What happened in Wicklow this Week: Weekly News Roundup 08/12/2019

Body of Wicklow man identified in Welsh grave 36 years after disappearance

The body of Greystones born Conor Whooley was identified in a grave in a Welsh cemetery 36 years after his disappearance.

Whooley, who was residing in Rathmines Dublin at the time, disappeared at the age of 24 in August 1983.

The discovery of Conor’s body came after his mother and brother Sean both provided DNA samples to aid with investigations taking place on both sides of the Irish Sea.

They had been encouraged to do so after watching RTE’s Crimecall two years earlier when Gardaí made an appeal to families of long term missing people to provide DNA samples, which could be compared with unidentified bodies across Ireland and Britain.

After much testing, it was discovered that the body, which has laid unidentified in Menai Bridge Cemetery for 36 years, was Conor Whooley’s.

Conor’s brother Sean said – “This has really come as a bolt from the blue. For the first four or five years that Conor was missing we were hoping for a call, but 36 years later to get this news, it really came out of the blue.

“Conor is one of a family of seven, he’s the third eldest. Our father passed away in 2015 still wondering what happened to Conor. Our mother is still hale and hearty, and it was she who gave DNA after seeing a report on RTÉ.

“It took two years from giving that sample to get this news. It is good that we finally know what happened to Conor.”

Local politicians call on Harris to honour his commitment to St Joseph’s Care Home

Local politicians have called on Minister for Health and Wicklow TD Simon Harris to honour his commitment to ensure appropriate funding is provided to St Joseph’s Dementia Care Home in Shankill.

Speaking in the Dáil last month, Harris promised to provide the funding necessary to keep the dedicated dementia care centre open.

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has called on Harris to keep his promise by ensuring the care home’s doors remain open.

“Last month I questioned the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil about the threatened closure of St. Joseph’s. He gave categorical assurances that the funding would be provided to keep the doors open. The current situation which has been caused by the gross underfunding of St Joseph’s by the government is causing anxiety, stress and uncertainty for the service users, their families and all the staff in the facility.

“Minister Harris must honour the commitment he gave in the Dáil and immediately intervene to ensure that the staff in St. Joseph’s can continue to do the excellent work that they do and that the service is maintained and protected to give certainty to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the State.

“There are 55,000 people in Ireland living with dementia and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. We therefore, need increased funding for dementia services and we need to see the development of more services specifically for dementia care, not less,” said Brady.

Social Democrats Councillor from Greystones Jennifer Whitmore has written to the Minister for Health asking to ensure interim funding will be provided.

“Only a few short weeks ago, Minister Harris made the welcome statement that the “doors will not close” on St. Josephs. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, and the management at St. Joesph’s have confirmed to families and staff this weekend that it will stop taking residential admissions with immediate effect.

“This cannot be allowed happen. There are 60 people living in St. Josephs, and many others that use the day service, that rely on the excellent care they receive there, as do their families. We cannot underestimate the positive difference a model service like St. Joseph’s can have on someone suffering from dementia. I have personal experience of a loved one living with dementia and the kind of dementia-specific care that is provided at St. Josephs can radically improve a person’s circumstances and brings incredible relief to loved ones as a result.

“The uncertainty that the residents and family members have gone through over the last few weeks since St. Josephs first raised their funding concerns in the public arena must end now. It is not fair that families, who already have incredible stress and worry placed on them, now have to worry about whether they have to locate an alternative home for their loved ones. Minister Harris needs to ensure funding is provided and that he keep his promise that the doors to St. Joseph’s remain open,” said Whitmore.

St Joseph’s, Ireland’s largest dementia-specific nursing home, revealed last month that it will be forced to cease its vital day-care service facility from next January, and gradually wind down the entire facility unless proper public funding is forthcoming for 2020.

On Monday, management at the specialist dementia care facility informed staff and families of people relying on its services that it has been left with no option but to cease residential admissions with immediate effect.

Earlier this month, Simon Harris met with representatives of St Joseph’s Hospital and again assured the hospital, patients and their families that St Joseph’s Hospice will stay open.

Speaking after the meeting, Harris said – “St Joseph’s will stay open – the doors will not close.

“I met with representatives of St Josephs this week and assured them the hospital will remain open. I know this will be the case as this week the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund have been engaging and meeting with St Josephs to discuss their funding needs.

“I want to assure patients and their families that St Josephs is safe and that their concerns will be addressed,” concluded Harris.

Saint Joseph’s Shankill is home to 60 people living with dementia and provides two respite beds and an additional 120 day care places per week but has been operating at a significant and unsustainable deficit for over seven years.

East Glendalough School needs to raise €100,000 to complete a new sports hall in 2020

East Glendalough School in Wicklow Town secured planning permission earlier this year for a new Sports Hall.  Building will commence in 2020 on the school grounds directly in front on the main school building. The Sports Hall will be a 1,350msq, 8.85m high sports hall building with plans for a full-size indoor sports court, changing rooms and showers.

Physical Education is now a leaving cert subject with 80 schools participating in the first phase of phase of implementation of the new Physical Education for Senior Cycle program.  The new purpose-built sports hall would enable East Glendalough to introduce PE as a Leaving Cert subject in future years.

“We are very proud of the wide range of subjects offered to students at EGS at Junior and Senior Cycle. Having a sports hall facility is critical to supporting the introduction of the Physical Education for Senior Cycle program at EGS which we hope to introduce in the coming years.” Craig Petrie, Principal East Glendalough School.

“The sports hall will also benefit the local community; our Assembly Hall is used by community groups for meetings and classes throughout the year. We plan to continue to offer the Sports Hall facility for community use outside of school hours too”

East Glendalough school are currently fundraising the final €100,000 needed to complete the building works by June 2020 and have already raised €15,000. They have also launched a Buy a Brick campaign and those who Buy a Brick will be placed on the EGS Sports Hall Wall of Honour. Find out more at www.gofundme.com/f/EGSSportshall. Other fundraising events include local bag packs, cake sales, a Raffle, a planned Colour Run, a Fight Night on 13th March 2020.

“We would like to thank all who have supported us so far, and look forward to enhancing the sporting future of our students and the Wicklow community too”

Councillors meet Gardai to discuss Uplands crime prevention

Cllrs Paul O’Brien & Shay Cullen met with Sergeant Paul Daly, the crime prevention officer in An Garda Siochana at County Buildings on Monday to discuss crime prevention & the recent spate of cars being broken into up and around the Sally Gap.

Cllr Cullen stated that he was taken aback by the recent spate of cars been broken into & urged owners to be more mindful about leaving their processions out in plain slight for these wannabe thief’s.
“Sometimes when visiting the area visitors can get distracted by the beautiful scenery & wander off to take some photos, while forgetting to put their valuables away, which unfortunately can lead to them being stolen”, stated Cllr Cullen.

Cllr O’Brien said that this meeting was important but that it was only the first step in dealing with this serious issue. We need to get the message out there, that there are people intent on causing criminal damage & we shouldn’t be making it easy for them. We all know crime is a major issue whether it’s up in the Sally Gap or in our Towns & Villages and we must all work together to combat this threat.

Cllr O’Brien went onto say that both he & Cllr Cullen agree that better signage in the area is a must and if necessary CCTV as well. We understand that the Gardai can’t be everywhere at once and they must utilize their resources as best they can. We all know how stretched the Gardai’s resources are and if we as Councillors can assist them in preventing crime we will. 

Both Councillors confirmed that the next step is to duscuss the matter at the Joint Policing Conmittee next month, of which both are members of and to devise a strategy going forward which will include an awareness campaign.
They conclued by wishing everyone a safe & happy Christmas.

Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy awarded All-Ireland Business All-Star

Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy Ltd., a family-owned, award-winning department store, has achieved a quality mark signifying it meets the highest standards of service and trust.

The coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star award is an independently verified standard mark for indigenous businesses, based on rigorous selection criteria. The accreditation is overseen by the prestigious All-Ireland Business Foundation, whose adjudication panel is chaired by Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Kieran Ring, CEO of the Global Institute of Logistics. 

Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy, which is located just 45 minutes from Dublin and open seven days a week, features an extensive range of ladies’ smart, casual and lifestyle clothing, a menswear shop, children’s clothing, a giftware and homeware department as well as an extensive accessories section featuring jewellery, scarves, wraps, bags, hats, belts and lots more. Brands stocked include ‘Fishers Inspired’ own collection, Magee, Eden Park, Olsen, Columbia, Joules, Rabe, Hatico, Seasalt, Noa Noa, Betty Barclay, Red Cuckoo, Ria Organics, Jo Browne and Ireland’s Eye.

The beautiful 10,000 sq. ft. destination also hosts the award-winning restaurant and café ‘Food at Fishers’, Salon H, a hair salon, and Beds of a Feather, a bed and bedding specialist store. A curated craft space called ‘The Schoolhouse Studio and Workshop’ is also available in-store, featuring local handmade art, crafts and photography, with artists regularly working, exhibiting and running workshops there. Extensive free parking is available on-site.

Rebecca Harrison, Managing Director of Fishers, commented: “We are thrilled to achieve this Business All-Star accreditation. The accreditation process gave us the opportunity to reflect and really focus on the experience we give our customers in every way. We were honoured to get the feedback from the panel, our employees, customers and suppliers through the reference checks and found it not only insightful but also humbling. Our team need to be particularly commended, as the face of the business, they are responsible for such strong feedback from our customers.”

Wicklow artist launches music video for “Christmas All Over Again”

Wicklow artist Rob Vickers has officially launched the music video for his new Christmas song, “Christmas All Over Again”.

The former West End star officially launched the song locally at the switching on of the Christmas lights in Wicklow Town last month.

The tune is available on all major platforms, including Spotify, Amazon and Itunes.

What are you waiting for? Have a look at the video right here!

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