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August 27th 2003

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Raid on Priest’s House
Lady castigates Media and Parish Council

On the front page of our last issue we ran an opinion piece headed ‘Not Right To Name Priest’ that condemned media identification of a clergy-man whose residence was recently subject of a Garda raid.
The following day a lady rang Donegal Times saying she was the person who went to the Guards and strongly agreed with this paper that the priest’s name should not have been made public “I went to the Gardai in confidence and would advise media, locals and parish council to stay out of this - it’s not a football game, something to be kicked around from one to another,” said the lady, continuing “It’s not fair to me or the priest and I feel harshly treated by those individuals who are speculating. The parish council made a statement to the Democrat saying it hoped that the whole affair would be resolved as soon as possible - it will not be resolved until justice is done”. The lady finished “My advice is for media and locals to stay out of it and leave the case to Gardai and the Bishop.”

Indeed it was interesting to note the way different people are treated by the media in regard to their name being used. On the front page of the Democrat, August 12th, the priest’s name was printed in the lead story - while on page 12 under a head ‘Charged with River Pollution,’ the report read ‘A well known Donegal businessman has been charged in connection with pollution of the Eany River. He has been directed to appear before Donegal Court on September 17th next’. No Name! Could the editor of the Democrat give us an explanation for this apparently different treatment of these two cases. In one, the priest, who has been charged with nothing, is named. In the other the businessman, facing charges, is not. Is this fair and balanced reporting?
And the question remains - how did the priest’s name become known to the media. What should have been a confidential, secure police operation became anything but. From where did the leak occur? Donegal Times would like to know the answer.

Well Done Eamon & Team
A few issues back, a front page editorial in this paper lauded our ‘Home Town Heroes’, the people who work quietly and efficiently in the background, voluntarily performing a multitude of tasks in the recreational, sporting and social sectors. Of all these, no one epitomises the breed so well as Abbey Vocational School teacher, Eamon Harvey. Last week the veteran coach saw a life-long ambition realised - the team he trained so effectively, Tirchonaill AC, went to Dublin, competed against the country’s best and came away as All-Ireland champions - an achievement of immense proportions. The level of commitment to athletics shown by Eamon is well known - anyone passing the AVS training area on an evening or weekend will have seen the man, using his own time, to coach his charges - and this dedication has paid off. The congratulations and indeed gratitude of the whole community is due to Eamon for all the prestige and honour he has brought to this area over the years. And indeed it would be remiss not to mention the team who competed so well to win the coveted All-Ireland Cup. The members performed out of their skins to defeat much bigger and better endowed clubs from all over the country. Well done to all!

Make Ballyshannon One Way

The recent spell of good weather that brought massive crowds into the county has again thrown up the traffic bottlenecks that are Ballyshannon and Bundoran. While not much can be done in the short term to alleviate the problem in Ireland’s Premier Resort, it is different in the Erne town. Plans mooted to make Ballyshannon one way on the far side of the bridge should be implemented - objections by traders ignored. Why should the whole county suffer because a few shopkeepers want to maintain the status quo. Donegal Times says to the county manager, ignore the protesters, make the town one way.

Iraq in a mess

So the chickens are coming home to roost. Everything prophesied by Donegal Times in relation to the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq by the Yanks and the Brits has come to pass. Now dug into a bloody hole of their own making, Bush and Blair have taken to making daily long distance calls to each other for comfort. But comfort there is, and will be, none - stretching out ahead of both is a bleak scenario, one that was foreseen by almost the whole world, except those two blinkered leaders. And things are going to get much worse. This pair is going to discover once again, that attempting to force in western concepts of governance by violence, only creates more violence. And no member of the international community is willing to come to their help. Having insulted and humiliated the U.N. and told lies to suit their intent, Bush and Blair must now bear the consequences. And unfortunately the consequences include the destabilization of the whole Middle East region. The Yanks have created a monster of gigantic proportions and indeed not just one - the three places to which Dubya and his advisors have turned their attention - Afganistan, Iraq and Israel/Palestine - have all become disaster areas.
An editorial in last Friday’s Irish Independent sounded an ominious note for the coalition partners. In read in part - ‘Tuesday’s attack on the UN HQ in Baghdad which left 23 people dead highlighted the security vacuum which has existed since Saddam was toppled, despite the presence of 145,000 US troops. The country is quite simply a mess. Basic services have yet to be restored, while poverty and simmering political unrest guarantee that the situation deteriorates daily.
To say that Mr Bush is facing his toughest test yet is to put it mildly. The extent of the crisis goes beyond the question of US hegemony threatening international stability. Nor is there any easy way out for the US President. Next year he is facing an election and his choices are stark. Does he swallow his pride and cede some military control to the UN? Or does he send in more troops with all the attendant risks, never mind expense? Nor will France and Russia be in any hurry to rush to the rescue, while the UN still sees America’s unilateral action as illegitimate.’

Historic Win for Tir Chonaill AC
Local Athletic Club lifts All-Ireland Title

Tirchonaill AC Team - Back: Emma O’Doherty, Catherine Harvey, Mary McLoone, Geraldine Stewart, Ruth Little, Sinead Peoples Front: Marie Rooney, Jackie Harvey, Eithne McLoone, Michelle Harvey, Sharon Foley/Gallagher

There is a certain tension that always exists at the start of any competitive sporting event. The yawning, silences and frequent trips to the toilet are clear evidence that athletes are nervously anticipating the coming battle. When the stakes get higher and expectations increase, that tension takes on a life of its own, snuffing out the capabilities of some competitors even before the contest begins. Those who can overcome that tension, even prosper from it, are those who will eventually be among the best. The crew of the ship called Tir Chonaill athletic club were demonstrating the classic symptoms of pre-competition stress on Sunday morning in Tullamore. They had come in quest of the ultimate prize – the title of Mazda league premier division champions.
It was a voyage that had been undertaken before. In 2000 the Tir Chonaill crew had returned as third best in the land. Then in 2001 and 2002 they had gone one better and negotiated the waters of the league final better than all but one other, that of the ship called Dublin City Harriers. But ultimately the Tir Chonaill crew had failed to land the most treasured of all. On Sunday August 17th its members returned to Tullamore along with many others, including the title holders and Dundrum, South Dublin, Leevale, Navan and Lagan Valley, all in quest of the same prize.
The tension eased somewhat with the start of competition, and as has been their trade mark in recent years Tir Chonaill made the best start of all. Captain, Geraldine Stewart, got the adventure off to the best possible start with a commanding victory in the shot putt. Having thrown 12.21m in the opening round, a distance which none of her rivals could match, she proceeded to really show who’s boss by improving with each successive throw up to a final effort of 12.96m, shattering her own Donegal record by a massive 25cm. At the same time in the high jump Sharon Foley Gallen emerged as a comfortable winner with what is by her standards a modest height of 1.65m. Foley-Gallen then proceeded to 100m hurdles, where, in a red hot battle, she just lost out to Melissa Moss of DCH. Foley-Gallen was edging it until a heavy contact with the second last hurdle gave the edge to her Dublin rival. Marie Rooney then captured another runners-up spot in the walk losing out to Sonia O Connell of DSD, as the other main Dublin opponents mounted a serious challenge. Mary McLoone then lined up in the 400m hurdles and proceeded to blow the opposition away over the first half of the race and cruise home a comfortable winner. McLoone then renewed the battle with Melissa Moss in the triple jump. The Australian Moss had last been seen in Ireland for the 2002 final. Her return was a clear indication of how seriously DCH were taking the challenge to their title ambitions. On this occasion though Mary McLoone was to gain revenge for Moss’ rather fortuitous win in the hurdles. A new championship best performance of 11.87m gave the Tir Chonaill girl her second win in the space of an hour. Sharon Foley-Gallen continued her busy schedule with a third place finish in the javelin. The 4 x 100 metres relay squad of Foley-Gallen, Emma O Doherty, Geraldine Stewart and Mary McLoone combined well to take 4th spot in a time of 50.05 seconds.

The early part of the voyage had gone extremely well, the eight events included four wins two second, two third places and one fourth. In contrast to the smooth early sailing of the Tir Chonaill ship, that of the defending champions had encountered some stormy water and left them 8 points adrift. The biggest challenge at this stage was coming from Dundrum South Dublin, only 5 points back. Leevale, who had by far the greatest vocal support on the day, were still in contention, as were Belfasts Lagan Valley.

The middle events of the day’s had in the past seen Tir Chonaill encounter some very stormy waters. In previous years this was where DCH had broken from the pack to lay the basis for overall victory. This year however the Tir Chonaill crew had made major improvement in the middle distance events and were expecting to chart a much safer course. Ruth Little finished fifth in a very competitive 400metres. Then Sinead Peoples, in the 1500 metres, she took the runners-up spot in a new PB of 4 mins, 47.63 sec. Michelle Harvey then finished third behind Jill Shannon of Lagan Valley and Maria Skelton of DSD in the 3000 metres. Ruth Little returned to the track and took the runners-up spot in the 800 metres, behind Commonwealth games finalist, Kelly McNiece of Lagan Valley.

The middle distances had gone very nicely indeed for the Tir Chonaill crew and kept them well on course for overall victory. The Donegal club led overall, DSD were still close at hand, DCH were closing in, while all others were too far away at that stage to harbour any hopes of overall victory. Out in the hammer circle Geraldine Stewart, who was deputising for Bridie Lynch missing the final through illness, threw 25.51m to finish in 4th place. The big surprise in this particular event was that Kilkenny’s Eileen O’Keefe, who is head and shoulders above any other hammer in the country, failed to get a single throw inside the sector, finishing last as a result, handing victory to Ashling Wynne of Navan.

The latter part of the day has always favoured DCH who possess the cream of the countries sprinting talent. European under 23 medallist, Ciara Sheehey won a double in the 100 and 200 metres. Emma O Doherty found herself up against very strong opposition, finishing 6th and 7th in the 100 and 200 respectively. DCH were closing in rapidly. In the discus Eithne McLoone who replaced Bridie Lynch finished 6th, but of extreme importance DCH failed to score in this event. Mary McLoone renewed her rivalry with Melissa Moss in the long jump. On this occasion Moss emerged victorious but McLoone finished 2nd and, with calculators working overtime, the increasingly excited Tir Chonaill contingent knew that barring a disaster in the 4 x 400 metres the title was theirs.

The final event of the day, the 4 x 400 metres relay, is always one of the most exciting. Any position in the top six would deliver the title to the Donegal club. Over the first three legs Sharon Foley-Gallen, Sinead Peoples and Geraldine Stewart traded stride for stride with Dublin City Harriers, on the final leg Mary McLoone found herself one stride behind Ciara Sheehey. Try as she might she could not overhaul the Olympian and in the end Sheehey was 10 metres clear. DCH had won the final battle, but overall victory went to Tir Chonaill. The courageous crew had manouvered the ship with skill, guts and determination and wrested the treasured prize of the Premier division title away from its more familiar urban locations - to Co Donegal for the first time ever.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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