr. Leonard O’Keeffe in Tullamore, who cancelled surgery next day to perform a biopsy, and she was swiftly sent to Crumlin, under the care of haematologist, Dr. Aengus Ó Marcaigh, who diagnosed leukaemia. The medical team felt her chances were good. Although the journeys for treatment were severe at times, Ciara remained a source of inspiration for everyone, including sisters Nicole (19) and Ann Marie (14). Now two years down the road, Ciara enjoys great health, and looks forward to becoming a veterinary surgeon. All every Leaving Cert student, and every parent can say - as we do - is well done Ciara, like we said to Lisa Cully. A happy Ciara Moran (left) pictured with her parents, Joseph and Breda. Ciara has been accepted as a Veterinary Science student in UCD, after her great Leaving Cert results. should be in one by now.” Topic understands that a site had been identified for the school and the Mullingar Community College along the Robinstown Link Road, but plans are at a standstill. Another parent pointed out that the school makes Mullingar unique, in that it is one of the few towns to boast not one, but two Gaelscoileanna. She said this should be taken on board by the Department of Education, who should look into the provision of an Irish language Secondary School. Gaelscoil An Choillín is also unique in that it is an TRAFFIC ACCIDENT On Friday last, 14 August, a single vehicle crash on the main Mullingar-Castlepollard road at Whitehall caused some disruption of traffic while the Gardaí, the Ambulance Service and Castlepollard Fire Brigade dealt with the situation. The accident occurred about 8pm, and thankfully, no one was seriously injured, we understand. A SPECIAL DAY AT KNOCKMANT One of the oldest burial grounds and ancient church sites in the Killucan area, at Knockmant - between The Downs and Killucan - will have the annual Cemetery Devotions on Sunday afternoon, 23 August. In the past decade, after great work by dedicated local people, this long-forgotten old graveyard was restored and considerably improved and since then, the Cemetery Devotions have been held each year in August. There will be Mass and the blessing of the graves afterwards, with ceremonies commencing at 3pm, and all are most welcome. TRACTOR RUN FROM MULTY TO FREWIN HILL Charity events in aid of Cancer Research are always worthy of support, and next Sunday, 23 August at 12 noon, a Tractor Run to help cancer research at St. James' Hospital, Dublin, takes place from Multyfarnham village to Frewin Hill, Bunbrosna - the tallest eminence overlooking Lough Owel, and located on the most scenic side of the lake, from where there are very attractive views of the countryside of Westmeath, both to the north and west. The tractor run starts at 12 noon, and your support will be welcomed. UISNEACH WALKS As part of National Heritage Week, a series of free guided walks, led by renowned archaeologist Dr Roseanne Schot, will explore the remarkable landscape, archaeology and history of the Hill of Uisneach on Saturday, August 22 at 1pm and 4pm. The Heritage Week tours are being organised in conjunction with the first phase of a Conservation Plan for Uisneach, which is being joint-funded by the National Monuments Service and the Heritage Council through its 2015 Community-based Heritage Grants scheme. Advance booking is required and can be arranged by emailing BY RONAN CASEY Over 150 children in Westmeath are currently awaiting autism assessment according to the latest figures released by the HSE. Topic understands it is one of the longest waiting lists in the country and such is the level of delays in getting children assessed, it will have serious implications for them, their families and indeed the State in later life. The high numbers are causing huge concern locally, particularly among parents of young children, as when it comes to autism, early intervention and early diagnosis is crucial. In Mullingar alone, there are over 100 children currently awaiting assessment for autism. 20 of these are very young children, awaiting assessment from the HSE’s early intervention team. A further 87 children are listed under the standard Assessment Tool. In Athlone, meanwhile, a total of 45 children are awaiting assessment, five of these by its early intervention team. A local Westmeath charity with a national reach, Irish Autism Action, say they are ready, willing and able to help the HSE reduce the high figures, but thus far, the HSE has turned down their offer of assistance. The Mayor of Mullingar has also stepped in, calling for an urgent solution to be found. SHOCK CEO of Irish Autism Action, Kevin Whelan, from Mullingar, says he is shocked that their advances to reduce the state’s waiting lists have not yet been taken on board. He was shocked at the high levels of children on the waiting list, particularly the youngsters awaiting early intervention. He told Topic that it has been proven “time and time again” worldwide that “the earliest possible detection and intervention gives the best outcomes for children, their families and society in general”. He said early detection has repercussions later on in that children can be an active part of the community and the economy. “If it is not detected early, there may well be lifelong care, and these children will not be able to contribute to society the way they could have, if their condition was detected earlier.” He said governments talk of a moral obligation to cherish children, but the long waiting lists are raising moral questions. Irish Autism Action, whose headquarters are in Multyfarnham, have the resources to help the HSE reduce the waiting lists, Mr Whelan outlined, and said they are available to meet with the HSE to “bring a constructive solution that will bring interdenominational school, accepting pupils of all Christian faiths and none at all. Opened in 2006, the five teacher school has 100 pupils but also provides an Irish creche or naíonra. The pressure is now on for the Council and for the Department of Education with regard to a permanent building for this Gaelscoil and for other national and primary schools. Recent CSO figures indicate that Westmeath’s higher birth rates (a 10% increase) in the past few years will kick in on the doors of schools in the next year as the babies born since 2011 hit four and five years of age. 6 NEWS TOPIC • 20 August, 2015 IN BRIEF WESTMEATH’S AUTISM - LONG WAITING LISTS MAY CAUSE SCANDAL PROBLEMS IN LATER LIFE value for money.” He added: “There is no point banging on tables about this. We can do the early intervention. We have offered a constructive solution to the HSE who may not have the staff. We have professionals and together we can reduce Kevin Whelan, CEO of Irish Autism Action, has offered to help the HSE reduce the waiting lists, but the offer was not yet taken up. Jane O’Hara, Philip O’Hara, Orla Keating, Bob Keating (Principal of St Brigid’s School, Mullingar), Ciaran O’Brien, Antoinette Gaye and Owen Corrigan, at the presentation of the cheque by Lakeside Wheelers to St Brigid’s School, Mullingar. these lists.” constituents are very worried because they are REVELATION waiting and waiting. The figures came to light There is a big problem getting their children after work by Mullingar Fine Gael Councillor assessed, and we need Peter Burke at a recent urgent action.” Regional Health Forum Meanewhile, Denis Sexton of the Irish Society for meeting for the Dublin- Mid-Leinster hospital Autism, says the figures group. Both he and Topic are just as bad elsewhere have been trying to get the in the country, and his waiting list figures for organisation wants the some time. Cllr Burke told HSE to act fast. “I man our Topic he was shocked to helplines and we have learn the waiting list was noted a significant so large. increase in calls from parents worried about the “These figures are very worrying as they point to waiting list and asking a big problem getting children assessed on time. for ways around it. There are no real ways around These figures are of even it, as you have to be greater concern because everyone knows that early assessed to ‘get on the system’ if you like. You can intervention is essential for families, and many are go the private route for being left to wait for peace of mind, but you months,” Cllr Burke told will still have to be us. assessed by the HSE for Mr Pat Bennett, Chief mainstream education, Officer for Community support hours, etc., so it is Healthcare in Longford/Westmeath, Laois, He said there are further a major problem.” Offaly, Louth and Meath, ‘queues’ down the line confirmed the figures to once children with autism Cllr Burke at the last leave the school system. meeting. Topi contacted “These have to be looked the HSE this week to at as well. Things are not ascertain how and why perfect. The numbers of the waiting lists have children with autism is on grown so large, but at the the rise. When my son was time of going to press, diagnosed in 1987 it was they had yet to respond. one in every 560 children, Cllr Burke has called for now it is one in every 100. further resources to be The state knows this but made available to tackle the state has not reacted the large waiting lists. “If well to the fact that the we don’t do something condition is spreading now, we will have problems later on. A number and we don’t know why.” of Lakeside Wheelers cheque presentation to St Brigid’s School Last week’s story on lengthy waiting lists. Ten members of Lakeside Wheelers - Ciaran O'Brien, Philip O'Hara, Aidan Farrell, Charlie Sheridan, Tom Duffy, Graham Morgan, Paraic Devine, Andy Vambeck, Pat O'Sullivan and Joe Duffy (driver and photographer), supported by a Donegal clubman, Greg McHugh, recently completed a four-day cycle from Mizen Head to Malin Head to raise funds for St. Brigid's School, Harbour Street, Mullingar, with all funds to go towards a new school bus. The Wheelers were delighted to hand over the money they raised to the staff members of St. Brigid’s School at a cheque presentation held on Thursday, 30 July. HSE responds to Autism waiting list crisis Last week, Topic reported on lengthy waiting lists for the assessment of autism in young children. The current waiting lists revealed by the HSE indicated that over 150 children in the autism spectrum in Westmeath were awaiting assessment, with over 100 in the Mullingar area alone. Autism charities such as Irish Autism Action said it is a “scandal” and they even offered to help the HSE get the numbers down, but to no avail. The Topic story last week was picked up by RTE who ran an item on it over the weekend, and featured Irish Autism Action in Multyfarnham as part of a report on the national waiting lists among other matters. A full week after Topic requested a reply from the HSE on the waiting lists, a spokesperson contacted us with the following statement: “All children with developmental delay referred to the Early Intervention Team are normally seen for an initial assessment within three months of the referral,” the reply stated. “Children requiring specific assessment for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would typically wait 6-9 months after the initial team assessment. During this waiting time, the child would typically be receiving SLT and OT and physiotherapy if necessary. They would also be offered workshops and other support as appropriate.” Asked what measures the HSE were undertaking to reduce the lists and if they had considered the offer of assistance from Irish Autism Action, the statement said: “The HSE is committed to further developments in children’s disability services in the Longford Westmeath area and as such, eight new posts have been approved in 2015, and the HSE is currently in the process of recruiting for the following new posts: Speech & Language Therapist x 2 Occupational Therapist x 2 Psychologist x 2 Physiotherapist x 1 Social Worker x 1” CRIME NEWS MAN ASSAULTED A man who was working as a security guard in Pearse Street, Mullingar, was assaulted at 11.30pm, on Tuesday of last week, 18 August. It appears the man was cut with a sharp instrument and he received a number of stitches in his arm after treatment at the Midlands General Hospital, Mullingar. Gardaí are following a definite line of enquiry into the incident. TWO MEN ARRESTED ON PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCES On Wednesday, 19 August, two men were arrested following separate incidents in Mullingar. One man was arrested after he assaulted another man in Castle Street, Mullingar, while a second man who had been in the company of the first man that was arrested was himself arrested a short time later after a public order incident in Oliver Plunkett Street, Mullingar. CAR BROKEN INTO AT DELVIN A car that was parked close to Delvin Mart in Delvin was broken into between 1pm and 1.30pm on Thursday last, 20 August. A window of the grey Renault car was broken and items including a mobile phone, a sum of cash, a camera, bank cards and a passport were stolen from the car. It is believed the items belonged to tourists who were visiting the area. DRUGS RECOVERED Following a planned search of a house at Greenpark, Ballymahon Road, Mullingar, on Monday of this week, a quantity of what is believed to be cannabis was recovered. It is believed the drugs are worth in the region of €1,000. A man is helping Gardaí with their enquiries. CASH STOLEN FROM CAR Gardaí are following a definite line of enquiry after a sum of cash was stolen from a car parked at a car park in the Fair Green, Mullingar, on Thursday morning, 20 August. WINDOW BROKEN Gardaí are investigating an incident in which the window of a house in Springfield Cottages, Mullingar, was broken at 2am on Sunday, 23 August. CARS DAMAGED AT ARDLEIGH VALE The windows of two cars parked outside a house at Ardleigh Vale, Mullingar, were broken on Saturday night last, 22 August. HANDBAG STOLEN A handbag was stolen from a car parked close to Delvin Church on Sunday, 23 August, between 12 noon and 1pm. Two arrested following feud Two people have been arrested following the latest feud to break out in Mullingar. Following a feud involving up to 20 people in the early hours of Saturday morning, 15 August, in the Grange area of town, and also a number of other incidents in town connected to the feud between the two families, Gardaí have interviewed a number of people. As a result of the interviews, two people have been arrested and are due to appear in court in Dublin later this week. Gardaí also confirmed that more interviews are expected to take place and more people could yet be arrested in relation to the incidents.

TOPIC • 27 August, 2015 NEWS 5 ‘IT COULD HAVE BEEN US’ Local woman missed fatal explosion by thirty minutes Thirty minutes was the difference between life and death for one local woman, who found herself caught up in the aftermath of last Monday’s fatal explosion in central Bangkok, Thailand. 22-year-old Lisa Darby from Kinnegad was on her final evening’s travel in the Thai capital with a number of friends, after spending three weeks visiting the countrys tropical islands. The group were eager to explore the historic sites of Bangkok, with only one day left on their holiday. “We hadn’t seen much of the capital city and thought it would be nice to see some of it on our last night,”said Lisa who was travelling with three friends. Part of their itinerary for their final day’s travel was a visit to the famous Erawan Shrine, which was located less than a kilometre from their accommodation at the popular Lub D hostel. As fate would have it the group stalled on visiting the shrine when one of their group decided to check in to their flight online. Five hundred metres from their base at the Lub D Hostel, Thailand was about to be hit with its deadliest bomb attack in recent history. The explosion which happened at about 7pm local time (12 noon GMT) at the religious Erawan Shrine, killed 20 people and wounded more than 120. The Shrine in the central Chidlom district of the Thai capital is a popular tourist landmark, a motive which is believed to be a contributing factor in the attack. While the explosion occurred, Lisa and her friends were unaware of the commotion which was taking place so close to them. “The weather was extremely stormy so when the explosion occurred, it just sounded like thunder.” As minutes went, the group became quickly aware of what had occurred. “There were a number of American tourists in our room, and they stormed and told us to leave as soon as possible, that there had been a terrorist attack down the street.” Not determined to let the attack ruin the final night of their holidays, Lisa and her friends stayed at the hostel, however Lisa says she would have reservations about traveling to the capital city again. “You could tell authorities were trying their best to keep the incident as low key as possible. The tourism industry is huge for Thailand’s economy so an incident like this is harmful. It was only after watching the international news channels on the televisions in the hostel, we could see how serious the situation really was.” Holidaying in Thailand has become increasingly popular with young Irish citizens in recent years, largely due to its tropical climate and affordable accommodation. The country has seen political unrest since the military ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. The investigation into last Monday’s attack has come under criticism for its lack of progress, with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha suggesting Thai police use inspiration from the hit American crime series ‘Blue Blood’, to solve the crime. Lisa (extreme right) with travelling companions, Niamh O’Reilly, Aisling Irish and Caitriona Moran. MAIN: Police inspect the the scene at the Erawan Shrine the morning after the explosion. The location of the explosion (marked in red) and the hostel where Lisa and her friends were staying at time of the explosion (circled).

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